Wealth update – 31/03/2021

It’s been another very busy two months. I work in financial services and tax year end is extremely busy for me, which has meant that blogging has take a bit of a backseat in terms of priorities.

So, what happened over the last two months?

Gas supply saga

I’ve been struggling to switch gas suppliers and have been paying two providers for gas – both companies claimed that they were supplying gas to my property. This, obviously, can’t be the case. After many angry emails, I decided to escalate my complaint to the Energy Ombudsman.

Like magic, it seems my problem has found a resolution – I got a written apology and a letter about what the gas company will do to put things right. It was received within days of me sending the complaint to the Ombudsman. The provider offered me a £60 goodwill payment for the hassle and promised to correct the issue with the gas supply switch.

I also requested the new provider to refund my gas overpayments as they were not my gas supplier but were charging me for this anyway.

I decided to accept the £60 offer as it seems things were finally getting sorted. I was also promised to get my overpaid gas payments refunded.

The above happened in February and now (April) I can say that the gas supply saga has finally ended. It only took 7 months to switch from my old provider to the new one. Welcome to the United Kingdom!

The lesson I learned is that if an issue doesn’t get resolved within 8 weeks, immediately send a complaint to the Ombudsman. This, it seems, strikes fear into companies’ hearts and gets things sorted.

British citizenship saga

We had to wait for our citizenship ceremony invitations in order to tick off the very last part of the naturalisation process. This finally arrived in mid-March (we waited 2.5 months) and we were able to book the ceremony for the 31st March.

Both I and my girlfriend have now joined the British club. We met the queen, celebrated with a full English breakfast and have been speaking with a British accent ever since. 🙂

Just kidding, we didn’t do any of the above. However, we did get a few photographs of us smiling in front of a picture of the queen with our certificate of naturalisation in hand. What a day it was… one I will share with my grandkids for sure.

New skills

I have dipped into my emergency cash as I decided to acquire new skills to have a bit of a backup when it comes to my employability. I’ve been thinking for a long time that working in financial services isn’t exactly the best fit and there might be other things/careers I should explore.

I decided to put some action behind my thinking and signed up for a training course to retrain as a software developer. A number of my friends work in software development and from my discussions with them, it sounds like it’s something which I could potentially thrive in.

It’s still early days and my studying is taking it’s sweet time. However, I have already achieved my first certificate in HTML and CSS – I do feel that web development isn’t for me though. I’m now on to learning “more serious” languages such as Python, C# and Java, which seems to be more interesting.

There is lot’s to learn but I’m quite excited about it and don’t regret paying almost £2K for the course. OK, maybe there’s a little bit of regret… but paying that money is a bit of a motivator to continue with my studies and pass the exams etc. I want value for my hard earned cash!

Counting my beans

My portfolio went down a little in February (£160,835 i.e. -£4,667 from Jan 2021) but made up for it in March. My net worth as at 31/03/2021 was £173,579 – an increase of £12,744 or 7.92% from end of Feb 2021. This increase includes a £1,600 ISA top-up, £3,344 pension top-up (I sacrificed 100% of my bonus into my pension) and £50 was paid into Premium Bonds.

Tax year end actions

I have also realised some gains in my GIA. In fact I sold all of it to cash to be able to make use of the annual £12,300 CGT exemption. My realised gains were about £11,000.

I’ve kept circa £20,000 in cash (to fund my ISA and LISA tomorrow i.e. on 6/4/2021 – the first day of the 2021/22 tax year) and re-invested the residual in a “similar” portfolio to the one I had previously (this is due to the 30 day CGT rule where sales and purchases within 30 days are matched for the purposes of CGT calculation). I will be switching my GIA back into my “normal” portfolio early in May.

Alright, I hope you had a great Easter holiday and have enjoyed the long weekend and the somewhat good weather!

Wealth update – 31/01/2021

Here’s what’s happened in January 2021:

Gas supply saga

I’ve been struggling to switch gas suppliers and have been paying to two providers for gas – both companies claimed that they were supplying gas to my property. This, obviously, can’t be the case. After many angry emails I decided to escalate my complaint to the Ombudsman.

Like magic, it seems my problem has found a resolution – I got a written apology and a letter about what the gas company will do to put things right. It was received within days of me sending the complaint to the Ombudsman. The provider offered me a £60 goodwill payment for the hassle and promised to correct the issue with the gas supply switch.

I decided to accept the £60 offer as it seems things are finally being sorted.

The lesson I learned is that if an issue doesn’t get resolved within 8 weeks, immediately send a complaint to the Ombudsman. This, it seems, strikes fear into companies’ hearts and gets things sorted.

British citizenship saga

We are still waiting for our British citizenship ceremony invitations…

Counting my beans

My wealth has gone up a little bit in January 2021. My net worth as at 31/01/2021 was £165,511 – an increase of £4,272 or 2.65% from Dec 2020. This increase includes a £1,600 ISA top-up, £292 pension top-up and £50 was paid into Premium Bonds.

January has been a bit of a roller-coaster as my net worth went all the way up to circa £183,000 and then lost most of the gains this week. Oh well… that’s the nature of the beast.

Have a good weekend!

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 this shoddy part of Zone 2. 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 Zone 2 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!