Friday, 13 January 2017
Despite my views on goal-setting I expressed last January, I do actually have one for this year, although it's financial rather than lifestyle and so I'll allow it ...
I've been tracking all the passive income I've received over the last three years. This includes dividends, bond coupons, index-linked growth, interest, premium bond prizes and any other such distributions.
In the past, I haven't necessarily been seeking yield as a primary objective, but there's no doubt it's a nice warm feeling every time a deposit turns up in the accounts, money for which I haven't had to work.
The passive income I've received has grown naturally with the portfolio valuation, and indeed the sums I received in 2016 were 36% higher than in 2015. However, I think it's time to push it a little further and see if we could cover a greater proportion of our living costs from investment income alone.
If I take the 2016 year-end passive income figure and divide it by the 2015 year-end combined portfolio value, the income return on the total assets was only 2.3%, which just seems quite low to me. Whereas the total return in 2016 on the assets held at the end of 2015 was 15.7%, i.e. including capital growth but excluding any of the 2016 additions to the pot.
Friday, 6 January 2017
We've just arrived in the Canary Islands, where we'll spend the next six weeks in an apartment hotel.
Now that we don't have animals to worry about back home, we're again free to spend extended periods on our travels. We're no strangers to being away, I've worked in expat roles and on projects in foreign locations where we've been away for years at a stretch.
The Canaries are really the only place where there's decent weather all year round, but also easily accessible from local airports - other warmer places in the world require long flights and only tend to operate from just a few very large airports.
Tuesday, 3 January 2017
Friday, 30 December 2016
With just one day to go until the end of the year, and no plans to venture beyond the garden gate until 2017, here's the annual look back at where all the money went ...
|click on it for a larger image|
Wednesday, 14 December 2016
Yes, it's yet another garden planter ...
This is a one-off, made from an old cast-iron gas stove I picked up a couple of weeks ago. It had been standing out in someone's garden for the past three years but was in great condition, with no cracks or other damage - even the glass in the front was unmarked. The previous owner had originally bought it to convert to a woodburning stove, but soon lost interest in the project and now just wanted rid of it, so I snapped it up for a tenner.
We already have an open fire in the house and so I don't have any use for a woodburner, but it's a beautifully-made stove and I thought it would make a great feature in the garden if it was turned into a shrub planter.
It stands around 560 mm (22") high including the legs, with a width of 360 mm (14") and front-to-back depth of 300 mm (12"). Although it's quite compact, the carcass is all cast iron and it's very heavy, weighing in at around 50 kg. The internal volume is just over 40 litres, big enough for the roots of quite a large shrub.
Friday, 2 December 2016
To the uninitiated, Premium Bonds are a form of lending to the UK government but without any guarantee of an investment return (although your original capital is always safe, in nominal terms at least). Instead of paying a regular bond coupon, there is a prize draw on the first day of each month in which it's possible to 'win' from £25 to £1m.
The bonds are denominated in £1 units, although these days there's a minimum purchase amount of £100 each time you invest, and every £1 bond has an equal chance of winning at the prevailing odds each month, which are set by the responsible treasury department, i.e. National Savings & Investments (NS&I).
At the time of writing, the odds of winning are 30,000 to 1 and the prize fund is configured to return 1.25%. All prizes are tax free and do not need to be declared in your annual tax return, so there's no administrative burden. There's an upper limit on the number of bonds you can hold, currently set at £50,000, and no lower limit except for the minimum purchase requirement.
You can opt to have any prize wins automatically reinvested into buying more bonds, up to the maximum holding limit, or just take the cash each time.
Because the lowest prize value is £25, the real chance of winning anything at all is quite complex - if you don't hold very many bonds in total, then the odds are actually heavily stacked against you. This is better explained on this site, where there's also an odds calculator based on your own particular holding value and time horizon.
Sunday, 27 November 2016
Another post on the same theme as the last one !
Although I don't intend the blog to become simply a repository for information on making garden planters, there's no doubt that it's the flavour of the month in our household...
The wife wants to grow some ornamental grasses, yet we've no specific location fixed in our minds and so we'll put them into planters that we can move around for maximum effect.
Grasses tend to be quite shallow rooted, and therefore we don't need an excessive depth to the planter. I decided to try out an idea I'd considered before, namely to make some planters out of old car wheels.
It doesn't really matter if they're steel or alloy, they can be prepared in much the same way.
I found some on eBay from a seller just a few miles away, three alloy wheels off an old Saab 900. I've actually owned two Saab 900s in my life, but the last time was around 25 years ago and so I can't imagine there's a huge market for their old wheels these days ...