May 2019 Report

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


General

May has been another pretty good month! Making the most of the bank holiday weekends, seeing family and friends and just generally relaxing. In some ways, May is a glimpse into how nice life would be with an extra day off each week. In the UK, we get two bank holidays during May, on the first and last Monday of the month. That third day is the best. Whether an extra day to visit friends, or to rest and relax before going back to work, or to get a few household chores out of the way, having a slightly shorter working week is always appreciated. It’s made me think about the possibility of reducing my hours to a 4-day week in the future. The way the tax system works in the UK means that, although you’d be reducing your hours by 1/5, you would’t reduce your net wage by a 1/5. Another option is to condense my working hours into fewer days. It’s perhaps not something that I could do in my current role, but something to consider in the future.

As for things of note… We saw Detective Pikachu at the cinema. The plot is fairly predictable, but it’s still very enjoyable, and obviously Ryan Reynolds as Pikachu steals the show. We also saw the Final Fantasy Distant Worlds concert in the Royal Albert Hall, which was excellent. The Final Fantasy games are among my favourite, and I played them relentlessly as a teenager (as I covered briefly in a related Videogames post), so the music, whilst already being technically very good, also evokes a lot of nostalgia for me. A highlight was “Dancing Mad” which featured a striking organ solo played on the Royal Albert Hall organ, which is apparently the second largest in Europe!

Taken from https://www.ffdistantworlds.com/

 

Anyway, onto the numbers!

 

Income

Income type Amount
Wage £1954.97
Ms FIRE £110.00
Interest £39.39
Matched Betting £124.76
Misc £0.00
Total £2229.12

 

Nothing abnormal in this month’s income. Interest is lower than the first few months of this year; more and more current accounts have cut the amount of interest that they’re paying, so I’ve started to close those accounts and move the money either to my Marcus Savings Account or to my Vanguard S&S ISA. So even though the interest gained each month may seem lower, I have more than ever invested in my ISA, which, although it will fluctuate, should (in theory) trend upwards. For example, my S&S ISA has currently returned ~6.5% to me since I opened it, which is higher than any savings or current account.

Matched Betting is slightly higher than last month, although most of that came from Bet 365. I finally got round to opening an account with them and making an easy £80 through their sign-up offer. Recommended, even if you never do any other matched betting!

 

Expenses

Category  Amount spent / £ % of Income
Rent £795.00 35.7%
Bills £346.85 15.6%
Groceries £272.70 12.2%
Misc £87.40 3.9%
Eating Out £75.56 3.4%
Transport £67.10 3.0%
Fun £43.62 2.0%
Clothes £12.00 0.5%
Holiday £11.47 0.5%
Household £9.50 0.4%
Alcohol £6.60 0.3%
Presents £2.25 0.1%
Total £1730.05 77.6%

 

Bills were higher again this month, with the addition of council tax. The good thing is, I’m not expecting any further increases; three months after moving into our new flat, all of the direct debits are finally set up, which makes it easier to predict how much money we have left over to spend or save.

Fun covers several Kindle books for £0.99 each, a trip to see Detective Pikachu and a new PS4 game. I bought Resident Evil 2: Remake. You can pick it up for around £30 now, and for that price I highly recommend it!

The only other vaguely interesting thing comes under holiday spending; I paid £11.47 for my ESTA, allowing me to travel to the US at the end of the month.

Savings Rate

My savings rate this month was 22.4%, saving £499. Unfortunately, that savings gain was essentially wiped out by fluctuations this month in the stock markets! Obviously in the long run that shouldn’t make any difference, but that doesn’t make it any better when your investments drop, even if only slightly. Regardless, I’m investing for the long run, so if anything I should be hoping that the markets stay low for a while so I can buy more for less.

 

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 finished reading Best Served Cold, by Joe Abercrombie. It’s a standalone book set in the First Law series, following on from the first trilogy. I thought it was good, but not as great as the previous books. Sensing author fatigue, I decided to take a break from Abercrombie and have started to read A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking. Considering the dense and difficult subject matter, it does a pretty good job of maintaining your attention. I’ll probably go back to read the remaining two Abercrombie books fairly soon, as I’ve heard that the next two are much better.

 

Looking forward

The first half of June will be business as usual, going to work during the week and then going to visit friends on the weekend. Then, I have a business trip in Spain for a few days, followed up by a long overdue trip to the US. We only have three weeks to go, at the time of writing, so it’s coming up fast!

21 Responses

  1. Ahh, I just looked for tickets to the FF showing, seems like I missed it! Gutted! Sounds absolutely awesome. FF7 also holds a lot of nostalgia for me.

    Regarding the 4 day work week. A lot of people hold the same beliefe that it won’t decrease your pay too much due to tax (like yourself). BUT this shouldn’t hold true for a FI/RE seeker.

    You could put that whole extra day into your pension pre-tax. If you think of it like that, you are really losing a whole 1/5th of your pay. Which is effectively an additional 20% savings you could be having. And this early on in your career, that 20% is invaluable!

    • I’m afraid it was a few weeks ago now! It was excellent, especially if you’re a Final Fantasy fan. They seem to come back to London every 12-18 months, so it might be worth signing up to the Royal Albert Hall email list. Or, if we’re both still blogging in a year or so, I’ll try to remember to let you know!

      You raise a valid point concerning the 4-day work week! If you’re concern is acquiring as much money as quickly as possible, then it obviously makes sense to continue to work full-time. And you’re right, the younger you are, the more that extra money is going to be able to grow and take advantage of compound interest. However, I still maintain that it’s something to consider as you approach your FIRE number, when accumulating money is no longer as necessary. I also think it’s worth considering even if that isn’t the case; if, for example, you can hit your FIRE number in 10 years when working full-time, or in 13 years working part-time, and working part-time gives you a much more enjoyable life and a better work-life balance, then is it worth grinding away for those 10 years and hating every second? Obviously I’ve taken a more extreme point of view, but it’s still worth thinking about. There’s no right or wrong answer either, it depends on each individual’s circumstances.

      Thanks for commenting Saving Ninja!

  2. Interesting write up. I’m hoping to go part time at 50 when reach the cross over FI point. Never done MB but might look at the bet365 offer.

    Markets dire in May. Interest rates also down! Pursuing fire so much better in a bull market! Thinking how it was easy for some those fire bloggers cause of US 10 year bull market.

    Have good business trip. Cheers

    • Part time at 50 sounds ideal. I believe that maintaining some sort of career is essential for a long, healthy life. I just have to look at all the Professors still working at my University when they could be retired! However, the key thing is that they are able to work at their leisure; their mind is kept sharp and active by the stimulating work that they do, but they have the luxury to only come in once or twice a week.

      There are several good guides out there, including Saving Ninja (who commented, above). If you’ve never tried it before, I would try a few lower stakes first, as otherwise placing a £50 or £100 bet can seem daunting. It also means that if you make a mistake, you won’t lose too much money.

      Indeed, not a good time to invest! From a selfish point of view, I just have to think that I have time on my side. And yes, I’ve noticed that a lot of the decent current accounts out there are being withdrawn or have had their interest rates decreased to the point where it’s almost not worth bothering with them. I suppose another option is P2P, but that’s probably too risky for me. I’ve got a tiny amount in Ratesetter, but have no interest in committing any more money!

      Cheers, Adam. Thanks for commenting.

  3. You got me with the Final Fantasy bit. FF7 and FF8 caused me to fall asleep during lessons whilst in school. I would secretly sneak downstairs whilst parents were sleeping to play it despite it being a school night.

    It was so addictive. CHOCOBOS!

    We should do a FI Meetup and go see it again sometime. That would be quite a nerd 🤓 fest.

    • Yessss, I’m slowly revealing all the video game nerds. Sounds like you took it a step further than me, I never thought to sneak downstairs to play!

      That would be fun! Like I said to Saving Ninja, I think the concert is every 12-18 months, just have to keep an eye out.

  4. I also believe a 4-day work week is the way forward – it just makes so much more sense in terms of personal wellbeing, societal wellbeing, and the environment. The Green Party has this as one of their policies, and the New Economics Foundation have been banging on about it for years. Just wish it was official policy already! The trade-off of one extra free day for less money seems way worth it.

    Hope you have a good trip to Spain and the US!

    • I think it’s the sort of policy that the majority of people are all for. Unfortunately, the few that aren’t in favour are the ones in power! Considering that the 9-5, 5-day week was introduced almost 100 years ago, and productivity and automation has massively increased since then, it makes sense to reduce working hours further. In 1930, Keynes predicted that people in the future would be able to work a 15 hour week. Unfortunately it hasn’t come to pass yet for most people.

      Thanks, Mindy!

    • That is good planning! I remember the good old days of being able to play for days at a time. In hindsight, I’m surprised my parents let me!

      Noooo, Tony, it’s still too soon. I wonder how they’ll approach that scene in the upcoming remake?

      Thanks! My conference is in Vitoria, Spain. As for our US trip, we’re visiting Ohio and Maine.

      • Oh yeah, those were nice times! As I have no sibling, I spent loads of time playing games as a kid, I know my parents were not very happy about that but it was at least distracting me. FF was great though as it stimulates our minds to be more strategic.

        • I have two brothers, and we probably did most of our bonding over video games! Even now, we each have a PS4 and will often jump online together to catch up.

  5. Nice! FF also brings the nostalgia back for me! Must’ve been absolutely incredible to be there! I instead went to the Board Games Expo at the NEC in Birmingham towards end of May and got myself involved in some Dungeons & Dragons action! I know that feeling about the stocks going down – two of my stocks have seen some serious decreases in May and doesn’t do the greatest of favours to saving morale!

    • It was great! Definitely recommend checking it out if you get the chance.

      I heard about the Board Games Expo a little too late, otherwise I would have made an effort to attend. It sounds like it would be a pretty fun experience. I’ll try to keep an eye out for when they announce the dates for next year. Would you recommend it?

      It is very disheartening when you stick a few hundred quid in the ISA, and then it all gets wiped out by the end of the month! Regardless, these are (hopefully!) just short term blips. Gotta ride the rough with the smooth!

      • Oh definitely 100% – Being a self-confessed board game geek, I would 100% recommend it! It’s now 3 halls big – there’s loads of stalls where you can try out new games / new ideas – places to eat, buy a whole bunch of games etc etc

        I used to be into video games, but getting a group of mates around for a day of board games, drinking beers and eating a whole bunch of snacks has been a real nice transition!

        • As a fellow board-game geek, you have sold me on it. I need to remember to check it out next year!

          That sounds like my kind of weekend! We actually did something similar to that just a few weeks ago and it was great fun. The current flavour of the month is Scythe; several of my friends love that game at the moment. The only problem is that most of my friends live in different cities, so it’s difficult to get everyone together!

  6. FFVII was my absolute favourite game on PS1 but I became a bit of an addict in order to complete it – not good staying up til 2am when I have work the next day (yes, I was gaming as an adult with no parent to tell me to stop playing!)

    Anyway, to combat my addiction/tiredness, I resolved then not to upgrade my console (although I did switch to PC gaming later) but I have very fond memories of FFVII and have the soundtrack on CD.

    Is that video Tony posted what I think it is…? Noooo, I don’t want to watch it as I cried when it happened!

    Coming up to my FIRE goal, I’d like to wind down to 4 days a week, not sure if the company I work for would let me have those hours (although they allow others to do so in different departments). It would be great to have a 3-day weekend all the time.

    • The FF7 soundtrack is iconic! I can still picture what happens during each song. Not sure I can say that about many other game soundtracks.

      Totally agree! I don’t think it’s something I’ll ask for in the near-future, but once I start winding down I would definitely go for it. In the meantime, I think I need to start looking for roles that allow me to work from home 1 day per week. Something to bear in mind during the next job search!

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