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:

Continue reading

October 2020 Savings, plus other updates

So, after months of effectively living under Tier 2 rules (before the government had thought of the name ‘Tiers’), I’ve been living under Tier 3 (Very High) rules this month, a pre-cursor to the national lockdown we’ll all be facing soon.

Tiers for Fears

No significant change really in how I’ve been living my life since July but I’m just glad that I was able to continue going to the gym (I can squeeze in a couple more sessions before they’re forced to close their doors on Thursday).

I’ve finally shifted my ‘lockdown pounds’ and am back up to strength, using my previous weights for training. My gym sessions have definitely helped to keep me sane during these ‘interesting’ times – I’ll somehow have to muddle through this month of lockdown – might see what home exercise kit I can pick up.

Anyway, highlights this month for me included:

    • Venturing into Manchester City Centre for the first time since March. It was like a ghost town but when I returned the following week during half-term holidays, there were more people about so it felt a bit more normal. Both trips were necessary (to order and pick up glasses).
    • Eating out in a restaurant. Twice!
    • My niece coming up to stay during half-term holidays – teenagers don’t appear to need much apart from wifi, food and a friendly ear to listen to them witter on (endlessly) about their interests/school/teenagey stuff.
    • Succumbing to Amazon Prime Day and buying a new wok (needed) and a food chopper (not really needed but already used).
    • Attending the (online) Manchester FIRE meet up – sign up here if you’re interested in future FIRE meet ups (next one is Thurs 26th Nov).
    • Attending two (online) Investing meet ups, which would have taken place in Liverpool and Leeds respectively during normal times – sign up here if you’re interested in future investing meet ups.
    • Winning a £150 Amazon voucher on the online Bingo and quiz session run by work!

Since I mention highlights, I must also mention the not-so-good things which happened this month (lowlights?!):

    • A visit to the dentist which left me £770 out of pocket (replacement crown and replacement filling). The whole social-distancing experience made me feel like I was in a sci-fi movie, with my dentist the futuristic scientist performing experiments on me!
    • My friend was tested positive for COVID-19; it wiped her out for a week but she recovered the following week at home.
    • Discovering my property did not meet fire safety regulations, as detailed in my previous post.

And on those drab notes, how did I get on with my savings in October?

I saved 44.2% of my net salary – I used some emergency funds to cover part of my dental bill so took a bit of a hit on the savings rate. Still a decent number by all accounts but not helping me get towards my revised goal.

The above savings includes top ups from another £50 premium bonds win and £40 Matched Betting profits (from last month).

Shares and Investment Trusts

Although I used some bits of dividend income to make very small purchases of a few random shares, I made no significant new investments, mainly topped up existing investments.

Current share/IT portfolio can be found here.

(Entire portfolio here)

Future Fund 

The stock markets have continued to be all over the place, resulting in no real change for my Future Fund which stands at £199,109 – I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before I hit that £200k milestone again – so close I can smell it! 🙂

Dividends and Other Income

Another fairly average month for dividends:

Continue reading

September 2020 Savings, plus other updates

Compared to last month’s ‘activity-filled’ calendar, September was on the quiet side.

The only things of any note were:

  • My nephew went back to school and all was well until during the second week when he came home with the lurgy and we had to self-isolate. Fortunately, he was able to get tested within a day and his results (negative) 48 hours later so there was little disruption to the household.
  • I had a little homegrown ‘harvest’:

  • And did I mention that I managed to hit a little milestone this month? More on that later…

Work had my brain fried most evenings so all I’ve felt like doing after logging off was slumping on the sofa watching ‘comfort’ TV – I rewatched/binged all 4 seasons of ‘Heroes‘ (“Save the cheerleader, save the world!“) and have just started to rewatch ‘Battlestar Galactica‘ (the remake, not the original camp 70s show).

I did however keep up my gym sessions so haven’t been entirely unhealthy!

Me and Sis have slowly started to add more to our shopping – an extra packet here, a couple more tins there – in anticipation of a second lockdown and in case people start going mad again stockpiling like they did in March and April (which seems a lifetime ago).

Restrictions haven’t eased off in Greater Manchester, with cases continuing to rise. Life (as we know it now) will just go on.

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

I saved 56% of my net salary – very good, but considering it was a month of doing pretty much nothing, I was surprised I didn’t save more.

The above savings includes top ups from £60 Matched Betting profits (from last month) and £72.72 from affiliate income from OddsMonkey* (thank you to all who signed up via my links!).

Shares and Investment Trusts

I sold my holding in Murray International Investment Trust (MYI) for a small profit (reason being that MYI hasn’t done so well compared to other global ITs and while the yield of >5% is tempting, I’m not sure it will be maintained). I swapped it for SPDR S&P Global Dividend Aristocrats ETF (GBDV). I topped up other existing investments.

Current share/IT portfolio can be found here.

(Entire portfolio here)

Future Fund 

After reaching my £200k milestone, the stock markets went all jittery and did their best to spoil my little celebration.

By the end of the month, my Future Fund had dropped to £199,167 – it could have been worse so I’m ok with that, although it seems I wasn’t the only one who ‘flirted’ with £200k, only for it to skip out of reach again!

Dividends and Other Income

An average month for dividends:

Continue reading

Milestone Reached!

I don’t normally check my portfolios before the end of the month but recently, I’ve been itching to because I knew I was close to a big milestone.

I logged onto my investment accounts this morning to see that my Future Fund (ie my FIRE pot) has finally surpassed £200,000! Woo hoo!

Back in June 2017, me and John Kingham of UK Value Investor blog were in a friendly ‘race’ to see who would hit £200k first – I lucked out and got there the quickest.

I had predicted that it would take me 5 years; it’s actually taken me around 3.5 years to get £100k.

Eleven Years

This milestone has been more than 11 years in total in the making!

The first £100k took me around 8 years – 5 years for the first £30k, when I had no plan and no direction, then 3 years to get £70k after I’d devised my plan to aim for FIRE.

Yes, if only I’d made a plan earlier, I could have reached this milestone in a fewer number of years, but I can’t dwell on what I could have and should have done in the past.

I feel quite giddy and am very pleased with myself, that I’ve patiently stuck to my plan over the years and did not get distracted or fall off the rails.

Of course, by the time I run my September-end numbers, it’s possible that the stockmarket will have fluctuated and I may be back below £200k but I think I’m allowed to celebrate this small win now, when there’s not a lot to celebrate in the world currently.

Anyway, thank you readers of this blog for helping me get there in the first place!

Onwards to the next £100k!