April 2019 Report

A recap of the latest month and a look at my income and expenses.


General

Spring is here! I’m sat writing this, looking out at a warm sunny day. My girlfriend and I even ventured outside for some of it, to basque in the sun and catch up on some reading. Some of my non-native colleagues are amused by the British propensity to discuss the weather, but when it’s as variable as it’s been over the last few months, can you blame us?

April was a very social month. We went down to Cardiff one weekend and London another to attend a few birthday parties. Considering I’ve been a bit of a hermit since January, it was great to catch up with some old friends. This is a reminder to myself to make more of an effort to visit friends at least once a month. In some cases, it might be several months between visits, and I always regret that lost time once I’m there talking to them again.

I also enjoyed a glorious 5 day weekend (thank you Easter!) at my parents’ place, playing videogames, boardgames, eating copious amounts of BBQ… Yep, I am definitely a spring/summer kind of person.

Finally, it would be remiss of me to ignore the big thing that’s been monopolising my Monday morning… Game of Thrones! I confess, I’ve been getting up early to watch it before work, so as not to worry about reading or hearing any spoilers. I’ve been waiting to see how it all ends since book number five came out in July 2011 (nearly eight years ago!?), so I’m not risking ruining it all now. (I realise that this is just inviting people to leave me spoilers, but not to worry; I literally avoid all internet access until I’ve seen each episode!). This season has been decent so far, although feels rushed. Regardless, I’m just happy to see a conclusion of sorts, as I genuinely don’t think that GRRM will ever finish the books.

Anyway, onto the numbers!

 

Income

Income type Amount
Wage £1954.97
Ms FIRE £115.00
Interest £37.85
Matched Betting £107.95
Misc £100.00
Total £2315.77

 

My wage increased slightly thanks to the new tax year and the increased personal allowance. Unfortunately, it also decreased slightly, due to the increase in contributions to my pension scheme (more details of which I wrote in one of my first posts on this blog!). The end result is that my wage is pretty much unchanged!

As ever, my girlfriend contributed £115 to our household bills. Being an international PhD student in the UK does not pay particularly well! I also made a steady £100 from Matched Betting; this pales in comparison to the amounts that many other bloggers are able to make, but considering I only placed 19 bets throughout the entire month, I can’t complain.

Finally, the Misc category is thanks to a free £100 from Nationwide; I mentioned last month that Tesco had announced that they were cutting the interest rate of their current accounts from 3% to 1%. Seeing as this is less than the Marcus savings account, it was time for me to move on, so I switched one of the accounts to Nationwide and made use of their refer-a-friend offer.

 

Expenses

Category  Amount spent / £ % of Income
Rent £795.00 34.3%
Transport £180.32 7.8%
Groceries £167.87 7.2%
Bills £144.96 6.3%
Eating Out £98.97 4.3%
Fun £80.97 3.5%
Presents £60.06 2.6%
Alcohol £27.40 1.2%
Misc £10.00 0.4%
Total £1506.76 67.6%

 

Rent is the same as ever.  Bills are a smidge higher than last month as we’ve started paying our water bill for the new place, and I expect them to be higher again next month when we start paying council tax.

As I mentioned above, we did a lot of travelling across the UK this month, so my Transport bill is higher than usual. Trains in the UK are not cheap, but it’s certainly worth it to see friends and family, and just generally have a good time.

Fun encompasses a couple of games and a trip to the cinema to see Avengers Endgame. You’ll find no spoilers here, but it was fantastic! This is a good point to mention a great deal I saw on Money Saving Expert – buy some insurance from Compare the Market for £1, and get 2-for-1 cinema and food for a year. More info here. Considering that cinema tickets can range from £5-15, I got my money’s worth with just that one trip to see Avengers; I fully intend to make more use of it over the next year. Next up is a blast from my childhood; we’re going to see Detective Pikachu in just a few days. Fingers crossed it bucks the trend of crappy videogame films.

 

Savings Rate

My savings rate this month was 32.4%. I was able to put aside a respectable £750. I stuck £500 of that into my ISA at the beginning of the month, as always, and the remaining £250 is currently sat in my Marcus savings account. We have a trip to America coming up soon, which may demand some extra money!

 

Currently reading:

One of my goals for the next five years was to read at least one book a month. To help keep myself accountable to anonymous people on the internet, I’ve decided to track my progress here in these monthly reports:

Last month I only managed to read half of Before They are Hanged, by Joe Abercrombie. second in the First Law series. It was pretty good, but I hadn’t been able to make enough time to finish it. This month I made up for it, finishing both book 2 and 3 (Last Argument of Kings) in the series. I really enjoyed the trilogy, and thoroughly recommend it to anyone who enjoys fantasy. It definitely has a Game of Thrones vibe, with morally ambiguous protagonists and gory, visceral detail. I liked it so much that I’ve started reading some of the stand alone novels in the expanded First Law universe; currently half way through Best Served Cold. It’s an enjoyable read, but perhaps not as good as the trilogy that came before it. Regardless, thanks once again to Weenie for recommending the trilogy in a previous comment!

 

Looking forward

May is going to be more of the same; visiting friends and enjoying the weather, etc, as well as just generally preparing for our US trip which is about 6 weeks away. I bought the flights back in January, and I’m amazed at how quickly the time has flown by.

That’s all for now. Thanks for reading, and I hope you have great month. I’ll leave you with an image I found which made me laugh:

Found on Reddit.

Is it sad that I can fully relate?? … Don’t answer that. Until next time!

11 Responses

  1. Haha very funny the last bit!

    The British propensity to discuss the weather is even mentioned in some books for learning English. They recommend to learners that visit the UK to introduce a conversation with a Brit by using this topic. It works! hehe

    Glad to see you are enjoying the good weather, hopefully it will last long! We also travelled a bit and watched the Avengers Endgame, loved it.

    Transport is very expensive, but it’s definitely worth it to pay if it means getting in touch and having fun with good friends.

    Have a great month 😉

    • Glad it’s not only me who found that image funny!

      Is that really true??! That’s hilarious, haha. The writers certainly know their craft well, it really is the easiest way to start up a conversation that leads into something bigger.

      Agreed, hopefully this weather will last all the way through now until late August. Optimistic, but we can hope!

      As for transport, I shouldn’t actually complain too much. Public transport in the UK is decent enough that I can get around the country to see friends without the need for a car. I’m not opposed to buying one eventually, if the need ever arises, but I like to think that every year I go without a car is a hefty amount of money saved!

      Thanks for commenting, Tony. Hope you have a great month as well!

  2. Keep up the saving Dr FIRE, over 30% is awesome, especially when you’re providing for two people. You’ve now just got to resist lifestyle inflation 🙂

    Keep up with the EW betting and it will earn you more than your salary in no time.

    • Thanks, Saving Ninja. Yes, haha, the trick now will be to maintain our outgoings when my girlfriend finishes her PhD and gets a full time job in the future. If we can do that, then our savings rate and net worth should shoot up. Time will tell if we can resist lifestyle inflation!

    • Hi Adam. Good question!

      I should first of all explain my pension contributions. I contribute 8.8% of my salary into a fixed-benefit, career-average pension. Using very rough numbers, for every year that I pay into this, I will receive about £500 per year (before adjusting for inflation) when I reach the applicable age. So 20 years in this job, with no career progression, would see me with a guaranteed pension of £10,000 per year for life. This is regardless of what the stock markets do at the time. This means I can’t really say I have £x invested in my pension. It also means that, even though my employer ‘contributes’ to my pension, the amount contributed is irrelevant. They ‘contribute’ something like 20% of my salary, but most of that is being used to pay for the final salary pension of current retirees!

      Another reason is that I think it would artificially inflate my savings rate. A savings rate of 30% is fairly low compared to other bloggers, so it gives me a kick to try to improve it. I might rest on my laurels if I started reporting a savings rate of 40+%!

      Finally, I suppose a savings rate, and how it’s calculated, it very personal to each individual. I just want to use it to see how I spend my take-home pay and how much is left each month. I hope that answers your question!

    • Thanks for the kind words, Adam! I guess I was lucky that the idea of saving money was instilled into me from an early age, and that I stumbled across the idea of FIRE in my late twenties. Plus, I’ve always been fairly cautious, so appreciate that having a reasonable amount of money saved up means that you don’t have to worry if a small emergency crops up, or something breaks and urgently needs replacing, etc.

      Being mortgage free certainly frees up a huge amount of cash. I look forward to the day I don’t have to pay rent/mortgage; unfortunately, I have a long way to go. First step, actually buying a house!

  3. Hi Dr Fire, you guys in the public sector pay a lot into your pensions! Definately a big benefit to have your employer paying so much.

    I’ve got a DB scheme from a previous job. The standard multiple to work out the transfer value used to be 20, but as ppl are living longer you’d now be typically offered 25 to 30. I’m probably going to draw the DB pension one day.

    Transferring is popular as dC schemes can be passed on to beneficiaries in full without IHT, whereas DB schemes typically pay 50% to spouse. So something to think about.

    Agree calculating savings rate is personal. I include pension in that and also include my DB scheme in my bey worth using a multiple of 25. Uk savings rate I read is about 5%. So Fire community common rate of 50% is somewhat crazy and out of reach for most.

    I’ve only managed about this later in my career with mortgage paid and a company car, which excludes probably two largest expenses transport and housing. Lifestyle creep is the biggest temptation. Always a bigger house and a bigger car, better phone etc. Good luck with getting on the housing ladder. From your blog you’ll have mortgage paid in a fraction of the time.

  4. Another good month with the numbers Doc!

    I am feeling very out of the zeitgeist at the moment as I’m not watching either GoT or been to the cinema to see Avengers. I know what you mean about needing closure with GRRM. Have you read the Neil Gaiman blog post where someone complains about how long GRRM takes to write his books?

    Basically Gaiman says George RR Martin isn’t your b**** then goes off on one. Made me chuckle anyway!

    Linked here: http://journal.neilgaiman.com/2009/05/entitlement-issues.html (unless your blog thinks that I’m a spambot…)

    Hope you’re having a great May!

    • You haven’t watched GoT OR Avengers!?? I… I don’t know what to say. Needless to say, I recommend both, but understand that you must be very busy!

      I have seen that blog post before. It is pretty funny! By all means, I fully agree with Neil Gaiman, and acknowledge that GRRM doesn’t owe anybody anything. I don’t get the people who obsess over the books and send him mail, piling on the pressure to finish. Obviously I did really enjoy books 1-5, and would like to see it end in GRRM’s words, not just on the screen. But if he never gets round to it, c’est la vie!

      Thanks, Caveman, same to you!

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