Interim December 2023 update

The full December update will include my progress (or lack of!) over 2023, how I did versus my goals and if the Santa Rally continued until the end of the year. I’ll then be setting some new goals for 2024.

Thought I’d get this interim post off in the meantime to get some things off my chest (so to speak) before the festive shenanigans get underway and I don’t find the time to post.

Not Nice Stuff Alert!

This month tried its best to be a “Mensis Horribilis” but fortunately, didn’t quite succeed.

I’ve mentioned that I’ve been run ragged with work this past month or so, but what’s probably made things worse is that I’ve been worried about my health at the same time.

It appears that I’ve lost nearly half a stone through stress and that’s not good as I didn’t have half a stone excess weight to lose!

Anyway, I feel somewhat less stressed now that I know what’s going on and what’s going to happen.

In the new year, I will be having surgery to have a lump removed from my breast.

As far as they are currently aware, it’s benign and not immediately life threatening but surgery is nonetheless required, in case this changes. My Mum had breast cancer so you could say I have been somewhat distracted to say the least.

[Ladies, I can’t stress how important it is to check yourselves regularly and visit your GP if you have any worries or concerns whatsoever].

At most, I’ll be out of action post-surgery (for physical exertions, including driving) for two weeks but hopefully it won’t take that long to recover properly. I can’t see me taking the full two weeks off work for sick/medical leave but I will see how I feel.

I can’t fault the NHS at all – it took just a matter of weeks from initially seeing my GP with my concerns, through to hospital scans, biopsy and surgery diagnosis, although it did feel like the longest weeks ever to me at the time.

Perhaps I should be kind of grateful that work was so busy that I was focusing more on that, than anything else.

Anyway, now that I know what’s going on, I can just get on with the festivities and whatnot!

Right, got that out of the way, let’s get on to less gloomy stuff! 🙂

Glad Tidings

People at work have acknowledged the long hours I’ve been putting in, and this was shown via another Employee of the Month award I received, so that was nice. Although really, there’s probably something not right about awarding people for working outside of their normal hours!

Ironically, I had too much to do and decided not to attend the Christmas drinks party after the awards ceremony, haha!

I was in the office the following day and witnessed lots of sore heads, which was good as it meant I was left in peace to get on with my work with very little disturbance and distraction!

Fractional Fun Update

After my call for stock suggestions for my ‘One Share Portfolio’, I narrowed it down to two in the end, Hershey and Berkshire Hathaway. Then, with the death of Warren Buffett’s right hand man, Charlie Munger, I was guided by my heart and went for the latter, buying a bit of BRKB.

With the share price at around $362, it will take many fractional purchases using spare quids in my account to build up to one share to complete my portfolio! Currently, I own just  0.07th of a share!

Social and Relaxation Stuff

Aside from the above works do which I bailed out on, I made sure to attend all other social events I was invited to, including a leaving do, several Christmas meals already (gotta put some weight back on!) and a couple of weekend lunches to catch up with friends.

I didn’t think about buying Christmas presents until last week but I took a couple of days off work to do the shopping (needed to use my hols or lose them), and fortunately was done pretty quickly. I did buy some gifts online but I’m finding these days that it’s not always cheaper online and with some things, for quality purposes, it’s better to see/feel the actual item before buying.

With the social outings and present buying, my credit card has taken a hammering but it’s just once a year and I can handle that.

Been enjoying catching up on some TV programmes (now that my head’s clearer, I can concentrate on plots and storylines again!) – some enjoyable escapism shows I’ve just finished watching include S1 of ‘The Lazarus Project’ (sci-fi) and S1 of ‘Slow Horses’ (spy/thriller), both with a great British cast. Looking forward to watching S2 of both.

I can’t wait to binge-watch some other shows from my growing To-Watch list and also binge-read during my time off, but mostly, I really can’t wait to just empty my brain of everything for a while and lounge in my pyjamas, drinking mulled wine! 🙂

And on that note,  I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a happy and prosperous New Year – eat, drink and be merry!

 

November 2023 Savings, plus other updates

November passed in the blink of an eye and for the first time in a long while, I experienced a few sleepless nights due to workload (and other things).

However, I’m not one to dwell on negative stuff so I’ll focus on the positive.

Saving Energy

I was invited to take part in E.ON’s energy saving event, where, if I was able to use less energy than usual (during a specific period), I would be “rewarded”.

The specific period was between 4.30pm and 6pm on a Thursday, so I just logged off my work laptop early, switched all lights off apart from one lamp and read my Kindle for an hour and a half!

I know £1.09 may as well be nothing in the scheme of things, but better in my pocket than the energy provider’s.

Also, it looks like I’m paying (in more ways than one) for the extra hours that I’m putting in while I WFH.

Hope

A month ago, I visited my friend from uni, who was barely recovering in hospital from second round of chemo and I didn’t know if I was there to say goodbye to her.

Well, there’s been a complete turn around – saw her the other weekend and things have changed massively, her mentality has changed and her fighting spirit has shone through. She now has HOPE, albeit to live a very different life and has been progressing rapidly through rehabilitation. She’s nearly back to her old self and although there will always be the shadow of leukemia, it’s in remission for now.

The hospice where she has been receiving excellent care is Sobell House Hospice and I have donated to them as I have seen firsthand the fantastic care they have given to my friend.

She’ll be moving out of the hospice soon but they’ve started her on this journey of hope and I will be forever grateful.

Anyway, how did I get on with my numbers?

I saved 18.2% of my net salary.  The above includes £36.11 from doing Prolific surveys and £63.82 from Google Adsense.

Surprisingly, a small partial bonus was paid by work this month, which would normally get paid in March.

I chucked it all into my ISA, although I guess I didn’t really think things through properly, as this was the first month of my newly increased mortgage payment – ouch! 🙁

Shares and Investment Trusts

I just topped up existing investments.

Current share/IT portfolio can be found here.

(Entire portfolio here)

Future Fund 

Well it was as if the Santa Claus Rally had come early, with my Future Fund getting a decent boost, jumping up to £236,958, its highest value so far this year!

I can’t get excited about this as it’s been a rubbish year investment-wise. Still, it feels good to see the rocket again!

Dividends and Other Income

Another good month for dividends.

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Fractional Fun

Things haven’t been too jolly lately so I thought I’d do a light-hearted interim post to raise the mood, during these dark dreary days.

So what do the below companies have in common, aside from being big US corporate behemoths?

Answer: I own one share in each one of these companies.

After dismantling my Dogs of the FTSE portfolio, I sensibly reinvested the cash into existing investments but found there was a few quid left sitting in the account.

I had some fractional US shares which I was doing nothing with but I then got the idea of continuing to buy more fractions with spare pounds in my account (minimum £2) until I’d built up each holding (that I wanted to keep) to one whole share (or thereabouts).

Fractional shares have been in the news recently as HMRC don’t consider “fractions of shares to be shares’ which apparently meant they couldn’t be held in ISAs, so therefore subject to CGT etc.

This wasn’t the interpretation held by some investing platforms (such as Freetrade) which allowed fractional shares to purchased and held within S&S ISAs.

The good news is that it looks like HMRC’s policy may be changed following the Chancellor’s announcement in the Autumn statement that ‘certain’ fractional shares shall be allowed in ISAs.

However, I’m not sure what happens between now and April 2024 (the proposed change date) but I guess I will deal with whatever happens when it happens. If I have to sell, I’m unlikely to be breaching any capital gains thresholds.

Anyway, this is the only one of my portfolios where every single one of my holdings is currently showing green, with Microsoft leading the way up 42.13% (at the time of writing) and Meta at 35.65%. Apple is lagging at 6.89%.

Why am I doing this? Well, it’s not really making a big dent to my Future Fund (or it could actually be part of it!), maybe I just wanted yet another spreadsheet to update, or I just wanted to mop up those odd quids sitting in my account, to put every penny to work.

However, mostly it’s because it’s fun (I enjoyed running the Dogs of the FTSE portfolio) and it’s kind of cool (I think!) to say to my friends that I own a bit of McDonalds or a bit of Apple!

Keen-eyed readers will see that there are 9 stocks there and I’ve thought of ultimately making it a nice round 10.

But which company to consider for the last spot in my ‘One Share Portfolio’?

I’m overloaded in tech so maybe something other than tech?

Suggestions below for consideration and if stuck for decision (after my own research), I will randomly pick! 🙂

October 2023 Savings, plus other updates

A blur of a month.

Work continues to be really busy. I’ve now met my new boss and getting used to working with her. I have a load of holidays to use up before the end of the year and sorely in need of a break (late nights starting to take a toll), but need to balance hitting deadlines with resting my brain. A few long weekends should hopefully help.

My niece and nephew were up for half-term, stayed mostly with my sis but I had them for a weekend. I did take a day off work to take them to Arcade Club,  four floors of arcade machines and games consoles. We were there for nearly 4 hours so it was well worth the money, and yes, I really enjoyed myself too, reliving my misspent youth!

My teenaged self’s idea of heaven!

Anyway, how did I get on this month?

I saved 14.1% of my net salary.  The above includes £62.35 from doing Prolific surveys.

Shares and Investment Trusts

I just topped up existing investments.

Current share/IT portfolio can be found here.

(Entire portfolio here)

Future Fund 

OOF! The biggest drop of the year for me – I’d been oblivious to ‘market noise’ as been too busy to check my accounts, so was a little shocked to see this when I ran the numbers. Still, it’s already started to pick up in November but as at the end of October,  my Future Fund ended the month plummeting 4% down to £224,414. 

Just have to keep calm and carry on investing.

Dividends and Other Income

A fairly average month for dividends.

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