July 2022 Savings, plus other updates

I’ve been a sun-worshipper since my teens and like nothing better than to relax and bask in the sun for hours (with sun lotion on), listening to my favourite tunes or reading a book, but that heatwave we had this month was a little too much, even for me! Phew!

It was so tempting to WFH in my bikini and just not put my camera on but I didn’t want to risk me forgetting and joining a video call! It was times like these that I missed the office air con, which I usually complain about being too cold! And no, I’m not one of those who ‘works in the garden’ as in any case, 1) the wifi signal isn’t strong enough and 2) I can’t work with just the laptop screen and need a second (bigger) screen to do my job properly.

Was madly trying to keep my plants alive in the heat – many are in pots so suffered a lot more than the ones in the beds/borders. I’m always reluctant to use the hosepipe so was doing some extra ‘weight training’ by lugging the watering can around!

Also, trust my sister to go away during this particular hot period as I’ve been tasked to water her plants (indoor and garden). As her house alarm is linked to her phone, she knows how many times I’ve been over, so I can’t skimp on my duties, haha!

This month, it wasn’t only the temperatures which were soaring but also my expenses.

I had a couple of social outings but the big expenses were car repairs – a few items marked as ‘Amber’ on my MOT in previous years turned to ‘Red’ so had to be fixed in order for my car to pass.  The ensuing £648 was mostly paid for by emergency fund, so that’s me not reaching that goal I set this year.

Reasons to be Cheerful

The news continues to be filled with doom and gloom, so I look on the bright side:

  • My sister who lives in Singapore came over to visit – it was so good to see her and my niece in the flesh after over 3 years and my little niece has grown so much!
  • Summer sports – first the tennis, then the Women’s Football Euros – this is the first time I’ve watched most of the matches of the women’s tournament and I’ve really enjoyed it – what a win for the Lionesses! Have also been catching lots of the events from the Commonwealth Games – after spending a couple of hours watching women’s T20 cricket, I think I can say this is another sport I will happily go to spectate.
  • After numerous IVF treatments, my friend had a baby girl! ‘Geriatric’ Mum (as new mothers over 35 are referred to) and daughter are doing well and I can’t wait to see them both.
  • Meeting another blogger – more on this later!

So, how did I get on with my numbers in the heat of July?

I saved 15.2% of my net salary. The above includes £96.57 from doing Prolific surveys. As my social life continues to make up for lost-Pandemic time, my savings rate will suffer but hey ho, it’s important to enjoy my life and maintain friendships.

Shares and Investment Trusts

No changes here, I just topped up existing investments.

Current share/IT portfolio can be found here.

(Entire portfolio here)

Future Fund

Well, I wasn’t expecting this upon checking my portfolios!

My Future Fund climbed to £232,406 by month end. I’m now back to where I was at the beginning of the year. That is, if you don’t include new capital added so far this year.

On the graph, it looks like another ‘V’ shaped recovery. However, I’m not getting too hopeful, as this is likely just a false dawn and this bear market probably hasn’t quite finished with us yet by a long stretch.

Dividends and Other Income

A fairly average month for dividend income:

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June 2022 Savings, plus other updates

Being busy on the social front this month made it easy for me to ignore all the negative doom and gloom stuff that dominates the national news.

Reasons to be Cheerful

  • We had a bit of a heatwave and it finally felt like summer!
  • Me celebrating my birthday – another year older, am I any wiser? What do I know now that I didn’t know a year ago? Only that I look and feel the same, although I will likely have squarer-eyes this time next year as my sis got me 12 month’s Netflix subscription as a present!
  • Attended our twice-postponed works’ Christmas/Summer Party, which was a real blast, hugely enjoyable. A great turn out and I finally got to meet some ‘new’ colleagues who had already celebrated their two-year anniversaries at work but whom I’d never met as they joined during the pandemic and they’re not in the office on the same days as I am!
  • Made use of our twice-postponed Centre Court tickets at Wimbledon and watched Rafa Nadal progress through to the next round – this might be his last Wimbledon so it was great to catch him in action. It was a glorious day out, rain started just as we were ready for the train home so the timing was perfect!
  • Attended another Manchester FIRE Pub Meet – as usual, a decent turn out and a good mix of new and old faces. These meet ups are always fun and interesting. One guy turned up with his boss – yup, both on their separate FIRE journeys and wanting to leave the rat race, it was fascinating!

So, how did I get on with my numbers in June?

I saved 17% of my net salary. The above includes a £50 premium bond win, £10 charity lotto win, £30 from winning football predictions at work and £78.94 from doing Prolific surveys.

Shares and Investment Trusts

No changes here, I just topped up existing investments.

Current share/IT portfolio can be found here.

(Entire portfolio here)

Future Fund

The markets went into bear territory.

Keep calm, keep your hair on!

Monevator did an excellent post recently on bear markets.

Since I have no idea what’s going to happen, there’s been no change to my strategy. I have just continued investing as normal, flinging my money at this bear market, topping up my holdings as the prices go down, just as I was topping up when the prices were going up.

My Future Fund plummeted to £219,428 by month end. I’m now down -5.6% YTD.

I’d be lying if I said I was completely unmoved and unconcerned at the continued downturn and lack of progress.

Whilst I’m not stressing or having sleepless nights over this, I am experiencing little pangs of worry as I look at my numbers, which I try not to do too often but needs must, to do my updates! All I can do right now is to keep calm and carry on investing.

Dividends and Other Income

Hallelujah for dividends, shining a bit of light during these dark days of investing!

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Dog Days are Over – Dogs of the FTSE final update

Well what better time to provide a final update to my Dogs of the FTSE portfolio than when everything seems to be spiralling downwards into despairing oblivion!

Dogs of War

So one year on and my 5th experimental portfolio has, like many other portfolios, seen far better days.

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 2021/22 portfolio looked as at 10th June 2022:

A loss of 8.06%, but nearly breaking even at -0.26% if you include dividends paid out.

Over the same period, the FTSE 100 Total Return was 3.45%.

OUCH – look at those losses, especially the -85.96% loss suffered by Polymetal International, caught in the crossfires of the Ukraine war.

If I remove Polymetal, it would have been pretty much evens at 0.07%, and a nice 8.10% including dividends, but that’s not how it works, the strategy meant that I had to live with the bad Dogs as well as the good. Hey ho!

Five-Year Experiment

So, did the Dogs beat the markets? Looks like we might need a VAR check…

Year 1 (2017/18): Dogs 1% vs FTSE 100 TR (for same period) 0.85%1-0 Dogs (VAR check….)

Year 2 (2018/2019): Dogs 16% v FTSE 100 TR -2.02%2-0 Dogs

Year 3 (2019/2020): Dogs -11.7% v FTSE 100 TR -9.6%2-1 Dogs

Year 4 (2020/2021): Dogs 21.78% v FTSE 100 TR 18.68%3-1 Dogs

Year 5 (2021/2022): Dogs -0.26% v FTSE 100 TR 3.45%3-2 Dogs

VAR check on Year 1 gives the Dogs the win, so Dogs ‘beat the market’ 3-2 (however it was really a draw, wasn’t it?!)

Why???

Until recently, I hadn’t really considered why I was even running this experiment.

Mostly it was out of curiosity, I wanted to see if the strategy would work, and I thought it would be fun (spoiler – it was! 😀 )

However, ultimately, I think I was seeking a strategy which took the emotions out of investing, a strategy which had an element of ‘spoon-feeding’ – here I was being told what to buy and when to buy, and what to sell and when to sell. Easy peasy investing!

I have to say during times of volatility, my Dogs portfolio was the only part of my investments which I could look at and honestly shrug without a care, because I knew 100% I wouldn’t be doing anything with it since the strategy didn’t allow me to.

With the other parts of my portoflio, there was always the choice to do something and we all know that in investing, it’s not always easy having to decide to do nothing.

Conclusion

Whilst the strategy took all the emotion and decision-making out of investing, it was totally inflexible in that you couldn’t make any changes to the portfolio in reaction to world events, eg war/pandemic, although I guess that’s the whole point of it!

You could argue that if not for the pandemic or war, the outcome might have been different but there’s always some other world crisis which jiggles the markets in some way.

What Next?

It was my intention to run this as a 5-year experiment so this is, sadly, the Dogs’ last outing. For now.

If the economical outlook didn’t look so dire,  I would have probably continued with it, or thought about doing a sister Dogs of the FTSE 250 portfolio but I think right now, with my serious head on, I need to rein in this fun side of my investments and knuckle down until things improve.

Since this is the end, there’s no need for me to kick out unwanted mutts at a loss (to  bring in new ones), I’m just going to wait for the market to recover and then see what happens.

I’ll likely be hanging on to some of the Dogs long term, possibly adding to a few, as part of the income producing part of my portfolio.

So, it’s goodbye from the Dogs..until we meet again!

In the meantime, keep calm and carry on investing!

May 2022 Savings, plus other updates

May was a month where there was just so much doom and gloom about, well, seemingly everything.

I’ve continued to consume as little news as possible, just enough so that I’m aware of what’s going on without getting too emotionally affected or distracted by it all.

The cost of my groceries has noticeably gone up. I’m not consciously trying to keep costs down yet, perhaps I should.

So, how do my numbers look in May?

I saved 15.7% of my net salary.  The above includes £91.30 from doing Prolific surveys, plus £281.99, which was a credit balance refund from the utility suppliers at my last address. The full credit was actually £100 more but I used that to replace my Fitbit which had recently died on me.

As mentioned in my last post, the sale of my parents’ house has finally completed and now that I’m no longer paying duplicate utility direct debits and council tax, my savings rate should improve.

Shares and Investment Trusts

I opened a (small) new investment in NB Global Monthly Income Fund Ltd (NBMI), to add to the income-paying part of my portfolio. This is the only other monthly income investment I will have, the other being BMO Commercial Property Trust (BCPT) – will see how that goes.

Current share/IT portfolio can be found here.

(Entire portfolio here)

Future Fund

May was apparently a bit of a rollercoaster for many investors and somewhat of a bloodbath for others. I wasn’t particularly worried, although I did check my portfolios a few times to see if there was anything worth stressing about. There wasn’t.

My Future Fund didn’t entirely escape scot free from all the noise and wobbled down a little to £228,772 by month end. I’m down -1.5% YTD, which is a bit meh but nothing to worry about.

Dividends and Other Income

Three cheers for dividends received!

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