Good Riddance Dogs 2017, Hello Dogs 2018

Just my luck that as I reach the twelve month mark for my experimental Dogs of the FTSE portfolio, things go all pear-shaped in the markets!

Whilst I have largely avoided reading all about the hysteria, it was difficult to ignore the headlines describing the small downturn with words such as ‘TURMOIL’, ‘BLOODBATH’ and ‘CARNAGE’!

I didn’t worry about my Future Fund – I’ve no idea how much it’s dropped by as I’ll be running my usual numbers at the end of the month, but I did think about how it was going to affect my little Dogs portfolio.

Capita (CPI) in particular suffered in a spectacular fashion – I know it hasn’t been in the FTSE 100 for a while but they were one of the top yield stocks when I started the portfolio so I was committed to purchase and hold them for the year. Oh dear, indeed!

As a reminder, here’s the Dogs of the FTSE strategy:

  1. Choose the ten FTSE 100 shares with the highest yield (subject to my criteria*)
  2. Invest equal amounts in all ten shares
  3. Hold for a year (give or take a week)
  4. At the end of the year, sell the ones no longer in the top ten, replace with new shares with highest yield
  5. Repeat from step 3

[*criteria being that shares already in my portfolio are not included, nor any where a dividend cut has been announced]

Here’s how the 2017 portfolio finished:

Not pretty – Capita wiped out my total gains all by itself, yet back in July, it was showing a 25% gain, not including dividend paid. Gosh, I probably doomed the stock by saying that it was ‘showing its pedigree’ in that post – little did I know how the mighty would fall!

So, including dividends, only a paltry 1% gain for the entire portfolio! OUCH!

However, over this same period, the FTSE 100 Total Return was only 0.81% so despite the Dogs being a disappointing let down, they marginally did better, haha! Without dividends though, they seriously under-performed with a 4.35% loss.

What’s Next?

What’s next is the 2018 portfolio!

Oh yes, I’m going to put myself through this again in the name of err, ‘financial science’ and hope there won’t be Turmoil, Carnage or Bloodbaths this time round, nor any spectacular Capita-style demises!

So, in accordance with the strategy:

Dogs Set Free (Sold):

  • AstraZeneca plc (AZN)
  • Capita Plc (CPI)
  • HSBC plc (HSBA)
  • Intu Properties plc (INTU)
  • Royal Mail plc (RMG)
  • Standard Life Aberdeen plc (SLA)

Total received from sales = £1298.38

Total Dividends paid out = £76.96

Profit/Loss from original investment = -£92.45 or -6.3% – ouch!

It was not easy at all pushing the ‘sell’ button for some of those but I am committed to the strategy.

Dogs Rounded Up (Bought): 

  • BT Group plc (BT.A)
  • Imperial Brands Group (IMB)
  • Evraz plc (EVR)
  • National Grid (NG.)
  • United Utilities Group Plc (UU.)
  • Rio Tinto plc (RIO)

Wrong time to sell, right time to buy? Who knows!? I’m not timing the market.

So here’s how the Dogs of the FTSE Portfolio 2018 starting lineup looks as at 12th Feb 2018:

Best of breed or mangy mutts?

Hmmm…for some reason I don’t feel quite as confident as I did this time last year, but we shall see in 12 months time and as before, I’ll be doing quarterly updates.

Lessons Learned?

I’m not sure I’ve learned anything from running this experiment after just one year, though I must say that I thought the portfolio was going to do better. I guess if I hadn’t been following the strategy, I’m not sure I would have sold some of those stocks.

Let’s see how it goes after a few more experiments.

January 2018 Savings, plus other updates

Anyone do ‘Dry January’? Although some of my friends and family did, I didn’t bother. Since I don’t drink during the week, I see little point in depriving myself at weekends. Apparently, my sister failed on day THREE, haha!

Anyway, this month I tried to lead a frugal nun-like existence. That meant turning down social events, no eating out/takeaways (massive assumption here that nuns don’t have social events, eat out or have takeaways…).

My only purchases were basic groceries (including necessary toiletries), a gift voucher (for nephew’s birthday), stamps and a pair of socks. No January sales for me.  Packed lunches for work, except for perhaps on 4 occasions where I spent less than £2 on my lunch.

On the one hand, it felt great knowing that I was going to save more of my salary this month. On the other, the frugal existence didn’t make me feel too happy and in the end, to preserve my sanity, I succumbed and forked out to see the latest Star Wars film at the cinema.

I think I already have my expenses and spending down to a decent level allowing me to save/invest whilst enjoying life – there was probably no need for me to do a frugal January but I thought I’d try it anyway. I have to say it’s not something I’ll be attempting again in a hurry, not to this extreme.

So, did my being very frugal affect how I much I saved in the first month of the year?

Yes, because I saved 59.3% – it could have been more if I didn’t have some December expenses on my credit card bill.

I know, I know…imagine if I could do this every month! But no, living like this isn’t something I would choose to do long-term, even knowing that it would help me achieve my goals quicker. I guess I’m just not in that much of a rush!

The above savings include my £25 Premium Bonds win, £16.32 from TopCashback*, £63.22 from Google Adsense (my annual payout!), £71.16 affiliate income from OddsMonkey, £130 matched betting profits, and £50 rent received.

Shares and Investment Trusts

I started investing in Witan Pacific IT this month, for some diversification.

Current share/IT portfolio can be found here.

(Entire portfolio here)

Future Fund 

The rise of sterling and small wobbles in the market caused my Future Fund to stay pretty much the same at £133,045, despite the capital injection this month. Whatever, I’m just going to continue investing anyway.

Dividends and Other Income

Dividends received this month: Continue reading

Economics, Libraries, plus another PB win


I don’t remember finding the subject of Economics very interesting at school, or particularly after school, if I’m honest. However, I did enjoy the type of ‘economics’ as found in the Freakonomics books, and one of the ‘you might also like’ suggestions in Amazon came up with The Undercover Economist by Tim Harford. This became the final non-fiction book I read in 2017 to achieve one of my goals.

The book occasionally got a bit too much like a school text book but all in all, mostly held my attention.

It was very much educational but in an engaging way; things I learned included the ‘scarcity power’ of retailers pushing up prices,  how and why ‘externality pricing’ works’ (eg congestion charges) and ‘auction theory’, where the example used was the UK’s 2000 telecoms/spectrum auction which became the biggest auction ever (at the time), plus an insight as to why sweatshops might not always be the worst thing for employees.

For those who love their takeaway coffee, there’s a chapter called ‘Who pays for your coffee?’ with interesting examples of how coffees/drinks are priced.

I was interested in the history of how China started its latest revolution to conquer the world, although as the edition of the book I was reading was written in 2006, it doesn’t include China’s explosion in the last 10 years.  However, even 11 years ago, China’s growth was spiralling upwards like a rocket.

Having never heard of Harford previously, I now see him everywhere doing a couple of podcasts (interesting one here about fake news or ‘facts’ which mislead), plus there was even an article by him in the British Airways magazine I was reading on the plane during my recent trip to London! I’ve probably just never noticed him or his work before, but I’ll be paying more attention now.

An interesting read in any case and I would definitely read some of his other books.

Libraries

I’ve been using my local library since the mid-1990s, when I moved back home to Manchester from uni.  Around 12 years ago, my library was at risk of closure due to council cuts – fortunately, it was saved and I started to use it more often, with a ‘use it or lose it’ view. Borrowing books also helped me reduce my spending as I no longer felt the need to buy new books.

I was extremely relieved to hear that the library once again escaped the ‘chop’ and that it was not to be one of ten libraries (yes 10!) which were closed by the council earlier this month. Very sad times and those communities will be all the more poorer for not having local library facilities.

Although my library has been saved, the hours of opening have been severely reduced and I can only feel for the staff who have worked there for many years and the people who regularly rely on using library facilities.

I wonder if Tim Harford has a theory on how libraries can be saved or run more efficiently?

Another Win

And finally, a good start to the year with my first Premium Bond win of 2018 – just the £25 but it all adds up! I hope to get many more wins over the year.

2018 Goals + Bingo

Happy New Year to you all!

For those who work, I don’t know about you but this felt like the longest week ever in the office!

I have no idea what this year will bring but just hope that it will be interesting (bubbles and market corrections? Bring ’em on!), with a lot of good stuff and laughs in between! Oh and with me (and you) continuing to head in the right direction with our finances (bubbles and market corrections notwithstanding!)

Anyway, back to the main topic…Goals!

I only set a few goals last year and the focus on just those few worked well for me with little room for distraction so I’m going to do something similar exactly the same for 2018.

So without further ado, here they are:

Continue reading