March 2019 Savings + other updates

So I celebrated 5 years of blogging and I’ve been blown away by all the wonderful comments  – thank you very much for all your support! 🙂

Anyway, it’s been a blur of a month, one which saw me working some late nights, binge-watching seasons 2 & 3 of ‘The Expanse’ and also enjoying a few social outings, including meeting up with fellow FIRE wannabees in Manchester.

One piece of good news at work was that I received a partial bonus, so how did that affect my savings this month?

I decided to chuck the whole bonus into my ISA so I ended up saving 64%.

There’s no way I can max my ISA (I’ve only ever done this once before) and with a few days to go in the tax year, I’m trying to work out how much of my emergency and matched betting funds I can safely shift over, without leaving me short.

The above savings includes top ups from my £25 premium bond win, £14.35 from TopCashback*, £100 matched betting profit (from last month) and £87.59 affiliate income from OddsMonkey (thank you to all who signed up via my links!).

Shares and Investment Trusts

No new investments, just added to existing ones.

Current share/IT portfolio can be found here.

(Entire portfolio here)

Future Fund 

I guess the markets are still going up as my Future Fund has grown by more than the capital I’ve invested, now sitting at £158,763.

Dividends and Other Income

A good month for dividends: Continue reading

Meeting Up in Manchester

“Anonymous bloggers meeting up in a pub, how will we know each other?”

This was the question I posed to MsZiYou a couple of days before we were scheduled to meet up in Manchester.

We solved it by sending each other selfies.

However, as the hours ticked down yesterday afternoon, I wondered how others would know who we were.

Problem solved, no messing about…

Meaningless to the casual observer, meaningful to those in the know!

And yes, the sign mostly worked! 🙂

Considering that I only made a belated mention of the meetup at the end of my latest update a week ago, forgot to tweet about it and no Facebook advertising the event, I thought it was great that 7 of us turned up on a rainy Manchester evening!

A few others contacted me to say that they couldn’t attend but would love to know of future meetups – I really thought I was pretty much doing this FIRE thing on my own up here, so it was great to know there are others like me up norf!

So who was in attendance? Yours truly, MsZiYou, Emily from thesavingjourney, Alice (who travelled up from Cambridge), Mr & Mrs Fu of FI UK Money and Doug. Yes, more women than blokes which was a pleasant surprise!

It was all very casual, all very friendly, lovely meeting everyone.

Bloody Brilliant

With only a few of us, it was easy to get to chat to everyone – it was fascinating to hear firsthand how everyone got onto the path to FIRE – it’s one thing to read about it in blogs, quite another when you actually hear someone speak about how they came across Mr Money Mustache or Early Retire Extreme!

This is the thing about these meetups – you can talk about savings, investments, pensions etc and not be seen to be a) weird or b) bragging. Oh and matched betting was discussed too.

And of course, it’s all about networking, connecting, making new friends/acquaintances, talking with like-minded people; just normal folk – I just loved to hear how people are just getting on with their lives whilst having this grand plan in the background. How people tried to ‘nudge’ their friends and loved ones towards cutting their spending and costs!

Thanks to Ms ZiYou for suggesting this meetup in the first place, or it would never have happened!

A bit Weird at First

This was the 5th FIRE meetup I’ve attended over the years – previous ones were organised by Huw of FFB40 and took place in Stratford, York, Sheffield and North Wales.

Attending this meetup for me however was a little weird because as an anonymous blogger, I was rather anxious of someone I knew wandering in and saying ‘OMG, Weenie, I didn’t realise it was YOU!’. Quelle horreur! (Although I think I spotted my ex there last night but thankfully he wasn’t there for the meetup, which would have been rather awkward!)

  • I told colleagues I was meeting friends last night
  • I told friends I was meeting colleagues last night

Does it bother me to keep up this deception? Not really, I’m just not ready to ‘come out’ as it were in respect of pursuing FIRE – I see no benefit in it.

However, what I do want to say is that although it was weird at first meeting up in Manchester, I did enjoy it very much, so I would absolutely organise another one here in the future.

Maybe when there’s not so much rain, which probably narrows it down to like one day in the summer, haha!

Anyway, hope you all have a great weekend.

February 2019 Savings, other updates + Meet Up News

I have family staying with me at the moment so while I wait for them to come back from shopping (I only worked half-day today), I thought I’d get this out. The post was all prepared in advance, I just slotted in the numbers.

I will need to figure out my posting schedule and how I’m going to keep up with this secret blogging lark when my sis is living with me…

This month has just whizzed by – work’s been really busy and I’ve gotten into the bad habit of staying late when it’s not a gym night; need to stop doing that as it’s making me feel really drained.

I successfully claimed for a delayed flight and received £168 compensation, which will nicely pay for my next planned trip – I was delayed for 5 hours at Amsterdam on my way to HK just before Christmas. First time I’ve claimed and it was a relatively painless process.

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

I saved 37% – a couple of social outings, Chinese New Year and stocking up my beer fridge pushed the spending up somewhat this month.  I can’t seem to get into the ‘zone’ at the moment to do some more home brewing, hence the beer purchases.

The above savings includes top ups of £30.07 from TopCashback* and £131.69 affiliate income from OddsMonkey (thank you to all who signed up via my links!).

Shares and Investment Trusts

No new investments, just added to existing ones.

Current share/IT portfolio can be found here.

(Entire portfolio here)

Future Fund 

I think the markets have continued to recover as my Future Fund has grown by more than the capital I’ve invested, now sitting at £153,555.

Dividends and Other Income

Historically, February has the lowest dividends: Continue reading

FIRE Escape in Sheffield + Win

So, Huw from Financially Free by 40 had organised another FIRE Escape gathering, this time in Sheffield.

I wasn’t able to attend the entire weekend so just dropped in on the Saturday.  This was the 4th such meeting I’ve attended.

The venue was Weaver’s Cottage, a superb detached, stone-built, Grade II listed property. It did look a bit stark on the outside but inside, it was beautifully refurbished with new, modern amenities.

It was good to catch up with Huw, Lou, M, Martina and Richard again, but also great to meet nine new faces – James, Ed, Eva, Valerie, Anne, Cora, Helen, John and Organised Redhead (OR did attend the last FIRE Escape, but wasn’t there the day I turned up!).

As with previous FIRE Escapes, it was a good mix of people, everyone at various stages of their lives and FI plans, from savvy millennials using enterprising ideas to make money, right through to folk who had already retired and were living off their investment income and those who are FI already who were happy to share ideas and advice.

We talked about all kinds of stuff including investing (shares and investment trusts), health and fitness, buy to lets and shared ideas on how to generate money such as buying stuff to sell on eBay, making things to sell, Kindle publishing, P2P, investing in whisky – maybe not a good one for you, FiL! 😉 and matched betting.

I have to say that after each gathering I’ve attended, I have ALWAYS come away with fresh ideas or end up learning about something which I want to research further – I learned some new stuff about matched betting (thanks M and James) and about investment trusts (thanks John).

I was there for 6 hours which just flew by and I wish I could have stayed longer. Had it not been for the fact that I really dislike driving down the Snake Pass in the dark, I would have stayed later. As it was, when it started to rain as I was driving back, I was glad that I left when I did.  Unfortunately, I don’t think I had the chance to chat to everyone properly but hopefully, I’ll get the opportunity next time.

Try It!

If you’ve never considered attending a FIRE Escape before, I would highly recommend these friendly and informal gatherings. I believe it’s Huw’s intention to continue to organise them and I for one am very grateful, as his efforts have enabled me to talk to people who understand what I’m trying to achieve and I love hearing about other people’s stories and plans for FI.

Whilst it’s great to put faces to bloggers, it’s also great to meet people who do not have blogs but who have similar goals, so cheers Huw for organising these FIRE Escapes!

PS – M, I forgot to grab one of your home brews before I left! Doh!

Premium Bond Win

I was out most of Friday so although I saw that I had received an email from NS&I about my premium bonds, I didn’t get the chance to log in to check my account and I only remembered after I’d gotten home from Sheffield:

I won £50 (2 x £25)! It’s my first win in 9 months. I can’t recall if I’ve mentioned this but some of my redundancy money has been used to purchase more premium bonds. These bonds are accounted for separately (in my spreadsheets) from the bonds in my Future Fund since they’re not part of my long-term plan.

Yes, premium bonds make terrible investments – however, if you don’t view them as ‘investments’, but as somewhere to park your cash because you’ve already exhausted the high interest current accounts etc, then I don’t see anything inherently bad about them. Plus, you can win something, like I have! 🙂

Anyway, until I’m gainfully employed again, as and when I need funds for my living expenses, I’ll be selling some of the bonds. Let’s hope I’ll have notched up a few more wins by then! Unlike Jim who treated himself with his winnings, I’ll be chucking mine into my ISA!