September 2023 Savings, plus other updates

A bit late with this update – my head’s not been quite right as September was a month of quite extreme highs and lows.


Work gave us the day off to do the annual charity walk.

62 of us set off early one Friday morning to do the Saddleworth 3 Peaks – not everyone completed it but I did…eventually!

Over 25km (just under 16 miles) and I made it to the pub at the end (what else? 🙂 ) in almost exactly EIGHT hours! It was pretty exhilarating, there were breath-taking views and I’m glad I did it but not sure I would (or could) do it again!


At the second peak, ‘Pots and Pans’ cenotaph

At the 3rd peak where we looked back and could just about see the cenotaph behind us in the distance!

I nearly joined some others in giving up after the second peak, but decided to soldier on, despite being in real pain – my left knee did not cope well with the downhill pounding. I had a walking pole (which helped) and ended up taking painkillers (which didn’t help).

Still, we couldn’t have asked for better weather and I’m certain I wouldn’t have made it if we’d had the rain-lashing and high winds experienced during the Snowdonia walk from a few years back. £5000 raised for charity (as a team) with the company matching it so all went to good causes.


I found out a few months ago that one of my friends from uni (fellow course and house mate) had undergone chemo for cancer. First round went well and all sounded quite positive.

However, the second round of chemo didn’t go well and she was in a coma for a month. She won’t recover fully from this and there was mention of her in line for a move to a hospice.

I and some other friends went to visit her as soon as we found out (6 hour round trip by car, plus hotel stay). What a roller coaster of emotions that weekend was – my friend was herself but also, obviously, not herself. We don’t know how long she has left (could be weeks, months?) and they continue to monitor how her body is battling the illness. She has however made it clear to all that she does not want to ‘exist’ like this.

As she has lost most of her sight, when we turned up, we played the game “Guess who I am?” and she got us all by our accents!  The ward nurses said that it was lovely to hear laughter coming from the room as we reminisced about our foolish youthful antics and were probably a bit loud! It’s down to us now to provide a little joy in her life.

Us friends realised regretfully that it had been over 10 years since we had all met up face to face – busy lives and all that, although we did catch up via video during lockdown and the friendships and connections have been maintained over the years (we all graduated in 1991!) first via Facebook, but lately via Whatsapp.

Life is just far too short and we must make time for loved ones before it is too late.

Sorry for that downbeat update but I feel better for writing that down.

I guess one good thing to come out of this was that I caught up with the friend who had FIRE’d (mentioned in my July interim post). It was as I thought – two good careers, leading to a couple of investment properties (sold) and now living the good (retired) life. Great for them, hoping to join them in the not too distant future!

Anyway, how did I get on with my numbers?

I saved 15.1% of my net salary.  The above includes £31.94 from doing Prolific surveys,  £10 from a charity lotto win and £20 from matched betting winnings.

Shares and Investment Trusts

I just topped up existing investments.

Current share/IT portfolio can be found here.

(Entire portfolio here)

Future Fund 

My portfolio continues to creep along in a mostly sideways movement, ending up at £231,906. 


Dividends and Other Income

A very good month for dividends.

I received £767.65, of which £404.23 was from my ISAs, the rest from my SIPPs.

All dividends were reinvested.

Here’s what the graph looks like:


Matched Betting (MB)

Not a lot of time spent on this, so made just a tiny £22.19 this month.

Goals Update

Think I’m still on track with the dividend goal and the non-fiction books but might struggle with the other ones. Will keep at it though.

Gut Health

If not for @Kid Cocoa, @GFF and @dearieme who all commented and mentioned the benefits of kefir in my June update, I would not have given the stuff another try, only to find that over the years, my taste buds have changed and I do now like it! So, thanks guys! 🙂

Realising that I already had all the ‘equipment’ needed to make my own, I bought some kefir grains (from Amazon) and started making my own. My grains have ‘grown’ so I have passed some to my sister, who is now also making her own kefir!

The main benefit I’ve noticed from drinking kefir so far (after nearly a month) is that I feel less bloated than usual. I don’t mind drinking it on the own but love making it into smoothies, with the banana & apple smoothie making a tasty breakfast drink, great to have while I’m still doing my 14/10 intermittent fasting.

This one’s an apple and blueberry smoothie. Borage flower from the garden!

I’m now in a routine of making a fresh batch of kefir every couple of days but the strain on my poor smoothie maker (which had previously been gathering dust for years at the back of the cupboard) has resulted in a broken seal so I’ll be bargain-hunting come Amazon Prime day or Black Friday. An early Christmas present for myself perhaps. (Apologies for mentioning the ‘C’ word already, haha!).

My workload has gone insane and the number of late nights has continued to ramp up. It’s therefore important that I try to stay healthy; I’ve missed a couple of gym sessions but still going at least once a week. I’m ensuring that I get enough sleep too.

I still have quite a lot of holidays left so once the bulk of this project has been done, I’ll be booking some long weekends off.

Hope you all had a great September.

14 thoughts on “September 2023 Savings, plus other updates

  1. Sorry to hear about your friend. It reinforces why are making the effort to get to FI (and possibly RE). It certainly worked that way with me when over a period of 4-5 years a few work colleagues succumbed in their 50s.
    Incidentally, I thought you graduated in 1990 (you’re the same school year as me): did you take a year out, do a 4-year course, or some other reason?
    NB the late nights: I feared this would happen when you said about your pay rise and new responsibilities.
    Hope all goes well hereon.

    • Thanks Vic and sorry to hear about your colleagues.

      I did a 4-year degree, with a one-year placement/internship in year 3. So my first office work experience was with a company owned by British Steel (remember them?). I enjoyed working there, just didn’t like having to work in a smoke-filled office, where the smokers vastly outnumbered non-smokers. I recall they nearly downed tools when company policy was changed and they were told they had to smoke in the ‘smoking room’!

      Re the late nights, just need to keep them manageable.

  2. I too have a few university contemporaries for whom the fates have not been kind. One didn’t make it to his 30s, another lost in his 40s, another had a bad accident that’s left him in a lot of pain and struggling to walk, another has spent much of this year of alternating between chemo and surgery. Others are distinctly feeling our age of early 50s.

    I hope you get to spend more time with your friend, sounds like your visit did her the power of good.

  3. Hi Weenie,

    So sorry to hear about your friend – it really is hard and its moments like that which make you realise just how precious life can be sometimes – there are always tough times and having the opportunity to reflect whilst hard at the time hopefully makes the commitment to meet more often stronger – especially since Covid it made it harder and we have new habits to break!

    On the plus side looks like the dividends continue to grow – and remember although the total fund hasnt gone up you are buying more and more so when it eventually does it will go up even faster 🙂

    Ive seen Kefir listed below but never really looked into it, sounds like I may have to!

    Keep on plugging away, every little helps as they say but it will keep adding up before you know it!

    • Thanks FiL.

      Yes, it’s completely sobering when reflecting on the preciousness of life.

      Amidst the financial doom and gloom in the news, my growing dividends are the only thing that makes me smile at the moment and I will continue to add to it to build the income.

      Thanks, really appreciate for your continued support.

  4. Good to hear you’re enjoying the homemade kefir – so much better than the exhorbitant shop rubbish. i make breakfast smoothies with mine as well and chuck loads of ingredients in….greens from the garden (kale, cucumber, radish and carrot leaves), banana, apple, all types of nuts and seeds, oats, cacao powder & dark choc sometimes as a treat, very mild chillies, etc etc. There’s usually a couple of small portions left over to go in the fridge and they’re good as desserts for the rest of the day. No need to buy expensive yoghurt anymore either!
    For raw kefir, to make the taste better try second fermenting it with a slice of organic lemon peel in the fridge (once you’ve removed the grains) – this really reduces the harshness of the taste and takes the kefir to another level.
    Kefir cheese is another one to consider, if you like soft cheese. This one did take me a while to get used to, but mixed with garlic chives (from the garden) and sea salt it goes well.

    Take it easy with the knee and try not to aggravate it any further. I seem to spend half my day now trying to manage various strains and impingements – stretching and physio at 7.30am are my new daily ‘team meeting’!

    • Hi KC

      Oh, some interesting smoothie recipes there, thanks!

      I’ve only mixed fruit so far, so will tentatively add some veg (I always have spinach and toms to hand). I have ordered my new smoothie maker/blender to replace the old one, which I believe will be powerful enough to do nuts etc.

      Also, thanks for the tip on the second fermenting with organic lemon peel, will give that a try.

      Knee has recovered now but I’m being easy with it on the treadmill. And yes, I need to do more stretching too!

    • We have water kefir and I add that to my fermented lemonade and also throw in the whey from making labneh. Try making yoghurt. It’s really easy, and straining it to make labneh gives almost free soft cheese as well. Such things do make a big difference to one’s dividends because money isn’t going out on stuff so much.

      • Hi The Hare

        I had to google ‘labneh’ as I hadn’t heard the term before!

        Some of my smoothies are really thick, which I need to eat with a spoon so that’s kind of yoghurty.

        Agree that I’m getting gut benefits without having to shell out for shop bought stuff.

  5. I’m sorry to hear about your friend. It really does make you reflect and reassess our priorities in life. For me, this reassessment unfortunately doesn’t last long and before I know it, the effect diminishes as I get back on the treadmill. It is something I actively work on to improve.

    You’re the first blog I have read in years. It’s good to see and read your updates.

    • Thanks CfC

      Same, I try to improve on reassessing life priorities but day to day stuff just gets in the way so I have to work at it.

      And I am chuffed that you have chosen to read my blog afer all these years, thanks for your support!

  6. Hi Weenie,

    Firstly, I am so sorry to read the news about your friend. Life can be cruel at times – enjoy every moment, and grab every opportunity that life throws you!

    Regarding your savings on your excel spreadsheet. Is there a particular formula that you follow to determine how much you’re going to save each month? I’ve noticed that you have allocations for various different pots but, how do you decide 14.1% for example? Is it something that’s populated using a formula?

    Thank you

    • Thanks Leon.

      Re savings – in the past, I used to set myself a savings rate goal; in fact, for a long time, I was aiming for and saving around 40% of my net income! Those days are well and truly gone due to increased costs. The 14.1% you mention wasn’t a figure I decided upon, it’s the % I was financially able to save of my net income that month. When I get paid each month, a set amount goes into my investment accounts (my SIPPs, ISA etc). This is the minimum I would save and it’s probably around 8% of my net income. After I’ve accounted for all my expenses and outgoings (social or other), if there’s anything left in my current account, then that goes towards topping up my investments, up to 14% etc. Hope that makes sense.

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