The Financial Dashboard – July 2019

The goals for July were:

  • Plan healthy weekly dinners
  • Exercise at least 3x a week
  • Get two more blogposts out (slipping off the bandwagon!)
  • Clear last of credit card debts

Checking the assets and liabilities:

July AssetsJuly Liabilities

These are taken, as always, from my Beast Budget spreadsheet. This month my net worth grew by 4.33%. By sheer fluke it was the exact same net figure as last month. My savings rate, not including mortgage repayment, was 28.99%, nudging up my 2019 average rate to 16.28%.

Goals:

Goal failed: Plan healthy weekly dinners

The last two months have been properly hectic. There was a solid four week block at the end of June/ start of July where I was only at home for 8-12 hours every 2-3 days, through combination of some horrendous shift patterns, work trips and conferences. It’s therefore been pretty difficult to actually eat a healthy diet. I found myself snacking or having whatever was convenient. The last two weeks of July have been better, with proper healthy meals cooked using decent ingredients. The goal now is to set an actual meal plan for the week that we can stick to.

Goal failed: Exercise at least 3x a week

This is part of an ongoing goal/ battle to maintain some semblance of fitness. Same reason for failure as above, same excuse. When you’re working 12-16 hour days, plus commute, how to find time to exercise. One of the big issues was that the main gym I go to has very limited hours for the classes I do. I absolutely love it, and find it difficult to achieve dem gainz without going to these classes. I can probably manage two a week if I prioritise, but it’s a steep £55/month. I know from experience that on my own I lack the motivation to achieve my fitness goals. On top of this I pay £20/month to a sports club to go one-two times a week. This isn’t just exercise, but also a hobby and an interest, so I’m reluctant to give it up. So I’m left with £75/month for classes which sometimes I can only attend once or twice a week.

I could drop one of the above and go somewhere else. The logical option is to drop one. The emotive, irrational, behavioural driver of my decisions said no. Again from experience, exercise is incredibly important for my mental wellbeing. My self-image, self-confidence and tension/ stress levels are all tied to my exercise frequency. Instead I joined another (very local, very cheap) gym. It adds £26/month, but means I can exercise pretty much 24/7. I’m up to £101/month for my exercising choices.

How do you put a price on improved wellbeing?

How do you do a cost-benefit analysis for the spending choices you make?

Most of my cost-benefit spending choices are emotive. I write pros/ cons lists. I challenge myself- “Will I regret not making this spending”. But it’s not logical. So how to lay it out as cold hard facts.

In the medical world we use Quality-Adjusted Life Years (QALYS) to make utilitarian decisions about whether a healthcare intervention is cost effective. QALYS are defined by NICE as:

A measure of the state of health of a person or group in which the benefits, in terms of length of life, are adjusted to reflect the quality of life. One QALY is equal to 1 year of life in perfect health.
QALYs are calculated by estimating the years of life remaining for a patient following a particular treatment or intervention and weighting each year with a quality-of-life score (on a 0 to 1 scale). It is often measured in terms of the person’s ability to carry out the activities of daily life, and freedom from pain and mental disturbance. (1, 2)

It’s a pretty rough and ready system. It boils down a host of human experience to binary outputs. It’s led to a lot of complaints as exorbitantly expensive therapies are not supported by the NHS, because the cost does not outweigh the cumulative population benefit. E.g. spending a million quid to give a cancer/ cystic fibrosis/ MS patient an extra year, or spending a million quid to give 50,000 people with high blood pressure a 10% lower chance of a heart attack. Because it’s working on a population level it’s not really applicable to an individuals choices, but I wondered if there I something similar for individual wellbeing. EQ-5D-5L

The measure expected by NICE for the calculation of QALYS is the EQ-5D-5L (see above) (3). It’s brief, easy to answer, and primarily assess function. There is a push from the MRC towards developing a wellbeing-adjusted life year (WELBY) (4, 5). Some scales and tools are already being trialled, including the Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale (6). They have emerging evidence, but primarily function as an adjunct to existing disability measures (7). Trying to quantify functional happiness resultant from choices is something I’ll come back to in the future to flesh out as a separate post. Suffice to say I haven’t got an answer to my utilitarian question, so the heart will continue to rule.

Goal failed: Get two more blogposts out

Really struggled with this too. I’ve fourteen (count ’em) posts sat in my drafts box in various states of preparation, but had no time to actually finish any off. We’ll try this month.

Goal achieved: Clear last of credit card debts

I forgive myself my month of failures because for the first time in (I think) six years I’ve cleared all my credit card debt. Not since I started university have I had no unsecured debts. It’s a good feeling.

Short-Term Debt Q2

N.B. Eagle-eyed readers will note the £150 on my credit card in the liabilities dashboard above. I forgot to change some payment details on an online account, so that appeared after I had been at £0. 

Budgets

  • Groceries – Budget £300, spent £254, last month £139.65.
  • Entertainment – Budget £150, spent £186, last month £75. Turns out we didn’t spend nothing last month, my spreadsheet was out of whack. Now updated and we overspent this month by having a few dinners out and buying gifts for friends.
  • Transport – Budget £460, spent £618.29, last month £631.07. Lots of driving to different sites, plus a service means another expensive month.
  • Holiday – £150, spent £103.50, last month £0. We had a short break away.
  • Personal – £100/ £130.76/ £198.43. Saved much more this month.
  • Loans/ Credit – £350/ £493.30/ £890
  • Misc – £50/ £168.31/ £314.37. Soft furnishings mainly.

In the garden:

Overflowing with tomatoes (little cherries mainly), dwarf french and runner beans, courgettes and cucumbers. Onions going off, and some other bits going to seed. Pumpkins and squashes starting to really spread, and I’ve got some little cucamelons on the way.

Goals for next month:

  • Plan healthy weekly dinners
  • Exercise at least 3x a week
  • Get two more blogposts out
  • Recheck my budgets as I change jobs and drop my income by 1/4 (gotta love the NHS)

What’s in the pipeline: (Life continues to get in the way of blogging)

  • Stoicism and the finance world
  • Should I buy an electric car?
  • Q2 2019 – Green Credentials
  • Property Renovation Lessons Part III
  • Plus the usual Full English Accompaniments and other drivel…

Happy August everyone,

The Shrink

  1. https://www.nice.org.uk/glossary?letter=q
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quality-adjusted_life_year
  3. https://euroqol.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/EQ-5D-5L_UserGuide_2015.pdf
  4. https://mrc.ukri.org/documents/pdf/improving-cross-sector-comparisons-using-qalys-and-other-measures-a-review-of-alternative-approaches-and-future-research/
  5. https://concepts.effectivealtruism.org/concepts/measuring-healthy-life-years/
  6. https://warwick.ac.uk/fac/sci/med/research/platform/wemwbs/
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5016960/
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The Financial Dashboard – June 2019

The goals for June were:

  • Finish my portfolio spreadsheet
  • Compare current insurance rates
  • Look into further financial planning: wills and income protection
  • Plan healthy weekly dinners
  • Exercise at least 3x a week

Checking the assets and liabilities:

Assets June

June Liabilities

These are taken, as always, from my Beast Budget spreadsheet. This month my net worth grew by 6.54%. I’m very close now to clearing my credit card debt, and I’ve been quietly saving cash into emergency funds. I invested a bit in a CrowdFunding round (more on this in my Q2 update), so didn’t top up my ISA which has been merrily growing. The wonders of compounding!

Goals:
Goal achieved: Finish my portfolio spreadsheet

Pretty much there. Think I’ll be adding to it in the future, but for now I’ll be sharing some screenshots of it in my Q2 update.
Goal achieved: Compare current insurance rates

My car and house insurance both came due this month. I took advice from Money Saving Expert; renewing three weeks before time, optimising my job title and using multiple comparison sites (1). The usual comparison sites turned up some likely suspects, and like any good frugal bod, I did a bit of switching and saving. Perhaps most amusingly, Hastings Insurance quoted me £150 less through Confused.com than on my renewal document. They were cheapest and agreed to honour their online quote. That pays for a few drinks!
Goal achieved: Look into further financial planning: wills and income protection

I’ve been listening to a few podcasts lately, and it’s a big feature and recommendation of Meaningful Money and Money To The Masses that you should get proper financial planning for the worst as foundations for building wealth (2, 3). Shouldn’t be surprised really, given they’re mainly Chartered Financial Planners. I don’t have a will, but all my assets would go to MrsShrink and there’s no complicated stuff to deal with. I have some income protection through my job and life insurance to pay off my mortgage. MrsShrink is a different story, so we may get some professional advice to head-off difficult discussions in the future.
Goal failed: Plan healthy weekly dinners

Trying my best for this, but been working away a lot or on horrible hours. No excuse, so going to double down next month.
Goal failed: Exercise at least 3x a week

Again failed this for the reason above. Pause for thought considering I’m paying £75/per month on gyms/ sports clubs. I tell myself if I can go twice a week to both then it is cost effective. Need to look at my schedule and work out how I can sort this.

Budgets

  • Groceries – Budget £300, spent £102, last month £264.72. Eating whilst away a lot, hence spending little
  • Entertainment – Budget £150, spent £0, last month £139.47. I feel like this is incorrect, but turns out we’ve actually not done anything. How dull!
  • Transport – Budget £460, spent £631.07, last month £119.25. Car insurance!
  • Holiday – £150, spent £0, last month £0
  • Personal – £100/ £198.43/ £15. Spent some cash on new clothing, which was saved last month in a Starling ‘space’.
  • Loans/ Credit – £350/ £700/ £407.40
  • Misc – £50/ £14/ £59. Misc payments this month:
    • £14 for student membership

In the garden:

All going great guns now. Early potatoes eaten and feasted upon, maincrop trimmed back. Tomatoes and cucumbers doing well. Courgettes planted out and spreading. Dwarf french and climbing runner beans overwhelming sunflowers. Peas cropping and tasty alongside spinach beat, salad veg and early Chantenay carrots.

Goals for next month:

  • Plan healthy weekly dinners
  • Exercise at least 3x a week
  • Get two more blogposts out (slipping off the bandwagon!)
  • Clear last of credit card debts

What’s in the pipeline: (Life continues to get in the way of blogging)

  • Stoicism and the finance world
  • Should I buy an electric car?
  • Q2 2019 – Green Credentials
  • Property Renovation Lessons Part III
  • Plus the usual Full English Accompaniments and other drivel…

Happy July everyone,

The Shrink

References:

  1. https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/car-insurance/
  2. https://meaningfulmoney.tv/
  3. https://moneytothemasses.com/

The Financial Dashboard – May 2019

The goals for May were:

  • Sell £100 worth of stuff
  • Finish my portfolio spreadsheet
  • Get two extra blog posts out
  • Re-mortgage
  • Set up new bank accounts

Checking the assets and liabilities:

May AssetsMay Liabilities

These are taken, as always, from my Beast Budget spreadsheet. This month my net worth fell by 1.41%. A number of reasons for this: we re-mortgaged which included a fee, I moved the date I pay into our joint account resulting in less actually in my accounts, the markets dipped a bit, and I had a number of work courses which all required payment at once.  We finally paid off our loan to our family member for the wedding, and I’ve started setting up new accounts to squirrel emergency savings into.

Goals:

Goal achieved: Sell £100 worth of stuff

Finally got rid of a big ticket item that’s been taking up garage space, along with some smaller stuff. Actually smashed this goal, making £250 into the joint account. For now this goal will be on hold while I send more stuff to charity shops.

Goal failed: Finish my portfolio spreadsheet

So I tried the Rebo app developed by Andy at Liberate Life, but found it too simplistic for what I wanted (1, 2). I’m working on another hybrid google sheet which I’ll probably start debuting for next months end of Quarter review.

Goal achieved: Get two extra blog posts out

This was to get me back into the swing of posting regularly. There’s some fairly long posts which have been taking me a while to draft, hopefully these will be out soon.

Goal achieved: Re-mortgage

We’re in a slightly difficult situation, in that we have a split pot mortgage as a result of our various house moves. The larger of the two mortgages came to the end of it’s 5-year 4.29% fix last month; a reminder of days when we only had a 10% deposit and where the economy and house prices were looking strong with all the talk of rising interest rates. Hindsight is 20-20. We umm-ed and ahh-ed about what to do. Given our intention is to sync up the two pots within the next five years here’s our thinking:

  1. A tracker rate appealed for similar reasons as set out by 3652days last year (3). Namely:
    • If we assume a no deal brexit there will likely be a recession. BoE unlikely to raise rates. Tracker wins.
    • If we continue to have delays to Article 50 then the knock on economic uncertainty is likely to keep a dampener on inflation/ economy. BoE unlikely to raise rates. Tracker wins.
    • If parliament passes Mrs Mays deal (unlikely) then whilst the pound and economy may rise from their current torpor, it’s unlikely this will be within the two year tracker period. It will take time for things to gear up again. Tracker – not much difference.
    • Depending on the new leader of the conservatives and de facto PM, we can theorise potential outcomes – either they’re a hardline no-deal leader, in which case they’d probably try to push a no-deal brexit by waiting the damn timer out (and therefore see bullet point one)… Or they try to unify the party with the promise of a new deal in compromise with labour. Such a deal will likely struggle to get through parliament, because it’s unlikely to resolve the Irish border or pacify the wings of either party. Both strategies will push towards a general election, which the bookies now reckon is more likely in 2019 than not (4).
    • If we assume no brexit, either through a further referendum or a complete “betrayal” by the conservatives or a new government, then the economy may bounce back.  Routes to this would be either a general election and coalition Lib/Lab/Green Gov, or (due to our first past the post system) a Conservative majority led by a moderate trying to appease the centre. This will again take time. The economy’s not going to be able to come straight out of the blocks flat out whilst still wading through the political fallout of such a decision. Tracker – not much difference to fix.
  2. The tracker rates available to us were ~4-5% within the same bank we currently use. Rates available at other banks were ~1.55%.
  3. Fixed rates available to us were ~1.6% for 2 years, up to around 2% for a five year. Fixed rate pros and cons:
    • If we go for a longer rate fix we might as well change bank for the lowest rate possible. A long fix nullifies the tracker arguments to an extent due to timescale. Pros – financial stability and predictability. Cons – lack of flexibility and difficulty consolidating mortgage pots resulting in logistical and cost  implications.
    • If we fix for a shorter rate we can stay with the current bank. Pros – consolidating mortgage pots next year, cheaper rate vs long fix, flexibility. Cons – risk of interest rate rises in the next two years.
  4. Inflation is currently 2.1%, close to the BoE target of 2.0%. Whilst this remains that way they’re unlikely to change the base rate. The current outlook is mixed and largely Brexit dependent, but the BoE is predicting a base rate of 1.25% by 2022, with the next move late this year or early in 2020 (5, 6).

Our decision was somewhat reactionary and behavioural. We were burnt by our lack of flexibility in the past. Our current home is not our dream home, and we intend to move in the next five years. We favoured the flexibility of a short fix or tracker. The tracker rates at our current bank were not competitive. If we moved banks we could split the pot across banks, but this would likely make consolidating the mortgage next year (when the smaller pot’s fixed rate ends) more challenging. The short fixed rate at our current bank was close enough to tracker rates as to make no odds. We’ve therefore fixed for two years, gambling that rates will only rise by ~1% in the interim, dependent on Brexit outcomes. Both pots average ~1.65%, meaning our mortgage rate is less than RPI inflation.

The kicker here is that the drop in our interest rate actually meant that we could reduce our term whilst keeping repayments the same. It now sits at a nice 20 years, with the continued option of a 10% overpayment. We calculated either of us can pay the mortgage on our own independently, and we could tolerate up to a 15% interest rate (which would be seriously dire days) (7). It’ll be interesting looking back on this in the future, did we make the right gamble?

Goal achieved: Set up new bank accounts

Our 5% Santander regular saver matured this month, and Santander have reduced the interest rate to 3%. Santander have also changed the terms on their 1-2-3 account, which we’ve been using for our joint account. I’m therefore in the process of moving us over to First Direct for their £100 switching bonus and linked 5% regular saver (8). I’ve also opened a Nationwide Flex account to benefit from their 5% interest rate on balances up to £2500 for the first year (9). In the next few months I’ll add a Marcus account to this mix for my emergency fund over £2.5k.

Budgets

  • Groceries – Budget £300, spent £264.72, last month £184.25. We hosted a lot this month, so spent more than usual but well within budget. I’ll likely decrease my self-imposed budget limit soon.
  • Entertainment – Budget £150, spent £139.47, last month £99.38
  • Transport – Budget £460, spent £119.25, last month £851.53. Back on track.
  • Holiday – £150, spent £0, last month £0
  • Personal – £100/ £15/ £41.88
  • Loans/ Credit – £350/ £407.40/ £88.97
  • Misc – £50/ £59/ £121.92. Misc payments this month:
    • £25 on a sewing machine
    • £25 on a carpet cleaner
    • £9 on gardening gear

In the garden:

Things are getting wild, overgrown and many an evening is spent weeding. Our salad crops are providing plenty of dinners, and the first of the spring onions and early potatoes are nearly ready.

Goals for next month:

  • Finish my portfolio spreadsheet
  • Compare current insurance rates
  • Look into further financial planning: wills and income protection
  • Plan healthy weekly dinners
  • Exercise at least 3x a week

What’s in the pipeline: (Life continues to get in the way of blogging)

  • Stoicism and the finance world
  • Should I buy an electric car?
  • Q2 2019 – Green Credentials
  • Property Renovation Lessons Part III
  • Plus the usual Full English Accompaniments and other drivel…

Happy June everyone,

The Shrink

References:

  1. https://reboapp.co.uk/
  2. http://liberate.life/index.php/2019/05/01/track-portfolio-rebo/
  3. https://3652daysblog.wordpress.com/2019/01/11/its-a-tracker/
  4. https://www.theweek.co.uk/93763/will-there-be-a-general-election-in-2019
  5. https://www.which.co.uk/news/2019/05/what-will-brexit-mean-for-interest-rates/
  6. https://moneytothemasses.com/owning-a-home/interest-rate-forecasts/latest-interest-rate-predictions-when-will-rates-rise
  7. https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/mortgages/mortgage-rate-calculator/
  8. https://www.bankaccountsavings.co.uk/
  9. https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/banking/compare-best-bank-accounts/#bonus

The Financial Dashboard – April 2019

The goals for April were:

  • Sell £100 worth of stuff
  • Set up pots for holiday and personal money
  • Look at other ways to reduce environmental footprint
  • Set up regular stock investment
  • Finish my portfolio spreadsheet

Checking the assets and liabilities:

April AssetsApril Liabilities

These are taken, as always, from my Beast Budget spreadsheet. This month my net worth grew by £1,108, 3.34%. I put the final £200 in my 5% Santander saver, which matures next month. Santander have dropped the interest to 3% now so I’ll probably open a separate account elsewhere. We continued to pay down our family wedding loan. At the end of last month the clutch began to go on my daily driver, so I stumped up for a replacement. This went partly on my credit card, so swallowed up efforts to reduce that debt, but I was able to clear part using money put aside in a car maintenance savings pot.

Goals:

Goal failed: Sell £100 worth of stuff

Continuing to fight hordes of time-wasters, asking me to part with big ticket items for tuppence. Wearisome.

Goal achieved: Set up pots for holiday and personal money

Quick and easy win this. My accounts now have an organised flow, where my salary comes into my main account, then anything after bills and direct debits gets moved into my Starling. This has spaces set up, which I’ll start to fill with the budgeted holiday and personal money.

Goal achieved: Look at other ways to reduce environmental footprint

I’ve already spoken about moving to a sustainable energy supplier (Bulb) and trying to reduce our plastic usage. We eat local and healthy, though I admit with busier work comes decreased time to actually organise healthy food. We’ve reduced our plastic consumption for toiletries, using shampoo and soap bars, switching back to washing powder in cardboard boxes. Toilet roll was an issue. Most supermarket toilet roll isn’t recycled, the production process is surprisingly damaging and toxic, and then it’s all wrapped in plastic and shipped to us. A great case in point of clever branding is the new company Who gives a crap (1). They make a big thing of eco credentials; all their loo roll is either recycled or from sustainable bamboo, it’s wrapped in paper and 50% of the profits are donated to safe water/ waste charities. My major issue; all this loo roll gets containerised from factories in China invalidating some of the headline eco credentials.

In looking for alternatives I found the shopping guides from the excellent website Ethical Consumer (2). They score and rank companies on their ethical and environmental merits to produce a list of bestbuys. We opted for the UK manufactured Ecoleaf, which is the same price as standard supermarket loo-roll, and half the price of Who Gives a Crap. We’ll be using the website again, as it’s got guides for most household products, which can be purchased on the Ethical Superstore (3).

Goal failed: Finish my portfolio spreadsheet

It’s surprisingly hard to find a platform for a portfolio that has all the functionality I want. I’ve amalgamated/ butchered YFG and Firevlondons’ spreadsheets, but I’m still not happy.  I’m going to give the Rebo app developed by Andy at Liberate Life a go (4, 5). May well end up drafting something new.

Goal achieved: Set up regular stock investment

A set amount a month is now going into my S&S ISA. I’m somewhat limited in my portfolio options at the moment, due to using Vanguard as my platform. I’ll cover what I’m going to do about it in my next Quarterly update.

Budgets

  • Groceries – Budget £300, spent £184.25, last month £207.01.
  • Entertainment – Budget £150, spent £99.38, last month £76.50.
  • Transport – Budget £460, spent £851.53, last month £329.90. Grim.
  • Holiday – £150, spent £0, last month £0.
  • Personal – £100/ £41.88/ £47.57.
  • Loans/ Credit – £350/ £88.97/ £748.44.
  • Misc – £50/ £121.92/ £81.77. Misc payments this month:
    • £40-odd at Dunelm for bathroom furnishings
    • £30-odd on chicken feed
    • £50 on bathroom fittings

In the garden:

Everything is starting to come up, my favourite time of year in the garden. We have: two types of tomatoes, two types of potatoes, two types of onions, radishes, salad leaves, lettuces, courgettes, spring onion and various beans. The clematis is in flower and the raspberry is shooting up canes. All good things.

Goals for next month:

  • Sell £100 worth of stuff
  • Finish my portfolio spreadsheet
  • Get two extra blog posts out
  • Remortgage
  • Set up new bank accounts

What’s in the pipeline: (Life continues to get in the way of blogging)

  • Our wedding pricetag
  • How I calculate my net worth
  • Stoicism and the finance world
  • Green Credentials
  • Property Renovation Lessons Part III
  • Plus the usual Full English Accompaniments and other drivel…

Happy May everyone,

The Shrink

References:

  1. https://uk.whogivesacrap.org/
  2. https://www.ethicalconsumer.org/home-garden/shopping-guide/toilet-paper
  3. https://www.ethicalsuperstore.com/
  4. https://reboapp.co.uk/
  5. http://liberate.life/index.php/2019/05/01/track-portfolio-rebo/

The Financial Dashboard – March 2019

The goals for March were:

  • Sell £100 worth of stuff
  • Finish the raised beds
  • Calculate and set a budget for Personal spending
  • Look at other ways to reduce environmental footprint
  • Purchase first stock investment

Checking the assets and liabilities:

Assets March 2019

Liabilities March 2019

These are taken, as always, from my Beast Budget spreadsheet. This month my net worth grew by £2,871, 9.46%! This was due to an unexpected but welcome tax rebate due to overpaying at some point earlier in the year- my tax codes bounce about a bit. Another momentous month too, as this was the first time my liquid cash (emergency fund and savings pot) was greater than my unsecured debts (credit cards and family loans). I put another £200 on my 5% Santander saver, paid down our wedding loan to a family member and paid off £1000 of my credit card. The remaining tax boon went in a S&S ISA – more on that below.

Goals:

Goal failed: Sell £100 worth of stuff

Failed this. I managed to sell another £50 worth of car parts, but I’ve been royally dicked about trying to sell some furniture and other spare household stuff. Interest has been strong, but lots of “best price m8?”, “would you take [1/2 list price]?”, topped off by some people coming to view an item desperate for it but refusing to pay and demanding delivery. Choosing beggars.

Goal achieved: Finish the raised beds

Now complete and planting has commenced. I got fed up of trawling gumtree for a few bags of soil here and there, so ended up paying £60 for two tons of topsoil to be delivered. It’s otherwise been a free project made of scavenged pallets, so not complaining too hard.

Goal achieved: Calculate and set a budget for personal spending

My old budget for personal spending was plucked out of thin air. In an effort to continue to properly track my budget I’ve moved some more categories under this heading. It now includes my clothing budget, gifts for people, trips to the barber, books, CDs, DVDs, computer games and any music. Looking over the past 12 months my spending is a bit all over the place, varying from £5.50 to ~£300, which makes sense when you include clothes. My plan from now on is to put aside £100 a month to pay for these items and then see how it looks in a years time.

Goal failed: Look at other ways to reduce environmental footprint

Started looking at changing cars, electric bikes… all sorts. Haven’t had time this month to actually summarise the relevant thoughts. Will return.

Goal achieved: Purchase first stock investment

The tax rebate went straight into a S&S ISA with Vanguard to the tune of £1,000. Showing impressive skill, I purchased at a six month high for my chosen fund (Dev World Ex-UK). An immediate lesson in market timing and not checking too frequently. More details in my Q1 review.

Budgets:

  • Groceries – Budget £300, spent £158.58, last month £207.01. Looking good for my Q1 goals.
  • Entertainment – Budget £150, spent £76.50, last month £92.
  • Transport – Budget £460, spent £329.90, last month £405.44. Spending a lot more on petrol with my new commute.
  • Holiday – £150, spent £0, last month £0.
  • Personal – £100/ £47.57/ £5.50.
  • Loans/ Credit – £350/ £748.44/ £288.99.
  • Misc – £50/ £81.77/ £186.45. Misc payments this month:
    • £60 cash on soil
    • £21.77 in Wickes on house stuff.

In the garden:

Raised beds are done. Cabbages, three types of raddish, four types of lettuce, two types of potato, two types of onion and various other odd bits are in the ground. Peas, peppers, sweet peas, cucumbers and tomatoes are on the go in the greenhouse.

Goals for next month:

  • Sell £100 worth of stuff
  • Set up pots for holiday and personal money
  • Look at other ways to reduce environmental footprint
  • Set up regular stock investment
  • Finish my portfolio spreadsheet

What’s in the pipeline: (Life continues to get in the way of blogging)

  • Quarterly Returns Q1 2019
  • How I calculate my net worth
  • Stoicism and the finance world
  • Green Credentials
  • Property Renovation Lessons Part III
  • Plus the usual Full English Accompaniments and other drivel…

Happy April everyone,

The Shrink

The Financial Dashboard – February 2019

The goals for February were:

  • Sell £50 worth of stuff
  • Calculate and set a budget for Entertainment
  • Reduce consumption of single use plastics
  • Finish the raised beds
  • Set up an account with an investment platform

Checking the assets and liabilities:

Assets Feb 2019Liabilities Feb 19

These are taken from my Beast Budget spreadsheet. This month my net worth grew by £984 (~3%). For the first time I’ve ended the month with a net worth >£30k. I put another £200 on my 5% Santander saver, paid down our wedding loan to a family member and my credit card bill. I also put money aside as budgeted for future professional and car expenses.

Goals:

Goal achieved: Sell £50 worth of stuff

Sold some car parts, got £50 in cash, spent it on soil (rock ‘n’ roll). I’ll increase this for next month to keep the impetus up.

Goal achieved: Calculate and set a budget for Entertainment

Again I went back over the past year’s spending to calculate what my average is. I’ve previously classed entertainment as daily living type costs, and kept gym and hobby fees separate. For this year and to produce a proper budget I’m going to include them all together, so that it encompasses eating out, the cinema/ theatre/ concerts/ events, the gym and my other esoteric hobbies. There’s been a lot of variance in monthly spending, from £~50 to £~250, accounted for by concert tickets and times when we’ve eaten out a lot. In the last couple of months we’ve spent around £100, but we’ve barely left the house. I’m going to budget £150/month for the future, and anything left over at the end of the year can be used to top up ISAs.

Goal achieved: Reduce consumption of single use plastics

Gradual progress here, through small changes. We’ve moved to only buy loose fruit where possible. Our veg is delivered loose. Our meat is delivered wrapped in waxed paper. We’ve switched some of our cosmetic items, so that we only buy paper earbuds, and we’ve made re-usable face-wipes for makeup from old material. We’ve switched to shampoo bars, which are more expensive but seem to last much longer (this sort of thing). We’ve switched back to soap bars from liquid hand soap. Slow but steady, with plenty more to do. Next month I want to look at other ways we can reduce our environmental footprint.

Goal failed: Finish the raised beds

I’m tripling my veg patch size by rebuilding the raised beds using fly-tipped or old pallets and free/ cheap soil. This is taking bloody ages. Trying to scrounge free or cheap soil through gumtree and facebook is slow. I’ve probably put in about five tonnes of soil so far, with the same to go.

Goal achieved: Set up an account with an investment platform

I’ve spent much of the month looking at online brokers using Monevator’s excellent guide and a few other websites (1, 2). As we’re coming to the end of the tax year my first purchase will be pretty simple. I’ve opted to go with Vanguard directly and have set up an account in anticipation for making my first payment in March.

Budgets:

  • Groceries – Budget £300, spent £207.01, last month £185.03 Continue to underspend.
  • Entertainment – Budget £150, spent £92, last month £97.30.
  • Transport – Budget £460, spent £405.44, last month £124.75. MOT and tax costs came in under budget, so a little carries forward for next month.
  • Holiday – £150, spent £0, last month £133.09. Need to start putting a little away here.
  • Personal – £50/ £5.50/ £61.52. Had a rejig here which I’ll explain next month
  • Loans/ Credit – £350/ £288.99/ £-445.78. This is now net change for the month.
  • Misc – £50/ £186.45/ £123.34. Had a rejig with the new spreadsheet here too. Misc payments this month:
    • £50 cash on soil (plus £50 from the car parts)
    • £20 cash for a work event
    • £50-odd at B&Q on more house things

In the garden:

See above for a raised bed update. The greenhouse is now full of seedtrays with early crops, and the dining room table covered in potatoes being chitted.

Goals for next month:

  • Sell £100 worth of stuff
  • Finish the raised beds
  • Calculate and set a budget for Personal spending
  • Look at other ways to reduce environmental footprint
  • Purchase first stock investment

What’s in the pipeline:

  • Stoicism and the finance world
  • Green Credentials
  • Property Renovation Lessons Part III
  • Plus the usual Full English Accompaniments and other drivel…

Happy March everyone,

The Shrink

References:

  1. https://monevator.com/find-the-best-online-broker/
  2. https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/savings/stocks-shares-isas/

 

The Financial Dashboard – January 2019

The goals for January were:

  • Sell five more childhood toys. Sell five more car parts – Failure
  • Develop a single spreadsheet for all my financial data/ graphs etc – Success
  • Finish my Investment Strategy Statement – Success
  • Check our household green credentials – Success
  • Check utilities for potential savings – Success

Checking the assets and liabilities:

Assets

Liabilities

These are taken from my Beast Budget spreadsheet. This month my net worth grew by £867 (~3%), so that I’m now sitting just under £30k. It was a pretty poor month on the savings front with no overtime or extra shifts, the added expense of a holiday and the GMC and Royal College both deciding to take their pound of flesh. I’ve saved another £200 on my 5% Santander saver, and started paying down our wedding loan to a family member, but the Royal College bill went on the credit card (slap on wrist) nudging my debt up. February will also be lean as I start a new job and wait for a new payday. Luckily my new pay should be a fair bit more thanks to the vagaries of the NHS. Got to love a nationalised monopoly!
Goals:
Goal failed: Sell five more childhood toys. Sell five more car parts

I continue to fail here, and I wonder if that’s because I’m trying to sell lots of unusual oddments and expecting everyone else to want my old shit. I have gradually increased the amount of stuff listed on eBay, and have sold ~£20 quid worth of kit. I’ve also braved Facebook and Gumtree, with some success. I’m going to change this for next month and make it a more achievable sell £50 worth of stuff.
Goal achieved: Develop a single spreadsheet for all my financial data/ graphs etc

I’ve streamlined our various household spreadsheets into a new, improved Beast Budget, adding some new functions and graphs at the same time.

Jan Net Worth

Jan Credit Card
Goal achieved: Finish my Investment Strategy Statement

Now complete and to be found here.
Goal achieved: Check our household green credentials

This was a really interesting exercise, and exposed where I’m lying to myself in my bourgeois way. I ran our household information through the WWF Carbon Footprint calculator (1).

Carbon Footprint

Oh dear. Where’s it all going?

Breakdown

Ah. Breaking it down:

Home – We’re doing pretty well. Our energy is supplied by Bulb (message me for a £50 referral bonus), which is 100% renewable electricity and 10% renewable (bio)gas. All our lightbulbs are LED, our boiler is old but regularly serviced, our white goods are low-energy and the whole house is well insulated with double glazing etc.

Stuff – We don’t buy much in the way of clothes or consumerist claptrap, and I think this is mainly raised by the fact we bought new appliances when moving into our house.

Food – We’re doing reasonably here too. We eat meat three or four times a week, but I want to get this down to two. We eat a varied seasonal diet from local organic sources, and I want to grow and preserve more at home.

Travel – Oh bugger. This’ll be the (count ’em) four short haul, four medium haul and two very-long haul flights we’ve made in the last year. Seriously bad for the environment and won’t be doing that in 2019! I also need to get my bike serviced and start using it for local journeys.

This has been useful enough as an audit exercise that I’m going to check my progress quarterly for 2019 to see how I get on improving matters.
Goal achieved: Check utilities for potential savings

I try to check for potential savings every 3-6 months. Uswitch and MoneySavingExpert reckon we can save £45 over the year if we switch to EDF, Lumo or Octopus (2). I’m really happy with the customer service with Bulb (fanboi), and I’m willing to suck up £45 to know my energy is coming from renewable sources. Our previous Plusnet connection went from £27 to £38 in December, so I called their retention department who couldn’t match Virgins 100mbp for £22/month offer. We’ll wait and see whether the reality matches the quoted service.
Budgets:

  • Groceries – Budget £300, spent £185.03, last month N/A. We had lots of Christmas food left over, but happy with this!
  • Entertainment – Budget £300, spent £97.30, last month N/A. Going to look into entertainment spending this month.
  • Transport – Budget £460, spent £103.12, last month £233.69. Remarkably little this month, but MOTs and tuning costs loom.
  • Holiday – £150, spent £133.09, last month £0. Went skiing, fully catered chalet kept £ costs low and moods high.
  • Personal – £50/ £0/ £0
  • Loans/ Credit – £350/ £400/ £556.67. Upped payments to credit cards now.
  • Misc – £50/ £30/ £20.

In the garden:

I’m mid-way through building the raised beds and I’ve prepared the greenhouse ready for seedtrays next month. The raised beds are 2 foot high (to ward off carrotfly) and constructed from old pallets I’ve scavenged with tanalised upright supports. I’m collecting a load of free topsoil found on Gumtree next week to fill them up and then they should be ready for planting.

Goals for next month:

  • Sell £50 worth of stuff
  • Calculate and set a budget for Entertainment
  • Reduce consumption of single use plastics
  • Finish the raised beds
  • Set up an account with an investment platform

What’s in the pipeline:

  • Stoicism, Ascetism and the modern world
  • Property Renovation Lessons Part III
  • Frugal Motoring – Should I buy a Hybrid?
  • Plus the usual Full English Accompaniments and other drivel…

Happy February everyone,

The Shrink

References

  1. https://footprint.wwf.org.uk/
  2. https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/utilities/you-switch-gas-electricity/