July 2020 update

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July was the first month back at full-time which was great news for my bank balance but I had kind of gotten used to working four days and having the long weekends! My team were amongst the first to go back to full-time with the developers and QAs returning the start of August.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

No more lounging around in my back garden on Fridays (not really my backgarden!).

Work itself has been pretty busy since returning to a five day week, but that’s a good thing as we still have customers in the pipeline.

Several people have opted to remain at 80% as they have found it is a better fit for their circumstances, I must admit that I was tempted but it doesn’t feel like the right time just now. In hindsight, the one day off each week could have been seen as a step toward semi-retirement but I am still in my wealth-building stage and I could do with the extra pay to help meet my goals.

One of the perks my company offer is the ability to buy or sell annual leave. There are typically quite a few people that take advantage of this each year and purchase the maximum additional leave of five days.

With the COVID-19 situation though, and not being able to travel, I still have the majority of my leave left so I decided to sell some back. A couple of weeks ago I received confirmation that this had been agreed and I’ll now be credited with an additional £100/month gross to my salary each month for the rest of the year.

My monthly figures are shown below, generally okay in the good areas but spending was up significantly on June. The increase in my company pension is mentioned just below…

Monthly Figures July 2020
Monthly Figures July 2020

Company Pension

Before the reduced hours, I had been contributing 12% toward my company pension via salary sacrifice. I increased my rate of contribution to 15% when my salary was cut as I didn’t want to impede my pension growth. My plan is to leave my contribution rate the same going forward meaning I’ll be tucking away a bit extra month-on-month.

Additional Income Streams

In addition to my salary, I am trying to create and nurture additional income streams.

  • FBA (Fulfilled By Amazon) Sales £51.39 profit
  • eBay Sales £14.14 profit (June £101.65)
  • Matched Betting £20.00 free bets £0 real money

eBay sales are pretty much a no-brainer, anyone can do this, and the items sold during July were all sourced from my home. I’ve currently got a stack of things to photograph and list so it’s something of a backburner task. One of the advantages of selling on eBay is their postage service – they have agreements with a few courier firms offering discounted rates which tend to be cheaper than Royal Mail. I can opt to print the postage label in store (handy as I don’t have a printer at home) and then walk to the local shop which is about 20 minutes away to drop off the item(s).

FBA takes a little more effort and this months sales were generated from a couple of sets of Joe Wicks saucepans which I had purchased from Dunelm Mill a while ago in a sale. They had been sitting around at home for ages so I finally decided to get them sent in and listed. Glad I did as they both sold within a week on being received at the distribution centre.

Matched Betting – I only just signed up for this at the very end of the month and I am still working through the tutorials from OddsMonkey* (this is weenie’s affiliate link as I’m not yet a Premium member). Thus I have only unlocked some free bets and yet to realise real money that I can withdraw and invest.

Future Fund

This is something I picked up from weenie over at quietlysaving, after finding out what it is and what kind of things it includes I have decided to start tracking my own future fund (thanks weenie!).

This month, I’ll just report the figure – seems little point in me creating a graph for just one data point! 😀 – which is £90,129. I’m pretty sure this number will increase as I have to analyse my Hargreaves Lansdown ISA as I currently have holdings there which are ring-fenced for my kids.

Included in this figure are my pensions (excluding my defined benefits pension), ISAs, and cash savings. I won’t be including my CrowdCube investments as the investments made here cannot currently be liquidated. Also excluded is the equity in my home.


What kind of side hustles or income streams do you have? I’d be very interested to hear what you are up to in order to speed up your journey to FI.


Also, if you haven’t already, find me on Twitter @ithefrugalist and give me a follow – I’ll be sure to say “hi” and follow you back 🙂

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June 2020 update

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Some good news on the work front this month, my team were told we would be returning to 100% hours from July – yay!

By Skitterphoto on pexels.com

The entire workforce was put onto 80% time/salary at the start of May as a precautionary step to protect the financial wellbeing of the company. I was initially worried about the financial impact this reduction in hours would bring but we have coped fine thankfully, my wife picked up extra shifts so it lessened the blow a bit.

How did I perform financially? I’ve put together a few figures to try and establish some benchmarks for future months, there may be a bit more detail for some areas than others at the moment but I’m working on that.

Spending

This covers our expenses such as groceries, travel costs, pets, and any other discretionary spending for the month. Not sure how this would compare to other families of four but it is the lowest for amoutn spent in a month this year – not sure if that’s because we have been doing less or if I’ve messed up the tracking somewhere!

Travel costs are really low at the moment as my wife is cycling to work, I’m still working from home, and we have declared our car off road with the DVLA.

I anticipate a much improved accuracy for spending in July as I have taken up the use of an app called “Emma” which utilises the open banking here in the UK to amalgamate transactions and balances across mutliple accounts. More on this app in another post, but it you’d like to take a look and sign-up in the mean time, please use my link* as I earn in-app points 🙂

Credit Card

I was a little hesitant in adding this category as I feel a degree of shame about getting into credit card debt. In fact, I have carried around this type of debt since my twenties, occasionally paying off the balance in full only to build it back up again. But, as Vicki Robin says, “No shame, no blame”!

Decided to use some extra money we had to pay down the debt a bit more aggressively this month than we usually would. Feels good to see that number come down and also get the balance below 25% of my credit limit.

Having been listening to the ChooseFI podcast for a little while now, the idea of using travel reward credit cards has grown on me but I still harbour a “fear” of the cards and the trouble they can cause without sufficient will power.

Company Pension

I use salary sacrifice to make the most of my income, this reduces the amount of income tax I have to pay as my salary is effectively reduced. My company offer a 3% contribution match which I take advantage of plus I add a decent percentage on top of that.

The scheme is run by Scottish Widows and typically does okay but the 2019/2020 year ended in a negative performance percentage. This resulted in my pension pot losing a few hundred pounds despite the contributions.

Emergency Fund

Contributions to my EF were low this month, mainly because I forgot to add the money 😦

Note to self: automate this to avoid the same happening again!

Pretty much all the podcasts and books talk about setting up an EF to cover three to six months of expenses, this feels pretty daunting when starting out. My first target is to cover one month’s worth, then I’ll aim for two months. I feel much more inclined to keep going when the goals are achievable, they don’t have to be easier but achievable none the less.

ISA, Freetrade

I opened my Freetrade ISA in May and added a further £310 to it during June. The cash balance was invested in funds according to my portfolio strategy which I’ll talk about in another post. I don’t have a magic link for Freetrade but if you are interested in opening an account (in the UK) then message me and I’ll send one through, we’ll both then earn a free share worth between £3 and £200 – nice!

That pretty much rounds out my thoughts on my June finances, a bit late in getting these written down and published but heh-ho 😀 Next month, I intend to get round to this a bit earlier and making small incrementally improvements to my systems should enable this.


Quick question for you, do you use reward credit cards? If so, what have they enabled you to do, what places have you visited courtesy of using these cards rather than using a debit card?


Thanks for making it this far! Let me know what your thoughts are on financial updates and the kinds of things you measure.

Have a great week 🙂

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