It’s back to business here at Pursue FIRE. The summer holidays are over, the kids are back at school and (at the time of writing) it’s just 16 weeks until the end of the year – yikes! So, after a few weeks away from work, blogging and life in general, it’s time to get back on track and I bring to you a monthly roundup for the month of August.
I hope you all had a great summer? We have just returned from the second of two mini staycation holidays in the Isle of Wight and then Pembrokshire in Wales. Overall, they were both lots of fun but, as is often the case with a young family, not exactly the most relaxing 😉
The Isle of Wight is so convenient for us and somewhere we can get too relatively quickly being in the South East. We have been a few times and know our way around the island quite well but still manage to uncover new places too. On this occasion, we also had the benefit of family members taking an extended summer break on the island giving us plenty of reasons to meet up and enjoy various places and events.
My new favourite place is Steephill Cove down in Ventnor and close to the Botanical Gardens. It’s not an obvious place to find and seems to be a well-kept secret but, at the foot of a rather steep hill (hence the name) is this glorious little cove, complete with character houses, traditional cafes and restaurants and (at low tide) a great little sandy beach for the kids.
My picture above does not really do it justice so here is a cool drone video I found to whet your appetite. If you ever go to the Isle of Wight I’d recommend checking it out for a morning or afternoon.
And while Glastonbury or other music festivals may be out of touch for us at the moment, with very young children, we did find time to hit a different kind of festival – the Isle of Wight Garlic Festival!
It was actually way better than I had expected and even had a big stage with live music and one of the best stone-baked pizzas I’ve ever had in my life. I stayed away from consuming everything garlic however and left the herb-infused ice cream, beer, wine, cake etc to my trusty inlaws who no doubt carried the aroma around with them for days afterwards 🙂
Our second break took us to Bluestone in Wales – an equivalent to CentreParcs with many of the same style activities for the children. It’s a lodge-based and car-free resort and we had great fun bombing round in a golf buggy for the week, shipping the kids off to various daily activities or back and forth to the great swimming pool. It was a fun week and somewhere we’d consider again.
While August now seems like a distant memory, here is a quick summary of posts for the month
- Seven Pension Boosting Tips: A look at how introducing minor tweaks can significantly shift your pension pot outcomes, particularly if you combine them.
- Monthly Net Worth Report #13 & 14: My usual round-up of the goings-on at Pursue FIRE together with a double-header Net Worth snapshot for the months of June and July.
- Pursue FIRE Updates: A general update on various things before I set off on my holidays.
So I hope you enjoyed some of this content.
Net Worth Snapshot
Let’s take a look at some numbers, this time covering August. As usual, I break down my current financial assets as at the end of the month and compare these to last month (July) and also relative to 1-year ago (August 2018).
So, over the month, things generally trended downwards on all fronts. Total net worth was clipped 1.5%, a decrease of £8,859. Excluding property, that translated into a -1.7% decline of -£6,034.
Based on my estimates for tracking the value of my property, there continues to be some headwind here and that is certainly playing out in the figures with the calculated equity in my home taking another hit during August by 1.2% (-£2,825). Looking further back, relative to a year ago, my numbers suggest a -5.7% decline (-£13,525).
As you can imagine there is a big disparity depending on which measure you choose to focus on. My mortgage lender has a good calculator for getting a realistic valuation and this reads significantly higher than what Zoopla might suggest is the current market price.
I tend to take the median of these two values. Interestingly, we are a year away from re-mortgaging our existing deal and also weighing up a potential move. As part of that evaluation, we will no doubt have some estate agents round to give us their take on the value of our home. That will be interesting to hear given the general malaise in the housing market right now and with still no clear resolution to Brexit.
Elsewhere, August was a negative month for markets and this served to dent returns in my pension and investment pots which were down -1.0% (-£3,148) and -2.2% (-£1,140) respectively for the month, but remain comfortably double-digit positive relative to August last year.
Lastly, through no other reason than being disorganised, unsecured debt increased during August as our holidays were partly paid for on a credit card. That will be reversed in the weeks ahead.
So how does this impact the longer-term picture? Overall, my total net worth now stands 6.3% higher than a year ago (+£34,430) and, excluding property, that’s an overall increase of 15.5% (+£47,955). Things have clearly slowed in recent months, but overall, that remains an acceptable rate of growth.
As mentioned above, I’m starting to look at our remortgaging options. It is perhaps a little early as we still have a year to run on our current deal. However, I am mindful of the fact that rates can be secured today at a meaningful reduction on what we are currently paying (even accounting for a minor penalty should we switch early).
The opportunity to lock in a lower rate, keep the payment amount the same but reduce the term by several years is very tempting. There is also that feeling of wanting to get something in place ahead of Brexit should the worst-case fears for valuations come through which could impact loan-to-value and other lending criteria. I personally think the magnitude of the potential impact has been overblown but there is no doubt it won’t be anything but negative.
In past remortgaging efforts I have often sought the excellent advice from London & Country Mortgage brokers (at least in getting an initial scope of possible deals available). As a fan of all things tech, I’m also going to check out Habito – a new disruptor in the space and which I’ve heard many good things about.
General finance MOT
While the mortgage is the big one, It’s also time for a general MOT of our other fixed outgoings to see if we can secure better deals. I try and do this a few times throughout the year to keep on top of things.
Our current gas and electric provider continues to look a good bet at the moment with prices expected to increase towards the end of the year, but I’m keen to seek cost savings in other areas, such as with broadband and tv packages and some other utilities too.
If anyone (outside of London) has found a way to have broadband without the need of a landline do let me know. As far as I can tell this is limited to Virgin Fibre broadband – sadly this is not available in my area.
Each-way betting continues to run in the background. In all honesty, I don’t give it much thought as it has become so second nature and, aside from the money it can make me, I have no interest in horse racing. I simply just quickly scan for bets in OddsMonkey as usual, place as many as I can and then get on with my day. I no longer religiously track every bet as it’s a time-drag I can do without.
Instead, I check my bookmaker account balances at the end of each week and work out the profit or loss. Since starting in July 2018, I calculate I’ve now made over £13k in profits from each way betting!
With the football season now up and running, I now focus more of my time on trying to gain a return from football betting. This, and tennis betting and trading, are greater passions of mine.
While I work on my own ideas for bets, I have started to use a premium football tipster and this is yielding (thus far) some very decent returns. This particular tipster has enabled me to make just under £1k in profits for the month of August and things are already looking good for September too. It’s very minimal on my time (1 or 2 bets a day and usually in the evening or weekends) and all for a small monthly fee.
Tennis trading continues to be a focus and I’m building a few things in this space that will hopefully come to launch in time for next season in January. The current season only has two months left to run and the tour has largely moved to the hard courts of North America and will be quickly followed by the Asian Swing. As a man who likes to sleep, this does limit opportunities to bet on account of the time difference, but when I can, I try and deploy my strategies built out of my earlier modelling work.
I’ve long been a fan of the podcast format and so I thought I’d start sharing any channels or individual episodes that I’ve enjoyed recently. These are not necessarily the latest episodes, just the ones I liked.
- Choose FI Episode 141: ‘Reset: An Unconventional Guide for Getting Unstuck’ with David Sawyer David talks through his book with the Choose FI team. There is a subsequent episode that covers implementing FI for the UK.
- Baillie Gifford ‘Short Briefings on Long-Term Thinking’: Episode 6 ‘Space: The Final Investment Frontier’ Baillie Gifford is a well respected active manager based in Edinburgh. This is a great little podcast with a wide scope of discussion topics. In this one, they explore the new space race, led by private industry (Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos etc) and the potential investment opportunities.
- Financial Independence Europe – Episode 64 ‘Real Estate Investing, House Hacking and Being an Ethical Landlord’ with Ed from the UK In this podcast, Ed from the UK (don’t know his surname) talks through his property business and how he got started.
- Maven Money Personal Finance: ‘To Pay or Not to Overpay Your Mortgage’ with Abraham Okinsanyo. The question people seem to wrestle with a lot. Find out what the guys at Maven Money think on the topic. A useful recap of the different considerations when making this decision.
Well, there you have it! What I thought would start out as a brief update has, as always, turned into a ramble of sorts. It is one of my goals to try and write smaller posts 🙂
Anyway, I’d love to hear how August treated you and if you have any other great podcasts or other resources to recommend? Links to all those mentioned above are listed below for reference:
- Steephill Cove
- Isle of Wight Garlic Festival
- Bluestone Resort
- Nationwide Property Calculator
- Zoopla Property Prices
- London & Country Mortgage Brokers
Catch you later