I don’t want to jinx it, but it really feels like spring is on the way. The daffodils are coming out and the UK government are starting to make positive noises about releasing lockdown restrictions. From the freezing conditions and snow at the start of the month, the last couple of weeks have brought a bit of sunshine and a much more cheerful mindset. My work life balance definitely moved in the wrong direction this month, but the recruitment activity which is going to allow me to work less is going very well. I hope to be able to define the timeline for a more work-optional lifestyle in the next couple of weeks.
So what do the numbers say this month? A drop in the market has impacted our freedom fund a little in February, but this has been offset by continuing occupational pension contributions, the vesting of a few more shares in my employer’s equity award scheme and my normal monthly investment amount.
Freedom Fund Value: £1,022,478
Hypothetical monthly income @4% SWR: £3,408
Actual monthly expenses: £1,660
Our expenses were low again this month, with progress on the van being made with materials we had already bought. I think the excessive time spent working also reduced the time available to spend money on anything! I did manage to find time to open a Freetrade account. Now the freedom fund is, for the most part, simplified into a sensible (boring?) diversified portfolio of index tracking ETFs, the Freetrade account will allow me to play with a little fun money. This will be more of a hobby than a serious investment, with no more than £200 a time going into individual companies whose products I like, or new technologies that I believe could do well.
On a less positive note, The House Crowd, a UK peer to peer lending and property crowd funding company, went into administration in February. Investments made through this platform were only every a small part of my portfolio (£11k in total over 4 years or so), as I had always seen it as higher risk, but I still had active interest in a two development projects at the time the company collapsed. The way the development crowd funding projects worked, was to raise capital in phases as the projects progressed, and then pay back the capital in phases as the houses were sold, so phase 1 investors would be paid back first, and then the other phase sin turn until all investors had their capital back. Once all houses were sold, the profits would be divided up amongst all investors and paid out. Both projects I had invested in had already paid me back the capital in full, so worst case, I only stand to lose the profit (interest). As the last investors update stated that all houses on both developments were now sold, with only one sale still to be completed (expected at the end of February), there is a still a chance there is some profit to come, but I won’t hold my breath.
I suspect it was the peer to peer lending part of the business that was the biggest problem, with the focus of available investments on the website clearly moving from secured loans and crowd funded rentals into property development in the last 2 years or so, but the extended site shutdowns caused by Covid lockdowns must also have had a big impact on cashflow for the development projects.
We have made steady progress on our development project – the camper conversion. I am a few posts behind on this, so will try to put that right over the next few weeks. We have reached a stage where a lot of thinking and planning is required before getting on and doing. We can’t put the cladding in until the lighting is wired up and we know where the cable from the (not yet bought) solar panels will come through the roof, we can’t complete wiring the lighting until we know where the cooker and sink will go, to make sure we have effective task lighting. All this means I have been spending quite a lot of time crawling around in a van with a tape measure 🙂
This writing of this post was carefully supervised by my ever helpful assistant…….