Wealth update – 31/12/2020

It’s the last day of 2020! Here’s a quick update of the last two months as I forgot to do one for November due to being extremely busy with work.

Gas supply saga

I still have no clue what’s happening with my gas supply switch. The new provider has confirmed they have made the switch but I’m still being charged by my old provider and haven’t had a closing bill…

British citizenship saga

Both me and my girlfriend have received an email from the Home Office notifying us that our British citizenship applications were successful. My email came a few days after my girlfriend’s – even though we submitted everything at the same time. I was worried for a little bit but am very pleased with the outcome.

In case you’re wondering, it took us 10-11 weeks to get the emails about the Home Office’s decision from the point we first made our applications (and we gave our biometrics a month after the application).

The final stage of the process is to attend a citizenship ceremony. However, coronavirus has made it difficult to arrange these and there seems to be a bit of a backlog. The councils might be able to arrange virtual video conference ceremonies… we shall see. I expect us to be British between March – May 2021.

It feels good to have one thing less to worry about.

Lifestyle inflation?

I have been shopping! And it feeeeeeels gooood.

I bought a new pair of pants for myself from Lululemon. Yep, it’s that overhyped expensive yoga pants shop. I bought office/work pants from them. These bad boys set me back £118 and are easily the most expensive pair of pantalones I’ve ever bought.

The main reason to buy them was the anti-ball-crushing (ABC) technology, which they promoted on their website. I was sold and immediately bought them.

You must be curious whether the ABC actually works as expected. Sadly, I don’t feel like there’s much of a difference and my crown jewels can totes be crushed when I wear my Lululemons. I wear them every day and it’s not because they’re my only pair of trousers… #ExtremeFrugalism. Seriously though, they are decent trousers but I would recommend going for something cheaper if you can.

The shopping spree didn’t end there. My 4 year old Pixel phone’s battery life was poor and the device felt slower by the day. Therefore, after lots of debating and online researching I decided to upgrade to the new Pixel 5 for £599. I thought this phone would last me another 4 years as it’s got 5G. So far, I’m very happy with the new phone.

Now for Christmas we also bought something for the body. As it’s cold outside and the pandemic is still roaring about (gyms are closed), we decided to buy an indoor exercise bike. We got the JLL IC400 Pro bike for £519.99. Neither of us knew anything about bikes so we bought something in the middle of the expense range hoping that it’s not crap. So far so good. I am totes getting a six-pack in 2021! 🙂 My only gripe is a sore bum from the seat.

Counting my beans

OK. Numbers! My wealth has gone up in both November and December 2020.

November 2020: My net worth as at 30/11/2020 was £142,616 – an increase of £25,064 or 21.3% from Oct 2020.

December 2020: My net worth as at 31/12/2020 was £161,239 – an increase of £18,623 or 13% from November 2020.

In both months I made a £1,600 ISA top-up and £292 pension top-up and £50 was paid into Premium Bonds.

So, both November and December have been positive months and my net wealth is closing for the 2020 year at an all time high. I’ve calculated that my wealth increased by £90,379 (from £70,860 on 1/1/2020) in the 2020 calendar year – of this £26,545 was new money and £63,834 was the investment return – that’s more than £5,300 of gains each month in 2020! Wow! I am very happy with this.

2020 has been a great year for my portfolio, I’m also almost British now and will get a six pack very soon! Pandemic aside, I hope you had a good year too and I wish you a fantastic new year!

Wealth update – 31/10/2020

Wall saga

Our building now has both a new wall and a gate (although the lock is not yet working). We have actually noticed that the wall does its job – we saw a junky a week ago “hanging out” in front of the building next door, not ours. Yay! We’re both feeling much safer now.

With the second nationwide lockdown looming, I am more worried about the increase in crime and anti-social behaviour than a Covid-19 infection here in Holloway. In my view, the wall and gate in front of our building are very valuable additions.

Gas supply saga

I think I’m now able to switch my gas supply over to a cheaper provider and have requested the transfer. I’m glad to see some light at the end of this tunnel.

British citizenship saga

We (me and my girlfriend) have now paid £1,330 + bits each to apply for British citizenship and will need to meet with a bureaucrat next week on Friday to scan our passports I guess. I’m not too sure what that appointment is about other than scanning our passports… but it’s something we need to appear for in-person and need to bring along all of our paperwork. We almost booked this appointment at a cost of £90 per pop only to then find out that if we book one a few weeks later it will be completely free. What a massive government money grab!

An emergency

I had to use my emergency cash this month as I developed a toothache and had to see a dentist. It was a stressful task to find a dentist on short notice (I don’t have a dentist in the UK) and I was lucky to get an appointment for a Saturday. It felt good to know that I will be absolutely OK paying for the treatment out of pocket if I had to because I had £5,750 in emergency cash. I expected to have an expensive trip to the dentist but felt calm about it as I had the funds available. Luckily, my dental issue (dental abscess on the gum) was quite mild and I only needed some antibiotics – the whole thing only cost me about £60-£70 (including the antibiotics).

The piece of mind from having some cash set aside for emergencies is an amazing thing and I would recommend it to everybody. I managed to convince my girlfriend to do the same and now she’s joined the club and has £5K set aside for this (£2K in Premium Bonds and £3K in a pot with Monzo).

Counting my beans

OK. Numbers! My wealth has gone down this month again as we saw the worst week since March 2020 in equity markets. My net worth as at 31/10/2020 was £117,552 – a decrease of £10,730 or 8.4% from last month. This includes a £1,600 ISA top-up and £292 pension top-up and £50 into Premium Bonds.

My second EIS investment – Morpher – went tits up as well. I invested £500 a few years ago and got £150 (30%) back in tax relief. The rest i.e. £350 is now eligible for loss relief when I do my tax return… so I should get a further £70 (20% x £350) back from the taxman.

I have one EIS holding left. Time will tell if it’s another flop. 🙁

Working from home – claim tax relief from the government

Both I and my girlfriend are eligible to claim some money back from the taxman. From HMRC:

You may be able to claim tax relief for additional household costs if you have to work at home on a regular basis, either for all or part of the week. This includes if you have to work from home because of coronavirus (COVID-19).

You cannot claim tax relief if you choose to work from home.

Additional costs include things like heating, metered water bills, home contents insurance, business calls or a new broadband connection. They do not include costs that would stay the same whether you were working at home or in an office, such as mortgage interest, rent or council tax.

You can either claim tax relief on:

  • £6 a week from 6 April 2020 (for previous tax years the rate is £4 a week) – you will not need to keep evidence of your extra costs
  • the exact amount of extra costs you’ve incurred above the weekly amount – you’ll need evidence such as receipts, bills or contracts

You’ll get tax relief based on the rate at which you pay tax. For example, if you pay the 20% basic rate of tax and claim tax relief on £6 a week you would get £1.20 per week in tax relief (20% of £6).”

The way it works assuming you won’t bother with getting any receipts/evidence etc: if you claim it, your personal allowance is increased by £6 x 52 weeks = £312. This means that the highest £312 of your earnings are now taxed at 0% instead of the current 20%/40%/45% – depending on how much you earn. Thus you save £62.40/£124.80/£140.40 depending on which tax bracket you’re in.

It is very easy to apply for this – it takes 2-3 minutes. However, if you fill in annual self-assessments, then you have to apply for this on your self-assessment tax return and need to wait for the current tax year to end before you can claim it. So, please make a note to include this on your tax return for 2020/21.

Until next time!

Wealth update – 30/09/2020

The wall in front of our building has been built but it has no gate. Therefore, the anti-social behaviour continues to plague our Holloway home. Oh well… at least the rainy weather keeps the hobos away for now.

My gas meter is now being updated on the National Grid database (could take up to two weeks I was told)… and following that, I will be able to switch to a cheaper provider. It’s ridiculous how long this is taking and no wonder why people don’t bother switching.

Our security deposit compensation claim has found a quick end as well (I can’t share any details about this, sorry.)

We have a new expense on the horizon as both I and my girlfriend will be applying for British citizenship in the coming weeks. The application fee is £1,330 per person. It seems to be a good investment as this will give us more security here in the UK and enable us to continue working & living in the UK and EU.

OK. Let’s talk about numbers now. My wealth has gone down this month as we saw a drop in equity markets. My net worth as at 30/9/2020 was £128,282 – a decrease of £11,646 or 8.3% from last month (this includes £1,600 ISA top-up and £292 pension top-up and £50 into Premium Bonds – so the investments actually dropped by £13,588).

Until next time!

Wealth update – 31/08/2020

Life has improved somewhat and our landlord sent us an email about the upcoming works on the building to improve security. In short… they will build a wall! Following that they will add a security door, with an actual working lock and maybe even CCTV. This should all help keep the homeless, the druggies and the anti-social elements of Holloway far-far away from my doorstep.

My gas meter saga is still ongoing. The current and new gas providers have failed to register the correct gas meter even though I have called, emailed and sent pictures of the different gas meters. On a positive note, I successfully moved my electricity supply to a cheaper provider and closed the old account – so I’m halfway done with my switch.

Another saga was started in August. This is to do with the security deposit compensation claim, which I wrote about in my previous post.

My EIS valuations stayed the same and cash is now back where it should be as I got my deposit back from the old flat. All of my investment accounts have had a huge positive month. My net worth increased by £30,082 in August (this includes £1,600 ISA top-up and £292 pension top-up and £50 into Premium Bonds). This represents an increase of 27% from last month. My net worth as at 31/8/2020 was £139,928. (I saw my net worth reach above £150,000 in the first few days in September but that’s now dipped lower as I write this on 7th Sept 2020.)

I don’t expect to have this kind of monthly investment growth often and fully expect things to moderate in the coming months.

In summary, I’m very pleased with August as my portfolio achieved the biggest monthly monetary gain I have achieved so far in my life.

Wealth update – 31/07/2020

We have now been living in our new home in Holloway for two weeks. Aaaaand… we hate it. Holloway is a dump and should really be called Hoboway because of all the homeless people who gather around the corner from where we live. They have also been to the forefront of our building to urinate and to bless us with some of that anti-social behaviour we have previously only heard about from TV news reports. Life in Covent Garden was much better.

In addition, we had no warm water for a full week because the boiler was broken. They actually rented us a flat with a broken boiler. Not a good start. We haven’t even had an apology from the letting agents or landlord. Who rents a property out with a broken boiler and doesn’t let you know about it? I suspect more stuff like this is to come…

We can move out in eight months from the start of the lease i.e. we can serve our two-month notice after the first six months. We feel that we are very likely to leave as soon as possible.

It also surprises me that all – not even exaggerating – of our utility bills are going up. Our water bill is increasing from £20 pcm to £36 pcm (Thames Water estimate as we don’t have a water meter), electricity is almost doubling (again based on an estimate), gas is more expensive, internet is now £29 pcm (was £20, we had to change providers), council tax was £77 pcm in Covent Garden (Westminster) and is now £125 pcm (Islington). Covent Garden was much better!

It’s also a bit of a mess to get the bills sorted. For example, the gas meter on the old gas bill was the one for our neighbour. Obviously, I don’t want to be paying for the gas somebody else uses up whilst racking up some kind of debt on the correct meter. The issue is still ongoing as it seems people who work at electricity companies struggle with sorting little things like this.

We are still waiting to get our security deposit back from our old flat. It’s been exactly three weeks since our old tenancy ended. My understanding is that they [legally] have 10 calendar days to return the deposit from the end of the tenancy. A week after the end of our tenancy we were told that they will not make any deductions and will refund the security deposit in full and it will take 3-5 working days. Of course, we didn’t get anything. We chased and were told it hasn’t been paid yet but were never given a reason for the delay. We’re still waiting.

My cash levels took a bit of a dive due to the moving expenses and the security deposit on the new place. This should even out once we get the security deposit back from the Covent Garden flat.

My EIS valuations stayed the same, cash went down but all investments went up. My net worth increased by £9,733 this month (this includes £1,600 ISA top-up and £292 pension top-up and £50 into Premium Bonds). My net worth is now £109,846.

We also had some really good news. My girlfriend applied for and got a big promotion at work. She is now earning more than me. Her future is golden! I’m very proud of her.

On a slightly different note… I recently found out about effective altruism [Peter Singer: The why and how of effective altruism]. The idea is to support charities which do most good with the donations they receive. It turns out that the most efficient ones (i.e. charities which help the most people per £ donated) are the ones which help deworm Africans from parasites and fight neglected tropical diseases.

I’ve been donating £12 pcm to a charity which fights homelessness in the UK. This isn’t a cause I’m particularly drawn to… so I decided to switch it to a much more efficient one. I also decided to increase my donations to £15 pcm (also matched by my employer) to benefit The End Fund. Apparently it costs about 50p per person to cover a year’s worth of medicine to treat neglected tropical diseases. I’d rather save/help 60 people each month than pay for a few meals for the homeless in the UK.

In summary, it was a mixed month – some good, some bad. I’m glad my net worth improved and that my girlfriend is now in a significantly better financial position than she used to be.