August 2021 update

Not happy with another car bill on the horizon, I decided the best thing for it was to sell the car. I did the usual of checking out the dealer buy-back price, We Buy Any Car, and the local garage but none of them could come close to motorway.co.uk

I took a load of photos of the car, chatted with them about the condition and they sent the details out to all their buyers. The next day I had a really good offer come in that was £2.5k higher than expected. So, the next week the Polestar was loaded onto a transporter and made its way up to Edinburgh.

Farewell!

Bit disappointed with the V60 Polestar in terms of reliability, my previous V60 I had for a couple of years longer and it just needed new tyres.

It was a beast of a car and so much fun to drive but by selling that I could buy a Toyota Auris hybrid which saved me £585 car tax each year, around £100/year insurance, and sooo much on petrol. Plus it left me with a fair-sized pot of money 🙂

With the extra cash sitting in the bank I decided to pay off my student loan so I called them up, got my redemption figure and paid straight away. Such a good feeling to know that another debt has been cleared. I know people have mixed feelings on paying off their student loan and some see it more as a “tax”.

Interesting thing is, after a few days the online balance for my loan showed the debt had been cleared and also that there was a small credit on the account – not sure how that would be given that we worked off a redemption figure. Oh well!

Of actually annoyance though was that my employer still took a student loan repayment from my pay this month and that hasn’t shown up on my loan account. I guess the notice from SLC & HMRC hadn’t been received in time. Not the end of the world as I expect to get that repaid some point in September.

Talking about repayments, I should be getting my car tax refund through next month too which should be around the £450 mark. I’m in two minds as to whether invest it or tuck it away in a new savings pot potentialy to pay for my Masters degree.

The frugle side of me takes over this time of year when both my car and home insurance come up for renewal. This kick-starts a flurry of comparision site searches for the best deal which I then check against TopCashBack for any further goodness.

This year I have saved £30 off my car insurance and got roadside recovery included plus £40 cashback from using the TopCashBack service.

At the time of writing I have still to finalise my home insurance but my renewal offer is the same as last year so at least I know I’ll not be paying more if I decide to stay with them.

Additional Income Streams

  • Matched Betting £29 (July £9.16)
  • Surveys/studies £0.93 (July £0)
  • Amazon FBA/eBay/FB Marketplace £50 (July £13.79)
  • TopCashBack £0.14 (July £2.37)

Continued to clear out items via eBay and Facebook Marketplace, mainly due to pressure from my wife! 😀

I know some of the items I’ve sold could have been priced higher but to be fair, I just wanted the items gone. At the end of the month, anything that was being advertised and hadn’t generated any interest was taken to the local Nansa charity shop.

The income from matched betting is starting to be a more consistent flow as I’m making more effort to take adavantage of bet clubs and offers around the football World Cup and a few other major sporting events. Still a long way off what I was making in my early matched betting days but something is better than nothing.

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 August?

Assets

  • Emergency Fund £3,192.51 (July £2,928.621)
  • ISA, Freetrade £4,240.64 (July £3,228.42)
  • ISA, Hargreaves Lansdown £3,435.97 (July £3,249.52)
  • Pensions £120,869.69 (July £117,335.14)
  • SAYE £660.00 (July £630.00)
  • House £375,000 (£360,099) *Nationwide HPI 2020 Q4

Liabilities

  • Student Loan +£13 (July -£2,503.82)
  • Mortgage -£185641.19 (July -£187,074.21)

Total Assets (excluding house) – Total Liabilities = Net Worth
£132,398.81 – £185,628.19 = -£53,229.38 (July -£62,236.33)

Month-on-month

Very satisfying to have that final payment listed in the spreadsheet this month. It will feel strange not reporting on any debts next month!

Slightly up on the EF payments – these are a combination of round-ups on certain transactions plus regular payments.

Future Fund

Future Fund

My next milestone is £150,000 for my Future Fund. It’s great to see this number increasing and my negative networth (excluding house) inching toward a positive figure.

Dividends

Just under £40 for this year and with four months to go, it’s looking good for my target. My average monthly dividends are £4.92 which is nearly enough to cover one of our mobile phone bills 😀

Goals

Read more – not so much reading this month, the same with audiobooks which I normally listen to when walking Skyla – I’ve just been enjoying the sounds of nature which I find very calming.

Exercise more – August was a real struggle for exercising as I’d managed to get golfers elbow, also known as tendinitis, from weight lifting. This really set me back mentally and as a result, I didn’t attend many classes at all. I did finish the month strongly though with a Body Attack class and two treadmill sessions in the final weekend. This got me just enough MEPs to meet the minimum monthly target.

Learn more – I spent quite a bit of time working through an ethical hacking course which I found really interesting, so far I have been able to use a Kali Linux VM, USB wireless adapter, and a few packages to run deauth attacks. I’ve only done this on my wireless network for obvious reasons (I don’t want to end up in jail!) but it was cool to be able to prevent one of my Echo Dots from connecting to the Internet 🙂

I have also been spending some time looking into a framework called Flutter, which is used to develop good looking, cross-platform mobile apps.

Earn more – Effectively by paying off my student loan I will be bringing home a bit more money each month which could count as extra earnings – a pound saved is a pound earned, right? 🙂

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!

July 2021 update

There’s been an ongoing theme with my recent posts…

Car bills!

This month I noticed a ticking/clicking sound when getting toward full lock in either direction. The car had a similar fault a while ago which Volvo sorted under warranty, typically this instance occurred after the warranty just expired.

A trip to my local independent garage put me on course for an approximately £1700 bill to replace the CV joints/driveshafts. To be fair, the mechanic said the car will be fine to drive for a good while and that if it were his car, he’d leave it as-is.

Additional Income Streams

  • Matched Betting £9.16 (June £25)
  • Surveys/studies £0 (June £1.42)
  • Amazon FBA/eBay/FB Marketplace £13.79 (June £22.44)
  • TopCashBack £2.37 (June £7.08)

My sales of unwanted items have been spread across eBay and Facebook Marketplace this month, I’m finding Marketplace both good and bad. Good in that there are usually quite a few people interested in what I’m selling but also bad in that you get let down by a lot of people not turning up when they arrange 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 July?

Assets

  • Emergency Fund £2,928.62 (June £2,680.41)
  • ISA, Freetrade £3,228.42 (June £3260.25)
  • ISA, Hargreaves Lansdown £3,249.52 (June £3207.80)
  • Pensions £117,335.14 (June £116,113.19)
  • SAYE £630.00 (June £600.00)
  • House £375,000 (£360,099) *Nationwide HPI 2020 Q4

Liabilities

  • Student Loan -£2,503.82 (June -£2,613.17)
  • Mortgage -£187,074.21 (June -£188,013.56)

Total Assets (excluding house) – Total Liabilities = Net Worth
£127,341.70 – £189,578.03 = -£62,236.33 (June -£64765.61 )

Month-on-month figures are consistent with last month.

I can’t recall how long my SAYE scheme is running for, might have to look into that and see when I can take up the share purchase, or withdraw the money – whichever works out best.

Future Fund

Future Fund

Small increase this month but still moving in the right direction.

Dividends

Smaller income this month but still a marked improvement compared to this time last year: £2.66 (2021) vs £0.07 (2020).

Goals

I can’t remember having shared my goals for this year before but I’ll mention a few of them here:

Read more – continuing to read “How Google Works” as well as listen to “Leadership Strategy and Tactics” by Jocko Willink.

Exercise more – I use a MyZone belt to track my effort when exercising, it measures the effort in MEPs (MyZone Effort Points). Each month to keep my progress level, I need to attain a minimum of 1300 MEPs, represented by the red line. The green line represents my target of 2000 MEPs which is a bit harder to hit consistently.

Learn more – I’ve spent more time on PluralSight this month, watching an updated video about Kanban (work planning and organistation) as well as “Developing a Google SRE Culture“.

Earn more – My dividend earnings so far this year are £36.98, my target £50 so I think there’s a fair chance I will make that.

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!

June 2021 update

Another month, another car bill 😦

This month it was a replacement tyre as the front nearside wall got sliced on something as I was on my way to pick up my daughter from a nearby village. Fortunately I wasn’t going fast when it happened but I knew straight away it wasn’t good.

With my previous Volvo, I had a puncture which I could seal using the provided temporary repair kit but this time round there was no chance of it working. I was able to phone my dad who drove out to pick up my daughter and her friends while I waited with the car.

The emergency call out and new budget tyre came to £200 which was a nasty unplanned expense but it was manageable. Fingers crossed for an incident-free July!

Additional Income Streams

  • Matched Betting £25 (May £28)
  • Surveys/studies £1.42 (May £0.24)
  • Amazon FBA/eBay £22.44 (May £487)
  • TopCashBack £7.08 (May £30.96)

Bit quieter this month across the income streams; just clearing out a few more items on eBay – I had a few buyers from overseas who pulled out as they hadn’t checked the amount of import tax they would have to pay. Not very helpful as it loses me time in running the auction for another week plus potential buyers who may have found an alternative in the mean time.

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 June?

Assets

  • Emergency Fund £2,680.41 (May £2,441.91)
  • ISA, Freetrade £3260.25 (May £3,155.58)
  • ISA, Hargreaves Lansdown £3207.80 (May £2,985.23)
  • Pensions £116,113.19 (May £112,741.54)
  • SAYE £600.00 (May £570.00)
  • House £375,000 (£360,099) *Nationwide HPI 2020 Q4

Liabilities

  • Student Loan -£2,613.17 (May -£2,803.43)
  • Mortgage -£188,013.56 (May -£188,430.57)

Total Assets (excluding house) – Total Liabilities = Net Worth
£125861.65 – £190627.26 = -£64765.61 (May -£69,339.74)

Month-on-month

Mostly the same as May, just a touch down on the payments to the Emergency Fund.

Not much too say on the month-on-month figures. Guess that is kind of good as it indicates stability and consistency?

Future Fund

Future Fund

Woohoo! Blew past the £120k mark this month with a total of £123,711.65 – happy days! 🙂

Dividends

Best month yet in terms of dividends, this month’s £15.87 has dwarfed the amount (£0.95) from this time last year. It’s so nice to see improvements in the dividend payments, hopefully I’ll be able to reach the goal of £50 this year.

Goals

I can’t remember having shared my goals for this year before but I’ll mention a few of them here:

Read more – hardly a SMART goal but I do want to spend more time reading and less time on Netflix. So far it isn’t going too badly, I am currently reading “How Goolge Works” as well as listening to “Work Rules” which is another book about how Google works. Bit of a trend there eh?

In earlier months I have relistened (for the third time) to “Your Money or Your Life” by Vicki Robin, I like this book a lot and have gleaned useful pointers from it each time. “Unshakeable” by Tony Robbins which is on my list to go over again.

I also listened to “The Automatic Millionaire” which, contrary to popular opinion, I didn’t rate all that highly.

Exercise more – I set a base line of three times a week for this. I’m hitting the target most weeks, only when I’m not feeling well do I miss my sessions. My typical week would look like:

  • Monday – RPM 45 minutes
  • Tuesday – Arms session
  • Wednesday – BodyCombat 60 minutes
  • Thursday – Back & shoulders
  • Saturday – BodyAttack 45 minutes
  • Sunday – Legs

I do sometimes give the weights a miss, or do a weights & cardio session in the same day, really depends on how I feel. Comabt & Attack give me between a 900 and 1200 calorie burn, the weights sessions are lower but still a good workout. With that in mind, you’d think my weight would be going down but no, it has other ideas and has been on an upward trajectory 😦

Learn more – Over the past few months I have really picked up the pace on PluralSight (online training) and I’ve been looking at Google SRE (Site Reliability Engineering), C#, and management videos. With all of those I find it easy enough to dip in to the course for anywhere from 30 minutes upward each day as they are usually pretty easy to leave & pick-up.

Earn more – My target for passive income from dividends is £50 this year, not a big number at all but it is in keeping with the size of portfolio I have right now. I have received a pay rise earlier in the year which was great and it staves off the desrire to look elsewhere for a better paid job which I am more than happy about.

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!

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)

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.

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.

Get started!

I have been telling myself this for ages – Just. Get. Started!

So I decided to sign up and start a blog to document my thoughts and my journey through frugality to become financially independent (FI). It is also about me being accountable, and hopefully hearing from others who are on this road – that is why I have decided to share this rather than keeping it all squirrelled away privately somewhere.

Often the speed at which I feel I am moving!

Today, I am not super-concerned with making this first post a thing of beauty but it’s the lever to get the ball rolling.

I have been reading and listening to several books on Kindle and Audible and saving money, investing, retiring early, and becoming FI and most of the time the basis for it all is “look after your money”.

This makes sense to me as to how can one become FI if they are spending all they earn, or worse, spending more than they earn. 

To take the first steps to a better, happier life it seems key that I have an understanding of what money is coming in and where it is going. To this end, I think the first thing to do is to start tracking the expenses. 

The good thing is that I have been recording my expenses, as best I could given that I’ve got a family who doesn’t necessarily share the same view as me, for about three years. This process has improved over time and I have recently added a few more categories to help identify more preciously what has been spent.

I’ll share the concept later on and when I’ve carried out a bit of analysis on the data, I’ll also share the results so you’ll be able to get a feel for what I’m doing. 


It would be great if you could share in the comments below how you track your expenses!


I will add more as I can about my circumstances, both financial and personal, and there may also be other topics that creep into this blog such as my efforts to learn a foreign language or my fitness life.

The last thing I want to say right now is thanks for stopping by and reading this. Please do take a moment to comment below, it would be great to hear from like-minded people! 🙂