2020 Q2 Update: Long days, short weeks

Throwing away time at such a rapid pace (credit)

Has it really been 3 months already since the last update?! I think I’m finally understanding the phrase “The weeks are long but the years are short”. We have been in lock down for about 15 weeks now (tracked by our exercise regime) and it is frankly worrying how fast it feels those weeks have gone by.

I’ve personally been heading up a new rapid delivery project in which we had 6 weeks to deliver a MVP (Minimum Viable Product) and I have been doing some very long hours to ensure its success. Fortunately that came to a close last week and I have now taken a week off to try and recharge the batteries before I get chucked at a new one that starts next week.

In the meantime, a couple of my friends have been furloughed. They’re in different industries to mine, but it reminds me I am lucky to be in the position I am currently and I should make hay while the Sun shines. I’m not actually sure if there will be any redundancies or furloughs at my company anymore as there still seems to be an uptick in work which is great. On the other hand, having not had a proper break since Christmas – I’m running on fumes.

Much like weenie’s recent post on information overload, I got too stuck into tracking the Coronavirus and have since been trying to dramatically cut down my screen time and reading about world events. I have enough on my plate already!

Anyway, back to the post at hand, I promised myself I would write these updates quarterly to keep myself accountable with the plan (which I revisited recently) and to make myself reflect on my accomplishments over the year. So first of all, let’s bring back the list from Q1 of what I wanted to achieve:

  • Get fitter with Insanity and enjoy more time at home
  • Push as much money into my ISA as possible before being furloughed
  • Play more games with friends (online of course!) as I have more free time
  • Finish paying off the car loan (less than £3,000 to go)!

Update on the goals

Insanity and enjoying home time – PASS!

My wife and I are currently on Week #15 of our Insanity Workout, which is impressive considering it’s only a 9 week workout (we’re going through it again). I have trimmed down from a slightly worrying 84 KG to more svelte 80 KG, I can nearly see my abs again, and I’m finding the workouts a bit easier to get through. At some point I may move back into doing weight training – my garage home gym currently sits covered in cob-webs. However both my wife and I use our evening workouts as the hard cut-off time to stop working and do something together, so we may just keep going for the foreseeable future.

Fill up ISA – PASS!

Due to having a flexible ISA and not quite filling it up last tax year (car purchase *cough*), I have £24,000 to fill up this tax year and I have setup a Direct Debit to push £2,000 into it every month. So far I’ve hit every month, so I’m still on track for now. I may have a bit of a cash flow issue next month though. As it looks like I won’t be getting furloughed any time soon, I hope to hit the full amount by April next year.

Play games with friends – FAIL!

I have completely failed at this and they are (rightfully) giving me crap about it! My work hours, plus workout time plus getting some good home-cooked food in me has left me shattered. I really wish I could spare the time during the week but it’s just not happening right now. As the UK opens up a bit, I hope to be able to pop over and see them more in the coming months.

Pay off car loan – PASS!

As of last month, I am car loan free! My Tesla Model 3 is mine and mine alone haha!

Solar House Project

Unlimited power…!!! (credit)

We are well into the swing of a British summer and I don’t know if you noticed, but it’s been pretty hot the past few weeks! The solar panels have produced an additional 1,441 kW of electricity in the past 3 months(!) and July and August look set to be extremely sunny as well this year.

And as an interesting aside – since I’m not driving the car all that much, apart from the occasional long distance trip, I haven’t paid more than about £1 overall for the electricity to charge it in the past 3-4 months. Outstanding!

And a potential new addition to The Solar House Experiment

Ramping up the household electric transportation! (credit)

As we’re nearing (hopefully) the end of lock down, my wife has had a bit of a dilemma. She normally relies on the Tube and buses to get around to see her clients and visit her central London office space but she’s (rightfully I feel) concerned about using public transport. As a one car family, there’s no guarantee that my car will be available for her whenever she needs it and, frankly, she hates driving.

One potential solution we’re exploring is for both of us to get out CBT certificates and for her to try out an electric moped for herself. As a self-employed accountant / tax specialist she knows a few tricks to buy it as tax efficiently as possible (I don’t have a clue, don’t ask me) and will potentially be using that as her main mode of transport, at least while it’s not freezing cold outside.

We went shopping for all the gear last week and now have our own fitted helmets, armoured jackets and jeans and all that good stuff to help her be confident on the road. We will book our CBT courses, pass that and then start hunting for a suitable moped (or motorbike?) that she can comfortably ride. She would like an electric one (so would I) but we’ll have to see what’s available and how far she’s willing to stretch her budget – but exciting times!

Net Worth Updates

And finally, how has my net worth changed in the past 3 months?

For the most part, it has been business as usual, just topping up the contributions with monthly amounts. I’m trying to add £2,000 a month to my ISA to use up my limit (and a timely article over at Monevator about ISA amounts in the UK was a fun rabbit hole) as well as continuing to contribute the maximum amount my company will let me into their pension scheme. Obviously the gains look massive compared to last quarter but that’s because the stock market (not the economy) has bounced back with loads of government bailouts and stimulus to keep things going around the world. I am slightly fearful of a greater crash that is being delayed right now.

Since the beginning of April I have just been buying a Global Bonds ETF from Vanguard (VAGP) each month which is shoring up my position to buy if there is an oncoming crash. My bonds / equities split is near 33% and 66% respectively at the moment. I generally try and be more conservative with my ISA in case I would need some of it in the near (1-3 year) term. I am not holding a whole lot of cash right now due to having paid off my car loan and trying to max out the ISA each month.

The company pension is simply buying a 25 / 75 mix of Global Bonds and Global Equity trackers and I don’t intend to do much else but let it carry on as-is for now. I probably won’t be able to touch it for 30 years anyway! If a good buying opportunity comes along, I’ll switch some of the bonds to equities.

Here’s how the overall situation is looking right now:

March 2020 ended at around £220k, whereas June 2020 ended at around £261k
(Blue is non-pension stuff, Orange is pension stuff (SIPP / Company Pension))
Investment2020 Q1Contributions2020 Q2Difference
(minus Contributions)
A table showing the contributions made in the past 3 months (a nice recovery!)

Plans & Goals for Q3

I fear I’m going to have another quarter of long work hours, but hopefully a reduction in the lock down will allow me to get out and see people a bit more. So on that basis:

  • Continue with Insanity workout (for now)
  • Push another £6,000 into the ISA
  • See at least 1 friend a week in person!
  • Pass the CBT exam and see what happens afterwards
  • Have a proper holiday away from the house!

What are your own goals for the coming summer? Keep safe and have a good one!

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