January 2023 Savings, plus other updates

January seemed like a long month though not in a bad way, as it was punctuated with several social outings with friends and colleagues, and a couple of enjoyably quiet weekends.

One of my minor goals is to complete a 1000-piece jigsaw and the quiet weekends have had me doing my jigsaw puzzling. Have spent many hours on this activity already and have enjoyed listening to music or podcasts (or just silence) while I’ve been working on the puzzle.

Since I can’t watch TV at the same time (not properly anyway), I’ve cancelled my Netflix subscription. Once the puzzle’s completed, I’ll probably switch it back on again. Or not. I still have some Amazon vouchers from Christmas so might have a look for my next jigsaw.

The gym is very busy with new year enthusiasts but I’ve been getting my sessions in regularly, through the dark, rain and snow!

Need a Man in my Life to Open Pickle Jars

This sad thought flashed across my mind as I struggled in vain the other day to open a large jar of pickled gherkins.

Maybe I shouldn’t have made the attempt after a gym session, with my arm muscles still fatigued from the workout. I gave up after several strenuous minutes of cursing.

The next morning, the jar sat smugly on the kitchen table, as if goading me.

I grabbed it and was shocked when I was able to relatively easily pop open the lid – phew! Maybe my previous efforts had loosened it!

Perseverance is a virtue for all things in life, whether opening pickle jars or aiming for FIRE! And no, I didn’t have pickles for breakfast!

Anyway, on that random note, let’s take a look at the first numbers for 2023:

I saved 16.6% of my net salary.  The above includes £66.90 from doing Prolific surveys and a £10 charity lotto win.

Shares and Investment Trusts

No new investments, I just topped up existing ones.

Current share/IT portfolio can be found here.

(Entire portfolio here)

Future Fund 

Despite recession, strikes, high interest rates and high inflation, the markets moved somewhat in a positive direction, so my portfolio was up to £233,500.43.

Who knows if this will continue? If the government drops another bombshell à la Truss and Kwarteng, there could be another panic causing more big dipper moments!

Nobody has a clue, least of all me (or the government, it seems), so I’ll just carry on investing.

Dividends and Other Income

A decent month for dividends:

I received £395.83, of which £350.81 was from my ISAs, the rest from my SIPPs. All dividends were reinvested.

This month’s dividends would have been enough to cover the monthly cost of my groceries, TV licence, broadband, council tax and water bill.

Here’s what the graph looks like:

So very close to hitting the £400 mark for the first time in January, but a promising start to the year nonetheless.

Goals Update

Here’s how I did this first month:

Not a lot to see yet (note I didn’t start at zero with my Emergency Funds goal).

A minor goal which I have however already achieved is to relearn how to do the Rubik’s (3x3x3) cube.

Handy little Rubik’s key ring so I can puzzle on the go!

It’s taken just a few weeks of familiarising myself with the algorithms again and twiddling about with the cube while waiting for the kettle to boil, during advert breaks etc. The aim now is to not forget how to do it, which does mean picking it up at semi-regular intervals. It would be a goal fail if I’ve forgotten how to do it again by the end of the year!

No record-breaking times solving it however, as I’m not a speed cuber and am incredibly slow but I get there in the end! The record incidentally is 3.47 seconds – I know, mind-blowing! My fastest is 1 min 44 seconds, I’ve only timed myself once and I know it usually takes me a lot longer!

A bit on my Holiday

I had a most enjoyable time in Hong Kong with the family – it had been far too long.

The place was still quite severely COVID-restricted while I was there (PCR testing on landing, daily lateral flow tests, then final PCR test, which if negative, got me a vaccine pass allowing me to enter any place where I would be taking my mask off.

There was 100% mask-wearing compliance in all public places and spaces, with no exceptions or exemptions for anyone over the age of 5, medical conditions or not. I guess those who couldn’t wear masks just didn’t leave the house. The same with those with no smart phones or who didn’t have family who could help them with their vaccine passes.

Anyway, after working for the first few days out there, I got some much needed R&R, which included:

  • A trip to the cinema to see the jaw-dropping effects of Avatar 2 (Way of Water)
  • Going on two hikes (5k and 10k), taking in some beautiful sights away from the city high rises.

  • A head, shoulder and foot massage – the head and shoulders bit was relaxing, the reflexology on the feet not so much!
  • A ‘Clip and Climb’ session with my nieces – I always find the first climb is the hardest as I’m not really that great with heights but while I’m no speed climber, I didn’t do too badly! If I wasn’t watching my budget, I’d want to do this more regularly locally.

I was also able to finally pay my respects to my Gran. She would have approved of her final resting place. I spent a few quiet moments standing on the street opposite her old apartment (now sold). I sat on a bench in the park where she used to spend so much time and enjoyment with the other grannies (pre-COVID), gambling illegally playing cards. RIP Gran.

As with previous trips, I didn’t do a lot of shopping, most of my spends went on food and drink while I was out there and things aint cheap, especially with the pound so weak against the HK$.

Cost of living remains insanely high over there – I picked up a dozen free-range eggs which cost the equivalent of £9! Rent is still amongst the highest in the world.

Rent on a 3-bed flat in a family member’s apartment block, equivalent to £4,100/month

Also as per my previous trips, my suitcase was full of toilet rolls when I came back and why not, when I knew I was running out and I was able to pick up a 12-pack at half the price of (and the same quality as) an Andrex multi-pack! 🙂

Anyway, I’ll end here and hope your January was a good one.

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18 thoughts on “January 2023 Savings, plus other updates

  1. Tap gently all around the lid of the jar with the back of the spoon first. Lid should then come off easily.

    Sounds like you had a great month!

  2. If you want some jigsaw tips, I’ve recently completed “Map of the Universe” by Ravensberger puzzles. Lots of black, and I needed a 30x magnifying glass with a light! Super nerdy puzzling. For irregular shaped pieces, try ” Christmas Eve in Paris” by Eurographics.

    I’ve gone the other way with loo roll, and cost is not object in my bid to eliminate as much plastic, bleach, chemicals, etc, from all my household products. Using Naked Sprout for loo and kitchen roll. Smol for laundry pods, cloths, and household cleaners with reusable containers.

    How lovely to pay your respects to your dear Nan ♥️

    • Hi Starla

      Wow, that Map of the Universe puzzle is insane! Congrats on completing it – how long did it take you? I guess I’m not such a dedicated puzzler and will avoid puzzles with lots of pieces of the same colour!

      I nowhere near doing the good thing as regards to household goods, although no longer buy oven cleaner (use bicarbonate of soda and white vinegar) and opt for reusable cloths around the house rather than throwaway wet wipes.

      • Map of the Universe took about 2 weeks on and off over Christmas, there were two of us though! First jigsaw I’ve done for years. Very therapeutic.

  3. Top tip for difficult jars (one of the few things I remember from my Physics o level classes!) Is to put the top and neck in hot water for a minute or two. The metal of the top expands more rapidly, and to a greater extent, than does the glass of the jar. This makes it much easier to open 🙂

  4. Another solid jar-opening tip is to whack the bottom of the lid rim against the edge of a hard surface to force air underneath the seal (can dent the surface, so best not to do this on a fancy expensive kitchen counter). I keep a little block of scrap wood in the kitchen to bash the jars on and it never fails to work in seconds.

    Hong Kong was fascinating when I visited a decade or so ago, although my favourite part was definitely getting out of the main city and exploring some of the other islands, which felt a world away from the hustle and bustle. Lantau was lovely, and we had an impressive seafood lunch on Lamma island, but the food poisoning later on wasn’t nearly quite so impressive.

    • Hi Sarah

      Not sure I could do that on my worktop! In any case, problem has been resolved – someone suggested a Brix jarkey (£5 from Amazon) which duly arrived yesterday and
      which I easily used to pop open a jar – sorted!

      Sorry to hear that you had food poisoning when you went to Hong Kong. I didn’t get the chance to go to Lantau or Lamma this time, but got away from the city on my hikes up the Peak and in the New Territories.

  5. Hi Weenie,
    Glad you had a great time in HK and you got to do all the things you wanted to with your family. I have never been to HK and didn’t realise how expensive things are. Wow, rent prices look insane. I did wonder how you had got on with all the travel rules and testing requirements to enable you to move around relatively unrestricted.
    Have a great Feb and look forward to reading your next monthly update. Let’s hope the investment gods continue to raise the value of our funds and recover from the Truss-onomics effects.

  6. Hi Weenie. Thanks for your posts I do look forward to reading them and your journey

    Jealous that you got to go back to HK . I grew up there in the late 60’s and 1970s early 80,s( yes you have older readers) went to island school left for uni in 84 . Can’t place your picture ,not Tai Tam I am guessing Sai Kung -do tell….

    Again thanks for your posts

  7. Usually it is the vacuum within the jar that makes it tough to open. The simple fix is to stab the lid and make a hole with a kitchen knife, air will enter the jar and the lid will be easy to unscrew. Watch your fingers ! Don’t use your favourite knife.

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