July 2019 Report

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


 

Did everyone else survive that heatwave out of nowhere?! Of course, as I write this post, we’re back to the stereotypical wet British summer, but those few days of blistering heat were something else. Walking to work in that weather was almost as bad as fighting through the rain! At least I don’t have to get the train to work though…

Regular readers might notice that I’ve changed up this post somewhat. I’ve added a table of contents, which should make it easier for you to skip ahead to any sections of interest.

As an aside, any links marked by an asterisk, *, are affiliate links. See the disclaimer for more info.

Now, on with the show!

 

General updates

There was no rest for the wicked this month! After coming back from the US at the beginning of the month, I pretty much went straight back to work, feeling even more tired than when I left! We had one weekend to ourselves, then made the most of the fantastic weather and visited some friends on the remaining two weekends this month.

Image taken from BoardGameGeek

Ms FIRE picked up a new board game called Tiny Epic Kingdoms, which is ideal for when we’re in the mood for a shorter game. It’s also pretty easy to introduce to new players; we taught the rules to a couple of our friends who aren’t really gamers, and they picked it up fairly quickly. It packs a fair amount into a small package, so recommended if you get the chance to try it out!

 

Money updates

Income

Income type Amount
Wage £1954.97
Ms FIRE £110.00
Interest £35.11
Matched Betting £35.46
Misc £0.00
Total £2135.54

 

Everything here is mostly as usual, so there isn’t much to talk about.

Income from Matched Betting is still low, but I blame this on being on holiday and going away most weekends this month. I’ll try to fit in some more Matched Betting during August! If you want to give it a go, OddsMonkey* have a free sign up, where they walk you through two offers that should earn roughly £40. That should give you an idea of whether or not it’s for you, and if it’s worth signing up for more offers.

 

Expenses

Category  Amount spent / £ % of Income
Rent £795.00 37.2%
Bills £289.36 13.5%
Groceries £213.97 10.0%
Holiday £169.27 7.9%
Transport £123.47 5.8%
Eating Out £67.23 3.1%
Fun £55.69 2.6%
Presents £47.23 2.2%
Misc £45.00 2.1%
Alcohol £10.50 0.5%
Total £1816.72 85.1%

 

Rent and bills are a sizeable, unchanging dent in my monthly income. As I’ve mentioned before, I could move further out of the city, but then I’d have to pay more in travel costs and time. I can be home in 20 minutes if I walk quickly, and for me that is worth the slightly higher rent.

Groceries were a smidge higher than usual, but I’ll put that down to restocking our supplies after getting back from our holiday at the beginning of the month.

The holiday expense is simply the other half of my spending whilst we were in the US; as I mentioned last month, we were away for two weeks at the end of June / beginning of July, so I just split my spending evenly across the two reports.

Transport is a mostly due to getting the train to to visit some friends on the last two weekends. Misc is a dentist check-up, aaaaaannnd everything else is probably pretty self explanatory.

 

Savings Rate

My savings rate for July was 14.9%, which brings down my average so far this year to 24.3%. I was hoping that August would be a cheaper month, but I’ve already been reminded about an upcoming stag party, which may mess up those plans before the month has even truly begun!

 

Blog updates

As I mentioned in the intro, I’ve changed the layout of this post ever so slightly from previous entries. Basically, I really liked Caveman’s layout over at Ditch the Cave, so I stole his idea of a contents table. “Good artists copy, great artists steal,” and all that. Hope you don’t mind Caveman! Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, right?

I also added two new pages to the blog – first, a list of UK FIRE blogs that I follow. Second, an ongoing list of articles that I’ve read recently that I thought warranted saving for future reference. Both can be found under the favourite things heading at the top of each page.

Over on Twitter, I updated my logo to something slightly more interesting than black text on a blue background. It’s not as inventive as many other bloggers, but art and design were never my strong points!

 

Exercise and health

When FIREhub asked me, ‘what advice would you give to your younger self?’ I responded saying I wish I had developed a love of sport and exercise before I got set in my ways. This has since prompted to recognise that I have no excuse for not doing more! So I’ve added this section to the monthly updates.

As a baseline, I walk to and from work most days. Unless it’s raining, then I’ll typically get the bus. The walk is about 25 minutes, or 1.5 miles, each way.  And that’s it, that’s pretty much all the exercise I do. Granted, I don’t necessarily look like I need it. I’m tall and slim (thank you, genetics), and in fairly good health. But that just hides how terribly unfit I am!

Just last week, Ms FIRE and I were walking to the train station. After 15 minutes, I realised that I had left our rail card at home. This meant that I either had to run back and pick it up, or risk being confronted by the train manager and potentially having to buy new, full-price tickets! Naturally I wasn’t going to waste £60+ on new tickets, so I decided to run back to the flat. I had 20 minutes to get there and back… After barely a minute of running, I was already out of breath. And I still had half a mile to go! (I know, it’s a pitiful distance, please don’t judge me). I eventually made it back, picked up the rail card, and then stumbled back, making it to the station just in time, a horrible sweaty mess. It’s pretty sad that I couldn’t even run for 15 minutes without feeling like I was dying!

So, I’m hoping that having to write something in this section each month will help to keep me accountable.

 

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:

I’m now reading the following three books:

American Gods, by Neil Gaiman – I finished this right at the end of the month. Overall, I think it was decent, but not as good as the other Gaiman books that I’ve read so far. My favourite is still Good Omens, followed by The Graveyard Book. Speaking of Good Omens, we finished the Amazon Prime show this month and it was excellent.

The Millionaire Next Door, by Thomas J. Stanley – I’m now half way through this, and I like it. It’s over 20 years old now, so some of the advice is a little dated. Much of it is no longer new and has been repeated by numerous bloggers. Having said that, it illustrates its point well with a lot of survey data and a number of anecdotes.

4 hour work week, by Tim Ferris – I couldn’t bring myself to read any more of this. He’s so insufferable. Maybe next month!

 

Looking forward

As I mentioned above, I suspect that August will be a similar month to July. We already have plans to visit friends on two out of the four weekends, and those trains aren’t cheap! Still, the journey to FI is a marathon, not a sprint. Otherwise, I imagine it will be mostly spent enjoying any good weather we have, working, and playing video / boardgames!

In amongst all that relaxing, Ms FIRE and I need to knuckle down and start planning our wedding. We have a date in mind, but need to visit venues and check availability.

 

Over to you

That’s all for this month. I hope you had a good month and are making the most of this weather!

7 Responses

  1. Nice progress. That’s the downside with holidays, you’re tired when you get back. We went to Cornwall which was great but back at work feels like you’ve not been off enough.

    Savings may be down but you’re doing exceptionally well when you add your FS pension. Also july was good month for markets, my global tracker was up 6%, and pensions up a lot. Long may it continue.

    • Yep. Perhaps a post-holiday period should be mandatory before heading back to work! I’ve been to Cornwall a few times. It’s a lot of fun, as long as the weather cooperates.

      Unfortunately my pension is a career-average scheme, rather than a final salary scheme. Still, it’s decent for what I pay into it, so I can’t complain too much. And yes, it’s been a good month for stocks!

  2. Hope you enjoyed the US! Did you manage to exchange USD on a decent rate? I’m soon to be off over there in next few months (Boston / New York) and have never been before!

    I know that feeling of getting back even more tired etc – Me and the partner used to do holidays where we’d plan out flights, hotels, car hire etc but just found ourselves a bit uptight and not really relaxing. So we tried out a Cruise and haven’t looked back!

    In response to the sport side of things for FIRE, I’m desperately trying to join a badminton club nearby, but it’s the time aspect that I struggle with (which is bad of me as I should be prioritising health over anytime else!) – count me as a member of the “half a mile and start panting club”!

    • I did, thanks! It was a lot of fun. I actually just used my Starling debit card to pay for everything. Starling doesn’t charge any transaction fees, and uses the Mastercard exchange rate, which is very favourable. I recommend opening an account if you don’t already have one!

      I generally don’t plan too much when going on holiday. As long as I see one or two sights, I’m pretty happy. I’ve never been on a cruise, but maybe something to try once my girlfriend finishes her PhD!

      Badminton is one of those sports that I would play a little bit of whilst on holiday as a kid, and always enjoyed, but for some reason never tried to join a club when I got back home! Madness. I’m the same as you; I should prioritise my health over anything else, but I’d much rather play a boardgame or videogame. I guess you ultimately need to make it a habit, otherwise it’ll never stick. Good luck with the badminton club, hopefully you can make the time to join it in the next month!

  3. I like the refreshment you’ve given to the blog Doc., especially the exercise and health part. I added a similar section in my blog and it has helped. I got the inspiration from Caveman, but didn’t mention him, poor him, I make sure I do it next time (hopefully I’ll remember)

    I would barely last a few seconds when sprinting all of the sudden without a previous warming up and I run often.

    Luckily you don’t need the train that’s right, I’ve never had the “pleasure” of using the train during busy hours or the underground during a +30deg hot day in London, but it must be nice sweaty party, haha.

    I’ve noticed you added me on your blog roll, thanks! 🙂

    Have a great August, there will be time to catch up on savings later on during the year, summer won’t last long!

    • Thanks, Tony! I’m a scientist, so I always cite my sources, haha.

      I’ve had to take the underground at rush hour a few times. It’s not a pleasant experience!

      No problem! I think your blog is both very informative and fun to read, so I had to be sure to include you!

      Great point. Got to make the most of the summer whilst it’s here! Hope you have an excellent August as well.

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