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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September 2021 Savings, plus other updates

A quieter month at work, which was just as well as there were occasions when I was feeling somewhat overwhelmed by everything, leading to a couple of (rare for me) sleepless nights.

I also seem to have lost some weight without trying, despite eating, drinking and going to the gym as normal – this has happened to me in the past before, where I think I’ve lost weight due to stress. Not sure how I feel about this, I don’t need to lose any more pounds.

I realised that some things in my life were being neglected, delayed and put off, and it was like my life was beginning to spiral out of control.

For the first time in years, I renewed my house and car insurances with the same companies, instead of shopping around. I’m normally prepared well before the policies run out but I just didn’t have the energy or inclination to find cheaper deals. As it was, the new policies weren’t too far off (though both more expensive) from what I’d paid previously but my head needs to be more organised next time.

Towards the end of September, I finally got all my personal health stuff sorted, which had been preying on my mind and feel much better after attending delayed appointments for eye test, smear test and breast screening test – all out of the way now for another 2-3 years.

I should be picking up new glasses later in the month and have gone for budget rather than designer – am past caring right now and no one notices what I’m wearing anyway (apart from family).

I knew I wasn’t quite myself this month when I found myself wanting to cancel on social events, but I went in the end and of course, I was glad that I did.

The above all might sound a bit glum but I’m actually ok, I’m not unhappy or anything, just got a lot going on in my head.

Things continue to progress at a slow pace on the house front but I’m getting there.

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

I saved 14.4% of my net salary.

The above includes another £25 Premium Bond win, a £10 charity lotto win, £20.21 from doing Prolific surveys and £48.89 affiliate income from OddsMonkey.

Shares and Investment Trusts

I sold out of Greencoat UK Wind for a small profit – although I’ve enjoyed receiving dividends from this investment, I’ve recently felt that I was a bit too exposed to thematic energy, plus not being comfortable about the uncertain future of green energy prices. Reinvested the cash in new holding Middlefield Canadian Income Trust, a region I didn’t have any real exposure to.

Current share/IT portfolio can be found here.

(Entire portfolio here)

Future Fund 

I’m glad I did get to celebrate hitting my £250k milestone last month because there was a rather large wobble in the markets this month and I saw my first real drop this year. Future Fund is down to £243,768, plummeting depths like that submarine in the daft (though enjoyable) TV mini series ‘Vigil‘.

When I come to withdraw the funds for the house purchase, there will be an even bigger drop but the good news is that I won’t be selling in a depressed market to get my funds – I’ve been selling bit by bit over the summer while the markets were relatively high(er) so equities sold have been at a profit.

Dividends and Other Income

Yet another record-breaking month for dividends:

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August 2021 Savings, plus other updates

Well, the big highlight this month is that my Future Fund reached £250,000!

Woohoo, I’m a quarter of a million millionaire 🙂 🙂 !

I’d planned on doing a separate post dedicated to celebrating this milestone but decided to relegate it to just a highlight in my usual update because once my house purchase goes through, I’ll be withdrawing a chunk of cash, so in my mind, I’m not really there yet.

And yes, the house purchase business rumbles on – a big post about it once it’s all over. Still so much to do.

I waiver between being really excited/stressed about it and working madly on decluttering etc, to days of complete apathy where I just binge-watch tv or play video games because I can’t face it all.

Fortunately, all that needs doing by me (for solicitor etc) is up to date, it’s the sorting of the house and my/the family’s belongings which is completely doing my head in. But I will get there of course.

Anyway, I’ve finally been successful growing some tomatoes (cherry) –  so chuffed with these, which have been great in salads:

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

I saved just 13.5% of my net salary.

The above includes another £25 Premium Bond win!

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’ve been too busy/distracted to know what the markets were up to this month but whatever, there was a decent jump and my Future Fund ended up at £250,171!

Dividends and Other Income

A record-breaking month for dividends:

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July 2021 Savings, plus other updates

Meant to get this update out over the weekend but just couldn’t get round to it.

Some recent highlights:

  • Been enjoying a fantastic summer of sport – first the highs (and lows) of the Euros football, then Wimbledon tennis and then, one of the reasons I didn’t get my blogging act together over the weekend was because I’ve been too busy catching up on the Olympics. Love it all, c’mon Team GB! I’ve even been watching some of The Hundred cricket (men and women) – finally, cricket scores I can understand, haha!
  • Also been enjoying eating (and having a laugh at – see end of post 🙂 !) some of the veggies I’ve grown – spring onions and courgettes have been flavour of the month. Got some tomatoes on the go too so greenfingers crossed those will be ok seeing as I failed utterly with them last year. Carrots didn’t fare so well this year sadly. But yes, it all seems to taste better when you grow them yourself!

My spring onions have sprung!

  • I’ve been back to the office. As mentioned previously, I can continue to WFH 100% but I’ve chosen to go in (once or twice a week) to see my colleagues/other people. I was very unproductive on the days I was in – seems like I will have to learn to work amid the distractions and noise of an open office again –  but it was very nice to see everyone. Interesting to note how ‘back to the office’ has affected different people, ranging from utter joy and relief in some, to (sadly) panic attacks in others. One of my friends is back in the office 5 days a week again – the novelty has worn off already but it’s a new job so she’ll see how it goes.
  • Had a couple of social outings with friends – I would love to keep the table service and not have to ever queue at the bar again!
  • My nephew’s recent birthday present has given us a new and somewhat topical game to play on our weekly boardgame nights:

There was a lot of pressure to win this one!

  • And finally, I have found a house and my offer has been accepted! I won’t say any more right now, but the next few months will be rather busy. I feel both relieved and anxious. I’ve started my big decluttering exercise – 24 bags to the charity shop so far (not all mine, some of them ‘family’ stuff) and it’s barely made a dent… Suffice to say I’ve also just started reading Marie Kondo’s book for some inspiration… (thanks to SavingNinja for the copy).

Anyway, how did I get on with my savings in July?

I saved 13.5% of my net salary. House-purchasing fees (solicitor, conveyancing etc) means I need to put aside a chunk of cash to cover these (and any other expenses) so my savings rate will have to suffer until this is all sorted. There goes my goal out of the window but needs must.

The above includes top ups £37.03 from doing surveys with Prolific.

Shares and Investment Trusts

One new investment, I bought some shares in Aberdeen Diversified Income & Growth Trust, another investment trust as part of the dividend-paying part of my portfolio.

Current share/IT portfolio can be found here.

(Entire portfolio here)

Future Fund 

Apparently the markets were down this month due to share sell offs, but my Future Fund didn’t get the memo and ended up at £244,342, so continuing in the right direction.

However, I now know that I will definitely have to use some of these funds for the house purchase so there will be a chunk taken out, which will sadly mess up my nice graph and likely have impact on my FIRE plan, just when I’m so close to my next big milestone.

Dividends and Other Income

A decent month for dividends:

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