November Has Been A Belter

I’m very excited to be doing this November review. The markets have been kind, and my figures should be good. I’ve been working hard on my goals too, so all in all a great November. Let’s start with my Net Worth for the month.

As usual I’ve got last month’s figures in brackets for comparison. I’ve got my Defined Benefits Pension in there based on twenty years worth of money if I start drawing it at 60. I’ve also got my Net Worth not including the DB Pension or the house equity, which seems barmy, but is really just to represent how close I’m getting to mortgage neutrality.

My annual pension statement is finally out (18 months after the last one; you’d think there was a global pandemic or something). The figure I use for my Defined Benefit pension is the annual amount that I would get if I left my company now and then started taking the money when I’m 60, which is the usual retirement age for that pension scheme. I then multiply that by 20 on the basis that I’m hoping to last at least 20 years after I start drawing my pension. I’m actually hoping to get to 100, but I guess that’s not a given. Since I clearly have more service since the last statement was out, my annual figure has increased, so you’ll see that reflected in my Net Worth figures.

Debts

Mortgage £95,822.50 (£96,314.61)

Assets

Cash £34,304.08 (£34,114.80)

Defined Benefits Pension £130,653.60 (£123.683)

AVC’s £9,139.84 (£7,176.61)

Shares £50,102.75 (£40,001.04)

House £250,000 (£250,000)

Total Assets £474,200.27(£454,975.45)

Net Worth including house equity

£474,200.27 – £95,822.50 = £378,377.77 (£358,660.84)

Net Worth excluding house equity and Defined Benefits Pension

£93,546.67 – £95,822.50 = –£2,275.83 (£15,022.16)

Those figures are making me very happy. Of course the work share price has dropped slightly since I updated my spreadsheets, but I’m not going to worry about that too much now. In October I was delighted to sneak over the £40k mark for my shares, and now I’ve broken the £50k mark. I’m aiming for £125k, so it most definitely feels like I’m making progress. My Vanguard index trackers are doing well, and as I say the work share price is much improved. It’s still got a way to go before I break even, but hopefully it’s going in the right direction. The plan is still to sell off the work shares gradually and get everything into Vanguard index trackers within an ISA. A way to go yet, but I’ll get there.

It’s good to see my AVC fund jumping up so much. I’m aiming to get £50k in there so I can take my cash lump sum without impacting the annual amount that I receive. It was great to be able to put in a higher amount for my DB pension figure. It often feels like a bit of a slog sticking with the same company, but I’ll reap the rewards in terms of a bigger pension the longer I can stick it out.

The figure that is making me the happiest out of all of these is the net worth excluding the house value or the DB pension. This is how I measure how close I am to mortgage neutrality. There’s something really lovely about knowing that you could cash everything in and clear the mortgage if you were so inclined. I’m not going to of course, but just knowing that possibility exists would be very comforting. I was in that position previously, but then I bought a bigger house. Very un-FIRE like of me I know. Sometimes I doubt my decision, but mostly I think it was the right thing to do. Particularly with everything that’s gone on this year. Knowing that we have plenty of space has made lockdown much easier. And I’ve always got an asset to sell, or even make money from in terms of renting out rooms in the future.

I can almost touch mortgage neutrality now, and I can’t wait. I am however expecting that I might become mortgage neutral and then go back the way from time to time. I’ve got a fair bit of work I want to do to the house. I’m squirrelling money away for that, and at some point I’ll be splashing the cash to get the work done. That’s life though. It’s not always about having money in the bank and in investments. Sometimes you need to spend a bit to improve your surroundings or just generally to live a bit. Saying that, I’ll probably try and enjoy my mortgage neutrality for a few months once I get there before I spoil it all by spending my cash.

I’m getting used to having less income coming in because my eldest son has gone off to university. My maintenance money has halved and I’m getting less child benefit and working tax credits. Luckily(!) the tax credits were tiny anyway, so I wasn’t reliant on them. On the face of it you’d think that I should be in the same financial situation as before. There’s one less person in the house, so my expenses should drop. It’s a good theory. I am spending less on food etc, but already he’s home for the Christmas holidays and so the food bill has gone through the roof.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Over the whole year the holidays are slightly longer than the term time, so I do still have a decent amount of expenses for him. Add to that the fact that I will be stocking him up with a decent supply of food to take away with him so that he actually has something to eat. I absolutely don’t care though. It’s fantastic having him home for the holidays. I’ll manage the money side of things one way or another. I don’t ever want him to stop coming home. He’s been such a miss. It’s great that he’s out in the world doing his thing, but it’s also brilliant to have him back and that he still wants to hang out with us. It was good to see that my cash has actually very slightly increased this month, despite having less money coming in. This not going out or driving anywhere certainly has some financial benefits.

Let’s move on now and have a look at my goals for November. Here’s a quick reminder of what I had set myself to work on.

  • Get under 11 stone. And stay there. I am only going to count this as a success if I am under 11 stone on 1st December. PASS I’m absolutely delighted with this one. On 1st December I weighed 10 stone 8.6lb
  • Exercise four times a week. Ideally this will be four runs, but with my propensity for injuries, I’m going to say any exercise for at least 30 minutes counts. PASS I exercised 4 times a week in November, with a total of 17 exercise sessions. It was good that I put in that it didn’t need to be running, as a period of self-isolation after my running partner tested positive for Covid meant I had to do some inside exercise.
  • No chocolate for the whole of November. PASS A couple of sticky moments where I was absolutely desperate for chocolate, but I resisted. What’s more it’s now 10th December and I still haven’t had any chocolate. Hard to see how that could continue for much longer with Christmas just around the corner, but you never know.
  • Finish section 5 of the Duolingo Spanish tree. PASS No problems on this one at all. I’m giving myself a bit of a break on this one now, just doing the bare minimum to keep my streak going.
  • Watch fifteen episodes of 100 días para enamorarnos. PASS I actually watched 19 episodes. This is not even a chore, just something I do for relaxation. I’m still not understanding a massive amount of the language, but it’s definitely helping.
  • Get under 2 minutes for the Rubik’s cube. PASS In November I did the cube in under 2 minutes 19 times. I can’t do it that quickly every time, and I still sometimes forget the algorithms. I’ve definitely done this enough to say I achieved this. I’ve barely picked up a cube for a few weeks now, so I’ll need to make sure I solve it from time to time so I don’t lose the skill.

I have to say that has been an absolutely cracking month for me. I’m not sure if I realised how well I was doing until I sat down and looked at what I’d achieved. It’s not too often I achieve every single goal that I set myself. They were fairly challenging goals too. What’s very good is that I’ve continued the weight loss, exercise and lack of chocolate even after the month ended.

Goal wise for December I’m going to be quite easy on myself. Tis the season to be jolly after all. Saying that I’m keen not to reverse all the good work I’ve done up till now. I’m enjoying eating healthy food, exercising plenty and generally trying to get myself into good shape. I don’t want Christmas to ruin that. I do want to be able to enjoy Christmas though. I have 5 days off work, starting on Christmas eve, so I want to make the most of my time off.

Let’s set a couple of goals for myself for what’s left of December.

  • Get under 10 and a half stone. I don’t need to stay there for the rest of the month, but I would like to at least know that I’ve managed it at least once during the month
  • Don’t start the Christmas eating until the week of the 21st December. Christmas is typically the time for me to eat my body weight in rubbish. I would like to try and a avoid doing that for as much of the month as possible. It’s proving easier than normal with not being in the office and surrounded by tins of chocolates.
  • Weigh less than 11 stone on the 1st January. This should be easy, but it won’t be. I’ve hit that age where I can’t get away with eating rubbish. My body puts weight on really easily, so if I have a week of eating nonsense the scales will reflect this. We’ll see.

That’s it for January. No massive goals, just try not to reverse all the good that I’ve done over the last month or so with my eating habits. I’m looking forward to getting my house looking lovely for the holidays, watching some Christmas films and spending some time with my children. That’s what life’s all about after all, time with the people you love. Have a great Christmas everybody and then we can all start 2021 raring to go and ready to work on our goals to make 2021 the best year ever.

November 2019 Net Worth

Time for a quick update on how my figures looked for last month. We’re flying through the year, so it will be interesting to look back to how I was doing at the start of the year compared to where I finish up. For now though I’ll just look at November. As always last month’s figures are in brackets for comparison. I break down my figures to both include and exclude my house equity. The latter figure is to show how I’m doing in my quest to reach mortgage neutrality.

Debts

Mortgage £82,063.70 (£82,712.71)  

Assets

Cash £15,568.45 (£15,289.89)

Money in share save £14,304 (£13,804)

AVC’s £4,750.46 (£4,573.30)

Shares £35,562.18 (£33,128.09)

House £250,000 (£245,000)

Total Assets £320,185.09 (£311,795.28)

Net Worth including house equity

£320.185.09 – £82,063.70 = £238,121.39 (£229,082.57)

Net Worth excluding house equity

£70,185.09 – £82,063.70 = -£11,878.61 (-£15,917.43)

So I’m definitely happy when it comes to November’s figures. Absolutely every category has improved. I’m not entirely convinced about the Zoopla house estimate that I’ve put in there, but it’s difficult to know how else to judge it. As I’m not planning on moving any time soon it’s not really a vital figure anyway. Even my cash amount increased slightly. I’m pretty sure that will not be the case for much longer, with Christmas to pay for and the final payment for my Berlin trip due two days before Christmas.

The share price is still going in the right direction and giving my figures a much needed boost. My plan is still to sell a good chunk of my work shares and put them in Vanguard Index Trackers. I’ve got my next Share Save maturing in January so I’m going to buy and immediately sell those so I’m not increasing the amount of my work shares anymore. I was doing a few back of an envelope calculations yesterday in a quiet moment at work, and I reckon I can probably fill my £20K ISA allowance before April with my January Share Save and selling some of my other work shares. I’ve only used £650 of my allowance so far this year, so it will be great to get that filled up. It will be the first time I’ve ever been in the position to put the full amount in. I’m just keeping an eye on the share price and trying to figure out a good time to sell.

I’m absolutely delighted to see that I’m getting closer and closer to mortgage neutrality. It was lovely to duck under the £12K figure for the first time this month. I think I like this one so much because it’s something that seems achievable in the short term. My mortgage is still ten years away from being paid off, my investments are nowhere near a position where I’d be able to live off them, but at least I know I could almost cash everything in and be mortgage free. Clearly that’s not the plan, but still, it’s nice to know that it’s getting near to that being an option. I need to work on building my AVC pot up. That’s looking pitifully low. I used my pay rise this year to start that up, and the plan is to do the same next year. Unfortunately it’s not looking like the pay rise is going to be all that great, so I might need to have a think about how I can bump up my contributions another way.

All in all things are looking not too bad in the Sassenach garden. I’ve got Share Saves maturing in January 2020, 2021 and 2023. Based on the current share price I’m due to make just over £10K profit on those three schemes, so I’m happy with that. Clearly a lot can happen in the meantime, but there should be a nice wee boost to my net worth once they have all matured.

I’m already starting to think about next year and things that I want to achieve. I’m not really a big Hogmanay person in the sense of wanting to go out and have a wild old time. Even before I stopped drinking it didn’t really float my boat. What I do like though is the opportunity to reflect on the year that’s just past and looking forward to what’s to come. I enjoy setting up all my budgeting spreadsheets for the year to come. As this is the first year I’ve properly tracked my net worth, I am really excited to play around with the figures and see how much progress I’ve made.

So once Christmas is all done and dusted I’ll settle myself down and have a look at how I want next year to pan out. I already have a few fun trips booked, so I have high hopes for 2020. In the meantime though I’d better go and get myself vaguely organised for Christmas. With teenage kids there’s not too much actual shopping to do, but I’m still fairly sure I’ve been a bit lax in my preparation this year. The tree’s up though and I finally got around to buying lights for outside the house that I’ve meant to buy for a few years now.  They fill my heart with joy every time I see them, so that was money well spent and well worth the wobbling on a chair I did to put them up.  We also have candy canes, many many candy canes, so all is good with the world.