April 2021 Savings, plus other updates

Another blur of a month.

Work has kept me really busy, though fortunately not in a mind-numbing way – perhaps that’s due to the brighter days, although temperatures are still on the chilly side and I haven’t put any of my winter clothes away yet!

My boss has started to switch off and I can’t say I blame her – her head’s full of making travelling plans! Two more months before she goes – I already miss her.

Anyway, a few ‘highlights’ this month:

  • The gym reopened! I’ve been enjoying re-establishing my weekly routines and already feel much better physically and mentally. I have noticed this past week however that although the women at the gym are still strictly following the cleaning and wiping down of equipment after use, many of the men have slipped back to old habits of sweating over the stuff and just leaving it for the next person to clean. Shame not all the equipment I need to use is in the ladies-only section.
  • Attended another Zoom ‘Manchester’ FIRE meet up.  This one had an excellent presentation by someone who achieved FIRE from BTLs (Buy To Lets) so it was interesting to hear about his journey and how he’s succeeded. Also attended a great ‘Leeds’ investing meet up, which had some fascinating discussions.
  • To celebrate Earth Day, work gave us the afternoon off and we did several hours of litter-picking in the city centre. It was exciting to meet up with colleagues again and it was a lovely day out. I’m glad to say that there wasn’t actually as much litter as I thought there would be but was astonished and dismayed at the gazillions of discarded cigarette butts. Now that I’ve noticed these on the ground, I can’t unsee them – they are everywhere and it really annoys me.
  • Watched some great stuff on TV, including the brilliant ‘Line of Duty‘ (no I didn’t guess correctly!) and Amazon Prime’s ‘Invincible‘ – violent animation at its best!
  • My local library has announced that it will be reopening imminently and I can’t wait. I’ve been borrowing e-books but it’s not the same. I’m far more excited about this than of the pubs opening their doors. Getting old or just getting more introverted?

Sis and nephew have settled into their new home but haven’t really moved everything out yet as there are still some cupboards/shelves they are waiting to be delivered. We’ve continued with our family board game night so I still see them on a weekly basis which is nice.

Only Happy When It Rains

I still haven’t been out for that first pint yet – I think I would rather wait and let those who need to go right now release all that pent-up desperation enthusiasm out of the way, so things will be a bit more normal and calm in a month or so’s time.

Right now, I just feel that other people will, I don’t know, just irritate me.  Lockdown syndrome or just enjoying being miserable? I don’t know…

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

I saved 48% of my net salary. I could have probably saved a bit more, but decided to put some money aside ready for when I might want to spend some, a couple of new outfits for the summer maybe, eating out, etc. Maybe even holidays? One can only hope.

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 

Financial news seemed to be dominated with the shenanigans of cryptocurrency (which I’m not invested in) and I was momentarily distracted by the Prime Minister’s wallpaper bill (and choice), so I wasn’t keeping tabs on what the stock markets were doing, hence this was a pleasant surprise.

At the end of the month, my Future Fund had jumped up to £234,689, so the rocket continues its journey!

The bull run continues…for now

Dividends and Other Income

A decent month for dividends:

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Rising Dogs of the FTSE + Random Shares

A belated and brief progress update on my latest Dogs of the FTSE experimental portfolio which was set up in June 2020, so only another couple of months to run.

I missed buying when everything hit rock bottom in March but bad timing or not, I continue to follow the strategy as an experiment and have been documenting the bad times as well as the good.

Here’s a reminder of the Dogs of the FTSE strategy (which is based on the US Dogs of the Dow strategy):

  1. Choose the ten FTSE 100 shares with the highest yield (subject to my criteria*)
  2. Invest equal amounts in all ten shares
  3. Hold for a year (give or take a week)
  4. At the end of the year, sell the ones no longer in the top ten, replace with new shares with highest yield
  5. Repeat from step 3

[*criteria being that shares already in my portfolio are not included, nor any where a dividend cut has been announced]

Note that this is part of my ‘fun’ portfolio and represents less than 1.5% of my Future Fund – it is not what I do as a main investing strategy. All dividends received are reinvested.

Light at the end of the Tunnel

The mutts aren’t doing too badly, particularly the mining Dogs, which are showing significant gains.

Will be interesting to see if they continue to maintain their momentum.

Over the same period, the FTSE 100 Total Return was 15.70% so the Dogs are doing worse at 13.94%.

However, if I include dividends received, it’s a gain of 18.83%, so not bad really.

Let’s see what the next two months bring for the pooches and I’ll do my final update then.

Random Shares

My Random Share Portfolio is made up of free shares awarded to me whenever someone signs up to Freetrade* via my affiliate link, bagging us both a random free share (worth between £3 and £200) in the process.


Here’s the full portfolio.

I’ve kept most of the shares, occasionally selling when the odd one or two gain by >20% (quite a few did recently).

In a previous month, I was awarded a free share in Manchester United – perhaps I should have sold it when the share price went up on the back of the announcement of the European Super League.

However,  by the time I thought about it, the league had crashed and burned, with the ‘sinister six’ pulling out before it got going, so it wasn’t worth selling.  I’m not fast enough to be a trader!

Anyway, the money from the sales of any random shares are chucked into my ISA, with a few quid going towards my Winter Rock Associates Fund 😉

A big thanks to all who have signed up via my link in the past – hope you all got a decent free share!

March 2021 Savings, plus other updates

Another month has flown by, our humdrum lives just go on.

I’ve had a more positive outlook this month, with the better weather, brighter days and the prospect of lockdown restrictions being lifted.

Work eased off a little, allowing me to tackle my mountain of boring admin and although I’m still trying to catch up on my blog reading, it’s better than it was before.

A few ‘highlights’ this month:

  • Had my COVID jab (AstraZeneca) – felt crap for a few days (shivers and aches) but not so bad that I couldn’t work. Thanks go to the volunteers and the nurses at the local medical centre for making the whole process so smooth and easy.
  • Attended the latest Zoom ‘Manchester’ FIRE meet up.  This one had a good presentation by an independent financial adviser on ISAs vs SIPPs, so there were some good discussions.
  • Started a daily stretching routine – the creaking, popping and cracking sounds emanating from my joints show me that this is long overdue and that I seriously need to keep this up.
  • Followed this guy on Twitter and got some lighthearted updates on the (now resolved) ‘traffic jam’ on the Suez Canal :

Some Bad News

My boss revealed that she has handed in her notice at work because she has ‘had enough‘ (her words).

No, she hasn’t reached FIRE in her 30s but she has saved enough during the pandemic (built up her FU fund!) to allow her to take a long break from work.

I can’t say that I’m really surprised as there’s been an unreasonable amount of pressure put on her this past year (her boss left and wasn’t replaced) but I’m pretty devastated all the same at the news, as I have a great relationship (work and non-work) with her and we work well together as a team.

My job will become very tough without her having my back and there’s potential here for it to go from something I like doing, to something I don’t like, way before I’m ready to pull the FIRE plug…

Some Good News

The day after my boss announced her impending departure, I was notified that I was to receive a 6% pay rise.

This came as a surprise because 1) I didn’t ask for it and 2) we’d all been told that there was a cap on salary increases this year. Unlike many in the public sector, I don’t get an automatic annual increase in pay (not even 1%), any increase is subject to the whims of the powers that be and partially based on performance (as discussed in my annual work appraisal). Since the former carries more weight, it’s usually a zero increase.

I guess my performance has been good (I did win Employee of the month in August)  but perhaps this is just the company not wanting me upping and leaving too. The extra will come in handy with the bills, with my sister moving out next week.

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

I saved 50.5% of my net salary – continuing with my decent start to the year.

The above savings includes a top up of £55.05 from 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 holdings.

Current share/IT portfolio can be found here.

(Entire portfolio here)

Future Fund 

Who knows what’s going on with the markets, down one week, up the next.

At the end of the month, my Future Fund jumped up to £227,628, so the rocket is back!

What a difference a year makes

Dividends and Other Income

Another bumper month of dividends:

Continue reading

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:

Continue reading