June 2021 Savings, plus other updates

Ah, the great British summer, dithering like a bumblebee between bouts of heatwaves and non-stop rain – I wouldn’t have it any other way! ūüėČ

So how did I get on with my savings in June?

I saved just 13.5% of my net salary. I realised that it was probably a better idea to put funds to one side ready to cover future house purchasing costs like conveyancing, solicitor etc, rather than add much more to my Future Fund (for the moment). It does mess up my goals somewhat but that’s the way of things.

Hurray for unexpected income Рthe above includes top ups from another £25 premium bond win (yay!), £20.19 from doing surveys with Prolific, £100 from winning the football predictions at work, £11.64 from WeBuybooks (started decluttering!) and £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 

Markets appeared to go mostly up for me this month.

At the end of June, my Future Fund was at £241,446, so a nice increase despite barely adding any capital this month.

Grinding ever closer to my next milestone!

Dividends and Other Income

Another decent month for dividends:

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Dogs of the FTSE 2020/21 – final update + Random Shares

After the previous portfolio’s abysmal performance, I wasn’t sure how this current Dogs of the FTSE experimental portfolio would do, particularly with the continued situation around the world.¬† This portfolio was created just after markets had crashed and had begun its recovery so timing was not favourable.

Long-Covid Dogs

So one year on and my 4th experimental portfolio hasn’t done too badly.

As a reminder, here’s the Dogs of the FTSE 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]

Here’s how the 2020/21 portfolio looked as at 8th June 2021:

A so-so gain of 14.98%, but a respectable 21.78% if you include dividends paid out.

Over the same period, the FTSE 100 Total Return was 18.68%.

Anglo American was the outstanding performer, showing a gain of 66%+ over the year.

What Next?

It’s always been my intention to run this as a (minimum) 5-year experiment so the Dogs will be back for their fifth (and possibly last) outing very soon. I’ve not decided yet what I want to do afterwards.

So, some mutts will be kicked out and new ones brought in.

I’ll get this new portfolio set up soon, so will do an update in a couple of weeks.

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.

One of the freebies I received recently

Here’s the full portfolio – it’s gotten a bit too big to do a full copy and paste.

Thanks to all who have signed up via my link – hope you all got a decent free share!

I’ve been selling the odd one, whenever any showed >40% gains.

Until next time – keep calm and carry on investing!

[*affiliate link]

House Hunting during a Property Boom

As mentioned recently, I have been house-hunting.

The last time I did this was ten years ago, when I bought my BTL flat.

Different times, different circumstances, different reasons.

Fast forward to today and let’s just say that had I been able to, I would have picked a less frantic and chaotic time to look for a new home!

Boom

I’m sure most of you will be aware that there’s currently a property boom, with properties being snapped up like hot cakes, despite the continually rising (and often ridiculous) prices. It’s definitely a seller’s market.

As soon as I knew I was buying, I registered with around a dozen local estate agents. Only 2 bothered to get back to me – they’re inundated with buyers.

Walking into the estate agents’ offices yielded better results. Some properties were on the market for only a few days (some for just one day) before they were sold and I can verify this from my own experience of fruitless efforts.

Why the boom?

Various factors, including people having surplus cash saved up during lockdown and of course the stamp duty holiday. That said, house prices are predicted to continue rising for a while longer even after the holiday ends and then at some point, the housing bubble might burst – the prices can’t continue to go up forever, can they?

Viewings

Anyway, it was weeks of frustrating searching before I was even able to get to view my first property, despite finding several which I liked.

With COVID restrictions still in place, properties were already sold or under offer even before I had the chance to enquire about them, never mind view, or the sellers weren’t accepting any more viewings because they already had (on two properties I was interested in) over 30 buyers interested. Ridiculous.

I realised that I had to dedicate time in the day to enquire about properties – leaving it until when I’d finished work was too late.

Went to view one house which was nice at an affordable price but I realised that it was too far away from friends and family (and work, as I’ll still be expected to go in the office, even if on a flexible basis) so at least I was getting a sense of how far I would be willing to move to.

Agents told me that they had even been selling some properties with no viewings (as in people just buying from looking at photos) – it’s not something I would contemplate doing.

Alas, with demand far exceeding supply, I’m competing against families looking for a decent 3-bed semi-detached, with a nice garden in a nice location. Lockdown has changed the priorities and perspectives for many, although such properties have always been in demand, the current boom is exacerbating things somewhat.

I’ve been thankful that I’m working from home so I’ve been able to block out my calendar for 40 mins and nip out for viewings in the afternoon; this task would have been virtually impossible had I been in the office, with only evenings or weekends available.

Rush Hour

I know I shouldn’t rush my decision in buying a house, but I feel like I’m caught up in very fast moving times and if I don’t move at the same speed, I will miss an opportunity and in this current climate, there aren’t that many to begin with. And of course, property prices continue to march ever upwards.

via GIPHY

Don’t get me wrong, I’m in a much better place than I was a couple of months back when my head was in a complete spin and I couldn’t think straight.

I have a plan, I’m progressing with it, I feel like I’m getting back in control.

When I see a house I really like, I will make an offer – I don’t feel like I have the luxury to dilly-dally or drag things out.

Anyway, I have a viewing lined up this weekend and another next week, so fingers crossed I will find somewhere soon, somewhere which ticks most of my boxes.

I’m resigned to the fact that I probably won’t find my perfect ‘dream home’, but whatever I find, I hope to just make it ‘my home’.

Wish me luck!

May 2021 Savings, plus other updates

A big influx of work has kept me really busy, and as the company I work for pivots and stretches to try to claw back business lost through 2020, deals are ever more complex and I’ve found myself working late just to get through my workload. The only evenings I’ve been finishing on time have been my gym nights – sacrificing those will affect my sanity for real.

As mentioned in previous posts, my boss has pretty much got one foot out of the door and while she continues to help when I ask for it, her mind’s not fully focused, she is obviously not as engaged as she was previously and I understand her reluctance to get involved in new (and what look to be protracted and drawn out) issues. Not her problem any more.

When sis and nephew were still living with me, it was rare for me to work long hours because we couldn’t eat too late in the evening as nephew had school. Back on my own again, I’ve slipped into bad habits which I must stop.

Anyway, I escalated my workload issue and the good news is that I will get some¬† support, which will take some pressure off me. I’ve also booked some days off to clear my head (and do house stuff) and it looks like I’ve picked the right time –¬† even Manchester is enjoying a little mini-heatwave!

A few ‘highlights’ this month:

  • I’m now ‘fully’ inoculated – had my second AZ vaccine, no side effects this time, just a sore arm for a couple of days.
  • The Fitbit my friends bought me two years ago stopped working. However, after a lengthy discussion with Fitbit Customer Services, they told me I was eligible for a free replacement (worth around ¬£150), which arrived a week later! Very pleased with that, as I was only asking for help, not a freebie!
  • Had my first ‘harvest’ from the veggies I’m growing – this is a kind of Japanese spinach, which was so easy to grow from seed, even for me!

  • Work have announced they are reopening the office doors ‘officially’ on 21st June, subject to government announcements. Flexi-working will be introduced, with various departments scheduled to go into the office on a certain number of days (no more than 3). However, I’ve been told that if I want to, I can continue to WFH 100% – I guess they can squeeze more hours from me that way! Suits me, but I think I will go in once or twice a week to be sociable and so I can catch up with friends.
  • I had my first ‘non-family’ hug (from a friend) in a long time. It was rather marvellous.

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

I saved 50.5% of my net salary. Despite things opening up, I haven’t been anywhere and my social life has yet to be resurrected, but I’m ok with that. Increased payments into premium bonds because as mentioned, it’s looking likely that I will have to dip into my Future Fund for my property purchase, so I need to build up cash reserves.

The above includes top ups from a £25 premium bond win (yay!) and £46.37 from doing surveys with Prolific.

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 

The markets were all over the place but settled down towards the end of the month.

At the end of May, my Future Fund was at £236,836, so staying steady on course.

Dividends and Other Income

A bumper month for dividends – nearly too many to list:

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