A recap of the latest month and a look at my income and expenses.
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 bask 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!
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.
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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.
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!
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!
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:
Is it sad that I can fully relate?? … Don’t answer that. Until next time!