May 2020 Savings, plus other updates

11 weeks of staying at home and the ‘lockdown me’ is just getting on with life.

Whoever invented this is to blame for my expanded lockdown waistline!

My hair is the longest it’s ever been and I waiver daily over whether to keep my greys or bolt for the hairdresser’s as soon as their doors are opened so I can hide them for a while longer.

My waistline has expanded somewhat and my weight is up – not enough exercise, too much comfort food. I look forward to my gym reopening so I can revert to my previous fitness/strength levels.

I have a fantastic glowing tan, courtesy of the wonderful weather we’ve had; I’ve been enjoying a lot more sleep and have loved spending time reading (books) and watching boxed sets. I’m still currently employed.

Work sent out a ‘Back to Work’ survey form for everyone to complete – I responded that I didn’t have a need to return to the office as I could work comfortably from home, but that I would go in if I had to, as long as I felt safe.  One of my friends has already been told by her work that she will be working from home for the rest of the year.

Anyway, how did I get on with my numbers?

I was able to save 60% of my net salary.  Aside from groceries, the only things I purchased this month were some plant pots. If I can keep this up, it’ll be the first time ever that I will have achieved my savings rate goal.

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 

The stock market continues to show no correlation whatsoever with what’s going on in the world.

My Future Fund stands at £186,988, only a couple of grand down from the beginning of the year, so almost a complete recovery (if you exclude the extra capital I’ve invested these past few months).

‘V’ recovery, or the beginnings of a ‘W’?

It could be the calm before the storm of a global recession – who knows?

As the great late Jack Bogle said, “Nobody knows nothing”, so I continue stick to my plan and invest on a monthly basis.

Dividends and Other Income

A few more dividends got cancelled this month but it was a good month overall: Continue reading

April 2020 Savings, plus other updates

Another month in lockdown and I’m finding living and working like this has become quite normal.

The latest WI Magazine cover which seems quite apt

The latest all employees’ call with work mentioned plans being devised for people to return to the office once it’s been deemed safe to do so but I have mixed feelings.

Yes, I miss being in the office – miss printing stuff off to give my eyes a rest from the screen –  miss my colleagues and being out of the house, but I can’t say that I’m looking forward to returning to travelling on public transport. I’ve applied for and received a refund for my annual travel pass in any case.

Anyway, in a full month of lockdown, how did I get on with my numbers?

I was able to save 59%! All those occasional little work lunches, Friday after-work drinks and social outings do add up and since I wasn’t spending, I was able to save a lot more.

That said, I wasn’t able to max out my 2019/20 ISA – I think I got to around the £16k mark which isn’t bad, as anything over £15k is good for me.

The above savings includes top ups from yet another £25 premium bond win (4 months in a row!) and £63.15 affiliate income from OddsMonkey* (thank you to all who signed up via my links!).

Shares and Investment Trusts

A couple of new investment trusts added to my portfolio, namely Murray International Trust and Templeton Emerging Markets IT, both showing decent discounts when I made the purchases.

Current share/IT portfolio can be found here.

(Entire portfolio here)

Future Fund 

So much doom and gloom in the news globally yet the stock markets are doing their own thing. Whether this bounce-back is temporary or not is anyone’s guess.

My Future Fund stands at £179,924, an increase of over 9% from last month! I’m still down by around 4.4% year to date but that’s not too bad.

Dividends and Other Income

A few more dividends got cancelled this month but others thankfully continued to roll in: Continue reading

March 2020 Savings, plus other updates

Reasons to be grateful during these difficult times:

  • I have a roof over my head
  • I have running water, electricity and gas
  • I have money to buy food, alcohol and other essentials
  • I have books, tv and internet to keep me distracted/entertained/informed
  • I do not work on the front-line and thank all those key workers doing a valiant job
  • I am still employed (for now)

I have adapted to lock down fairly well, which I put down to my lifestyle. The main ‘disruptions’ for me have been having to work from home (I prefer to work in the office), not being able to go to the gym or catch up with friends in the flesh in a pub/restaurant.

That’s pretty much it. I’m quite happy being at home and I consider myself extremely fortunate that I am not suffering any real inconvenience or any hardship. Good relations have been maintained with sis and nephew (who recovered from his recent fever – I don’t think he had the virus) so all’s well with them too.

Plummeting Stocks

After the fastest ever stock market crash in history, I’ve decided to stick to my plan until it makes more sense for me not to.

Ever since I’ve been investing, the great bull run has meant that I’ve been buying stocks as they’ve been going up so, in the same vein, I’m buying as they go down. If some are purchased at rock-bottom, then that’s a bonus.

My main strategy is buy and hold, although I confess that I did make one sale… my holding in VUCP (Vanguard Corporate Bond ETF) was a beacon of green in a sea of red so I sold half and used the cash to top up a couple of the more ravaged investments. Only time will tell whether I was foolish but in any case, I didn’t sell anything else.

Oh wait, I did! In anticipation of transferring my SIPP with HL to Vanguard, I sold my iShares Emerging Markets tracker at the beginning of Feb. As the markets started to drop, I decided that I didn’t want my funds in transfer limbo so I lumped all the cash into Vanguard Lifestrategy 80 – not at its cheapest but very much cheaper than it was at the beginning of the year.

The goal posts to FIRE will likely end up moving but they were never really set in stone. One more year however might end up being 2 or 3 more years perhaps – I hope not, but who knows?

So, onto the numbers…

I saved a whopping 76.8%! That’s because I got my bonus and I decided to invest most of it. Risky? Perhaps. This might be the last bonus I get in a while so I’m making the most of cheaper investments.

The above savings includes top ups from £20 matched betting profits (from last month), yet another £25 premium bond win, £64.36 from Google ads and £128.57 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 investments.

Current share/IT portfolio can be found here.

(Entire portfolio here)

Future Fund 

I was prepared for a horrific nightmare but it turned out to be just a bit of a scary movie.

My Future Fund stands at £163,789, which is prety much back to what it was in April last year. That’s down 13% since the beginning of the year.  Double figures yes, but not the 25-30% devastation I was expecting. The recent uptick in the markets did help of course.

Dividends and Other Income

Only one of my dividends got cancelled this month (Persimmon) but the others rolled in nicely: Continue reading

Our Hopes And Expectations

“Be careful what you wish for” goes the saying.

For the last few years, I’ve been wishing that the stock markets would crash so that I could take advantage and invest in lower priced stocks during my accumulation phase.

What’s happened isn’t quite what I had in mind.

In fact, I can’t really say what it was that I had in mind – just not this!

I wasn’t an investor during the financial crisis of 2008, I’m no grizzled investor who’s been round the block, so this is all new to me.

So the time is now. Or is it? As mentioned in my last post, I’ve made the decision to just stick with my plan, which is to not sell and to continue investing on a monthly basis, in accordance with my asset allocations.

Tempting though it is, I’m not going to dip into my emergency cash reserves to invest, especially as I have big dental costs this year, never mind the other (as yet) unknown expenses likely to occur.

Whatever I invest in now is effectively on sale, whether the price is rock bottom (it probably isn’t) or not.

Black Holes and Revelations

I was going to avoid looking at my portfolio until when I did my usual month end update but curiosity got the better of me. I ended up having a bit of a peek and now I wish I hadn’t!

It was a couple of days ago and I’ve lost at least a year of gains, around 22% or £34k. The markets have dropped more since, so I fully expect to be reporting a further decrease in my Future Fund at the end of the month – YIKES! 🙁

This could massively set me back in my FIRE plans, although there’s the hope that if the markets recover back to their dizzy heights in a rapid fashion, I might get back on track. Not really going to hold my breath though.

We could be in a depressed state of recession for a while. The global economy will probably get worse before it gets better and who knows how long it will take to recover, if at all.

There could well be an impact on my job – will the company need to lay off people?

I could end up getting ill, or rather, I probably will get ill (as part of the herd immunity strategy our government has adopted) – let’s hope I don’t suffer too much and can recover.

I need to brace myself in case there are shocks around the corner but until I know what is actually going to happen, I will carry on as normal.

Starlight

For something less gloomy, how’s about a bit of FIRE dating?

This beta dating website for single FIRE folks was brought to my attention via Money for the Modern Girl .

I have a feeling that there are going to be mostly young folks on here and not many in my age group, but if past relationships are anything to go by, that shouldn’t be too much of an issue! 😉

Beyond filling in bits of my profile, I’ve not really spent any time on this, so not had a good look around yet properly or connected with anyone.

However, with no sport, no or limited matched betting and no real social outings,  I have no excuse for lack of time, haha!

Hope everyone is keeping themselves and their loved ones safe, keeping calm and washing their hands.

Next post will be my month end figures – it’ll be a bloodbath!