Monday, 18 January 2016

#15 Collection Of Musings And Updates

Selection of musings for today. Ranging from tidying up debt to random bank accounts I've not mentioned before to (nearly) the first step into the investing world.

  • Credit Card loan was coming to an end of it’s 0% interest period so has been moved. I took out a balance transfer for £7k via Barclaycard for 0% until mid-2017. Have paid off the remaining £162 off the old card and closed that account.

  • Self-assessment tax. Had completely forgotten about this. As I earn over an arbitrary amount (£50k) me and Mrs are not entitled to Child Benefit payments. Sadly if we both earnt £49k and had a household income of £98k this would not be the case.

Anyway, putting aside my grumpiness, at the end of January ’16 we will owe the HMRC £1300. Each month I put aside money to deal with this (which I’ve just realised has never been accounted for within the blog). That account has a total of £800~ available. So we’re still going to have to use £500~ of our savings.

Although I have a funny feeling that when completing the form I selected to repay this amount via my income tax. Will have to call HMRC tomorrow to confirm.

So either our savings will be £500 down at the end of January or £800 up but with monthly take home reduced due to higher income tax.

  • I’m also having to go on a few work trips over the next 4-6 weeks, predominantly to Cluj, Romania. This will likely mess up my monthly reporting and summary of finances so will have to be careful there.

Really I should have an additional account to deal with expenses to keep it nice and clean. Something for the future I suspect.

  • I came very close to beginning my investment journey this week. I didn’t complete it however, mainly as I think I need to do more research… it’s quite daunting starting off from scratch.

My current plan is to put £50 into Vanguards LifeStrategy 60% ACC fund – which is 60% shares and 40% safer bonds etc. I plan to do this via Cavendish (as the Platform).

Actually I think the only reason I have held off is I do not know the exit costs. Will look that up now and perhaps next time I write it will be about my new investment experience.

  • Redundancy Update. My company and another have now nearly completed the formalities. On the 2nd February they will merge and become one. On that day I expect more will become clear.

Monday, 4 January 2016

#14 December Summary

I, and probably every single other person in the world, expects this to be an expensive month with Christmas and New Year.

Having 2 weeks leave from work and filling this with family days out only increases this. We made a conscious decision to enjoy ourselves though and not let my desire to save every penny put a grey cloud over our festive season.

Did we have a great time? For sure. We saw almost my entire family (spread around the UK) and had multiple days out with the kids as well as a couple of lovely meals out. We even managed to squeeze in some kid-free time – which we used to go and see the new Star Wars film (good if you ask me, but I think they overplayed the similarities with the old films).

So, did we stick to the budget?

·         Nope. In total we were £420 over budget.

 If not, why not?

·         Actually £180 of this was due to a water bill.
·         Christmas extravagances were kept to a handful, but an expensive handful at that. £170 on family meals out, £50 for the tree and  and £88 present to myself – a chainsaw.

Any positives?

·         Grocery shopping was £58.82 under budget. The third time in 4 months we’ve been under budget. Particularly happy with this given the amount of food and drink we bought and consumed. Can never get enough Smoked Salmon and Budweiser!
·         This was the first month on new Electricity and Gas provider. Reducing our monthly cost by £28.

Lessons / thoughts?

·         About a year ago we moved to monthly direct debit Gas and Electricity payments. This has helped hugely with budgeting and importantly removing the bulky quarterly bills. Although water is cheaper, and therefore did not get the same focus, I’m still going to move us onto monthly payments for this very reason.

Expectations for next month?

·         My trusty ’07 Focus has also come down with an illness. For the first time in the 3 years I’ve owned it I might add. The bonnet mechanism is broken so it can’t be opened, an regular issue with this model apparently. Still expectation is it’ll be around £200 to fix.
·         Spend far less on days out / treats.
·         Think we may have another water bill due.
·         Savings might take a hit too. We plan to pay for our new fence and potentially book up our summer holiday.
·         Car MOT & Tax plus TV licencing is all due too.

Oh dear this could be a very expensive month or two.

Effect on overall finances?

·         Student loan – £336 was paid off direct from payslip. Total remaining now is £8,139
·         House loan – £298 was paid off direct debit. Total remaining now is £9,229
·         Credit Card -  £72.34 was paid off. Total remaining now is £7,162

·         Savings actually increased by £X . A significant amount due to a rebate from our Electric and Gas provider (we had been overpaying for quite some time) and the first instalment of cashback from the Quidco/Gambling idea.


Total Debt = £24,530 (Student Loan is £8,139; House loan is £9,229 ; Credit Card loan is £7,162)

Total Savings = £1,168