December 2020 update

Just a few things of interest this month that impact my finances and work, and decent form by Norwich City at the top of the Championship, make it a month that I am reasonably happy with.

Tyres for 20″ wheels int cheap!

As all my money has a purpose each month, I utilised my Emergency Fund (EF) to cover the cost of two new tyres for my car. The reason for using the EF is that I keep next to no money in my current account, pretty much just what I need for groceries and petrol.

The company I bought the tyres from are based in Andorra so to protect myself I paid for them using a credit card and then immediately paid the balance off with the EF money. There were some indifferent reviews on the web but I have no complaints at all, the order process went fine and the tyres arrived three days later.

With work, I received my variation of contract making me a permanent home worker. Some of my office-based colleagues may say about costs increasing by WFH but the heating is still going to be on at the same times as my kids and wife are home at different points during the day. Electricity will increase slightly and the broadband bill will remain the same.

My company will be paying me £26 expenses per month directly to help offset WFH expenses, this is pretty handy as it means I will not have to make a claim to the Inland Revenue myself.

Additional Income Streams

  • Matched Betting £51 (Nov £137)
  • Surveys/studies £5.72 (Nov £10.21)
  • eBay £37
  • TopCashBack £13.06

The eBay income came from the sale of our old TV which had a broken screen (teenager + game console!). The guy who bought the TV wanted it to repair his broken unit so I felt happy with this sale as it helped prevent two TVs going to landfill. The proceeds went to help pay down my credit card bill 🙂

How did I do in December?

Assets

  • Emergency Fund £1,500 (£1,150.80)
  • ISA, Freetrade £3,611.82 (£3,546.79)
  • ISA, Hargreaves Lansdown £2,713.38 (£2,682.73)
  • Pensions £98,995.33 (£97,194.47)
  • SAYE £420.00 (£390.00)
  • House £350,883 (£350,883) *HPI current valuation

Liabilities

  • Credit Card -£950.99 (-£1,728.26)
  • Student Loan -£3,656.77 (-£3,806.77)
  • Mortgage -£190,092.68 (-£189,487.04)

Total Assets (excluding house) – Total Liabilities = Net Worth
£107,240.53 – £194,700.44 = -£87,459.91 (-£90,057.28)

Month-on-month

Not so much added to my FreeTrade ISA this month as I bulked up my emergency fund and paid a bit more than usual off my credit card.

My plan to clear the credit card debt in January might be pushed back to February now although it depends on additional repayments I can sneak in next month.

The pension contribution reflects an additional one per cent, that coupled with a new Vanguard SIPP I opened for Mrs Frugalist means that we are now putting 15% of our household income into pensions. That’s another personal milestone met 🙂

Future Fund

It’s nice to see the graph continuing to move up & right, this month’s gain puts me quite near the £110,000 mark and is a good way to end the year. Just over half of the gain is from the inclusion of my Hargreaves Lansdown ISA which was missing from last month’s FF.

Dividends

A late flurry of dividends this month gave me a nice fuzzy feeling as payments crept past the £8 mark for the month.

It’s nice to look ahead to the prospect of seeing how 2021 payments compare to 2020. Who knows what they will look like as amongst many things the economy will continue to be influenced by COVID-19 and also the departure from the EU.

Looking ahead to 2021

I’ll share my review of 2020 shortly and also my plans for 2021. I’m going to try and concentrate on the processes required to meet my goals rather than just the goals themselves, I think this level of planning will help with my motivation.

Guest Post

This month I had the opportunity to share a post from Martin at Studenomics, he shares his thoughts on what to look for in your first side hustle – things to watch out for and how to choose the right one.

If you are interested in writing a guest post for my blog, you can reach out to me via the contact page or by taking a look at the let’s work together page – it would be great to hear from you!

Vanity Metrics

These are metrics which serve me no purpose other than to see progress, or lack of, in the social media universe.

Alexa ranking: #1,298,570
Twitter followers: 295
Blog followers: 29

Frugal Friday – #3

Quick one this week as it’s Christmas Day!

I’m talking today about a saving I’ve made in my health life, with a voucher code it works out at an even better deal 💷

One of my friends at Bannatynes is an instructor and personal trainer (PT) and we had been talking on and off for ages about nutrition. It’s taken me a while, but I recently bought a customised meal plan from him which is working really well.

Before Tom created this plan for me, I gave him a few ideas of things I like so that he could try and integrate them. Amongst those is Grenade Carb Killa protein bar.

Carb Killas come in some great flavours including Jaffa Quake, Dark Chocolate and Raspberry but my absolute fav is Chocolate Chip Salted Caramel.

Proper decent flavour!

As much as I love these bars, they are like £2.50 each and my food bill would be huge if I were to buy these from Sainsburys or similar.

They are available on subscription from Amazon and work out around £1.50 each. However, I have found similar bars at MyProtein where there are called Carb Crushers.

A box of 12 bars using the current coupon code at the time of writing brings the cost down by £5.72 to £13.34. This then works out at a pretty decent £1.12/bar.

Another good thing about buying from MyProtein is that you can collect points to use as money off in the future, and they pretty much always have offers on such as a discount or spend X and get a free t-shirt.

If you don’t have an account with MyProtein then use my link (aff. link*) and create yourself an account. If you spend over £35 then you’ll be given free delivery for three months plus I’ll get a little thank you credited to my account 😁

Also, if you go to TopCashBack and create an account (aff. link*), not only will you get a £5 bonus but you can then search for MyProtein, you can get up to 12% cashback.

* This is an affiliate/sign-up link, please see my Affiliate Disclaimer.

My Portfolio Structure

I thought it might be interesting to share the structure of my main portfolio – this is where I have calculated the percentage break-downs for different markets based on my level of comfort.

There are several rules of thumb for determining the split between equities and bonds such as subtracting your age from 100 to give you the bonds (your age) and equities (the remainder) split.

As I didn’t get started with FIRE until “late on” i.e. my forties, I have gone for a more aggressive split of 20% bonds/80% equities.

At the broadest level, my equities are made up of 85% global and 15% emerging markets.

This is then diversified like:

  • 25% Domestic
  • 50% Developed World
  • 15% Emerging Markets
  • 10% Global Commercial Real Estate

Finally, we can take a look at the tilted version of my portfolio. The percentages might look a little odd with the decimal place but I haven’t figured out how to sort that yet, the table values look fine but must have some formatting applied. Anyhow…

And with bonds included in the mix.

The actual current holdings in my portfolio are shown below, you’ll notice that there are a few areas that I am yet to invest in. I need to do more research in these areas and identify suitable trackers/ETFs.

DomesticMarket/EquityVanguard FTSE 100 ETF (Dist)VUKE
SPDR S&P UK DividendUKDV
ValueVanguard FTSE 250VMID
Small Cap??
Developed WorldMarket/EquityVanguard FTSE All-World ETF (Dist)VWRL
Value??
Small Cap??
GlobalSmall CapBlackrock Global Smaller CompaniesBRSC
Emerging MarketsMarketVanguard Emerging Markets ETFVFEM
iShares Core MSCI Emerging Markets ETF (Acc)EMIM
Value & Small Cap??
Global Commercial Real EstatePropertyiShares Developed Markets Property Yield (Dist)IWDP
BondsShort-dated, high quality bondsVanguard UK Gilt ETF (Dist)VGOV
Short-dated, high quality, inflation-linked bondsiShares Indexed UK GiltsINXG

It would be good to hear how your portfolio compares to mine by way of split and how you decided on the allocation of equities and bonds.

What to Look For In Your First Side Hustle

The following post is contributed by Martin of Studenomics, where he tries to make personal finance fun since you have enough to stress about. You can click here to check out the wide range of content on everything from student loans to getting paid to drink coffee.

Are you looking to start your first side hustle? Are you excited about the idea of making money on your own?

I think you’ll agree with me that there’s a lot of confusing information out there about making money. You start reading about one income source and then end up with an information overload. You don’t know if it’s all a scam or if you’re missing out on an opportunity of a lifetime.

Keep on reading if you want to know what to look for in a side hustle so that you don’t spend the next six months stuck at day one…

Continue reading “What to Look For In Your First Side Hustle”

November 2020 update

Quiet month for me in general so I’ll crack on with things…

Additional Income Streams

  • Matched Betting £137 (Oct £275)
  • Surveys/studies £10.21 (Oct £16.56)

Things were a bit slower this month with my matched betting although I still made a >£100 profit which I’m fine with. I wasn’t feeling it for a good while so just dipped in and out as I fancied it.

How did I do in November?

Assets

  • Emergency Fund £1,150.80 (£1,107.69)
  • ISA, Freetrade £3,546.79 (£2,187.76)
  • ISA, Hargreaves Lansdown £2,682.73 (not recorded)
  • Pensions £97,194.47 (£94,943.49)
  • SAYE £390.00 (£360.00)
  • House £350,883 (not recorded) *HPI current valuation

Liabilities

  • Credit Card -£1,728.26 (-£2,299.60)
  • Student Loan -£3,806.77 (-£3,960.77)
  • Mortgage -£189,487.04 (-£190,668.62)

Total Assets (excluding house) – Total Liabilities = Net Worth
£104,964.79 – £195,022.07 = -£90,057.28

Yes, I have a big mortgage and the repayments are pretty hefty but the decisions around that were made pre-FIRE journey.

We could downsize as we have a spare bedroom and an office/5th bedroom but when we looked into this a few years ago there just wasn’t much to gain if we want to stay in the current area. We’re not looking to relocate just yet as my daughter is in her final year at high school and then hopefully starting college. Renting out the spare room could be an option we considering though…

It’s not something I’d rule out in the future as I like the idea of geo-arbitrage although that comes with other considerations such as having the best dog in the world that we would have to take with us as I’d not even think about giving her up.

Month-on-month

As you can see, although my spending and credit card payments are down this month, my savings rates are down too. Part of the reason for this is a bit of lethargy, I just struggled with motivation to bring in extra money which would have been used to reduce debt and increase savings.

Thankfully, my credit card payments should be done with ahead of schedule – it’s now looking like the bulk of the balance should be cleared in December and then January will mop up the remaining balance.

Whether then to start on paying down my Student Loan or to add to my Emergency Fund is the question. My Student Loan is under £4,000 and attracts a rate of interest of 2.6%.


I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts on this – would you clear the loan and be rid of all debt (except mortgage) or build your EF a bit more?


Future Fund

Continued good performance from my Scottish Widows pension scheme and a boost to the Freetrade ISA saw me edge past the £100,000 milestone.

So happy about this as it is the first big milestone that I have hit on my way to FIRE 🙂

Also, just while compiling my list of assets and liabilities/debts (above), I realised that I have not included my HL ISA in my Future Fund so that’ll be added from December onward.

I have set the next milestone at £150k which I plan to make in the next couple of years. Increased pension contributions, both from higher saving rate & higher salary, plus side hustles and general market performance although the latter cannot be relied upon.

Yay! I’ve awarded myself a badge 😀

Started recording my dividend payments in my Freetrade ISA (lazy portfolio) which can be seen in the graph below. I’ll provide a breakdown of my lazy portfolio in the future showing what funds I have.

Dividend Payments

Not likely to be retiring any time soon on the above level of payments but I expect these numbers to grow nicely over time. I’ve set an informal target of the monthly dividends being enough to cover my mobile phone payment which is not much, like £5, so should hopefully be achievable in the next 12 months. I’ll then add the next notional target – over time the goal is to have the dividends covering a significant proportion of my regular expenses.

Credits

I have taken inspiration and assistance from a couple of other FIRE bloggers in the creation of my monthly updates so I’d like to take the opportunity now to say thank you.

Weenie over at QuietlySaving – thanks for providing quality posts, yours was the first FIRE blog I started reading and it was from your updates that I “borrowed” the Future Fund concept. Also a big thank you for your help with my dividend graphing (see above) – I was banging my head against the wall with Apple Numbers trying to get it right, I then went from Excel (thanks!) to Google Sheets and I’m pretty happy with the result.

You can read what Weenie’s November looked like here.

Sassenach Saving‘s monthly updates provided me with the thought of breaking down my assets and debts for a month-on-month comparison. Check out their November update here.

Frugal Fridays – #2

If you listen to the ChooseFI podcast then the likelihood is that you’ve heard Brad and Jonathan talking about saving money on your mobile phone bill. The provider that they have been recommending is Mint Mobile, if you’re UK-based then Mint aren’t an option. I’ll share here how I’ve made a decent saving on our family mobile bill.

Can you save on your mobile bill?

We have been using Three as our mobile provider for four 12-month SIM-only contracts; two at £8.22/month and the other two at £9/month, all with 8GB data, unlimited texts and minutes. This wasn’t too bad a deal as it gave a saving over our Virgin Mobile deals plus £175 cashback altogether via Quidco*.

For that twelve-month period, the cost per SIM worked out at £4.96 average which is decent but if we’d stuck with Three, the average cost would rise. Plus the kids were complaining of lack of coverage now and again which is pretty much end-of-world when you’re a teenager!

After some looking around, I opted for Lebara. These guys piggyback on the Vodafone network which apparently provides decent 4G coverage for our area.

I signed up for the first deal via Topcashback* which will earn me £5 cashback and, using Honey*, I also got a voucher code which saved £2.50 on sign-up. If you haven’t used Honey, it is a browser extension that checks websites for valid coupons/vouchers to save you money.

The contract is £5/month on a rolling monthly deal, this provides 2GB, 1000 minutes, and a 1000 texts. This will be fine as I’m connected to wifi the majority of the time and I don’t make many calls. As a Lebara* customer I can make referrals which is handy as I can then earn £10 for each of the other three SIMs I sort out for the rest of the family.

If you take a look and decide that Lebara might be good you too, then if you sign-up via my link* then you get double data for the first month and I get a referral bonus.

Searching out a new deal rather than just sticking with our previous provider has resulted in a monthly saving of £14.44 and a cashback bonus/saving of £37.50. Decent 🙂

* affiliate link(s), see affiliate disclaimer

Frugal Fridays – #1

So the idea is that I post something about frugality each Friday, I expect the posts will be pretty short in comparison to my pretty wordy monthly updates!

This first post is for something super-exciting – hand wash 😀

We use the handpump washes at home, these come in a 250ml plastic container when bought individually. The standard Carex antibacterial ones cost £1 (40p/100ml) each and the Sainsburys “The Collection” equivalent is 85p (34p/100ml) for a 250ml item.

Sainsbury’s currently have for sale a Carex 500ml original refill pouch at £1.50 (30p/100ml) which will save you 50p over the price of two individual items. The saving is smaller if purchasing The Collection variant.

Exciting photo of handwash…

When I last bought a refill pouch I was able to pick up a 1000ml version for £2.85 which works out to 28p/100ml.

With using these refill pouches you can save not only money, albeit a small amount, but you also save on waste packaging. Each pouch can be recycled so rather than chucking away the container and pump each time the handwash runs out, considering refilling it – you’ll be saving money and more importantly helping to save the environment.

Thanks for reading – I can’t guarentee the next Frugal Fridays post will be any more riveting but I don’t think anyone said saving money would be mind-blowingly exciting! 😉

If you have any frugal tips then please share them in the comments section below.

October 2020 update

October was a pretty decent month for me; personally, professionally, and financially.

In work, I got my promotion (finally) confirmed and a nice, chunky pay rise which was due to the promotion but also bringing me more toward market value.

Like most people, I already had plans for what I’d do with my extra pay but being on my journey to FI I didn’t pre-order a whacking great big TV or sign-up to lease a new car, instead I put a plan in place to use the money to pay down my debt faster.

I should now be able to clear my credit card debt within five months which will be awesome. Will be the first time in as long as I can remember that I’d not owe money on a card. Also, this month I’ve been making additional payments to my card which is shown in the table below.

Once the card is paid off, I’ll shift my attention to my student loan, thankfully it is small (around £4k) but it will still take a little while to pay off. Probably around this time next year it should be dealt with which will leave me with the extra money plus £140/month more which is currently deducted automatically from my salary.

Toward the start of the month, I decided to get rid of my loan I took out when I purchased my new phone. The balance was £434 and has resulted in a monthly saving of £29, or just under £350 a year 🙂

Matched Betting

I thought October was going to be a struggle in terms of making much profit but it turned out to be pretty decent by my terms.

The profit in the first two weeks alone passed that for the whole of September, a fair proportion of that was from taking the boosted odds from the likes of Ladbrokes and William Hill each day. A lot of small gains added up nicely.

For the first time, I withdrew some profits from my matched betting ecosystem, this was used to reduce my credit card balance. I’ll need to take some more funds from my exchange accounts and redistribute it across some of the bookies as a lot of the funds have flowed the other way.

Also tried a few accumulators, mainly as a learning exercise, but I think out of about five or so only one returned a small profit. As fellow matched better, weenie warned me, it’s hard at the moment to make anything from an acca as the football results are all over the place.

It’s great that football has returned and individual fixtures can still throw profits, especially when you get free/risk-free bets, but trying to string together results in an acca is a totally different proposition.

Holiday – yay!

Having had pretty much no real break from work this year, I attended an annual golf weekend on the North Norfolk coast. This I think is the fourth year running that we have stayed and played at Heacham Manor although I had to cancel last minute in 2019.

It was nice to get away and spend some time with friends some of whom I have not seen for a couple of years.

We always start off with a coffee and bacon roll in the clubhouse before getting in a round and unlike 2018, the weather wasn’t too bad. Despite being windy and wet for the first three holes, it eased up and toward the end, it was actually warm enough to take off my water proof jacket!

The evenings are always fun too. I shared a cottage apartment with one of my best mates and spent a good while chatting and drinking G&Ts before heading to the restaurant for the three course meal. We had to split into two groups due to social restrictions but that was fine.

I didn’t play any golf in the morning before coming home although some of the guys did stop around for that.

We also had a long-awaited family holiday to a cottage in a village outside Nottingham. Having originally booked for the four of us plus Skyla, my son had his shifts come through for his new job which meant he wasn’t able to come 😦

I had looked to see if we could postpone this break as there was talk of Nottingham going into tier 3 but nothing confirmed so the booking company wouldn’t have been able to help. I’m glad we went though, the cottage was lovely – small but really cosy, and it was nice to have a change of scenery.

It rained on and off each day but we still got out for walks with Skyla and had a few pub lunches/dinners. Was good to spend some time with Freya away from home, she managed to tear herself away from her phone a few times and join in the conversations.

We ended up leaving a couple of days earlier than planned as the whole county was due to be locked down and placed into tier three, that, plus the rain and a slightly moany teenager kind of told us it was time to come home!

Additional Income Streams

  • Matched Betting £275 profit (Sept £158)
  • Surveys/studies £16.56 (Sept £17.99)

Up to the end of October, I have made just over £53 from Prolific surveys, not game-changing but it all counts and it’s the time when I’m not particularly active and just unwinding.

Still not been able to pass any pre-qualifying checks for UserTesting, might continue trying with this for a while longer and see how it goes.

Well pleased with matched betting profit for last month. Between the surveys and matched betting profit in October, I was able to pay off an extra £300.

How did I do in October?

Notably, this month were expenses coming in at just under £900 on the holiday in Nottinghamshire, this covered the balance of the rental cottage, groceries, eating out and some clothes shopping for my daughter 🙂

It’s nice to see my pension contributions increase this month, my percentage rate has remained the same just that I’m now getting paid a bit more 🙂

Slightly increased amount added to my ISA this month, I think this will remain pretty static until I get some debts cleared.

It’s frustrating having to divert money from savings/investments to pay off debt but I don’t want to beat myself up about it as my life is different since finding FIRE.

My combined saving rate of 39.2% is pleasing, it’s encouraging me to keep working at the three pillars – cutting expenses, earning more, and saving more.

Future Fund

Another good month for my pension as that has gone up £3,500 since September. Not sure what it will look like at the end of November though as the US Presidential election would have taken place which may impact the market. Still, that’s not in my sphere of influence so I’m not going to worry about it.


I’m starting to think as to whether an end-of-year review is something worth doing, summing up any highlights as well as my progress to better financial health.

Is this something that you do/have done in the past? Do you find it useful? Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below.


September 2020 update

It was a tough month at work, sometimes despite having loads to do I can find it hard to keep going. The work is typically varied and normally it keeps me interested but perhaps it was the change in weather or completing a challenging task that left me feeling a bit down, I’m not sure. This then rolled into me developing a sore throat and then a list of other symptoms which scarily sounded a lot like COVID-19.

I decided to take sick leave and self-isolate but as things didn’t improve I booked myself a test, I make it sound easier than it actually was – it turned out to be pretty hard to book any kind of test! Despite having a drive-in testing centre about a mile from my house I had to wait three days before I was finally lucky enough to get offered a home testing kit.

After getting the test kit ordered, the rest of the process was pretty decent. The kit arrived the next day, I then got it returned the same afternoon and within two days I got the result back which was thankfully negative. The odd thing though with the fam self-isolating is that my daughter was actually put out about having to stay off school! 😀

One downside to being ill was that it interrupted my gym routine and I don’t mean that in a vain way, it is one of a few things that keeps me well balanced and in a reasonable state of wellbeing. Thankfully after a week and a bit off while the symptoms cleared, I was able to go back and restart the classes.

I managed to spend a fair bit of time this month reading and listening to audiobooks, not all personal finance-related, I enjoyed listening to The Amityville Horror although I had to replay a lot as I kept dozing off during it! It’s a good book though and I’d recommend borrowing a copy from the library.

Also, I took some produce from the garden…

Not a huge amount, the potato plants are still growing as are the pears so will provide more in the months to come. The pears are actually pretty large, the photo doesn’t really do them justice, in fact they are large enough that they have caused the tree to lean over so I should really start picking some more!

At the same time as the potatoes, I also planted some onions but they grow much slower so won’t really be ready until maybe Decemeber. I have taken a couple up though and used the to add to a salad as I planted a mixture of red and white. The carrots didn’t survive due to Skyla digging them up before they could get established.

The apple tree was reasonably fruitfull this year and have contributed to a good few apple crumbles. We also have a dwarf pear tree in the front garden which typically is pretty decent but nothing this year.

All good stuff though, food on the table and some fresh air & fun prepping, planting and picking 🙂

Additional Income Streams

  • Matched Betting £158 profit (Aug £168)
  • Surveys/studies £17.99 (Aug £19.27)

I didn’t take out any profit from my matched betting but the survey profit I used to reduce my credit card balance.

While off ill, I was looking at ways to bring in extra income and I came across JustPark. This company (I’m sure there are others too) allow you to rent out any car parking space (or garage) that you don’t need and also help you find parking if you are visiting somewhere. If you sign-up via my referral link* and rent out your space then we both get £10 to spend on parking, or a £10 Amazon card.

No takers yet but it is not surprising with the lockdowns and large numbers of people working from home. In the future I may get a bit of business if the larger Aviva offices reopen and people start coming back but we’ll see, I’m not losing anything by making it available.

Matched Betting

Completed all the easy new account offers via Odds Monkey so I’m now starting with the average difficulty ones. The fact that all the easy ones are done has had an effect on my monthly profit, that and making a few mistakes. I’m still learning so I expect to mess a few bets up so I’m not too cut up about that.

I’ve been chatting with Weenie about accumulators so that is something I’ll be trying out in October, not sure what the results will look like but hopefully gain more profit than I lose.

Also opted to switch to annual renewal for my OddsMonkey membership, this was a pretty decent result as 12 months was being offered at £140 (£10 saving) compared to £15/month.

How did I do in September?

Monthly Figures September 2020

Spending was down significantly compared to last month as there were no large expenses to sort out.

I didn’t add any further contributions to my Emergency Fund as I put that, together with savings from spending, and paid down a decent wedge on my credit card balance.

It’s such a good feeling seeing the credit card balance edging nearer to zero. Once I’ve got this paid off I’ll have to decide whether to start paying off my student loan or the smallest part of my mortgage (it’s made of up four parts; two at a lowish rate and two at a higher rate).

Future Fund

Future Fund September 2020
Yay! First graph for my Future Fund 😀

Contributions to my Future Fund via Pension, EF, and ISA didn’t change much with the exception of the EF payment as mentioned previously.

The sharp rise during September is down to the inclusion of an ISA and also an uplift of just over £2700 in my pension.

It will be cool to pass the £100k mark although that could take a little while yet but seeing this graph and my decreasing debts are giving me a ton of motivation to keep pushing ahead.

* This is an affiliate/sign-up link, please see my Affiliate Disclaimer.

August 2020 update

I finally got around to booking a holiday for the family, we found a nice little place near Ravenshead, Nottinghamshire. The same cottage was available on several websites but I opted for dogstrustholidays.co.uk as they get a percentage of the fee to help with the good work they do.

Really looking forward to this break as it’s the first holiday I would have had in four years. As our son is 18, getting on for 19, it might also be the last family holiday we have together before he starts his lads holidays.

Being able to take our dog, Skyla, with us too is great – she will love the change in scenery and there are plenty of places to walk and also dog-friendly cafes and pubs. This will be her longest trip in the car so we didn’t want to book anything too much further from home for that reason, I think it should take around four hours to get there with a few stops so she can stretch her legs.

I reckon it will be nice to get away, going for walks in new and exciting places will be fun for me as well as Skyla (plenty of dog-friendly pubs and cafes apparently)!

Skyla
Skyla in the nearby woods

Work

The month of August, along with September, is one of the busiest times of the year for the product group I am part of. Many colleges and universities are preparing to welcome students back and with that, we see a spike in users of our mobile app. This is great but it also presents some challenges for us…

Ensuring that the platform that the app sits on is reliable and robust enough for the volume of users is one of the main duties of my role. We had a little blip around results day in the UK and we’re doing what we can to try and prevent something like this from reoccurring around admissions time. Consequently, it feels like a lot of my time has been spent around reviewing logs and looking at performance graphs as well as working with developers to resolve anything obvious.

The above, coupled with resource planning and liaising with other teams, can mean that I have little time to progress other requests like implementing new customers. This can get me down and I definitely recall entering a spell of depression as the month ended despite having booked the previously mentioned family holiday.

My thoughts have been heading in the direction of “what can I do to change things”, this did make me feel grateful that I had come across FI/RE and the realisation that there are options available. Exploring other ways to generate income is an ongoing process for me, as you’ll see in a moment.

Here are my numbers for August:

Monthly Figures August 2020
Monthly Figures August 2020

I thought I’d start including my pre-tax and post-tax saving rates, mainly so when I read/hear about other people’s savings rates I have idea of what that looks like comapared to mine.

I’m not using the numbers in a bad way, as a direct comparison, where I can beat myself with a stick over them. It’s more for interest.

Also, the pre and post-tax rates are there as I think they give a better indication rather than just trying to use one set of numbers. It feels more representative in my eyes.


Is calculating your savings rate something that you do, if so, do you work with just one figuring or do you have pre-tax (gross) savings that you make?


I didn’t get to pay too much extra off my credit card this month, mainly due to the increased spending levels. Some of the things that contributed to a high level of spending were:

  • £160 – Overnight stay with my wife at the Wayford Bridge Inn, somewhere we like to go back now and again, and is just a short distance outside of Norwich. We were also able to take advantage of the “Eat Out to Help Out” offer which was handy 🙂
  • £565 :^O – This was for renewing the road tax for my car, I had declared it off-road (SORN) and so paid out for 12 months. This one hurt but in my defence, I hadn’t discovered FI/RE or frugality when I bought this car.
  • £102 – Train ticket for my wife to visit a friend in Shropshire.
  • £31 – Not a huge amount but something I hadn’t budgeted for was a book from Gumroad.

Additional Income Streams

  • Matched betting £168 profit
  • Surveys/studies £19.27

I didn’t get round to listing anything on eBay this month and I’ve sent in all the stock I had for Amazon FBA so there’s nothing new to report on there.

This was my first month of matched betting and it’s something I’m enjoying a fair amount. The profit mentioned above has all stayed within my matched betting “ecosystem”, the money I have deposited in various bookie and betting exchange accounts has moved around as a loss in one place results in a gain in another. The gains can occur on either side of the equation, when I get a reasonable win with a bookie I withdraw some funds and deposit that at the exchanges – being able to carry a high(er) liability allows me to place more bets.

This month I also signed up to Prolific, an online survey provider. I became aware of them from Vicky aka Mortgage Free by the Sea – check out the review on her blog. Essentially, you sign up, complete a load of questions about yourself and then wait for studies to become available. Each one offers a different amount which usually corresponds to the effort required to complete them

Although a fraction under £20 doesn’t sound like much, it’s an okay return on the time I put into it. Most of the studies I have completed have been in the evening when I’ve been in the lounge relaxing so it’s hardly an inconvenience. The proceeds from Prolific will either end up in my Freetrade ISA or my Emergency Fund.

Future Fund

Seond month of monitoring my Future Fund and the value has increased by just over £862 to £90,993. I’ll probably pop in a graph next month when I’ve got another set of numbers to add in.

I am contemplating selling some of my FAANG shares currently held with Hargreaves Lansdown in order to invest the proceeds in trackers & funds with Freetrade, I’m up between £100 and £350 on each of the holdings and I currently think keeping a fair amount of money tied up in tech is not necessarily the safest option.

It is interesting having shares in big tech companies, and Uber, but I know that I’ll feel safer and more confident about my financial future knowing that the money is silently working away for me in trackers/funds rather than all the glam and after parties of Facebook, Netflix etc.