January 2022 Savings, plus other updates

I was in the supermarket doing my weekly shop when my phone rang and I saw it was my sister.

“I’ve got COVID,” she mumbled, “You’d better get tested asap!”

Great – I’d been round at hers for dinner the night before!

I finished my shopping as quickly as I could (fortunately, I had continued to wear my mask), giving wide berth to other shoppers where I could.

The good news was that I was negative, so I’ve managed to escape it for another day!

However, I feel like I’m living on borrowed time and that it will get its grubby little viral mitts on me at some point.

Not today!

PS – sis is ok, just has mild flu-like symptoms.

So where has this month of January gone – it’s just whizzed by!

The bursting inbox I faced upon my return to work starkly reminded me of why I continue to pursue FIRE – at some point, I’ll be able to choose not to have to deal with crappy unimportant emails!

Boris said it was safe to go back into the office so I did and it was nice to catch up with colleagues and be in the city centre. I took the opportunity to visit the library and it was so nice to browse the bookshelves.

I think post-COVID (such as it will ever be), the company will continue to implement a hybrid working policy, which is fine by me.

House-wise, all immediate repairs/replacements have finally been done inside the house. This was such a relief finance-wise but also, I’ve had my fill (not literally) of tradesmen and their builder’s bums, haha!

It’s been quiet on the social front – my friends have kept within their immediate circles so I haven’t seen them, apart from a quick lunchtime coffee catch up, but we have a couple of dates pencilled in for February.

I’ve been quite happy having quiet weekends in, starting the day competing against family in the daily Wordle (we’re very competitive!).

Been pottering around the garden doing a bit weeding, clearing away leaves, digging up the beds and planting a small tree. I’ve found that gardening is a time when I can listen to (and enjoy) podcasts.

When not outside, I’ve been wallowing in some ‘comfort tv’, namely ‘Downton Abbey‘ – I know, I never watched it when it was on over 10 years ago, just enjoying it now in my own time!

The gym is currently unbearably busy with new year enthusiasts – it probably isn’t really that full but I’ve been used to it being quieter, so am looking forward to things calming down when people start breaking their NY resolutions!

Anyway, let’s take a look at the first numbers for 2022:

I saved 18% of my net salary.  The above includes £69.62 from doing Prolific surveys.

Shares and Investment Trusts

I offloaded my holding in Hipgnosis Songs (SONG) for a small loss (a couple of quid) – the recent Spotify/Neil Young incident has shown that the whims/control of song artists represent an added unforeseen risk/variable in this investment that I’m not comfortable with (Hipgnosis owns 50% of Young’s worldwide rights).

I don’t begrudge anyone wanting to take a stance in accordance to their values, I’d just rather not lose any money over it!

Funds from the sale were used to top up existing investments.

Current share/IT portfolio can be found here.

(Entire portfolio here)

Future Fund 

Ouch – is this finally the end of the longest bull market? It’s all looking pretty disastrous on the stock markets front.

Energy prices, inflation, interest rates, tax hikes, Russia v Ukraine, any (or all) of these might be the reason for the tanking stocks.

Or none of the above, just people being people. The question is, how long will these depressed markets go on for?

I’m just going to (try to) keep calm and carry on investing, despite my Future Fund plunging to £225,515, down 3% YTD.

Well if anything, I guess it makes the graph look interesting!

Dividends and Other Income

Hurrah for dividends when stock prices are plummeting:

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December 2021 Savings, plus round up

Happy New Year!

Hope you all had an enjoyable festive period and a good start to another new year.

I’ve had a nice mostly quiet time getting used to being in my new home. Still not fully unpacked properly but I’m still moving some last few things from the old house (not sorted the garage or the shed yet – eek!). I can see that I’m going to have to do the whole KonMari thing again at some point!

Anyway, let’s just get the numbers out of the way for 2021!

I saved 13.2% of my net salary.

The above includes £150 from taking part in an investment community exercise, another £25 Premium Bond win and £42.80 from doing Prolific surveys.

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 

Was there a Santa’s Rally? I wasn’t paying attention but perhaps there was as my Future Fund finished up at £232,272.61.

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

Considering the unexpected house purchase, I’m just relieved to finish with a bit more in the pot than I began with at the beginning of the year.

Dividends and Other Income

An average final month for dividends:

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November 2021 Savings, plus other updates

November was a blur, here are a few highlights:

  • My house purchase was completed! I nearly cried with relief!
  • My niece was up for half-term and was with me when I went to the estate agents’ to pick up my house keys. She helped me choose new carpets!
  • My sister came over for a quick visit from Hong Kong – it was so good to see her after nearly 2.5 years. She helped me choose some new lights for the living room! I was able to hand over some family Christmas gifts for her to take back. Unfortunately, she’s still not quite home yet, as she’s currently 5 days into a 21-day quarantine in a hotel…
  • Not everyone’s cup of tea and certainly no ‘Game of Thrones’ but am loving  Amazon Prime’s adaptation of Robert Jordan’s high fantasy series, ‘Wheel of Time‘. I’ve read all 14 books and one of the the most fascinating things is hearing how the names are pronounced (yes, in my head, I’ve been pronouncing them wrong!).
  • I was awarded Employee of the Month at work, which was a real surprise (though of course, very much appreciated) as I’ve just had my head down, doing my job, nothing which I thought was exceptional.

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

I saved 13.5% of my net salary.

The above includes £39.20 from doing Prolific surveys.

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 wobbly final week of the month for the stock markets due to concerns caused by the Omicron variant of the virus – indeed so big is the concern, that our works’ Christmas party has been cancelled – but I ran my numbers the evening of 30th November so avoided the plunging ‘Black Friday’ values.

Not that there was anything to celebrate, my Future Fund stayed pretty much the same at £227,349.

WIth one month left, here’s how the graph is looking (I’m continuing with the original graph, rather than the house-purchase adjusted one):

Well, it was too much to hope for a V-shaped recovery but steady as she goes. Perhaps there will be a Santa’s Rally!

Dividends and Other Income

A decent month for dividends:

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October 2021 Savings, plus other updates

Highlights this month:

  • At last, I had a mini break away from home! As mentioned in my last update, I went to London – I had tickets to watch the NFL game, Miami Dolphins v Jacksonville Jaguars. It was a great weekend – an enjoyable match with a sellout crowd in Tottenham Hotspurs’ beautiful stadium. The following day, we spent some time wandering around Camden, sampling some expensive beer and food and then happened across probably one of the coolest and most fascinating shops I’ve visited in a long time – I didn’t buy anything, just enjoyed the sights and the music!

It was a great atmosphere and yes, I did know what was going on (mostly!)

Walking into this shop was like walking into another world

  • I went to the cinema to watch the latest James Bond film, ‘No Time to Die’ – have always loved Daniel Craig as Bond.
  • Enjoyed another great Manchester FIRE meetup in the pub – great to interact with faces old and new. There were around 20 of us who turned up. Anyone who’s interested in these meetups, sign up to Financial Independence FIRE – Manchester.  Events are alternately online and face-to-face, so the next one will be online on Friday 26th Nov.
  • And finally, I am sooooo relieved to say that I have finally exchanged contracts on my house, with completion due to happen early November! More details soon – so much (more) to do!

So, how did I get on with my savings in October?

I saved 14.4% of my net salary.

The above includes another £25 Premium Bond win, and £42.24 from doing Prolific surveys.

Shares and Investment Trusts

I started switching out some of my bond ETFs into a defensive investment trust, Ruffer Investment Co.  Monevator recently did a two-parter on the 60/40 strategy but I was already getting a bit antsy about the portion of bonds I held in my portfolio and wondering what I could do. Despite not holding anywhere near 40%, I was feeling it was still on the high side.

I won’t ditch them completely but will likely switch some more into other defensive investment trusts.

Current share/IT portfolio can be found here.

(Entire portfolio here)

Future Fund 

After removing the funds needed to buy my house, my Future Fund has dropped to £227,413. It’s not half as bad as I originally envisaged – as suggested by regular commenter Jane In London, I asked my Mum for the max amount she would loan me (that I could still cover with the eventual sale of my BTL) so this meant that I didn’t have to dip so far into my own funds.

I had to sell some equities (from my S&S ISAs) to release some cash and fortunately, I sold little bits of my portfolio over July and August when numbers were green.

I’ve been dreading doing this graph update.

Regular commenter Kid Cocoa suggested rebasing the graph, as if the house money was never part of my Future Fund, so that its removal didn’t cause me any distress. I did that and this is what it looks like:

 

[edit – original post had the wrong graph]

Looking good, with the markets bouncing back after the drop in September.

However, for consistency and because I feel like I need to see the consequences (and feel the pain) of my actions, this is what the graph actually looks like:

Oof! Looks almost like the crash back in March 2020, although there’s very little hope for another V-shaped recovery, haha!

My Future Fund’s value is now what it was in March 2021 so I’ve only really lost 7 months. My FIRE plan is still intact and unchanged – this is fine, I don’t feel so stressed about it any more.

Anyway, as horrid as the graph looks, I am already looking forward seeing it go back up again.

Dividends and Other Income

A more average month for dividends:

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