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

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.

Age Increase for Access to Private Pensions

Photo by Ena Marinkovic from Pexels

Dreaming of lazy days relaxing with a nice cup of tea or coffee pondering what useful contribution you will make that day?

Well, you may have to put that thought on hold, at least for another couple of years, thanks to the government.

From 2028, the minimum age at which those with a private pension can access their funds will rise by two years from 55 to 57. This was originally announced back in 2014 but the legislation was not amended to include provision for implementing the change.

On the 28th August, Labour MP Stephen Timms tabled the question asking the Chancellor of the Exchequer what plans he has to increase the minimum age at which people can access their private pensions.

John Glen (pictured right), Secretary to the Treasury, responded with the following statement on the 3rd September.

“In 2014 the government announced it would increase the minimum pension age to 57 from 2028, reflecting trends in longevity and encouraging individuals to remain in work, while also helping to ensure pension savings provide for later life.”[1]

This change will affect those in their mid-forties or younger with any future plans of retiring early at 55 or drawing down to supplement their salary will have to wait a further two years. This may not sound terrible, but it does demonstrate that the government are willing to poke their finger into the personal finance pie.

There is no saying whether the government will return to private pensions in the future making additional changes to the age at which we can access our pension.

In my opinion, if I choose to invest money in a private finance vehicle then it should be up to me when I access it, in accordance with the investment criteria that is. Private pensions and investments should provide individuals with options on how they spend their years whether that be working or pursuing other interests.

Mr Glen suggests that the change will encourage “individuals to remain in work” – well, what if individuals do not want to remain in work? If we have worked hard and invested wisely, it should be our decision to make. Some may be happy to stay in work and that’s fine, nothing wrong with that at all, but others there may be something else they want to try out to increase their happiness and wellbeing.

Despite my feelings on this I will continue to contribute to my private pension, I still feel like it is the right thing for me to do at this time, plus it would be silly of me to not take advantage of my company matched contribution too.

I will, however, be reviewing my numbers and adjusting accordingly to accommodate this change. I expect it will mean that I will need to depend on a higher level of income from my ISAs for those two years if I am at the point of Financial Independence by the time I reach 55.


How do you feel about this change?

Will it affect your plans for financial independence or early retirement, and how will you mitigate the change?


References

1. Glen, J. (03/09/2020). Pensions – Question for Treasury. Retrieved from https://questions-statements.parliament.uk/written-questions/detail/2020-08-28/81494 on 13/09/2020.