September 2020 – big spending alert!

September came and went. We had a nice Indian summer here in London, with some hot and sunny days, followed by a plunge back into Autumn. Autumn is my favourtie season. Mainly because of the colours, the temperate weather, which suits my Scottish body’s ability to deal with heat, and it’s a great time to drink lots of beer.

With Oktoberfest cancelled due to Covid 19, my plans to go back to Munich this year were scuppered, so I’ve had a few boozy days in London instead. Its been great catching up with mates and not worrying about spending thanks to having an income again.

Spending

In fact, this month has been a big spending month. I was genuinely worried about doing this update, but actually things aren’t as bad as I thought.

Bathroom

The biggest expense was a new bathroom. Yep, We bought an entire bathroom. The one in our flat is ancient, and needed replacing back in 2012 when I moved in. It’s struggled on, and finally, thanks to some heavy pressure from Ms PWF, we took the plunge and bought a replacement. In total its going to cost about £7-8000. She offered to split the cost, which was extremely generous of her.

I must admit I’ve had varying attempts to replace in the past, and had prices varying from £5000 to £15000. We went to Wickes to get this one, and really found their process to be extremely efficient, with good prices. I also wanted to get some kind of garuntee from a bigger company if I’m spending a wad on something as important as the bathroom. Its getting installed in November, so hopefully all will go to plan.

They say that a new bathroom increased the value of a property. I suppose that is because it’s a complete arse ache to get it done and make it worth paying for. I’m not convinced that conventional wisdom is true, and if it is, I can only see it adding about £10-15k, which I suppose is a good investment. However, I’m not doing it for that reason, but I can look at the money as an investment which will improve my living conditions, and make the flat more saleable.

The best thing was that I was able to spend the money out of my salary and on my AMEX for maximum points.

Other spending

Other spending included upgrading my wifi in the flat so working from home is a less frustrating experience. I got Google wifi, and have found it to be very good. We also got a free assistant. For a long time, I was against any kind of assistant in my flat due to privacy concerns, but having it for about a day, I am a convert. It’s quite good fun really, and you can get it to put the radio on and tell you mundane things you can’t be bothered getting your phone out to look up. There is something about commanding a machine to do things that makes you feel good!

There were a myriad of random household things I’d put off until I had a job again, so this month felt a bit like playing catch up.

As mentioned above, we had lots of eating and drinking out this month, which I’m good with. I’m not the kind to sit at home, and with things reopening. I want to make the most, before it’s closed down again!

£2000 of the £2400 deficit was an investment in my ISA so my overall real deficit is £400. I can live with that considering my expenses.

Work


My new job has been challenging, but I feel like I’m learning and this last week, I’ve really felt like I’m getting on top of the tasks. Also, having money coming in is great. The company is awesome. I went in on a Friday in mid-September and met some colleagues who were all extremely welcoming and friendly. Such a contrast to my last place, where you were always looking over your shoulder for the knife.

On the Friday a gin trolley is wheeled around the office and Gin and Tonics are dished out. This is followed by the staff emptying the beer fridge. There is a pool table and decent coffee. I think I’ll like working here.

Sadly the office has been closed again until Christmas, however, its something to look forward to.

Weirdly, my income is up to £5450, which i think it due to how PAYE tax is calculated, and that i didn’t have a job for the first part of the tax year. Somehow I fear this will come back to bite me!

Investments

I finally got my pension transfer from my old work, (£13k – not bad for only being there 9 months) however, it arrived at the time the markets started trending down. For about a week, I felt like it was a bad idea to put money in. However, I stuck to my principles and dropped it in on the old time in the market beats timing the market.

I bought £13k of VWRL all world equities, in an attempt to diversify away from the UK.

I also put £2000 into my ISA which has yet to be invested. I’m looking into buying some individual share as an experiment, but haven’t had time to decide. My ISA has maxed out this year and its only September, which is very pleasing indeed. Its thanks to the lumpsum redundancy I got and invested last month. It’s a good feeling!

I’ve also been looking at Brewdog equity for Punks. I really like the company and drink a lot of their beer. The offer is quite good, with shareholder discounts and an invitation to their AGM in Scotland, which is a big piss up. I also like their carbon negative philosophy and that they are investing in planting forests in Scotland.

Anyway I think all this prevarication is a good reason to keep investing in ETFs. It takes the decision out of the investment, and you actually make the investment!

I also need to get a target asset allocation set up, and try to stick to that. Next time! I’m trying to steer slowly away from the dumpster fire that is the UK right now.

Overview

Overall, my investments have dropped about £3800 in the month, thanks to the market downturn. I don’t expect that trend to stop as we approach the US elections, Brexit deal, and Covid 19. It will be a difficult time, but I will use this to buy more funds at a lower price. Afterall, I’m only concerned with what my investments are worth in 10-20 years time, than next year.

My property increased after the drop last month due to lockdown. I expect to see that steadily increase as the index catches up. It lags by 3 months.

I’ve been trying to transfer a small pension (pension 3) for about two months now and thanks to appalling customer service, its still outstanding. I want to get all my pensions in one place. Its been very frustrating and it also makes me concerned the company is stalling due to liquidity.

I set this SIPP up in February 2020. its a little disheartening to look at this month but hold hold hold.

Savings Rate

Savings rate is at a very respectable 48%. Frustratingly, and despite asking HR to set up my work pension, I only realised when I got my paycheque that I hadn’t filled in the right form to get my work pension started. That’s on me, again. Nevermind, I’m only human.

Last months savings rate.

Last month’s saving rate caused some upset on twitter, as it was over 100%. Well, it was correct. I had some money which came in one month, and then I ‘saved’ it the next month. It was substantially more than my income. That resulted in a rate of over 100%. Maybe I should have logged it in the previous months savings rate, maybe I shouldn’t have logged. It was an anomaly which I acknowledged didn’t make sense.

7 thoughts on “September 2020 – big spending alert!

  1. Nice to see you diversifying from the UK. Whilst it may look a bargain, going to have some tough times yet. So good to have that risk spread out a little more..

    Congrats on a good month in a bad month!

  2. Would love to see you get that savings rate back over 100 percent, but 48 is pretty good :). Smart to diversify–I have the same issue with US equities. I am in trouble if things go south here, which looks more and more likely by the day!

    1. We are watching in disbelief from over here, and things are bad for us!! Yea I’d love another windfall, but as it was from being laid off, maybe I should be careful what I wish for 😂

  3. Stumbled across your blog and wanted to say really enjoyed reading this and completely relate to what you’ve been doing these past 2 years. We’re in a very similar place, age and asset wise, except I’ve got 2 kids. Saw you got engaged recently (congrats) so I’m really interested in seeing how you negotiate the next few years with maybe expensive wedding /kids /upgrading to a bigger place whilst maintaining FIRE goals!

    1. Thanks! Glad you enjoyed it! I am indeed wondering how to navigate it myself 😂 luckily my fiancé is also frugally minded. My strategy is to try and increase my income as far as I can and hope for the best. We are going to hole up in the flat for a while longer but will need more space at some point. I do want to get a house so will have to accept that will set us back in FIRE.

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