2016 Q1 Review and Update – New Tax Year!

1st Quarter Investment Review – Time is flying!

Wow. Have we really had three months already? Time is flying. I’ve been working on my businesses almost exclusively for the last three months, and matched betting has very much taken a back seat. I have less and less time for researching investments, so I now do much less research compared to last year or the previous years. I am enjoying have a great deal of autonomy over my schedule nowadays, and that is what I love about investing and/or running your own business – the empowerment and independence it gives you is challenging and rewarding. The ability to carve out your own niche and provide for yourself in the future is truly a blessing for which I am very grateful. So, onto my various updates on all of the above:

Portfolio Changes in Q1

I’ve changed several stocks around recently. I decided to sell out of some of my best performers and crystallise some gains. For example, I’ve sold PZ Cussons, which was 34% up in less than 18 months since I first bought it. I’ve sold these because I wanted to put more money into some of my stocks which were not doing so well, and from which I could potentially achieve high gains when their share prices recover. I am confident of them recovering, as I still believe in these companies. For example, Carillion. I’ve written about them before. These types of large companies that work on several, highly capital intensive, enormous projects often have a rough ride on the markets, but they also tend to be pretty solid dividend payers too.

I can’t actually be bothered to go into all the ins and outs of what I’ve sold and what I’ve kept, because I think you’d be quite bored with it. Needless to say, I still have lots of great, highly defensive, strong companies paying me lovely dividends every month of the year which I am not going to sell.

I realise selling stuff like PZ Cussons is not 100% in keeping with my usual mode of defensive value investing, but I do like to branch out every now and then. I run the portfolios of five family members, not to mention the four pensions I manage. So I like to sometimes change things up a bit in my personal ISA. Still, investing more into stocks which are having a tough time at the moment is somewhat related to value investing. It’s just that I am not following all my general rules for picking solid, defensive, dividend-paying stocks in one of these many portfolios I manage.

Does Matched Betting Still Work in 2017?

It definitely does, but as mentioned above, I am rather busy with other things right now, so matched betting, just for me personally, has fallen by the wayside. I am still doing a few accas here and there, but I simply don’t have the time to put into this right now. Don’t get me wrong, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with it – matched betting has earned me a few £k over the last eleven months, but I have other things I need to concentrate on right now. I started matched betting so I could earn some money quickly whilst I was on maternity leave, and after my maternity leave ran out; but I also started another business when I was on my mat leave too and that’s what I’ve been putting more time into recently.

Matched betting is still a highly profitable way of earning money. Anybody can get started with it right now, with hardly any money, and be making profit immediately. Of course, the bigger your starting bank, the faster you can earn your profits, but you can also start with less than £50 and build it up slowly. It’s likely that I will go back to it, hell, tomorrow’s the Grand National isn’t it? I might whack a few bets on the horses just for this event and a few of the main football matches and so on – they’re still a great way to take advantage of offers and make some really easy money.

The only other matched betting related thing I’ve done recently was enter the Sky Casino BMW i8 competition. I never do the casino offers usually, because they’re not risk free, or even a very calculated risk like accas. I only did this one, and please don’t take the mick out of me for this, but I did the offer purely because I have always wanted a BMW i8 – ever since I first saw one. I remember the original 8 series and I even still want one of those too! But the coolness of the i8 is something to behold. One even drove past me when I was in Belfast in the Summer of 2015… it was right next to me for God’s sake! I thought I was going to faint! And then I saw one in Berlin last Summer. It was parked, so I just went right up to it and had a good nosey all around. I think I might have even touched it too, haha! Bit cheeky, but I guessed the owner was probably nowhere to be seen, so I did it anyway!

Working On My Businesses

A little more about why I am working on my own businesses… I have loved pretty much every ‘normal job’ I’ve ever had, well, maybe apart from that summer job at JJB Sports (anyone remember them?!). That was rubbish, but I did get to know a really nice guy who I had only vaguely known before, so at least there was one good element. I just love working though. I love interacting with people and meeting new people, whether in a customer-facing environment, or with colleagues and students when I worked for Cambridge University.

But I have come to realise, that the thing I love most is when I am working with a high level of autonomy. When I have the freedom to pursue things I am interested in, and get paid for it, I am in my element. I think I enjoyed pretty much every job I have had because my bosses always gave me a great deal of autonomy and allowed me to really do a bit of ‘job crafting’ to carve out a niche for myself in the office.

With that in mind, I am currently working on my own businesses, rather than looking for another job. Even matched betting is sometimes annoying because a lot of the best offers are at the weekend, when I don’t actually want to be working! I also still get highly relevant job emails sent to me from LinkedIn and suchlike, but having a looked at a few of them recently they just left me feeling really strange. I should just unsubscribe really. I felt strange because I have become used to working on my own terms. I have complete freedom over my own schedule, and I absolutely love it! And I can focus on what really interests me and what I’m good at. We are really lucky in that the UK has one of the simplest and cheapest regimes for incorporation and the tax system is helpful towards entrepreneurship.

The New Tax Year

Speaking of tax… It’s that time of year again. A new tax year is always exciting, mostly because I can plot where I’m gonna stick all my tax free allowances. You can now stash a whopping £20k a year (that’s £1,666.66/month of my maths serves me) into your ISA. WOW!

It was pretty snazzy when the allowance went to over £1k/month, but flip me, £20k in a year! This could actually be within the reach of a couple with no children – they could stash one salary and live off the other. Or a single professional – no dependants to drain her wallet! 

Sadly, I’m not either of these, and quite a lot goes into various pensions and savings for myself and the kids. So I’ll have to earn more from my businesses to allow for the extra almost £5k I could squirrel away… But where to put it?

I had this discussion with Huw from FFB40 on the way back from the most recent FIRE Escape. Where would I put money, stocks or P2P? As many of you know, I’ve been doing P2P since it was invented, so with the new types of ISAs launching this year, I could theoretically stick £20k into a tax-free P2P ISA!!! The risks are significantly higher than with the FTSE100 or the FTSE 250, but my results over now than a decade of doing P2P have been, quite simply, awesome. 

I haven’t actually decided what to do yet, as I’m waiting for Funding Circle to announce their ISA. They’d be my personal choice for a P2P ISA provider (I’m not advising you here!) as I’ve been using them for years and I believe in, and want to support, businesses.

Well, that’s about it I guess. Thoughts on any of the above most welcome in the comments!

Cheers!

11 Comments

  1. Hi . I have been looking at your posts and because of all of the information , I am only just starting out with a small amount . Where would be the best place to start ? Many Thanks Maxine

    1. Hi Maxine, I am not a registered financial advisor, so I can’t give you specific advice. However, I can tell you that if I were to start with a really small amount of money right now, I’d probably invest in a Vanguard LS80 accrual fund. This gives you exposure to a wide range of stocks and has some security in that 10% of your money will be in (gov.) bonds.

      Best Wishes,

      M

  2. No laughter from me
    I totally relate to how headturning and gorgeous the BMW i8 is, the chief executive and one of the directors at my company both have one on business lease in white and black with a built in electric charger in the company car park for them, but at over £1,800 inc vat per month each (I see the invoice working in the finance dept) just looking is all I’m ever likely to do.
    I have pondered, in the future that a used black BMW 1 series coupe might be a more realistic proposition and not too expensive, but if this meant heavily delaying financial independence I think I would really struggle to justify it, and would only use it as a reward once I have achieved it or not at all.
    ~TwentytoWealthy

    1. It’s so good to hear from a fellow admirer! Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment. Love your wise strategy too. We love our BMWs, we’re on our 3rd in 6 years. I had a Citroën after the first beamer and it was the biggest piece of crap and gave us so much disappointment. We went straight back to buying another beamer! If you want a nice, reliable, comfortable car – a BMW 5 series (E39 shape) is super smooth to drive and really cheap to fix. After that era, the parts become more difficult to access and are more costly to replace. Meanwhile, this saves me money towards my i8 😉

  3. Hey M

    I’ve been considering selling some of my stocks which are showing decent profit (>30%) but think I’ll still cling to my buy and hold strategy for now. At some point, I’ll want to simplify my portfolio so I’ll be selling some then – hopefully, they’ll still be in a profit!

    How did you get on with the matched betting for the Grand National? Nowhere as lucrative as Cheltenham, plus I made my usual punts too so profits of less than £50 on the day.

    All the best with your various businesses and hope all’s well with the family.

    1. Hey! Great to hear from you. Hopefully your stocks will still be in profit at the right time. In the end, I didn’t even put a punt on for the Grand National! Only because we’d planned a working weekend with my business partner, so we were busy busy busy. I’m happy with it, although think i might put on a few accas this week. I do miss seeing that income.

  4. Ciao M,
    Glad to see that you are back on the blogging side of things, there aren’t many british bloggers out there and I enjoyed reading your updates in the past! I was wondering if there are any new stocks that you are following right now and what is your take on Iterserve, they made a mess in the last year and suspended dividend in 2017… Anyhow good to see that you are back!
    Ciao ciao
    Stal

    1. Ciao! And buongiorno (it’s 04:59!!!)!

      So good to hear from you and see you’re still around, in the divided investing realm!

      As regards to new stocks, I recently sold out of my insurance stocks that were sitting on ENORMOUS gains. So I’m (very slowly) looking into Chesnara and LGEN. Prudential is another option which has oftentimes appeared on the old monthly lists i used to do.

      As regards Interserve, yes, wow not great at the moment. I’ve not sold though. The sector is not in the best of shape. Even Carillion have taken a share price battering over the last year (although recovered somewhat). I’m yet to investigate further on Interserve, but i have a feeling that they will come good in the end, although I expect it will take about two years… Not the best of situations indeed.

      What have you been buying, selling, or topping up recently?

      Ciao!

      1. Ciao M,

        On the UK front I have doubled my stake in Vodafone and “had” to buy back 1000 shares of OML after one of my options was called away. It was not a tragedy because I made a good gain and the following day the stock tanked 13% because of the scandals in the South African governemnt, so I was able to buy back into the stock at a much lower price.
        I am stuck on a very option play with ADN, but if all goes well I might get out of the stock soon.

        Bought CTY and looking at adding BT.A, although it has a lot of issues (scandals, pensions etc etc) it’s a very big company at a very interesting valuation… What is your take on them?

        Last, checking our Croda.

        Either than that I haven’t moved a lot… The UK market is a difficult one to find information on, very few blogs, message-bards, let it be sites… Maybe I am looking in the wrong places?
        ciaociao

        Stal

        1. Ciao

          You are right about there being a general lack of blogs etc. from the UK. Wondering if you read John Kingham’s website? ukvalueinvestor.com – I HIGHLY recommend him.
          Have you checked out Aggreko?
          I am a secret fan of BT.A – I used to own the shares several years ago, but have not been an owner for well over 5 years, just because I think there have been other opportunities available in that sector that were better (e.g. Manx and Telecom Plus). I also own some US shares in fixed line comms, so don’t really want to buy any more in that sector yet.
          Funny you should mention VOD. Was thinking about buying back into them. Sold them a couple of years ago.

          Ciaociao

          1. Yes I know John, he’s very very very good with his research 🙂 I’ll check out Aggreko, it seems to be a utility right?
            BT.A it’s a bit of gamble, if they scramble out of the pit where they put themselves into with the Italian tax scandal stock price might regain 400 quickly, I am a bit dubious still.
            Vodafone is the second biggest mobile company in the world, diversified over many countries, it’s a bit stuck in terms of growth but the dividend is good and all in all it’s stability that I look at with them (despite the high debt, but all telecoms are like that)…
            ciao caio
            Stal

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