January 2024 Savings, plus other updates

I kind of ‘lost’ two weeks in January while I recovered from my surgery.

The procedure went well; painkillers sent my head into woo-woo land and antihistamines I had to take to counter an allergy to antibiotics caused such drowsiness that I was just shuffling around the house like the Walking Dead for the best part of a week – am so grateful that my sister looked after me.

When I returned home, I just spent most of the time sleeping. My freezer was full of food I’d prepared weeks before which only required heating up in the microwave and visiting friends topped up my milk, eggs and fruit.

As I came off the painkillers and antihistamines and my head became clearer, I spent my days reading, sketching/drawing and playing video games.  A prelude to how I will spend my days in retirement? Evenings were spent watching TV, nothing with intricate plotlines though, my head was still a bit slow!

I’m still on the mend, not quite 100%, can now drive short distances without too much discomfort and am now back at work (I took nearly 3 weeks off and eased myself back by just doing a few hours a day last week). However, I’m already tired of the emails beginning with “Hi Weenie, how are you? I know you’ve been off but…<insert big piece of work which is apparently really urgent>”. Who says retirement isn’t a worthy goal, lol?

Anyway, the good news is that test results came back and I’m in the clear – what a huge relief.

And on that positive note, how did my numbers look for the first month of 2024?

I saved 17% of my net salary.  The above includes £44.35 from doing Prolific surveys and a £10 charity lotto win.

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 small wobble at the start of the month and then a slight recovery had my Future Fund ending the month at £249,583.56.

Dividends and Other Income

A decent start to the year for dividends:

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December 2023 Savings, plus round up

Happy New Year!

I was in the gym on New Year’s Eve and out litter-picking on New Year’s Day morning – starting as I mean to go on!

Anyway, let’s just get the numbers out of the way for 2023!

I saved 12.1% of my net salary – not great, but a big credit card bill to cover gifts and social outings meant that I didn’t save as much as I would have liked.

The above includes £67.92 from doing Prolific surveys. I also received £103.83 from TopCashback* but ended up spending that on socialising.

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 

Well, a mediocre year for investing ended up somewhat better than expected!

The Santa Rally did its thing and resulted in me achieving my £250k milestone for the first time since August 2021! Woohoo! 🙂

As at 31st December 2023, my Future Fund stood at £250,605.80.  After the painful sideways crawl of my investments over the past year or so, I am very happy and somewhat relieved that I’ve hit the milestone again.

Here’s how it all looks at the end of another year:

However, I had believed (hoped) that after raiding my Future Fund for my house deposit in 2021 (the big dip in Oct 21), the pot would have recouped/grown quicker but sadly, it was not to be.

Using unitization, I’m up just 5.8% this year across all my investments. This figure includes my dividend income portfolio, where stock prices continue to remain fairly depressed.

Nothing as spectacular as the growth that some other investors have reported, but after the nightmare of 2022, it was most comforting that things finally appear to be heading in the right direction.

Still, I daren’t be too hopeful for 2024 – it just feels like everything (at home and abroad) is teetering precariously on a knife edge and things liable to tip one way or another, causing tremors and disruption (or boom, if we’re lucky) in the stock markets.

Dividends and Other Income

A decent final month for dividends:

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July 2023 interim update

Just an update on the month with no numbers as decided to get this out while I could and there’s obviously one more working day for my portfolio numbers to change, dividends to be paid etc.

A blur of a month, felt like a lot was going on at home and at work.

Tennis

Another year of being lucky with Wimbledon tickets, this time, I got to see a couple of cracking quarter-final matches. The weather was great and even the trains ran on time, so it was a great day out.

NHS

The news continues to be full of doom and gloom about the NHS but for me recently, the NHS continues to chug along, doing its thing in the background.

As well as getting invited for routine cervical screening, I’m now of an age where I also get invited for routine breast cancer and bowel cancer screening.

None of these screenings are particularly pleasant (although at least with the latter, I can do the test at home) but when I get these invitations, I will always attend/accept because it’s the only time it feels like ‘someone’ (other than myself) is looking out for me.

I got my results when they said I would get them (no issues) and that’s that for now, until the next screenings.

In the meantime, I’ll continue to look after myself and my health so as to try to avoid relying on the NHS unnecessarily – sadly, it seems like all’s fine when you don’t really need them but perhaps a different story if/when you do.

Life

I considered yet another ‘try before I retire’ activity, by attending a life drawing session for the first time.

The last formal ‘art lesson’ I had was when I was 13 before I chose my options at school (I ended up doing Physics instead of Art).  I’ve only ever really done doodles and cartoons so I wasn’t sure how to use charcoal or pastels.

Anyway, it was a challenging yet enjoyable experience, which I found ‘mind-opening’! There was no teaching or guidance, it was just a free-for-all, with attendees’ skills ranging from enthusiastic beginners to more experienced artists. My friends thought my drawings were good but all I could see were the imperfections.

Budget constraints mean I probably won’t attend many of these sessions but I will certainly see what kind of free online resources I can find so that I can improve my drawing skills. And now I’ve found another thing which I enjoy doing, which I can do in retirement.

Placement

Having just completed sitting his GCSE exams, my nephew did a week’s work experience at our company. It was weird seeing him in the office and I resisted being a ‘helicopter aunt’, largely avoiding him so he could just be himself.

A product of independent schooling, colleagues commented positively on his confidence and ease at dealing with adults in a new/strange environment.  In his words, he ‘learned a bit and had a right laugh’ (he was with the Marketing team). I’ve also gone up a point in the ‘cool aunt’ stakes as he reckons I work for a good company! 🙂

Lawn

I used my birthday money to buy a lawnmower (a small Flymo). Thus far, I’d been mowing the lawn with a strimmer, a bit time consuming but quite successfully, I might add.

The strimmer however is an antique, a 40 year old Black & Decker model, and while it still functions, it’s on its last legs so should probably just be used for edging and borders.

Since the new lawnmower has massively reduced mowing time, it has meant that I’ve been able to squeeze in ‘fast cuts’ during brief sunny periods before downpours – yay!

And finally, Friends Fired

I was surprised (but also not so surprised) to learn recently that a couple of my uni friends (we were course mates) have retired at the age of 55.

I wasn’t surprised because they were always the poster couple who I thought would ‘make it big in life’. Met at uni, they were the first of our bunch of friends to get a mortgage (so grown up!), theirs was the first wedding I attended without my parents, they had 3 children in quick succession, in between both juggling what appeared to be hugely successful careers.

However, I was surprised they would retire early due to the ever increasing size of their house (the last one I was aware of was a 6-bed mansion) and his penchant for tinkering with classic cars. Success has come to them through ambition and hard work (as far as I can tell) but it looks like once all their offspring had finished uni/schooling, they evidently realised they had ‘enough’, and decided enough was enough.

They’ve never mentioned FIRE before (but who does?), yet in true FIRE-fashion, they first trialled and then bought a motorhome and will be making some road trips in that! It’s been a while since I caught up with them properly so I hope to find out more when I see them next.

A recent message to me was “Retirement is fab, do it as soon as you can!” Believe me, I’m trying! 😀

Anyway, need to finish my packing for my hols – will sort out a numbers update when I get back.

Hope you all had a great July!

Nine Lives

Well, the wheel of time grinds onwards and last month, my blog turned nine years old!

Happy 9th birthday to Quietly Saving! 🙂

Yes, I’m still (mostly) enjoying the act of blogging about my journey to FIRE. I know blogs are pretty old school these days, but then, I have to admit, so am I! 🙂

I’ve been posting my numbers monthly with some glimpses of my life for nine years come rain or shine – not exactly riveting stuff, but hey ho, I think I live a relatively ‘ordinary’ life – it’s quite mundane, same-old-same-old but I’m quite content with it not being action-packed, with no drama and no cliff-hangers!

Nine Year Slog

It does feel like a slog at times, as after all this time, it continues to be an effort to stay focused on this FIRE malarkey. After so long, you’d think that I do things automatically and that it’s all very easy but I sometimes feel that if I don’t work at keeping my focus, I’ll just fall off the rails and mess up my plans.

Recently, I’ve been feeling mentally fatigued and felt that I had to get away from looking at my spreadsheets and wishing that they didn’t govern my life so much.

I gave myself a little break but it wasn’t long before I was logging on again, and seeing my numbers (up or down), seeing where I’m at and where I’m going made me feel somewhat comforted, in some control of what I’m doing, in some control of my future. I think I just needed a break from work, which I got over Easter.

Inflation spiralling upwards has made me focus more on costs than I probably have had over recent years. It’s getting to be a harder juggling act.

Anyway, this blog has without a doubt kept me going and I thank all the readers who take the time to stop by with their words of support, who make me accountable for my actions with their comments, suggestions and emails.

What have I been doing these past 9 years? Continue reading