School Reunion!

Recently, I attended a high school reunion.


I grew up in a small working-class town.

The parents of the kids I rubbed shoulders with served in local shops, did shifts in factories, ran their own small businesses (mostly manual labour) or were long-term unemployed. A couple worked as teachers.

I didn’t come across folk whose parents were doctors, lawyers or accountants until when I went to university.

There were two high schools in the town – the Catholic school (good reputation) and the state comprehensive (not so good reputation). I’m sure you can guess which one I went to! clue: it wasn’t the first one.

As you can imagine, there was intense rivalry between the two, although if there had been school league tables back then, no doubt they would have been near the top and we would have been near the bottom!

Although my early to mid teenaged years were rather awkward, I’d say I enjoyed a lot of my time at school because I loved to learn, I loved and was able to take part in a lot of sport and I had my friends. Of course, they weren’t all happy days but I couldn’t say that I ever hated school.

I knew that I wasn’t going to stay in the town forever – the city lights (and night life) of Manchester beckoned and the family relocated there while I was at uni. However, despite not having lived in ‘Smallville’ since I was 19, I’ve been visiting the town at least once a year ever since, to catch up with a friend I’ve continued to keep in touch with.

Class of ’85 Reunion

This wasn’t the first school reunion I’d ever attended.

The first one was 15 years ago, organised pre-Facebook days via Friends Reunited (remember them?) and my now-ex ended up in a punch-up…yes, really!

Anyway, no such shenanigans were expected this time round, not with us all older and wiser!

I was one of the early arrivals and for a moment, it was as if no one else was going to turn up and I had the fleeting thought that it was all going to be a disaster.

But then, people started drifting in. It was all a bit awkward at first – I mean how do you greet people, most of whom were still in school uniform when you last saw them? In the end, I think around 30 people turned up, some with their partners.

Some faces were familiar, while others had changed almost beyond recognition. I remembered many names, although the name badges did help to jog the memory for ones I didn’t remember.

Names which used to roll off my 15-year-old self’s tongue because I heard them being called out every day when the teacher was doing the class register now felt strange being uttered again after so long.

However very soon, things relaxed, probably helped by the incredibly cheap alcohol (I’ve been too used to paying premium and had to keep double-checking the prices), it was great to roll back the years, to find out what people had been up to, how their lives were the same or different from my own (mostly different).

Many still lived and worked locally and it was good to see that some friendships from school still endured enough that they (mostly women) still went on holidays together. A few attendees travelled up from London and also from as far as Scotland.

It was all quite weird but in a good way – I was greeted warmly by people who, as boys and girls, I had virtually nothing to do with at school because we weren’t in the same friend circles or took different classes.

It’s not a brag when I say that everyone remembered me.

It certainly wasn’t because I was one of the popular kids (I most definitely was not) – it was because I was the only non-white person in my school year.

It didn’t make a difference to me back then and it still doesn’t.

These were the peers I’d learned with, the ones I grew up with, people with (mostly) similar backgrounds. As I looked around, who was more successful? The ones who were grandparents? The ones with top-earning careers? The ones who looked healthy and had their own teeth/hair/slim waistlines (delete as applicable)?

In our own ways, we were all successful. We had made it to the reunion 34 years after leaving school, to (re)connect, to reminisce, to be sociable. And there was no fighting!

A Blast

All the favourite 80s tunes from our youth were played and I danced the night away, getting blisters on my feet in the process!

A few of us then took the party back to my friend’s house. No, we weren’t on the shots, we were being sensible grown-up and having nice cups of tea and coffee, but I still didn’t get back to my hotel til 3.30am!

The whole event turned out to be a real blast and I’m so glad I went. I rekindled some friendships which I thought I’d lost, did a bit of networking, found that some people who I didn’t have much time for back when we were kids have turned out to be the kind of people I’d like to get to know more.

I didn’t mention FIRE but with one or two I chatted to, I mentioned my desire to retire early and they understood completely and said that was something they would want to do.

If I continue to be in close touch with them, perhaps FIRE could end up being a topic of conversation!

Anyone else attended school reunions or is it something you would avoid at all costs?

August 2019 Savings

Just the basic numbers update as I’ve found only a small window of opportunity to post this!

So how did I get on in August?

I saved 46.5% of my net salary – not bad, and the good news is that this should continue to improve as my family settle in (separate post on that at some point…).

The above savings includes top ups of £43.27 from TopCashback*, £80 matched betting profit (from last month) and £68.74 affiliate income from OddsMonkey (thank you to all who signed up via my links!).

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 

A lot of up and downs but my portfolio seems to have weathered it quite well, not moving much at £174,085.

Dividends and Other Income

A fairly average month for dividends: Continue reading

Manchester FIRE Meet Up in Sept

Just a quick update.

I can’t claim any credit for organising this (thanks, Cath!) but the next Manchester Meet  Up has been sorted.

It’s at the Rain Bar, 80 Great Bridgewater Street, M1 5JG

Friday, 27th Sept 2019, 6pm – late

For those who use Facebook, there’s a Financial Independence UK group and an event has been set up, so you can state that you are going. Those not on FB can just post a comment here if they prefer.

Or you can just turn up, much like at the first Manchester meet up.

I shall be attending so hope to see some of you there for a few beers! 🙂

Return of the Dogs!

I can’t think of a better time to post about my Dogs of the FTSE experimental portfolio, just as the markets are apparently tanking!

Is this just a blip, or the beginning of the inevitable end of the bull run?

Whatever, I’m still investing and I intend to document the bad times as well as the good times.

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]

Note that this is my ‘fun’ portfolio and represents less than 2% of my Future Fund.

Here’s how my last portfolio finished in Feb 2019:

Full end of 12-month update is here if you’re interested.

There was a delay in setting up the next portfolio as I had to wait for the 2019 tax year to commence to open my new ISA with a new provider.

So in June, I went about setting up my Dogs of the FTSE 2019/20 portfolio! Been a bit busy so this post has been languishing in my drafts!

So, in accordance with the strategy:

Six Dogs Set Free (Sold):

  • Marks & Spencer Grp plc (MKS)
  • National Grid (NG)
  • Rio Tinto plc (RIO)
  • Royal Dutch Shell plc (RDSB)
  • SSE plc (SSE)
  • United Utilities Group plc (UU)

Total received from sales = £1,333.20

Total Dividends received = £175.90 (note I continued to receive divis until I sold in June)

Profit/Loss from original investment = £57.94 (3.9% gain)

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

Also, it was hard swalllowing the 6 x £9.95 trading fee (with AJ Bell) – if not for the fees, I would have doubled my profit/gain and this is the main reason why I moved to another provider, where the fee for buying/selling will be a big fat zero.

Next, in accordance with the strategy:

Six Dogs Rounded Up (Bought): 

  • Standard Life Aberdeen (SLA)
  • ITV plc (ITV)
  • Aviva plc (AV)
  • British American Tobacco plc (BATS)
  • Direct Line Insurance Group (DLG)
  • HSBC Holdings (HSBA)

I’m not timing the market, just bought at whatever the price was in June.

So here’s how the Dogs of the FTSE Portfolio 2019/20 looks as at today:

Best of breed or mangy mutts? All pretty much looking like they’re the latter right now!

Over this same period, the FTSE 100 Total Return was minus 1.46% so the Dogs are lagging a bit on -5.10% including dividends.

I’m not sure I can do quarterly updates as before – perhaps half-yearly updates on how this portfolio is doing.

Random Shares Portfolio

I’ve been testing Freetrade’s free share referral scheme and now have a bunch of free shares, thanks to those who have clicked on the link and topped up their accounts – hope you were all allocated decent free shares in return.

When I get round to it, I’ll provide an update on what random shares I was awarded and how they are getting on.

If anyone would like to try out Freetrade’s app and bag a free share in the process, drop me a note via @QuietlySaving or my Contact Form.

The free share referral scheme will be rolled out to all shortly, which will allow all Freetrade account holders to be able to refer.

And finally….

Possible Blog Delays in Future…

D-Day is imminent, my living situation will be completely changed from this weekend.

I’m feeling both excitement and dread. And rather stressed.

I have no idea how I will be able to continue to post regularly and keep my blog secret from my family so don’t know when I’ll be able to post again.

I hope I’ll work something out.