May 2021 Savings, plus other updates

A big influx of work has kept me really busy, and as the company I work for pivots and stretches to try to claw back business lost through 2020, deals are ever more complex and I’ve found myself working late just to get through my workload. The only evenings I’ve been finishing on time have been my gym nights – sacrificing those will affect my sanity for real.

As mentioned in previous posts, my boss has pretty much got one foot out of the door and while she continues to help when I ask for it, her mind’s not fully focused, she is obviously not as engaged as she was previously and I understand her reluctance to get involved in new (and what look to be protracted and drawn out) issues. Not her problem any more.

When sis and nephew were still living with me, it was rare for me to work long hours because we couldn’t eat too late in the evening as nephew had school. Back on my own again, I’ve slipped into bad habits which I must stop.

Anyway, I escalated my workload issue and the good news is that I will get some  support, which will take some pressure off me. I’ve also booked some days off to clear my head (and do house stuff) and it looks like I’ve picked the right time –  even Manchester is enjoying a little mini-heatwave!

A few ‘highlights’ this month:

  • I’m now ‘fully’ inoculated – had my second AZ vaccine, no side effects this time, just a sore arm for a couple of days.
  • The Fitbit my friends bought me two years ago stopped working. However, after a lengthy discussion with Fitbit Customer Services, they told me I was eligible for a free replacement (worth around £150), which arrived a week later! Very pleased with that, as I was only asking for help, not a freebie!
  • Had my first ‘harvest’ from the veggies I’m growing – this is a kind of Japanese spinach, which was so easy to grow from seed, even for me!

  • Work have announced they are reopening the office doors ‘officially’ on 21st June, subject to government announcements. Flexi-working will be introduced, with various departments scheduled to go into the office on a certain number of days (no more than 3). However, I’ve been told that if I want to, I can continue to WFH 100% – I guess they can squeeze more hours from me that way! Suits me, but I think I will go in once or twice a week to be sociable and so I can catch up with friends.
  • I had my first ‘non-family’ hug (from a friend) in a long time. It was rather marvellous.

Anyway, how did I get on with my savings in May?

I saved 50.5% of my net salary. Despite things opening up, I haven’t been anywhere and my social life has yet to be resurrected, but I’m ok with that. Increased payments into premium bonds because as mentioned, it’s looking likely that I will have to dip into my Future Fund for my property purchase, so I need to build up cash reserves.

The above includes top ups from a £25 premium bond win (yay!) and £46.37 from doing surveys with Prolific.

Shares and Investment Trusts

No new investments, I just topped up existing holdings.

Current share/IT portfolio can be found here.

(Entire portfolio here)

Future Fund 

The markets were all over the place but settled down towards the end of the month.

At the end of May, my Future Fund was at £236,836, so staying steady on course.

Dividends and Other Income

A bumper month for dividends – nearly too many to list:

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April 2021 Savings, plus other updates

Another blur of a month.

Work has kept me really busy, though fortunately not in a mind-numbing way – perhaps that’s due to the brighter days, although temperatures are still on the chilly side and I haven’t put any of my winter clothes away yet!

My boss has started to switch off and I can’t say I blame her – her head’s full of making travelling plans! Two more months before she goes – I already miss her.

Anyway, a few ‘highlights’ this month:

  • The gym reopened! I’ve been enjoying re-establishing my weekly routines and already feel much better physically and mentally. I have noticed this past week however that although the women at the gym are still strictly following the cleaning and wiping down of equipment after use, many of the men have slipped back to old habits of sweating over the stuff and just leaving it for the next person to clean. Shame not all the equipment I need to use is in the ladies-only section.
  • Attended another Zoom ‘Manchester’ FIRE meet up.  This one had an excellent presentation by someone who achieved FIRE from BTLs (Buy To Lets) so it was interesting to hear about his journey and how he’s succeeded. Also attended a great ‘Leeds’ investing meet up, which had some fascinating discussions.
  • To celebrate Earth Day, work gave us the afternoon off and we did several hours of litter-picking in the city centre. It was exciting to meet up with colleagues again and it was a lovely day out. I’m glad to say that there wasn’t actually as much litter as I thought there would be but was astonished and dismayed at the gazillions of discarded cigarette butts. Now that I’ve noticed these on the ground, I can’t unsee them – they are everywhere and it really annoys me.
  • Watched some great stuff on TV, including the brilliant ‘Line of Duty‘ (no I didn’t guess correctly!) and Amazon Prime’s ‘Invincible‘ – violent animation at its best!
  • My local library has announced that it will be reopening imminently and I can’t wait. I’ve been borrowing e-books but it’s not the same. I’m far more excited about this than of the pubs opening their doors. Getting old or just getting more introverted?

Sis and nephew have settled into their new home but haven’t really moved everything out yet as there are still some cupboards/shelves they are waiting to be delivered. We’ve continued with our family board game night so I still see them on a weekly basis which is nice.

Only Happy When It Rains

I still haven’t been out for that first pint yet – I think I would rather wait and let those who need to go right now release all that pent-up desperation enthusiasm out of the way, so things will be a bit more normal and calm in a month or so’s time.

Right now, I just feel that other people will, I don’t know, just irritate me.  Lockdown syndrome or just enjoying being miserable? I don’t know…

Anyway, how did I get on with my savings in April?

I saved 48% of my net salary. I could have probably saved a bit more, but decided to put some money aside ready for when I might want to spend some, a couple of new outfits for the summer maybe, eating out, etc. Maybe even holidays? One can only hope.

Shares and Investment Trusts

No new investments, I just topped up existing holdings.

Current share/IT portfolio can be found here.

(Entire portfolio here)

Future Fund 

Financial news seemed to be dominated with the shenanigans of cryptocurrency (which I’m not invested in) and I was momentarily distracted by the Prime Minister’s wallpaper bill (and choice), so I wasn’t keeping tabs on what the stock markets were doing, hence this was a pleasant surprise.

At the end of the month, my Future Fund had jumped up to £234,689, so the rocket continues its journey!

The bull run continues…for now

Dividends and Other Income

A decent month for dividends:

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March 2021 Savings, plus other updates

Another month has flown by, our humdrum lives just go on.

I’ve had a more positive outlook this month, with the better weather, brighter days and the prospect of lockdown restrictions being lifted.

Work eased off a little, allowing me to tackle my mountain of boring admin and although I’m still trying to catch up on my blog reading, it’s better than it was before.

A few ‘highlights’ this month:

  • Had my COVID jab (AstraZeneca) – felt crap for a few days (shivers and aches) but not so bad that I couldn’t work. Thanks go to the volunteers and the nurses at the local medical centre for making the whole process so smooth and easy.
  • Attended the latest Zoom ‘Manchester’ FIRE meet up.  This one had a good presentation by an independent financial adviser on ISAs vs SIPPs, so there were some good discussions.
  • Started a daily stretching routine – the creaking, popping and cracking sounds emanating from my joints show me that this is long overdue and that I seriously need to keep this up.
  • Followed this guy on Twitter and got some lighthearted updates on the (now resolved) ‘traffic jam’ on the Suez Canal :

Some Bad News

My boss revealed that she has handed in her notice at work because she has ‘had enough‘ (her words).

No, she hasn’t reached FIRE in her 30s but she has saved enough during the pandemic (built up her FU fund!) to allow her to take a long break from work.

I can’t say that I’m really surprised as there’s been an unreasonable amount of pressure put on her this past year (her boss left and wasn’t replaced) but I’m pretty devastated all the same at the news, as I have a great relationship (work and non-work) with her and we work well together as a team.

My job will become very tough without her having my back and there’s potential here for it to go from something I like doing, to something I don’t like, way before I’m ready to pull the FIRE plug…

Some Good News

The day after my boss announced her impending departure, I was notified that I was to receive a 6% pay rise.

This came as a surprise because 1) I didn’t ask for it and 2) we’d all been told that there was a cap on salary increases this year. Unlike many in the public sector, I don’t get an automatic annual increase in pay (not even 1%), any increase is subject to the whims of the powers that be and partially based on performance (as discussed in my annual work appraisal). Since the former carries more weight, it’s usually a zero increase.

I guess my performance has been good (I did win Employee of the month in August)  but perhaps this is just the company not wanting me upping and leaving too. The extra will come in handy with the bills, with my sister moving out next week.

Anyway, how did I get on money-wise in March?

I saved 50.5% of my net salary – continuing with my decent start to the year.

The above savings includes a top up of £55.05 from 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 holdings.

Current share/IT portfolio can be found here.

(Entire portfolio here)

Future Fund 

Who knows what’s going on with the markets, down one week, up the next.

At the end of the month, my Future Fund jumped up to £227,628, so the rocket is back!

What a difference a year makes

Dividends and Other Income

Another bumper month of dividends:

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February 2021 Savings, plus other updates

Monthly update time again – how time flies, even when you’re not really having fun.

No, I’m not sad, depressed or feeling fed up –  I think I’m just suffering from a bit of mental fatigue.

Long busy days at work have left me pretty brain-dead and brain-tired, I’ve gotten behind on my blog reading/commenting and for the first time in a long while, I didn’t get round to sorting out a post in between my monthly numbers updates.

I’m still exercising regularly, eating well, not drinking too much, getting enough sleep and avoiding too much social media or news.

The brighter days and better weather might help drag me out of this listless phase, back to my normal self.

Not many ‘highlights’ this month:

    • Attended (and also did a presentation in) the latest ‘Manchester’ FIRE meet up.  Always good to see familar faces, some new faces and to be able to chat about FIRE, pensions and such-like without people thinking you are a bore or a weirdo. Also attended a ‘Leeds’ Invest Meet up.
    • My nephew finally returned home from staying at his dad’s since before Christmas. Bless him, he’s grown an inch, his voice has changed but sadly, he’s picked up some very bad teenaged boy habits (less said about those, the better!).
    • Losing myself completely reading The Way of Kings, a 1000+ page fantasy tome recommended by SavingNinja. It’s been a while since I stayed up reading past 2am because I got caught up in the ‘just one more chapter’ cycle! Just started book 2, so I can lose myself again!

So, how did I get on money-wise in February?

I saved 47.7% of my net salary – continuing with my decent start to the year.

The above savings includes a top up of a £25 premium bond win, £27.96 from TopCashback* and £20 from Matched Betting profits (from last month).

Shares and Investment Trusts

No new investments, I just topped up existing holdings.

Current share/IT portfolio can be found here.

(Entire portfolio here)

Future Fund 

Another wobble in the stock markets apparently, something to do with bond yields going up but whatever, I carried on investing.

At the end of the month, my Future Fund stood slightly up at £221,108, but the increase was from the addition of capital.

Steady and calm…

Dividends and Other Income

A bumper month of dividends:

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