Besides my recent end of year post, there’s still a need for a bit of monthly bookkeeping and December is no exception. I’m back in the home office now and I’m able to finalise the provisional numbers for the month and year. The general pictures is that everything is looking good and you’d hardly know that 2020 was eventful at all.
Looking over the numbers, one thing that jumps out is that Net worth less Pensions is now over £500,000 for the first time. This is simply what I consider “FIRE” assets (money that’s not tied up) and housing equity (house value less all liabilities like mortgage and other debt). This number has jumped by about £50,000 over the last year which is because of the rampant stock market, our house not dropping in value, high (if unsteady) income and moderate spending.
So, the numbers are on the up and as you can see, the red line is catching up with the others as my FIRE assets grow after languishing between 70-80% of my target for the last 3 years till April before they started to break out. The prediction is for the 100%/£500,000 target to be smashed this year (fingers crossed).
Net worth was up 2.4% in the month and 11.2% over the year – an annual increase of above £100,000 for the first time in a while. Thinking about that increase in net worth, it’s a combination of the growth of investments, boosted by income from work and reduced by spending. I suppose that I’m in a lucky position to have had a long run of growing out net worth, while so many people live with a negligible net worth. Still, if you saw me walking down the street you’d not think I’m so well endowed.
Part of me feels a sense of guilt over the high spending levels that we have. There’s a certain militant frugalista side to the financial independence movement with notables including the FI Foxes, the Frugal Cottage, Saving Ninja and even Retirement Investing Today – who’s retirement plans involve him spending MORE money than he did when he was working in London/SE. I think that if we retired, we’d spend LESS (or at least that’s the hope).
Spending on the month was about £3,400 and £48,900 for the year. Take away childcare and you have £1,800 and £34,500. Spending is on the way down as there’s less opportunity to spend, spend, spend and we have no big costs on the horizon – so I expect 2021 will have lower numbers in the region of £30,000 total spending. Big ticket items like a ski trip or holidays aren’t really an option.
Super Secret Side Hustle
The side hustle did very well of the month and total income after fees, taxes and what have you was £2,000 for the month and £22,000 for the year. Despite requests, I will not divulge my secrets except to say that no animals were harmed. I’m just concentrating on building something of value now.
I invested in a number of community renewable energy co-ops a few years back and one pays out in December. This year it was 8.5% on my £3,000 investment in High Winds (£2,100 after EIS tax relief). So we got £255 in the bank on New Year’s Eve. Total cash returned over the year was £1700 or about 6% on the nominal value. I like these investments because our money is going to direct good use and the tax relief was nice (30% back in the day) and they’ll pay out a broadly stable and rising income for the next 15 or so years. The downsides are that the payments are for tax purposes interest so taxed at 20% but we have the savings allowance to cover them. They are also illiquid so selling could be a problem & higher risk than investing in something like GreenCoat Wind but at just 3% of our net worth it’s within my risk tolerance.
Unusually, I found ourselves with a bit of money last month and pumped some into my FreeTrade account. I am finding it useful for small trades in ETFs and I’ve upped my investment by a factor of 12 last month (from £200 to £2450). Feel free to sign up yourself on your phone using this link and we’ll both get a free share worth between £3 and £200. I also invested in Downing Renewables & Infrastructure Trust. I thought that like the Octopus fund I invested in, it would jump 10% in one day and I could flip it for a profit. But it didn’t. So, I’m now left holding the baby.
How Old is Our Money?
I came across this concept on YNAB recently which asks you, “when did you earn this money that you are spending”. The idea is that if you are living paycheck to paycheck you are spending last month’s money today. If you are in debt you are spending next month’s money. If you can build up a cash buffer in your emergency fund, you are spending money that is 3 months old.
Well, I have checked and our spending is from August 2013’s money. So my money is over 7 years old. Not bad eh? Saving money is like an unstoppable force and with it, Victory is Inevitable as pointed out by someone who is wiser than me.
Back to work and handling the children and their childcare arrangements are top priorities. Xmas was great if a little boring due to everything being shut and there not being much to do – but we still did lots. A few lovely snowy hill walks and a lot of cycling. The Little Lady got a new bike for Xmas and she is whizzing around on that. It’s funny seeing older kids (she’s just 2) watching in awe as she flies passed them. Balance bikes are great. The Master is showing signs of stress and frustration at the virus, either that or it’s early onset teenageritis but at 4 he doesn’t deserve to be put through everything we have to.
This morning he went to our new childminder’s without any complaint – we are worried he’ll be bored or feel that he’s no longer at nursery because it’s his fault (when really, it’s not). I’ve a few more blog ideas that I’d like to put out – so watch this space for more.
Just to say that this post was written before the lockdowns announced today. We were very wise to get a childminder as we would be definitely out of nursery now and we can focus on work fully during the day. Hooray for childminders and Tax Free Childcare.