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Q2 2020 Report

A recap of the last few months and a look at my income and expenses.


Image by Juraj Varga from Pixabay

 

It’s kind of funny looking back at my previous posts. At the beginning of March, I wrote “Keep Calm and Carry On.” Rereading it, the main thing that sticks out to me is that the UK had only 50 covid-related deaths at the time. 50!  Four months later, that now stands at almost 44,000 at the time of writing. We’ve been through seismic changes during these four months. Mass unemployment, a furlough scheme supporting more than 1 in 4 workers, lockdown and the shuttering of the economy in order to try to contain the virus.

When I wrote my Q1 update, I had only just been told to work from home. I haven’t been into the office since. That’s almost four months working from home. And there’s no obvious end in site. I received an email from HR last week reiterating that we were to continue working from home for the foreseeable future.

And of course, covid-19 isn’t the only thing that happened over the last few months. Black Lives Matter protests erupted after the tragic murder of George Floyd (among others). I didn’t post anything on the blog at the time because, well, I’m just a white guy from the UK. I have no idea what it means to be a victim of racism or prejudice. But I did read and listen to the experiences of those who do. A few articles in particular that resonated:

 

General updates

Ignoring the turmoils in the world at the moment, we had some good news. Before lockdown started, we applied for Ms FIRE’s next UK visa. She was due to have a biometrics appointment, but that was cancelled until some unknown time in the future, due to covid-19 causing a shutdown of all non-essential services. Thankfully some of those services have started to reopen, and we were able to get in quick with one of the first biometrics appointments. And just a few weeks later, we received the good news. She was approved! So, that’s the first step towards her being able to live here with me indefinitely. This visa lasts for 2.5 years, so we’ll be applying again before we know it.

 

Coronavirus Impact

As I said above, I’ve been working from home since mid-March. I am lucky to be so far unaffected by the coronavirus. Secure job, spending more time with my wife, able to isolate without any problems. Easy to take it all for granted.

My investments have recovered – the Vanguard FTSE Global All Cap is now back up to £135.26 per unit, just £6 less than it’s peak of £141.95 prior to lockdown. When you factor in the money that I contributed during this brief downturn, my account is back in the positive. Of course, who knows how long that will last!

 

Blog updates

This has been my most productive stint on the blog in a long time. I posted eight new articles in Q2. In case you missed any, here they are:

All this extra time spent on the blog has reminded me once again of the value I get from simply posting my thoughts online, and then interacting with those who either comment on the blog directly or send a message via the contact form.

 

Money updates

Income

Income April May June
Wage £2003.37 £2003.17 £2003.17
Ms FIRE £100.00 £100.00 £100.00
Interest £33.82 £33.97 £32.82
Misc £0.00 £0.00 £108.95
Total £2137.19 £2137.14 £2244.94

 

I count myself extremely fortunate that covid-19 has not had an impact on my income so far. It’s all been pretty steady going.

The misc income in June was an Airbnb refund. Lockdown persists here in the UK, so no summer holiday for us!

 

Expenses

April May June
Rent £795.00 £795.00 £795.00
Bills £237.67 £252.75 £244.94
Groceries & Toiletries £167.34 £206.93 £160.35
Eating Out £0.00 £2.90 £27.60
Presents £16.86 £8.25 £78.88
Alcohol £0.00 £0.00 £0.00
Transport £0.00 £0.00 £0.00
Fun £26.24 £84.91 £0.00
Misc £0.00 £9.15 £10.00
Clothes £0.00 £0.00 £57.30
Total £1,243.11 £1,359.89 £1,374.07

 

I think this is my cheapest quarter since I was a student. Amazing how much you can save when you are forced to stay indoors for weeks! I actually hope that Q3 is more expensive – this will hopefully mean that  lockdown has eased enough that I can travel around and see some friends.

 

Savings Rate

An average of 39%. Much better than Q1. Probably unrealistic to expect to reach this in Q3. Guess it depends how strict this lockdown is in the next few months.

 

Currently reading

One of my ongoing goals is to read at least one book a month. To help keep myself accountable, I’ve decided to track my progress here in these reports.

Like most people at the moment, I’ve had more spare time than usual, which has meant more reading!

The Secret Commonwealth by Philip Pullman, a sequel to the excellent His Dark Materials trilogy. Enjoyable read, but leaves a lot hanging for the final book, which I hope is out sooner rather than later…

Grayson Perry: Portrait of the Artist as a Young Girl by Grayson Perry and Wendy Jones. We went for a weekend trip to Bath (remember when you could travel?) and ended up seeing a Grayson Perry exhibit. The exhibit itself was good. My wife wanted to pick up this book as a memento, and I gave it a read as it was so short. It was an interesting read – Grayson has obviously lived a very colourful life!

A Little Hatred by Joe Abercrombie. First in a new series, set several decades after the First Law series. I really liked it. If you like Abercrombie, then I don’t need to sell you on this. If you don’t like Abercrombie, then nothing I can say will convince you about this one! And if you have never read Abercrombie, and you like fantasy in the style of Game of Thrones, I would probably suggest starting at the the beginning, with The Blade Itself.

The Bridge to Lucy Dunne by Exurb1a. I can’t remember how I stumbled across this person. Nonetheless, I found myself looking through my ebook collection and I stopped on a collection of short stories by someone known as Exurb1a (no, I don’t know how you pronounce it). A couple of the stories were fantastic. Most were meh.

All Systems Red, Artificial Condition, Rogue Protocol and Exit Strategy, all by Martha Wells. Tor.com runs an “eBook of the month” where they give away an older book, typically to increase interest in a specific author just before they release their next book in a series. As a result, I picked up all four of these novellas for free. They are part of the “Murderbot” series. Don’t let the corny name put you off, these were all very good sci-fi books following an android on it’s adventures through space.

The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham and Jason Zweig. Must read for any budding investors. See my book notes for my information.

How to be a Stoic: Ancient Wisdom for Modern Living by Massimo Pigliucci. An interesting introduction to Stoicism, which prompted me to write a blog post called Stoicism: Lessons for Financial Independence.

Elon Musk: How the Billionaire CEO of SpaceX and Tesla is Shaping Our Future, by Ashlee Vance. I received this courtesy of Tony from onemillionjourney.com. I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect. I usually read fiction, with the occasional non-fiction book (usually finance/investing related). Biographies are not usually my forte. Nonetheless, I gave this a read, and am very glad I did! A very insightful look into a fascinating individual. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a Musk fanboy – in the book, he comes across as rude, brash, unreasonable and demanding at times. But I certainly have a lot of respect for what he is achieving right now. I also recommend checking out Wait But Why’s series on Musk as a companion piece.

Investing Demystified by Lars Kroijer. Very good beginners intro to why you should stick with index investing. Click the link for my book notes.

 

Looking forward

Well, who can plan anything at the moment? Lockdown is slowly being eased in the UK, but I’m still wary about gathering in large crowds. China already appears to be undergoing a second wave of covid-19, and it seems likely to me that we will be subject to something similar, sooner or later.

 

Over to you

That’s all for now. I hope, all things considered, you have had a good few months (at least, as good as you might expect in these odd times).

Thanks for reading.

9 replies on “Q2 2020 Report”

Thanks for the shout out Doc. I quickly run through the blog post you recommend and I could not stop laughing out loud, those cartoons are great!

Congrats on your GF’s temporal Visa. I was recently speaking with my GF about applying for a British citizenship if we are to settle here for a few more years. We both have the permanent settle status but it would be nice to get the passport. We now, Europeans realize how easy it was for us to move here and how difficult and expensive it was for other non EU nationalities.

Also, thanks for those book summaries. They are very helpful 😀

I still haven’t read all of those Elon Musk blog posts yet, but the ones I have read are really good.

Thank you! (Although, my GF is now my wife!). If you plan to live in the UK long term, or want the option to return here in the future, then getting citizenship whilst you can definitely makes sense. We plan to do the same for my wife, just so that we have the flexibility that it affords. It certainly is not cheap to move to the UK, and we don’t want to have to go through it all anymore than we already have to!

No problem, glad that you found them useful 🙂

Thanks for the book ideas. Have been looking for the next multi-book sci-fi series since finishing Asimov’s Foundation septology – will add the Martha Wells Murderbot series to the list!

No problem. Hopefully you enjoy it. I have not read any Asimov, but I get the impression that the Martha Wells series will be very different to the Foundation series. If nothing else, it will be much shorter! Only 5 books, and the first 4 are novellas, rather than full length novels. Worth giving the first book a read regardless, and seeing if you’re tempted to read the rest of the series.

Thank you! It just looks like a lot because it’s for three months, rather than just the one. Since finishing the last book listed here, I haven’t picked a new one. Need to get back into the habit.

Nice write up! Hope you get to have a break from books, and some more spends on fun, alcohol, transport and eating out quarter 3!! If you were to include your pension ees and ers in your saving rate, sure it’ll be a big number. Congrats on the visa.

Hi Adam. I agree, I’m hoping to spend more on fun things during Q3! I’ve definitely missed the option to see friends. Zoom can only do so much.

You’re right, if I included my pension contributions the savings rate would be higher. But I find it easier to focus on net pay for now. Maybe something to consider in the future.

Thanks. Hope all is well with you!

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