March 2019 Update – Settling In

April 5, 2019 6 By Mindy

As I write this, I’m in bed with a big wool jumper on. Whatever happened to Spring?!!

Anyhow, it’s odd to think I started March off in Eastern Burma. It feels like a lifetime ago; taking strolls by the riverside in Mawlamyine, seeking out the best pe byo nanbya (naan and chick peas), and sipping Myanmar beer on breezy rooftops bars.

A beautiful afternoon at our colonial-era hotel in Burma

From Burma, I travelled back to Thailand and said my goodbyes to friends and former colleagues. It will be at least a year till I return to Asia, so this farewell felt a lot more real than my goodbyes in September and December last year.

 

Settling back in

I arrived back in Heathrow in mid-March, ready to get settled back in to life (for the foreseeable future) in the UK. In a flurry of activity, I registered for the GP, joined the local library, and became a member of a political party (anyone want to guess which one?!)

I also joined the #PutittothePeople march, which was an incredible experience. After living for so long in a repressive region with limited freedom of assembly, it was cathartic to join a good-natured and diverse crowd of around 1 million people marching through the streets of London (more like shuffling though– there were so many people so the pace was incredibly slow).

There were many good signs. This isn’t one of them.

I’m currently staying with my mum until my partner and I figure out our longer term plans. Unlike January when I was busy travelling around London every day catching up with friends, I’ve been happy to mostly stay at home this time. My days are taken up by freelance work, cooking, and even a bit of (windowsill) gardening!!

Rocket, lettuce, and tomato seedlings

Blog update

I’ve been terrible at updating the blog – most days I actually forget I have one.

I can’t believe I started it almost a year ago. At the time, I was in the middle of a stressful work situation, and needed an outlet for my passion for personal finance and travel. Now that I’m more in control of my time, and have the ability to dabble in lots of things I’m interested in, I don’t really feel like blogging as much.

Recently, I realised I’m quite happy to keep it as a space to share monthly updates and interact with fellow bloggers, and perhaps write other posts as and when I feel like it. But I won’t keep myself to a blogging schedule (once a week as per the goal I set earlier this year), because honestly it takes me a long time to write up the simplest of blog posts.

I was so lax with my blog, that it actually got hacked without me noticing. Apologies to anyone who came to visit across two days in late March – after about 10 seconds, my blog auto-directed to another blog. Thankfully this was easily taken care of by deleting old themes I  had installed, which is often where malicious code is hidden.

 

Goal Review

 

Side Hustles

I’m not sure it’s entirely accurate to call this ‘side-hustling’ anymore, since I’m not fitting my hustles around a 9-5 or long-term travel anymore. My hustles have recently evolved into regular work. Although I haven’t actively been pursuing more freelance work, I seem to have landed two big writing and editing projects, and have accepted a 3-day/month gig with an ethical start-up. This kept me busy in the latter half of March. For that reason, I didn’t do that much on Etsy, but I still got a couple of sales a week so I’m OK with that.

 

EW Betting

I also started EW Betting in March, and now I understand what all the fuss is about!!

I had a bit of a terrible time with regular matched betting in January – it seemed like a lot of tedious, repetitive work, and I didn’t feel comfortable giving my personal details and bankcard details to numerous bookies left, right, and centre.

But I’m loving EW Betting right now. I put in around 10 bets a day with three to four bookies, and tot up the results in the evening – all of which requires just one hour a day. I’ve been doing this for 2 weeks and my average hourly rate is £28 – not bad for stakes of just £2.50 each way (although I know this will vary – it is actual gambling after all!). I’d like to thank Pursue Fire, The Firestarter, and The Saving Ninja for their detailed EW guides that helped get me started.

 

Savings Rate

For the first time since I quit my job last September, my earnings exceeded my expenditure. I spent just £354.41 on mostly travel and groceries (I have the privilege of not paying rent and bills at the moment), and earned £734.80, giving me a savings rate of 52%. I don’t expect this to continue as I’ve got a bunch of European travel coming up, but it feels good to have one month in the green!

I’ve budgeted generously for one whole year away from full-time work, so this extra money potentially buys me more time to travel and freelance. If I decide to use these savings to increase my long-term investments, then it buys me more time away from work in the future.

 

Learning

I reported in my last update that my Kindle had died – but it’s still alive and well! It was just one book that was causing it to glitch. Mind you, having rediscovered the library, I’m back in love with physical books. I read The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher – a collection of short stories by Hilary Mantel – including, you guessed it, an imagined tale of the Iron Lady’s early demise.

I also read The Art of Life Admin. I heard a short discussion with the author on Radio 4 back in January (it might have been on Woman’s Hour), and the phrase life admin stuck with me. Life admin is described as the office work of life – from paying bills, sorting out insurance, and meal planning – to the basic paperwork required for births, marriages, and deaths. It’s ever present, but not visible or appreciated in the same way as physical chores, like doing the dishes, or going to the supermarket.

It was by reading this book that I realised my partner and I have been avoiding doing the life admin of marriage – we already know that we don’t want a traditional wedding, but we’ve put off figuring out the paperwork needed to just get a marriage certificate. Prompted by the book, I did the quick Google search that seemed so onerous before, and now we’ve got some basic idea of how to get our ducks in a row and finally the knot after an 8-year engagement!

Financial

Another life admin task I’m putting off is sorting out my SIPP, so it’s on the to-do list for April. But I did take Dr Fire’s advice (thank you!) and open up a current account with Nationwide that gets me a 5% return on up to £2,500, so my cash is now working a bit harder for me 🙂

That’s a wrap on March!! How did it go for you? Would love to read your comments below.