A recap of the last few months and a look at my income and expenses.
Happy New Year everyone! I hope your end to 2020 was good (as good as can be, given the circumstances).
Our 2020 can be described as… fine. Nothing bad happened. The November lockdown, December restrictions and January lockdown have all blurred into one Groundhog Day.
Having said that, it was nice to take two weeks at Christmas to completely switch off, even if we weren’t allowed to go anywhere. Yes, technically, you could mingle on Christmas day, but my family lives a few hours away, and consists of more than the allowed 3 households. Even prior to the announced travel restrictions, we had already decided to not take any risks and keep to ourselves.
Whilst I’m grateful to be so far unaffected by Covid, I am sorely looking forward to the eventual nationwide vaccine rollout.
Anyway, enough moping about the current situation. Onwards!
I mentioned in my Q3 update that I had bought one of the modules in the CII’s Diploma in Regulated Planning. I had intended to smash through it in maybe 6 weeks, take the exam in September, followed by a second exam in December.
Turns out, that may have been a tad optimistic. It’s not easy making the time to study after the usual 9-to-5, plus chores, etc. Especially not when the TV/PS4/books are all so much more appealing.
I’m not sure what possessed me this quarter. I published 15 posts, essentially one per week. For most bloggers this would be nothing, but I’ve been very sporadic during my 2+ years of blogging, some months posting two-three times and others not at all. I think this period was my most prolific since starting blogging… Most bloggers start strong and then fizzle out after a few months. Apparently I do things differently and increase my posting rate as the years go on!
Most of those posts were a new series I’ve started called Wednesday Reads. This series gives me a chance to highlight some of my favourite posts from the past week, and also to write a short ~500 words on whatever I feel like. Writing that relatively short amount each week feels more achievable than writing 1500+ word posts each week, so I think I’ll continue with it for the time being.
Funnily enough, the act of writing short posts each week also helps get the creative juices flowing, meaning that I also have more ideas for longer-form posts in the future.
As well as Wednesday Reads, I also wrote two longer posts which you should definitely check out if you missed them the first time round:
Ms FIRE started a short placement which allowed her to contribute more to our household expenses. Otherwise, nothing new to report.
|Groceries, Toiletries, & Household||£275|
Rent looks higher than usual, skewed by paying a deposit for our new place. Should be counteracted by receiving the deposit from our current place in the next few months. Likewise, groceries and non-essential spending were slightly higher thanks to Christmas. Not as high as previous years, however. Difficult to spend money when you’re not allowed to go anywhere!
My savings rate for this quarter was a reasonable 21%.
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.
Moreta, Dragonlady of Pern, by Anne McCaffrey. This book was a mixed bag. It has some amazing worldbuilding; the series consists of 24 books that span 2.5 millennia. Unfortunately, the writing style just didn’t gel with me. It felt so boring. There’s a pretty big event at the end of the book that, written differently, could have been gut-wrenching. But, as it was, it fell flat. I’m glad I gave the series a try, but I won’t be going out of my way to read any more. 2/5
By the Sword, by Mercedes Lackey. One of Ms FIRE’s favourite fantasy series. This was my first read of Mercedes Lackey, and I thought it was very good. She’s since bought the first four trilogies in the same series, so I have a lot of catching up to do! 4/5
The Fog, by James Herbert. It was funny reading this whilst we’re in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic. I think we’re realising that authors thought too highly of our governments in the past. 3/5
Coraline, by Neil Gaiman. Enjoyable, but blown away by the next Gaiman book on this list… 3/5
The Burning White, by Brent Weeks. Conclusion to the Lightbringer series. Worth looking up if you like Young Adult-style fantasy. 4/5
The Ocean At The End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman. If I had read this before I wrote my Best Books of 2020 post, it would have easily made the cut. Written like a children’s book, but so dark and imaginative. 5/5
Money Mavericks, by Lars Kroijer (of Investing Demystified fame). Thanks to Rhino, a frequent commenter at Monevator, for sending it my way. Very interesting read of Lars’ time setting up a hedge fund. The main thing that stuck out was his persistence. Very inspiring. 3/5
How to Own the World, by Andrew Craig. Another 99p Kindle spur of the moment purchase. I’m glad I didn’t pay more for this. The book has some good points, and I agree with the overall message – invest in a variety of assets to become financially independent. But I didn’t like the writing style. 2/5
How I Invest My Money by Joshua Brown and Brian Portman. Really enjoyed this book, inspired my recent post Six Lessons from ‘How I Invest My Money’. 4/5
The next few months are likely to be busy. Ms FIRE starts a new job, which means we have to pack all our stuff and find someone to shift it all a few hundred miles. Our expenses will probably be wonky for a few months, especially as we’ll probably have to pay two lots of rent at one point. Still, I’m very proud that she got this job (quicker than either of us expected!) and we’re both excited to move to a new city and start a new chapter.
My own contract is due to finish in the next few months. As I’ve mentioned before, my plan is to take the exams required for the Diploma in Regulated Financial Planning. I’ll study when I can, aiming to finish my second exam by the time my contract ends. At that point, I can focus on passing the remaining exams with no 9-to-5 getting in the way.
Fingers crossed that the vaccine rollout is a success and we can start to hang out with friends and family by the end of summer.
Over to you
Thanks for reading. Hope you had as good an end to 2020 as could be expected during these circumstances. Here’s to a better 2021 for everyone!