May 2021 update

May was a mixed bag of ups and downs for me…

I started the month with a reoccurrence of depression which overlapped the May Day weekend and resulted in a week off work. This was followed by some positivity when I moved my tech blog, Knight Talks Tech, from Hostgator to Google Cloud Platform (GCP).

After seeing a note about using GCP from Saving Ninja in a Slack channel I’m part of I thought it was well worth a look. Ninja had said how he had set up WordPress in GCP having followed a video by a guy on YouTube, I watched the video and completed some of the steps. Things got in the way and I became distracted from completing the work.

I came back to this though having received an email from HostGator saying that my renewal was coming up and asking for a load of money from me. I wasn’t prepared to pay a couple of hundred pounds so that was incentive enough for me.

There were a few moments when I needed to do some supplementary Googling as things have moved on since the video had been created, but other than that, it all went well. In fact, having got to the end of the video, links for a revised instructional were then being promoted! 😀

Bit of a frugal move as it costs me £10/year for the .com domain and around 90 pence/month for hosting, definitely better than around £200 from HostGator.

Additional Income Streams

  • Matched Betting £28 (Apr £16)
  • Surveys/studies £0.24 (Apr £2.98)
  • Amazon FBA/eBay £487 (Apr £0)
  • TopCashBack £30.96 (Apr £0)

I made a fair bit via eBay this month selling off a few unwanted things like my son’s old moped (£349) and a couple of MyZone fitness belts (£100) which I no longer needed as I have the latest version. Selling the moped made a big difference financially as well as mentally, having it gone feels like a weight has been lifted.

The money from the moped went toward fitting a new carpet up the stairs and on the landing. The other eBay proceeds, TopCashBack money and vouchers I get for being part of a COVID-19 survey I used toward a 2020 iPad Air from John Lewis.

My profits remain on the low side for matched betting although I am hoping that will pick up next month when the Euros come round.

I use a service called Odds Monkey to help with my matched betting, I’ve been using them for several months now and find the tools they provide to be essential in making a profit. If you are interested then drop me a message or you can sign-up via my affiliate link – OddsMonkey. The great thing is you can do as much or as little as you like and it fits around your life.

How did I do in May?

Assets

  • Emergency Fund £2,441.91 (Apr £2,150.68)
  • ISA, Freetrade £3,155.58 (Apr £3,128.50)
  • ISA, Hargreaves Lansdown £2,985.23 (Apr £2,942.21)
  • Pensions £112,741.54 (Apr £111,546.97)
  • SAYE £570.00 (Apr £540.00)
  • House £375,000 (£360,099) *Nationwide HPI 2020 Q4

The emergency fund has recovered a bit this month, just glad we have that in place and that it is available for us to use.

Liabilities

  • Student Loan -£2,803.43 (Apr -£2,980.30)
  • Mortgage -£188,430.57 (Apr -£189,389.70)

Total Assets (excluding house) – Total Liabilities = Net Worth
£121,894.26 – £191,234 = -£69,339.74 (Apr -£72,061.72)

Month-on-month

The month-on-month figures look better compared to April with increases and decreases in the right places.

My Student Loan repayment is up by £5/month and my company pension contribution up by £11.33/month due to a pay rise effect from May.

Big turn around on the EF which is nice 🙂

Future Fund

Future Fund May 2021
Future Fund

Just a shade under the £120k mark now.

Dividends

Dividends May 2021

£2.78 for May, I’m looking forward to seeing how June compares year-on-year

Here’s a little look at the composition of my lazy portfolio…

I’ve got a bit of cash sitting in the ISA waiting for me to invest, things have been so busy at home I’ve not got round to it yet.

Guest Post

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: #6880720 (Apr #6880720 )
Twitter followers: 524 (Apr 507)
Blog followers: 57 (Apr 52)

April 2021 update

This month gave me a right kick in the teeth with a car bill that I mentioned was upcoming last month. I knew it would be a few hundred but can you imagine the look on my face when the quote came through at £675!

Me, when having read the quote.

Around half of this was labour and tax but the other half was just for the coil springs, £175 each as they could only be supplied by Volvo. On previous cars, I could have bought an entire set of springs for that price!

Additional Income Streams

  • Matched Betting £16 (Mar -£80)
  • Surveys/studies £2.98 (Feb £8.79)
  • Amazon FBA/eBay £0 (Feb £0)
  • TopCashBack £0 (Mar £0)

Not much activity with the additional income this month, made a small profit with matched betting. I’ve got a few things listed on eBay which will sell at the start of next month so that will be something to look forward to.

I use a service called Odds Monkey to help with my matched betting, I’ve been using them for several months now and find the tools they provide to be essential in making a profit. If you are interested then drop me a message or you can sign-up via my affiliate link – OddsMonkey. The great thing is you can do as much or as little as you like and it fits around your life.

How did I do in April?

Assets

  • Emergency Fund £2,150.68 (Mar £2,446.58)
  • ISA, Freetrade £3,128.50 (Mar £3,009.24)
  • ISA, Hargreaves Lansdown £2,942.21 (Mar £2,913.33)
  • Pensions £111,546.97 (Mar £107,559.23)
  • SAYE £540.00 (Mar £510.00)
  • House £375,000 (£360,099) *Nationwide HPI 2020 Q4

With the car bill, I had to dip into the emergency fund so I’ll be replenshing the cash levels over the next few months.

We had our house valued this month as we are looking into the prospect of moving. We were pleasantly surprised with what the estate agent told us after having a look around. There are a few jobs that need doing to get the house up to scratch but nothing we weren’t aware of. I am using the lower end of the range as I appreciate there is still work to do.

Liabilities

  • Student Loan -£2,980.38 (Mar -£3,158.16)
  • Mortgage -£189,389.70 (Mar -£190,069.79)

Total Assets (excluding house) – Total Liabilities = Net Worth
£120,308.36 – £192,370.08 = -£72,061.72 (Mar -£76,789.57 )

Month-on-month

Last month I bought into Alibaba (the Chinese Amazon), this month I have added Baidu – the Chinese Google. Both are in my Freetrade General Investment Account so subject to any applicable taxes etc.

I have also increased my holding in Microsoft, I see them as a company that will continue growing for years to come. Not only are they in the consumer market with the Xbox etc. but also they are the second biggest provider of Cloud services behind Amazon. Interestingly, Alibaba are also a cloud provider so they tick several boxes for me.

Future Fund

Future Fund April 2021
Future Fund

The value of my Future Fund is up to £118,498.36 (£3,700 month-on-month), slowly edging to the £120k mark 🙂

Dividends

Dividends April 2021

A whopping 45 pence this month for dividends, not quite at the stage where I can start thinking about retirement! 😀

Guest Post

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.

I have reappeared on Modest Money so I am able to compare stats again, hopefully on a consistant basis.

Alexa ranking: #6880720 (Mar #6,700,360)
Twitter followers: 507 (Mar 437)
Blog followers: 52 (Mar 48)

March 2021 update

After my ever-so-late-in-the-month update for February, I told myself to be better prepared.

So, on the day the clocks went forward, I made a start on my March update. This will hopefully help me remember some of the things that have occurred too.

Earlier in the month, when I was picking my son up from work, I went over a speed bump and heard this loud crack. I was only going slowly so was pretty surprised but when I parked up and took a look around I couldn’t see anything wrong.

A little while later I was hearing this metallic clanging sound occasionally coming from where I heard the sound. Driving around one of the bumpy country roads the other day I heard something fall off and bounce along the road, when I went back and looked I found part of the coil spring had come off 😦

At least it explains the noise but I don’t fancy the repair bill which will be several hundred pounds.

I have been looking at moving to an electric car, with the MG ZS EV being the target of my attention but the difference between the asking price, even for an ex-demo, and my car is too great and the break-even point would be too far off.

No doubt I will revisit this in time though as I’m keen to reduce my impact on the environment. Talking of this, I watched a documentary on Netflix the other day called Seaspiracy and it was shocking to see the impact of fishing on the environment. Needless to say, I have now cut fish from my diet and got myself a supply of plant-based omega-3 – interestingly, omega-3 is only present in fish due to them eating these algae, I never knew that!


Have you watched Seaspriracy? What are your views on this – do you think the views are biased or are you glad that the issues are getting more attention?


Finishing on a positive note, the gym reopens on the 12th of April and I can’t wait!! It has been fine working out at home and I’ve noticed some gains but I also need the classes (restarting in May) to help shift some Covid pounds.

Additional Income Streams

  • Matched Betting £-80 (Feb £232)
  • Surveys/studies £8.79 (Feb £0)
  • Amazon FBA £0 (Feb £30)
  • TopCashBack £0 (Feb £0)

Matched betting went a bit sideways this month, the loss was due to part of a matched bet not being accepted. I usually make sure the lay bet is accepted before flipping on to the bookie’s site to place the back bet, this time however something must have happened that prevented the lay which I didn’t notice.

Allow the loss looked big, it was £120, it wasn’t money from my pocket as it was profit from previous months so “just” paper money. I would have preferred not to have lost it but it’s another lesson learnt.

I use a service called Odds Monkey to help with my matched betting, I’ve been using them for several months now and find the tools they provide to be essential in making a profit. If you are interested then drop me a message or you can sign-up via my affiliate link – OddsMonkey. The great thing is you can do as much or as little as you like and it fits around your life.

No sales on FBA this month as all my stock has been sold. I’ll be keeping an eye out for any more price reductions and bargains though…

How did I do in March?

Assets

  • Emergency Fund £2,446.58 (Feb £2,226.39)
  • ISA, Freetrade £3,009.24 (Feb £2,924.52)
  • ISA, Hargreaves Lansdown £2,913.33 (Feb £2,783.11)
  • Pensions £107,559.23 (Feb £103,498.91)
  • SAYE £510.00 (Feb £480.00)
  • House £360,099 (£350,883) *Nationwide HPI 2020 Q4

Liabilities

  • Student Loan -£3,158.16 (Feb -£3,376.77)
  • Mortgage -£190,069.79 (Feb -£190,464.67)

Total Assets (excluding house) – Total Liabilities = Net Worth
£116,438.38 – £193,227.95 = -£76,789.57 (Feb -£81,928.51 )

Month-on-month

This month, I have decided to replace the tracking of my payments against my student loan. At my current rate of repayment, I should be able to clear the loan within 18 months. The interest rate is 2.6%, less than my mortgage, but I am focussing on the loan so that I can then turn the monthly payment against my mortgage in time.

Next month I’ll include my Freetrade General Investment Account (GIA) as I’ve got a few free shares in there plus I’ve just added Alibaba which is like the Chinese Amazon. They are massive in China owning nearly 60% of the eCommerce market share there, that’s compared to just under 40% of the American market owned by Amazon. They are different though as Alibaba are primarily a B2B company whereas Amazon is a B2C.

I’ll also try to remember to include some graphics for my other portfolios; income, and tech.

Some may say that tech is a risky market to be in but working in that sector, I have a pretty good understanding of good companies that will be around for a while and those that won’t stick.

Future Fund

My Future Fund is continuing to march in the right direction. If I have another couple of months growth like this month’s then I could be seeing £120k sooner rather than later.

Dividends

A great month for dividend payments this month, still tiny compared to other people but my portfolio is still in it’s embryonic stage really.

Guest Post

Just in discussions with another blogger so I should hopefully have a new guest post next month or May.

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.

I have reappeared on Modest Money so I am able to compare stats again, hopefully on a consistant basis.

Alexa ranking: #6,700,360 (Feb #6,700,360)
Twitter followers: 437 (Feb 437)
Blog followers: 48 (Feb 46)

February 2021 update

I’m super-late publishing my February update and as a consequence, I can’t remember much to talk about for the month so I’ll crack straight on with things…

Additional Income Streams

  • Matched Betting £232 (Feb £30)
  • Surveys/studies £0 (Feb £5.82)
  • Amazon FBA £30 (Feb £37)
  • TopCashBack £0 (Feb £8.81)

The matched betting profit was exceptional compared to recent months, I made more bets and also took advantage of bet clubs and other offers. I think over the winter months I didn’t feel much like spending time in the evenings looking at bets and opted more for Netflix.

I use a service called Odds Monkey to help with my matched betting, I’ve been using them for several months now and find the tools they provide to be essential in making a profit. If you are interested then drop me a message or you can sign-up via my affiliate link – OddsMonkey. The great thing is you can do as much or as little as you like and it fits around your life.

FBA profits for February were made from the final sales of the items I sent in January. There was more competition in February which meant I needed to drop the sale price to shift my items, despite this I still was able to make a reasonable profit.

How did I do in Febraury?

Assets

  • Emergency Fund £2,226.39 (Jan £1750.00)
  • ISA, Freetrade £2,924.52 (Jan £2899.28)
  • ISA, Hargreaves Lansdown £2,783.11 (Jan £2,849.54)
  • Pensions £103,498.91 (Jan £100,040.25)
  • SAYE £480.00 (Jan £420.00)
  • House £360,099 (£350,883) *Nationwide HPI 2020 Q4

Liabilities

  • Student Loan -£3,376.77 (Jan -£3,516.77)
  • Mortgage -£190,464.67 (Jan -£190,422.22)

Total Assets (excluding house) – Total Liabilities = Net Worth
£111,912.93 – £193,841.44 = -£81,928.51 (Jan-£ 85,979.92)

Month-on-month

I reached a milestone this month, my Emergency Fund passed the £2,000 mark, next up is to achieve enough money to cover one month of expenses.

The Emergency Fund is now made of NS&I Premium Bonds, fund investment and cash.

There is a fair bit of discussion around what one should do with their EF cash. For me, the main attributes of my EF are that the money needs to be accessible within a few working days and that it needs to be set to work. The fund part of my EF is the “riskiest” but I am comfortable having it there earning dividends and potentially growing in value too.

This month’s pension figure includes Mrs Frugalist’s Nest pension for the first month which makes the pension gain look a bit nicer 😉

Future Fund

The main increaset this month is from the introduction of the Nest pension rather than any decent growth in the main pension.

Dividends

Above average dividends for this month, I’ll need to revisit the investment details so I can forecast when to expect further payments.

Guest Post

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.

I have reappeared on Modest Money so I am able to compare stats again, hopefully on a consistant basis.

Alexa ranking: #6,700,360 (Jan # 4,267,238 )
Twitter followers: 437 (Jan 382)
Blog followers: 46 (Jan 44)

January 2021 update

January was a really quiet month in most aspects of my life. It started off with the back-to-work blues, then my wife caught COVID-19 from work and a week later I caught it too. The worst part of it for me was the tiredness which lasted two to three weeks. During that time I didn’t really feel like doing much so things like matched betting took a backseat (which you’ll see further down the post).

What could have been a large outgoing this month turned out to be not so bad. My car was due it’s annual service and MOT at the end of January but instead of paying the £450 for the service by Volvo, I used Spencers, an independent garage in a nearby village, and paid just £145 for both the service and MOT.

One of the good things about becoming more financially aware is that I budget each month for expenditure such as the above so there wasn’t a moment of panic or a compulsion to reach for the credit card!

Additional Income Streams

  • Matched Betting £30 (Dec £51)
  • Surveys/studies £5.82 (Dec £5.72)
  • Amazon FBA £37
  • TopCashBack £8.81 (Dec £13.06)

I use a service called Odds Monkey to help with my matched betting, I’ve been using them for several months now and find the tools they provide to be essential in making a profit. If you are interested then drop me a message or you can sign-up via my affiliate link – OddsMonkey. The great things is you can do as much or as little as you like and it fits around your life.

My FBA profits came from two different items that I sent in having purchased them before Christmas. There were multiple units of each item, one of which has now sold out and the other is close to selling out too. I’m not going to disclose what the items are as they seem to be good sellers and I’m on the look on for further deals on them.

One item provided me with a 39% profit on a sales value of £16.96, and the other gave me 47% on £6.65. That’s not bad after the UPS fee and the FBA fees have been paid.

How did I do in January?

Assets

  • Emergency Fund £1,750 (Dec £1,500.00)
  • ISA, Freetrade £2,899.28 (Dec £3,611.82)
  • ISA, Hargreaves Lansdown £2,849.54 (Dec £2,713.38)
  • Pensions £100,040.25 (Dec £98,995.33)
  • SAYE £420.00 (Dec £420.00)
  • House £360,099 (£350,883) *Nationwide HPI 2020 Q4

Liabilities

  • Credit Card £0 (Dec -£950.99)
  • Student Loan -£3,516.77 (Dec -£3,656.77)
  • Mortgage -£190,422.22 (Dec -£190,092.68)

Total Assets (excluding house) – Total Liabilities = Net Worth
£107,959.07 – £193,938.99 = -£85,979.92 (Dec -£87,459.9)

Month-on-month

There was an adjustment to the value of my Freetrade ISA as I reallocated some funds.

I added £200 of NS&I premium bonds to my Emergency Fund this month, the rest of the month’s contributions remains in cash.

The good news is that I managed to clear the balance on my final credit card this month which frees me up to pay extra into my EF or pay down my student loan. It’s a great feeling to know I no longer have any debts owed to credit card companies 🙂

Almost forget to include Mrs Frugalist’s SIPP in the calculations as this is the first-month showing payment. I’ll have to look into her Nest pension organised by her company and get that added in next month.

Future Fund

Still moving in the right direction but gains on the smaller side this month.

Dividends

A lack of dividends paid this month looks naff but a payment for February sneaked its way into the screenshot!

Guest Post

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.

I can’t compare January to December using Modest Money as my blog appears to not be listed but these stats come from Alexa, Twitter and WordPress instead.

Alexa ranking: #4,267,238 (Dec #1,298,570)
Twitter followers: 382 (Dec 295)
Blog followers: 44 (Dec 29

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

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.

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.

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.