The end of the tax year

It’s the last day of the 2017/18 tax year and I’ve achieved my goal. Hoorah! 🙂

I’ve managed to squirrel away £20K in both Mrs FmC and my own ISA accounts.

Due to some cashflow problems (i.e. peer-to-peer loans that didn’t get paid back on time!) I even had to borrow £9K from my parents. I wasn’t happy doing this (and neither was Mrs FmC, for fears of strings being attached) – but needs must. I’ve promised I will pay it back within 3 months (and I am a man of my word!).

I am going to have to tread very carefully over the next few weeks, as I have hardly any cash on hand whatsoever. So I will be deferring as much to next month’s credit card bill as I can. Thank goodness I get paid fortnightly, that’s all I can say! 😉

My plan is to try and contribute the full annual allowance into both ISAs each of the next 4-5 years, until I reach FI. They will then serve as a buffer between when I quit my job and when my main SIPP becomes accessible, 5 years later.

How have you got on making use of your tax free allowances?

Matchbook thieves

This is a precautionary tale to avoid the sports betting exchange Matchbook! Because their service leaves a lot to be desired 🙁

For my matched betting antics, I usually stick to a combination of Betfair and Smarkets. Especially as both now integrate nicely with my OddsMonkey account – making the process of laying bets super simple.

Last week was a busy one in the sports betting world – mainly due the annual Cheltenham Festival. Although I had put my own matched betting on pause for the time being (as I was busy scraping all my spare cash together in a bid to max out my ISA contributions before the end of the tax year), I had spotted a tweet from TFS linking to his Cheltenham preview post. This got me thinking – perhaps there was easy profits to be made..

So I loaded up my Smarkets and Matchbook accounts with some capital using my Mastercard debit card, as both were offering 0% commission for a limited period.

I scoured the OddsMonkey forums and various other posts to find the best offers and got to work each early morning of the 4-day festival. I’m still a novice at this lark but managed to make over £300 profit by the end of the week – which I was very happy with! Thank you ta 🙂

Then the fun began.

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Asset allocation strategy

Following my recent post on asset allocation ideas, I’ve decided how I am going to invest over the next several years.

Our retirement savings will be split across 3 main pots – 2 ISA accounts and 1 SIPP. The plan is that short of other available income at the time, the ISA accounts will help fund the period of age 50-55. I won’t be able to get my hands on the SIPP funds until at least age 55 (and possibly 57, depending on what date in 2028 the government decides to raise it).

I’ve decided to keep things simple to avoid unnecessary costs and rebalancing effort:

SIPP (IWeb) – 60/40 ratio

  • 100% Vanguard LifeStrategy 60% Equity Fund – Accumulation

ISA1 (IWeb) – 100% equities

  • 100% Vanguard LifeStrategy 100% Equity Fund – Accumulation

ISA2 (Vanguard) – 100% equities

  • 10% Vanguard FTSE U.K. All Share Index Unit Trust – Accumulation
  • 10% Vanguard Emerging Markets Stock Index Fund – Accumulation
  • 80% Vanguard FTSE Developed World ex-U.K. Equity Index Fund – Accumulation

The SIPP is the most important to us long-term, because it has the most in it and will be responsible for our long term income. That is why I have stuck to a 60/40 profile for that one. I feel I can be a little more risk tolerant in the 2 ISAs in the hope of greater gains.

February 2018 status update

Where did February go? No idea – but it’s time for another update!

I’m still not sure about the format of these posts. One of the issues is the way I track my finances in YNAB. Because most things in my world are a budget category balance (rather than a physical account balance) I am constantly moving money between virtual pots. As such, I’m not sure which figures I can rely on to accurately reflect my progress. So again I’m not going to worry about it, and instead just post (shoot?) form the hip!

February was a busy month trying to get things in order for the end of the tax year. I’ve decided that my highest priority has got to be making the most of my annual ISA allowance, so I’ve been busy preparing to add the full £20,000 to my recently opened (transferred) IWeb ISA.

What’s more, I’ve decided to try and make the most of Mrs FmC’s allowance too – so want to max that with £20,000 as well! A big ask with such short notice, for sure. I’ve started this one by opening a Vanguard ISA with an initial £5,000 deposit. I’m just not sure where the rest of the money will come from (although I have sold some crypto to help fund these investments and make use of this year’s CGT allowance).

With all this planning I have finally settled on a asset allocation strategy (following this recent post). I have documented it here.

My SIPP and ISA performance have recovered slightly since my schoolboy error earlier in the month, but I’m still down a few points. I am hoping they will get back into the black before I swap to the intended funds for my new strategy.

Matched betting brought in a measly £53.74, mainly due to cock-up I made which wiped out much of the month’s profits.

My P2P loans brought in £259.24, although one loan is in default with interest payments on hold until (hopefully) the debt is recovered. It’s nearly 2 months overdue at present!

I managed to save £1,300.93 so here is the summary for February:

Savings £1,300.93
Matched betting £53.74
P2P loans £259.24
Total £1,613.91

Asset allocation ideas

I think I’ve finally settled on an asset allocation strategy that I feel comfortable with.

I am going to start with a 80/20 split between equities and bonds.

For the bond component, I might use this fund:

Vanguard Investments Funds ICVC-Vanguard U.K. Long Duration Gilt Index Fund A GBP Gross Accumulation

For the equity portion I’m going to keep things simple by using 4 equal chunks:

25% Vanguard US Equity Index Acc
25% Vanguard FTSE Developed Europe ex UK Equity Index Acc
25% Vanguard FTSE U.K. All Share Index Unit Trust Accumulation
25% Vanguard Global Emerging Markets Fund A GBP Acc

Some initial thoughts:

Yes, 80/20 is a little bit high – but better than the 100% equities I currently have! I need a degree of risk if I’m to stand any chance of growing my portfolio to my target £0.5M+ value within the next 10 years.

Yes, I quite like Vanguard funds 🙂 But I will consider other options.

This design makes it easy for me to change the equity/bond ratio in future, if I want less risk. I would just need to change the overall ratio and then divide the equity portion by 4.

I am not sure when the right time will be to implement this allocation strategy – considering my fund is still down following last week’s panic 🙁

Are bonds the right thing to be buying? I’ve heard a lot of negative press about them lately, which I don’t fully understand. I get the feeling the most I would get from them is to cover inflation each year!

Thoughts?