April 2018 Savings, plus other updates

Ok, so I had some second thoughts after reading some of the comments from last month’s post about pulling out all stops to top up my ISA, so with just a few hours to go before the tax year deadline, I opened a cash ISA account – nowt like living on the edge, haha!

Sadly, I wasn’t able to max my ISA, but I did add another £2.5k to make it over £17.5k (moved some of my emergency cash over and withdrew some matched betting funds) – I’m in a better position than I was before so thanks to all who made me reconsider and not dilly dally! 🙂

I went for Nationwide Building Society as I already bank with them so it was quick and easy to open the account – interest is 1.4% (Nationwide gave me an extra 0.1% loyalty bonus – woo hoo, I guess!) and the account has limited access but I’m ok with that.

Let’s see how I get on with this tax year’s ISA – I’m going to have try to top £17.5k now, aren’t I? Eek!

Anyway, how did that affect my savings this month?

I saved 45.3%! My average savings rate has now gone down to 51.1%.  I have now booked my holiday to HK – have paid for my flight in full (most of it via my ‘holiday fund’) but my sister has paid for my ‘holiday within a holiday’ (a few days in Thailand) so I’ll need to pay her back by next month.

The above savings was topped up with £1020 matched betting funds (I withdrew some cash from my betting and exchange accounts) and £68.54 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 must have recovered a bit – after months of going backwards,  my Future Fund now appears to be heading in the right direction again at £138,939, back on track towards my next milestone.

Dividends and Other Income

Dividends received this month: Continue reading

4 Years!

 

This month marks FOUR years since I started blogging about my journey to Financial Independence/Retiring Early!

Happy 4th birthday to Quietly Saving! 🙂

With so many new blogs springing up all the time and other blogs falling by the wayside, no longer being updated, I guess this must rank me amongst the ‘veterans’!?

Back Then

Although my first post on this blog was in April 2014, I had made a note of my finances in March – my starting or pre-FI plan numbers!

Here’s the comparison between my starting numbers and my most recent update:

  • March 2014 – Future Fund: £30,075
    March 2018 – Future Fund: £130,574
  • March 2014 – Net Worth: £74,595
    March 2018 – Net Worth: £219,974

The increases have been largely due to me saving hard so that new capital can be invested every month, although I have also been lucky with investment gains from the (mostly) favourable stock markets these past four years. I also reinvest any dividends and interest I receive.

I’ve aimed to save/invest as much of my net salary as possible (averaging around 40-45%), and also put away income generated from cashback, a bit of rental income, the odd bit of gambling, affiliate links and profits from matched betting. Any bonuses I’ve received from work have largely been invested too, plus as I found a job fairly quickly, I was able to save/invest the bulk of the redundancy pay I received in 2016.

I don’t practise extreme frugality – I just don’t spend a lot of money on stuff I deem unnecessary, but splash out on things I enjoy and which are important in my life, eg holidays, eating/drinking out with friends, my gym membership.

Blog Stats and Numbers?

This is where I could probably post some numbers to show how many visitors I’ve had over the years, page views, followers, subscribers etc.

Apart from the first few giddy months of me starting this blog, I have to say that I’m not really interested in such stats. Although my blog is monetised, it’s never been my intention to make any real money out of it so I’ve never felt the need to work at driving a load of traffic here. The bit of income that I do get from Google Ads barely covers the upkeep of my site but that’s enough for me. The bit of affiliate income I receive is detailed in my monthly updates and is lumped in with the rest of my investments.

Someone even contacted me recently to buy my blog (why??) but I wasn’t interested, not even to see what they were going to offer.

My only goal blog-wise has been to document my own progress on a semi-regular basis.

Top Finance Blogs

Some of you may have spotted that I re-added the Modest Money ‘Top Finance Blogs’ badge to my blog some months ago, after ‘losing’ it when I transferred from Blogger to WordPress.

When it was originally on my blog back in 2014, I had a rank of around #260 out of around 500 FI/PF blogs. My ranking has plummeted but the number of blogs is now around 1000, so I guess I’m still around the halfway mark.

I can’t say I’m actively trying to improve my rank, as I don’t have the time or inclination to sweat over analytics, SEO scores, Alexa Rankings or massing gazillions of Twitter followers.

But fair play and massive respect to those who do put in the hard effort and reap the rewards of a decent blog income – I personally just can’t be bothered with it.

As I draft this post, my rank is #596 so it’s probably gone down further by the time I publish this! How low can I go, haha?

For comparison, Monevator is the top UK blog, ranked at #40 (at the time of writing).

Thank You

A massive ‘Thank You’ to all fellow and non bloggers who take the time to read this little blog – I really appreciate your comments and emails.

Thank you very much for helping me keep my focus, keeping me motivated, giving me ideas and helping me stick to my plan!

I will also take this opportunity to give a shout out to the two blogs, Retirement Investing Today and diy investor UK, who between them, have provided nearly 12,000 referrals to my blog!  Cheers, chaps! 🙂

Also, thanks to FIREin’ London and theFIREstarter who have posted the most comments over the years – keep ’em coming!

Next Chapter

This time last year, I was unemployed (or practising living the FIRE life!) and I wrote that I would be entering a new chapter of my life.

The new chapter so far has turned out to be not too different from the old – I’ve settled into my job and am just getting my head down, getting on with my work. Next month, I will have been at my ‘new job’ for a year – I know! That’s bloody gone quick, hasn’t it?

Being settled means I can pretty much set things to ‘automatic pilot’ and continue with my plan for FIRE, barring any unforeseeable obstacles which life may throw at me in the meantime!

Onwards and upwards!

Hope everyone is enjoying the sunshine in the UK, while it lasts!

Spring is finally here, so no more scenes like this on the way to work!

March 2018 Savings, plus other updates

Sorry, you’re probably getting fed up seeing this image again but I’m not! 🙂 Another premium bond win of £25 means three wins in a row (a ‘Turkey‘, if I was ten pin bowling!), a record for me!  Can I make it a four-bagger!?

At work, it was decided that despite the company not hitting their global year-end target, we would still be paid a bonus. That bonus was a whopping 1% but hey, I’m not complaining as that’s still more than zero. Anyway, with nothing better to do with it, I’ve invested the full bonus amount.

So, how did that affect my savings this month?

I saved 56.6%! My average savings rate has now gone up to 53%.  I however still haven’t gotten round to booking my holiday, plus I have a super-busy social calendar in April so the high rate may provide me with a bit of a cushion when my rate drops over the next month or so!

The above savings was topped up with my £25 Premium Bonds win, £62.81 affiliate income from OddsMonkey (thanks to all who signed up via my links!), £300 matched betting profits and £50 rent received.

As I don’t earn enough to max out my ISA (the max being £20k in a tax year), this past week has been spent shaking down piggy banks and scrabbling behind the sofa to find anything to top it up before the end of the tax year, due to the ‘use it or lose it’ factor.

I managed to find a bunch of old £1 coins so these have been banked – every pound counts and they went towards helping me pay £15k into my ISA. Last year, I managed this amount with the help of some of my redundancy pay (when the max for an ISA was £15k) so I’m really chuffed with this achievement.

I’m sure some of you might be wondering why I’m also paying into my Emergency Fund instead of concentrating on my ISA – well, I took a chunk out for ’emergencies’ last year so need to top it back up. Once I get it back up to >3 month’s worth of expenses again, I can chuck more into my ISA.

Shares and Investment Trusts

I started investing in HICL Infrastructure Company Ltd this month. Think that’s it for new investments for a while, I’ll just top up existing ones for the rest of the year.

Current share/IT portfolio can be found here.

(Entire portfolio here)

Future Fund 

Wobbly markets again apparently. As before, I didn’t follow the daily ups and downs, just got the month-end figure for my update. My Future Fund stands at £130,574 – it’s down 1% from last month, but whatever, I’ll just continue investing as normal.

Dividends and Other Income

Dividends received this month: Continue reading

February 2018 Savings, plus other updates

Perhaps it was just as well that I had a frugal January, which was quiet and without incident, seeing as February was almost the opposite, though it was a mix of good and not-so-good.

Good Stuff

Several social outings with friends did the world of good to banish away some January blues!

Work has been manic but manageable –  the leadership team were over from the US, and my colleague and I were described as a ‘Dream Team’ – hope they remember that when they’re dishing out the pay rises, haha!

I received a surprise letter from a building society regarding a ‘failed’ PPI claim I’d made last year, which advised me that following the FCA’s updated regulations, I was actually entitled to payout so I received £74.40 – thanks very much!

Then, it was another month, another premium bond win, with £25 going into the pot with the other winnings!

Also, I kicked off my home brewing again as I had a ‘window of opportunity’ before work on my kitchen is finally completed. I’d forgotten how much effort it all takes but it was an enjoyable kind of effort and my kitchen smells like brewers hops now! A full update once I have a (hopefully) nice IPA to sample!

Chinese New Year came and went with its usual associated family expenses which were (mostly) budgeted for. May the Year of the Dog be a happy, prosperous and lucky one for all!

Not-So-Good Stuff

That first cold snap we had in the month, my boiler broke down so I was without heating and only intermittent hot water for 3 days. Fortunately, I still had the use of a gas fire, made the most of the shower facilities in my gym, plus the call out and subsequent repair was covered by my boiler plan.

Next, my PC of 8 years decided to break down. I spent 3 days trying to fix it myself (via youtube vids) but as I didn’t want to make the problem any worse, I had to call in an expert. The repair and replacement hardware took a chunk out of my emergency fund but it’s all running like new again so here’s to another 8 years.

Savings Stuff

So, how did I get on with my savings this month?

Ok, I saved 43% – not as bad as I thought it was going to be if I’m honest. My average savings rate now drops to 51.2%.  As I’ll be booking my holiday in the next month or so (which may turn into a ‘holiday within a holiday’), I’ll just need to keep a cap on some other spending over the next couple of months so my average doesn’t drop too much, though I won’t go full-out frugal again like last month (too soon!).

The above savings was topped up with my £25 Premium Bonds win, £74.40 from the PPI claim and £85.73 affiliate income from OddsMonkey (thanks to all who signed up via my links!)

Shares and Investment Trusts

I started investing in Scottish Investment Trust this month, for more diversification.

Current share/IT portfolio can be found here.

(Entire portfolio here)

Future Fund 

The news in February was all about the crisis – I’m talking stock market, not KFC chicken, haha – which I pretty much ignored at the time.

What I do know is that at the end of the month, my Future Fund stands at £132,249 – yes, it’s gone down a bit from last month, but in line with my long-term plan, I’ll just continue investing as normal.

Dividends and Other Income

Dividends received this month: Continue reading