Holiday and more Toilet Rolls

I had a great holiday – enjoyed catching up with all the family, but as always, it was over far too quickly.

 

Not quite as action-packed as my last holiday but I still managed to squeeze quite a bit in:

  • A day out at the trampoline park with my niece and nephew – I did realise that I shouldn’t really be flinging myself around on American Ninja-style apparatus at my age but I couldn’t help it!
  • A karaoke session with the siblings – we sang all our 80s and 90s favourites!
  • Five days in Koh Samui, Thailand where I snorkelled, kayaked, ate a lot of yummy food and stayed up til 3.30am watching England in a nail-biting penalty shootout!
  • A foot massage evening with the siblings
  • An outing to celebrate my sister’s birthday
  • Ten pin bowling session, scoring 73 in the first game and 150 in the second – clearly the first game was just a warm up, haha!
  • A game of badminton
  • Lots of dim sum and sushi!

I didn’t know that planes with open propellers were still used commercially!

Budget Blown

As with previous holidays, I hardly bought anything for myself (just snacks and green tea teabags!) but I spent a lot on eating and drinking out and of course, I had to treat the kids and ended up spending a lot more than planned.

So much so that I had to borrow from my sis so she will be wanting to collect on her debt either later this month but maybe I can stall her until next month…

Some people buy souvenirs on holiday….I buy toilet rolls!

As always, I leave home with a heavy suitcase (full of stuff for the family) and end up with a light/empty one and as with my last trip, I stocked up on toilet rolls for my return trip home.

Toilet Rolls

Why toilet rolls? Because they’re something I will use, I can store them away and I needed to fill up my empty suitcase!

I usually buy Tesco brand, £3.35 for 9 rolls, 2-ply, average 220 sheets per roll.

The HK ones I buy cost £2.88 for 10 rolls, 3-ply, average 340 sheets per roll.

And that’s with a crappy Sterling exchange rate. There will, however, be no need for me to buy any more on my next trip – the stash I have will last a long time!

On the subject of spending, I successfully used my Starling card in both Dubai (airport) and Thailand – am very happy with the app so no doubt, I’ll be using it again on my travels.

Thoughts and Ideas

As mentioned previously, I didn’t do any blogging while I was away but while I was lounging by the pool in Thailand, I jotted down a few ideas and thoughts about my investments.

I’ve now got more of an idea of how I will use my SIPPs and ISA for income when I pull the plug on full-time work. It’s still only a loose idea and I’ll see how things look at the end of year as I’m overdue an update on my investments plan.

I’ve realised that I’ve been coasting along when I could probably make a lot more effort with my expenses and my savings. I guess a bit more focus won’t do any harm and might be enough to make a difference. I have family staying with me later this month so perhaps the focus will have to come after they leave!

Some clowns, plus a couple of guys wearing white make-up…

A shame that ‘football didn’t come home’ in the end as this trip was very much entwined with the World Cup, with various plans being made around catching the timezone friendly (and some unfriendly) matches.

I almost miss the ‘Three Lions’ song which has been played endlessly everywhere!

I shall still enjoy watching the final as a neutral and also look forward to catching the Wimbledon finals – tennis has been forgotten with all the football excitement!

Have a great weekend all!

June 2018 Savings, plus other updates

Hello, I’m back so here’s my belated June update – I’ll do a bit of a write up on my holiday when I’ve got some time, have loads of admin work and reading to catch up on.

So how did I do with my savings in June?

I saved 40.9%, which sees my average savings rate going down to 47.2%.  As mentioned previously, the summer is going to be rather ‘spendy’ and I ended up borrowing some spending money from my sister, which I will have to pay off over the next month or so.

The above savings was topped up with £62.81 affiliate income from OddsMonkey (thanks 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 

The markets did what they usually do, ie go up and down and with the extra capital, my Future Fund now stands at £144,498, still steadily making progress towards my next big milestone.

Dividends and Other Income

Dividends received this month: Continue reading

Quick Update and O.O.O

Just a brief update to get this out of the way as I’ll be busy with work and getting ready (shopping and packing) for my holiday later in the week:

  • This month, I celebrated my birthday – another year older, maybe a little wiser? I’ve been trying to shift a couple of pounds but my birthday celebrations lasted all week so instead of losing, I’ve probably piled more on! All this eating out (and drinking) has meant it’s not been a cheap month either.
  • My kitchen is still not complete – the fridge freezer was due to be delivered this weekend but was damaged in transit. I’ll have to sort things out after my hols and hope that it’s there before my family are over!
  • At work, the initial part of the ‘re-organisation’ I mentioned has happened – my colleague is now my new BOSS!  It’s not a real surprise, I was wondering when it would happen, just didn’t think it would happen so soon.  Our working relationship will inevitably change but hopefully not by too much, although I had gotten used to a remote boss (previously in our London office) and now I’ll have one sat right next to me!  I’m a little concerned that she doesn’t have a lot of management experience  so we’ll see how it goes. Still, we’ve worked well together so far, I already have a lot of respect for her professionalism, industry experience and knowledge, and this is despite me being twenty years her senior…I know!!! I might have to cut back on my avocado toast jokes from now on though!
  • The second part of the company re-organisation/restructuring is yet to be announced and it might not be pretty. As ever, I’ll worry about it when I know what it is and how it’ll affect me.

Out Of Office

So I’m off to the far east on my usual jollies, which means my June savings update will be a week or so late. I don’t have any scheduled posts and am unlikely to be reading any blogs while I’m away so I’ll be doing a big catch up on reading and commenting upon my return.

I do miss blogging (and reading blogs) when I’m away but at the same time, I enjoy the break. I do always take a notebook with me (so old school still!) to jot down ideas and notes for future blog posts. I’ll certainly be making a note of my experience using my new Starling* card when I stop in Dubai for my connecting flight.

It’ll also be good to take a break from matched betting although I’m a little gutted that I will be missing all those World Cup offers – I’ve tried to make the most of them this past week or so.

My family are football fans too so I’ll be enjoying watching some matches (when they’re timezone friendly) – Hong Kong’s still got a huge British ex-pat community so looking forward to cheering on England down the pub! Been loving the World Cup so far, with the big teams not starting as well as expected – exciting stuff!

Anyway, catch up in a few weeks’ time!

[*Referral link – there’s no money involved but I get some hearts lit up on my app!]

Murmuration*

The recent banking internet disasters at TSB, Visa and Tesco, plus this interesting post from The FIRE Shrink got me pondering the other week.

My emergency funds are predominantly split across TSB and Tesco Bank (with a bit in Nationwide) and my debit card is Visa.

So what would happen if I did have an emergency and I couldn’t get to my money because of various banking meltdowns?

Ok, unlikely that they would all go down the pan at the same time but it could happen? I do still carry a bit of cash these days but it’s very rarely more than £20. I decided I needed a back up plan but that I needed to look beyond the ‘old banks’.

New Bank

Again, I have The FIRE Shrink to thank for pointing me in the right direction.

He had as one of his monthly goals: “Set up a Starling / Monzo / Atom / Revolut account”.  I’d heard of Monzo and Atom before but thought I’d do some research on all of them. Revolut didn’t appear to have a UK banking licence so they were out of the running. Atom looked ok but for fixed term savings.

So it was a toss up between Monzo and Starling, both having similar features as a current/day to day bank account app.

I suddenly recalled that I’d read something about Starling and it was this inspiring BBC article about the challenger bank’s founder and CEO, Anne Boden. Well, that was my decision sorted – I’ve got to do my bit to support women in finance and tech!

Obviously this wasn’t the only reason why I chose Starling – the debit card is linked to Mastercard (would Visa and Mastercard ever have a meltdown at the same time??), no charges for overseas withdrawals, interest paid on balances, (although nothing to really shout about at 0.5%, it’s better than Monzo’s zero) and it was voted ‘Best British Bank and Best Current Account Provider in 2018’.

There are also some other nifty features on the app which I won’t go into as I haven’t tried them out yet but I’ve heard a new feature just developed will be the ability to attach notes and images of receipts against transactions which sounds intriguing.

Also, there was something about Starling that didn’t look gimmicky, perhaps seemed a bit more ‘traditional’ (in a good way),  plus there are Boden’s banking credentials too.

As I was drafting this post, coincidentally, this popped up on my Twitter feed:

Just as well I got my application in last week and avoided the stampede!

Application

The whole onboarding process took about 10 mins. It probably would have taken less but in order to verify my account, I had to send a video selfie and since I’d just got in from the gym when I applied (hair still wet and uncombed, make up half on, half off), I spent a few minutes making myself a bit less scary more presentable before I sent it, haha!

The following day, I received a text confirming my account had been set up and I was able to start playing around the app, transferring in money, setting up payments etc. My card arrived 3 days later.

All very quick and easy, with minimum fuss.

Uses

I’ve opened up this account initially to be a back up emergency account. What’s interesting is that I’ve got a free pre-approved overdraft of up to £5000 – well that is an emergency back up and a half! Obviously interest is paid on what you borrow but great for peace of mind.  I also plan on taking the card away with me, just in case I need some cash overseas.

I already find that I feel comfortable with this app (the first banking one on my phone) and I see the possibility of it being used for small purchases in the future.

My main current account would continue to do the major heavy lifting, ie direct debits, all bills, groceries, petrol, etc but we’ll see, anyway.

Anyone else got any experience with any of the challenger banks or banking apps in general?

*A ‘murmuration‘ is a flock of starlings.

[Disclaimer – I have no affiliation whatsoever with Starling Bank and this is not a recommendation to download the app, just an account of my experience with the Android version. There are no referral/affiliate links in this post – EDIT: here is my referral link which lights up a heart on my app!]