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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January 2021 Savings, plus other updates

Was it just me or did anyone else find that this month passed by both slowly and quickly?

I daren’t think too much on why this was, as it hurts my brain!

Anyway, ‘highlights’ this month for me in the first lockdown month of the year included:

    • 4 hour+ Zoom chats with a couple of friends from uni, whom I hadn’t met up with for 6 and 12 years respectively – we had a lot to catch up on!
    • Attending two FIRE meet ups: the London one and the Manchester one. Of course, with the meet ups being on Zoom these days, you can be dialing in from anywhere and we even get some FIRE peeps from overseas joinng in. I know many people might be ‘zoomed out’, but unless you talk openly about FIRE with your colleagues or family and friends, I’m guessing these sessions will be different from your usual Zoom calls. Anyway, I’ve put in the links so people can join ‘Meet Up’ and see when the next events are on (the next Manchester one will have discussions about savings rates and the next London one will be talking about aiming for FIRE as a couple).
    • Downloading the Zombies, Run app – (thanks go to Faith of Much More With Less for the heads up on this fun app!). I’m not paying for subscription so have to wait for the new missions but that’s ok, I can be patient!
    • Buying some ‘working-from-home clothes’, in other words, a couple of pairs of leggings, £5 in the sales!
    • Rewatching ‘The Matrix’ for the gazillionth time – I liken Neo’s Red Pill moment to when I discovered FIRE and went down the proverbial rabbit hole myself…
    • Being riveted by the whole ‘meme stock‘, r/wallstreetbets vs hedge funds thing. I even had a few small ‘bets’ myself (using Freetrade*) on GameStop, AMC and Blackberry and came out eventually +12%, although the whole saga continues to unfold. Certainly the fallout from all this will be interesting. Silver, anyone?

    • Rotting my brain with guilty-pleasure TV shows like ‘Married At First Sight – Australia’ and ‘The Masked Singer’….don’t judge me 🙂
    • Spending a whole month with just my Sis in the house since nephew is still with his dad from before Christmas, as pointless him coming back yet with his school shut. It’s been surprisingly ok…
    • Not a highlight but making another trip to the dentist which had me going home minus £300 (2 missing fillings replaced – ouch!).  That went on my credit card and I may just plug this with some emergency cash.

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

I saved 46.6% of my net salary – not a bad start to the year.

The above savings includes a top up of £20 from Matched Betting profits (from last month).

Shares and Investment Trusts

No new investments apart from ones mentioned here, where I adjusted part of my investment strategy earlier this month.

Current share/IT portfolio can be found here.

(Entire portfolio here)

Future Fund 

After the end of year rush upwards, the stock markets wobbled a little so I saw no real gains, despite new capital being added. Some ‘experts’ are saying there’s going to be another big crash at some point. Yeah, whatever.

At the end of the month, my Future Fund stood at £220,324.

Steady as she goes

Dividends and Other Income

Not a bad start to the year for dividends:

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December 2020 Savings, plus round up

Happy New Year!

Ok, let’s just get the numbers out of the way first, eh?

I saved 47.3% of my net salary. Gift spending was balanced out slightly by a small but welcome bonus in our December pay. Another ‘bonus’ I received this month was a cheque for £84.94 which apparently was for a short-payment on an endowment plan I cashed in back in 2015.

The above savings also includes top ups from £20 Matched Betting profits (from last month), another £25 Premium Bond win, £55.34 affiliate income from OddsMonkey* (thank you to all who signed up via my link!), £60 from Adsense and £25.53 from TopCashBack*.

Shares and Investment Trusts

No new investments, I just topped up existing investments. This will however likely change, as I will be making some tweaks to my portfolio in the new year.

Current share/IT portfolio can be found here.

(Entire portfolio here)

Future Fund 

This time last year, my Future Fund stood at £188,605. As at 31st December 2020, it was £219,553. Not even a pandemic could stop the Santa Claus Rally?!

No holidays, no commuting costs and no social life meant I was able to invest more this year.

The total capital I invested in 2020 was £17,935, (the most I’ve ever invested in a year, barring the time I invested my redundancy payout) so given what happened to the markets in March, I will happily and gratefully take an investment gain of £13,013 (YTD around +6%).

I remained fully invested throughout 2020, selling only some high-flying bond ETFs in March to rebalance into equities which were looking particularly dire.

So, a final month of dividends:

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November 2020 Savings, plus other updates

Recently, I came across another definition for FIRE – Forced Into Retirement Early (article might be paywalled).

With the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs in the UK, sadly, this is probably happening to many people of a certain age (not just women, as per the article).  I also need to be mindful that it could affect me if I were to lose my job before I’m ready to FIRE, seeing as I’m one of those people of a certain age, except that my saving and investing will have me in a less-dire position than some others.

Anyway, I don’t know about you, but Lockdown #2 seemed to pass quite quickly – as I mentioned in my last update, this second national lockdown wasn’t going to pose any real change to how I’d been living my life over the last few months.

With Greater Manchester moving into Tier 3 from tomorrow, it’s just the same old, same old.

I’ve just been focusing on the things I can do, such as continue working from home, go for walks, exercise at home (with my newly purchased weights), enjoy Zoom calls with friends and family (yes, I’m still doing those), enjoy home cooking, watch some decent stuff on tv, read and play video games (my new gaming obsession is Rimworld, thanks to Monevator).

I haven’t been dwelling on the things I’ve not been able to do or people and things I miss – it’ll only make me miserable.

‘Highlights’ this month for me included:

    • Being chatted up in the gym – a first! It was a couple of days before Lockdown #2 and with no one going to pubs or nightclubs, I guess a lad’s gotta try when the opportunity arises! It was good for my ego, if nothing else, that I’m still approachable whilst sweatily huffing and puffing through my weight training exercises 🙂
    • Earning £200 for participating in an investment trust investor community – not bad for 10-20 mins a day for two weeks! If you’re interested in doing investment surveys (to earn Amazon vouchers and possible selection for future investor communities), register here (this is not a referral link).
    • Buying my first Christmas present and a new pair of trainers. Still not in the Christmas spirit yet though.
    • Transferring an old work DC pension to one of my SIPPs – the whole process (from request to actual transfer) took a while, my money was out of the market for several weeks but it looks like I’ve inadvertently/luckily timed the market correctly.
    • Catching up with my uni pals on Zoom, six years after we last saw each other.
    • Working 4 days a week – no overseas trip this year meant I’ve got holidays to use up as I’m only able to carry a few over. It was nice having long weekends, even when I didn’t go anywhere or do anything special. However, this has shown me that cutting my hours down in the future probably wouldn’t be a viable solution to ‘glide’ into early retirement (if I stayed in this job) – long term, it would place too much pressure on my boss and the rest of the team.

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

I saved 58.8% of my net salary – December is going to be a bit more spendy so I thought I’d try to stick in as much as possible this month. Not enough to hike my average up by much but good enough.

The above savings includes top ups from £20 Matched Betting profits (from last month) and the abovementioned £200 from taking part in that investor community.

Shares and Investment Trusts

No new investments, I just topped up existing investments.

Current share/IT portfolio can be found here.

(Entire portfolio here)

Future Fund 

Just when I thought it was going to take me a while to get to that milestone again, the stock markets bounced up (on the back of US election results and vaccination news) and my Future Fund jumped by over 6% to £212,100! Whoosh!

Although this is a fantastic increase from last month, I need to bear in mind how quickly it can drop back down again! I would love to finish on a high but this is 2020 so I have no expectations…

Dividends and Other Income

Not a bad month for dividends:

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