About me, Finances

Financial update: November 2019

The backdrop for the last month (and more) has been Political – from the largest university strike in the UK over pension, pay, work conditions and contracts straight into the cacophony of the UK general election – there’s been no escaping it. The driving force behind both perhaps the capitalistic machine churning away, and the discontent it is causing to some.

Image result for coffee break
Listen, or not to listen?

This, of course, is a diplomatic way of putting it because this isn’t a political blog! But it does raise a bitter irony for many (not all) of us on our journey to FI – At least for those who want to escape the dependency on the rat race, we really do need to buy into the system to make it happen. For all intents and purposes, we’re trying to get rich and want to keep as much of it to ourselves! I don’t have any solutions, but it is a thought I have.

I feel increasingly uncomfortable with university life in many ways, because students should not be customers and degrees are not commodities if we are to have a healthy, workable higher education system, yet – as I reported some months’ back – degrees are part of the CPI inflation basket! Yet I did not strike. I’m not a union member. For myriad rubbish reasons, but the least rubbish one being that my mentality is constantly one deep down of one foot being out of the door already. This is a terrible way to be and I have felt somewhat uncollegiate for the first time ever.

When it comes to what you’re all probably more familiar with, the general election, am I wondering about the impact of the political climate on my FI plans, savings and investments? No, I am not. I am somewhat worried about the future politically, but less so about my actual financial situation. I’ll have to see how things go.

My financial health

So, imagining we’re back to the beginning of December now (oh no, do I have to endure the same political stuff again?!), I did pretty well in November. I’ve got the ol’ savings rate back up to 65%! This is despite eating out a bit too much (mainly to cope with work, or offered eating out as I felt guilty for working so much) and paying over the odds for work lunches (as I’ve not had time during weekends to batch cook due to work).

NovemberOctoberSeptemberAugust
Cash accounts4530043700£4210045000
Cash at 2-year+ fixed rates2820028200£2820028200
Equity index funds (ISA)1550015000£1500012700
Bond index fund (ISA)4000400040004000
Peer lending32003200£32003200
Total FI stash (see here for pension and other assets)96000940009250093400
Savings rate: (including my contribution to workplace pension)65.4%57%61.7%65.8%

I have since done some batch cooking of wraps and may even share my recipes and reasoning in a future post… The most recent stash of wraps I batch made (curried lentil, kale and potato wraps) work out around 31p per wrap, and much healthier than the typical campus fare. Besides this, gifts and charity were relatively big spends – some of the gifts are for Christmas. I’d done all my Christmas shopping for wider family, but much of it won’t be reflected in November’s month-end update.

I’ve made no new investments, though I’ve been toying with the idea of adding £1k to my ISA. All I’ve done is kept saving toward my property deposit. My deposit pot is now £22.5k (accessible cash, without selling any funds) and my overall FI stash is £96k! Although I’m not going to reach my original aim of hitting 100k by the year end, that aim was made when I was calculating savings for the month ahead (I don’t do that now as sometimes I dip into that money – I don’t give myself a ‘hard’ budget to stick to), so in actual fact, it’s something more like £97.5k right now, and may be close to 99k with December’s pay – So Close!!

My challenge is was to keep my savings rate up in December! On the plus side, we’d paid for our all inclusive holiday last month and we go away on Saturday – yay! So, that’s virtually a week paid for upfront (except excursions). On the minus side, I’m fed up of feeling frumpy so I did / am doing the following before going on holiday which isn’t very FI… but could I call it TLC?

My ‘revamp’ – at a cost

  • Going to the hairdressers for a trim and full head highlights (I haven’t had this done since before pregnancy, so 4-5 years ago, but a bit fed up of waiting for the old peroxided hair to grow out; it’ll definitely cost over £100 but I’ve tried cheap haircuts)
  • Going to the dentist to get a scale and polish (I’ve never done this before outside of the routine check-up, but too much coffee has led to staining; about £20 on NHS)
  • I got myself a really nice £79 dress. (There, I said it. It was £100 pre-Black Friday sale. I asked myself (1) Is it something I’d wear for at least 10 years (yes); (2) Is it nicer than my favourite dresses in my wardrobe already (remember my one-in one-out policy) (yes). So, it was slightly on a whim by my standards, but I will enjoy wearing something special (if only it won’t be raining the whole time we’re away!). It has a rare combination of a beautiful cut / good fit and beautiful colours, dressy attire for special occasions or nights out, and a slight boho/ethnic look that you can get away with on summery days.)
  • Got myself on an iron-tablet munching regime. This sounds silly now I’m writing it, but I think some supplements are a good idea, but then I rethink when I see the cost! I was taking Spatone in pregnancy, a spring water from Wales that naturally contains a tonne of iron while being gentler on the tummy, which is about £17 for a month’s supply. I went for the £3.79 on special offer tablets instead – less iron, but also gentle on tums.

Besides all that, we’ve just booked to go away in February!! To Tenerife and taking extended family with us. So, that’s the budget slightly blown. :O Maybe aim for 53% SR for December?! While this all seems frivolous, I’m acutely aware of 2 things: (1) our parents are not around forever and my mum has never been on a resort holiday! (2) Little Firelite starts school next year and we won’t be able to get these budget hols anymore at random times!

So while I’m feeling a little sad about the future, for our son’s future, with how the world is at the moment, I remind myself that, at least, I’m fortunate enough to have a lot of freedoms, including a lot of financial ones, even if I’m not yet ‘financially independent’.

How are you watching your spending this holiday season? Or how are you spending? 😉

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