Net Worth and other updates – December 2018 (-£23k) Ouch!

Yikes, financially it was a choppy month in the markets. How did this impact my portfolio? And what else have I been up to in December?

How was December?

  • I have to admit I love the festive season. The decorations and festivities are awesome and even the most grumpy have a little bit of good cheer to spread. And London is always well decorated.
  • Ms ZiYou LvivPersonally, there was lots of travel. Firstly a weekend in Ukraine. As why not go there a few weeks after Russia starts flexing its muscles? Nonetheless, it is perfectly safe to visit Lviv – which is miles away from the troubled areas and nearer Europe than Russia. I would highly recommend a weekend break in Lviv for adventurous travellers – it was just so interesting and such a pretty city. Not to mention the prices are all very reasonable.
  • Ms ZiYou CologneAnd I also visited a friend in Germany which was ace. I got to sample many, many gluhweins and enjoy the Christmas markets despite the sub zero temperatures. And I have to report I’m liking Germany a lot more than when I previously visited. It seems to be a lot more Veggie friendly now, which I hadn’t expected from the land of wurst.
  • I’ve also been taking a festive break from the blog while in the land of poor internet – aka my mums’ house.  Although I have been moving over the hosting at the start of this year to a shiny new host. And testing out my WordPress skills which is always fun.


Ms ZiYou TambulraineThis month’s best theatre was Tamburlaine by the RSC. A play by Christopher Marlowe, it tells the tale of Tamburlaine’s ruthless rise to power and world domination.

For a play many centuries old, there was a lot of relevance to the world today. How we define kingdoms, states and countries. And how the most ruthless win. Then claim a heavenly mandate. And rule over us.

As expected from the RSC, the acting was top notch and the production didn’t disappoint. The set was awesome and the levels within the theatre used very well.


So how did December impact my spending? Well, it wasn’t too high, despite a few trips away and Xmas. As a middle-class frugal person, I don’t want or need much.  Hence for Xmas, most of my friends and family partake in a gift amnesty.  And my trips don’t tend to be overly spendy – Ukraine was mega cheap but there was a fair amount of Gluhwein purchased in Germany. As it was below freezing you understand.

Once the numbers are in – no change from last month – my annual spending is still up at £21.5k, keeping my savings rate at 79%. [I only calculate spending and savings rate on a rolling 12-month basis, as my spending is lumpy. And I’m far too lazy to amortise it all out as accountants do.]

Show me the numbers

Straight into the numbers: my figures for December (vs November) are:

  • Net Worth at £753k (-£23k)
  • FIRE fund at £492k  (-£23k)
    • Which is 66% to the £750k target
    • 22.4 x current annual expenses

So, the biggest monthly drop in net worth so far. with a paper loss of £23k. (I’m sure there are far bigger drops to come in my future). That is a big number. As I review the numbers I know it is a massive amount of money, more than lots of people earn in a year. Yet somehow I have a stoic calmness.

I feel almost detached from the loss. Which I suppose I am in reality – as the money is for my FIRE dreams in the future and I don’t need it today. I still have a hefty income to throw at the market and stem the losses. As the market gets more volatile, I want to see how I cope with the further drops. Will my stoicism remain? When will I start talking about pushing back my FIRE plans?

But even this blog is about more than money. It’s about the freedom that can be leveraged in order to live the life I want. Without any compromises.


Every month I like to check my country allocations – nothing major has changed, US down slightly and UK & China up.Ms ZiYou Asset Allocation Dec

I always like to check my top 10 underlying holdings for any movement. And this month a few changes in position and Alibaba replaces Berkshire mirroring the changes above.

  • 1.34% Microsoft
  • 1.22% Apple
  • 1.15% HSBC
  • 1.05% Amazon
  • 0.92% Shell Class A
  • 0.91% Tencent
  • 0.86% BP
  • 0.77% Shell Class B
  • 0.73% Taiwan Semiconductor
  • 0.73% Alibaba

And now looking at the performance of my portfolio how are the trailing returns looking with all this volatility and falls? On the plus side, the 3 year and 5-year returns are still very strong. But the yearly return has now gone negative. It’s not been a great year for the markets.

  • 3 Months -9.58%
  • 6 Months -6.44%
  • 1 Year -5.13%
  • 3 Years Annualised 12.29%
  • 5 Years Annualised 9.53%

Next, on the charges, the weighted aggregate charge of all my holdings is holding steady at a respectable

  • 0.15%

Related Posts

Over to you

  • How about you?
  • How has December been for you personally?
  • And numbers wise?

Thank you for reading – please leave a comment below and join in the conversation. You can also connect on Twitter or contact me privately.



23 comments on “Net Worth and other updates – December 2018 (-£23k) Ouch!

  1. Those red numbers are hard to look at!
    At least you’ve kept your savings rate up even with a bit of travel to L’viv and Germany. Winter can be a great time to travel and if the weather is bad, it means you get a bit of time to yourself and you can appreciate why hearty soups and cakes are such a big part of so many cultures! Who would want to eat beetroot soup in 30oC+ heat?
    We looked at family holidays for this year and it costs a lot more for 4 than it does for 1 – so enjoy cheaper travel (while you can maybe).

    1. Hey GFF – indeed that red’s not pretty, but I’m accepting it as a fact of life at the moment.

      And that’s a good point – Lviv was certainly rather empty of people in December – although the German towns were much more lively to the point of overfull. And having to pay for 4 people sounds pricy!

  2. A happy, healthy and successful new year to you, MsZiyou. My portfolio – mostly pension – has fluctuated by similar amounts over the last few months. Yes, it’s a sizeable sum – rather more than what I actually spend each year, but I’m sanguine about it for now as I won’t need to access that money for some time.

    1. Thanks greencat – and a Happy new year to you too.

      And put like that, I’ve lost more in December than I spend in a year – a sobering thought! But like you I’m in it for the long term, so not too worried yet.

  3. I hope I stay as calm as you in the face of large paper losses. At the moment I only have a relatively small amount invested via my workplace pension and it bothers me when it goes down, but more because I worry it’s because the fund managers are doing a bad job and I should be opting to put my money into a lower cost SIPP with index funds (which I plan to do at some point when the value of my pension pot warrants it). At least it’s reassuring that everyone’s portfolios are taking a hammering at the moment!

    1. Hi Fretful Finance – lovely to see you here.

      That’s an interesting situation with your pension – does it offer a choice of funds or are you stuck with their choices?

      And I think the global stock markets have taken a hit – only those invested in other assets like property aren’t showing heavy losses this month. And for next month?

      1. There is the option to choose although I’ve just stuck with the automatic lifestyling (which has a rather broad possible mix of shares to bonds of 45%-85%). I checked the details and the current balance and funds it’s invested in is roughly what I’d choose anyway. Although I always think if I’m going to be going to the effort of monitoring it that closely I may as well have it in a SIPP. I hear rumour that we are switching to a cheaper provider soon so I’ll probably wait and see what comes from that.

  4. I reckon that the way to look at big losses in absolute terms is to comfort yourself with the fact that the pot needed to be big in the first place to create that loss. I always feel like that when I see those calculations about building pension pots: What happens to it if that last year was a 6% fall rather than a 6% gain…but then I remind myself that it just means you need to factor a bit of contingency into your FIRE stash – which I think you’ve done haven’t you?

    Talking of which…how does it feel to be into your last two years of work? From what I can tell you seem to be enjoying the journey so it’s not just about the destination.

    On which note…To my chagrin I don’t know Tamburlaine at all – the only Marlowe I know is Faustus but as I love that I’ll try to catch Tamburlaine when it’s on again.

    1. Hi Caveman – indeed gains can compound as well as losses – but I’m not too worried yet, as you mention there is plenty of contingency and I actually don’t mind working (at the moment).

      I do find the idea that this could be my second last year of work kinda surreal…. it may happen, it may not happen. And it’s basically beyond my sphere of influence and in the markets hands. Let’s hope we get some certainty about brexit in those timelines.

      And I didn’t know Tamburlaine until I saw it either – no idea why it isn’t played a lot, it’s an awesome play and and awesome story.

  5. I just want to say I’m so glad that you were just taking a break from the blog – I’m always worried when someone steps away that they’ll decide to step away for good.

    And I wonder if writing about your finances and publishing them here also helps with the mindset.

    1. Hi Angela – that’s so kind of you – I’m a firm believer in breaks and taking the time you need.

      And I def think that writing and publishing details of your finances really helps get all your thoughts in order and keep on whatever track you want to be on.

  6. Hi Ms ZiYou,

    I’ve been reading your blog since the beginning, but this is my first time commenting. Hi! And Happy New Year 🙂 Like you I’m a “SINK” lady, and I’m about 1-2 years away from RE (I’m already FI but mostly really like my job so I’m staying put for a bit longer – also I’m in the US and, not to get into politics, but I am very scared of Trump and what he might do to our economy next). Kudos on your great job saving so much at such a young age (I’m 10 years older than you). My portfolio also took a savage hit this last month, but I have a substantial cash cushion (2 years’ worth of living expenses) and plan to add more in time for when I really pull the plug. It sucks that this cash earns next to nothing but it gives me peace of mind in case the markets take a serious dive right after I leave work. I notice you don’t seem to have much cash. Is that intentional? Do you plan to increase your cash as you get closer to retiring?

    1. Hi Fille Frugale – lovely to see you here, thanks for commenting.

      Yeah, the Trump effect is still so unknown, and we’ve got the brexit problem here.

      I don’t have too much cash at the moment, but I will have at least a few years living expenses when I retire.

  7. Happy New Year! Updating my spreadsheet was quite a sobering exercise too – my pension’s gone back to where it was two years ago. But like you, I have time to just roll with the punches. Glad you had a fun time in Germany – Gluhwein is the best! The temperatures in winter not so much. I’ve decided to put off my visits to Germany until at least Spring!

    1. Happy new year Mindy! Sorry to hear about your pension – going back to two years ago sounds painful.

      I’m getting the impression you are a warm weather seeker – coming back to the UK must be tough!

  8. Let me first say what a great blog. Is the allocation portfolio dashboard from your brokers site, if so which broker do you use or is it your own work?

    Keep the good work!

    1. Hi there – thanks for reading and commenting.

      That country allocation comes from the broker – fidelity – they actually have a really good analysis tool, although the web portal is generally not that good.

  9. Happy New Year, Ms ZiYou!

    Great attitude to take in the face of the red numbers – as you say, it’s just a paper loss, only realised if you sell while the prices are down. If I didn’t have to do my monthly updates, I’d probably not look at the figures at all, just to avoid the pangs of grief!

    Fantastic savings rate despite your travels – gluhwein is probably the only sweet hot drink that I quite like, although I guess what I was supping at the Christmas markets in Manchester probably weren’t like the authentic ones you had in Germany!

  10. Happy new year, Ms ZiYou! Great job with that savings rate.

    Wow, -£23K!? And here I was, complaining about a loss of £1500. Puts my numbers into perspective. At least you will presumably have the option of being able to work “just one more year” if the markets are still messing around in 2-3 years.

    I went to Germany once in December, many years ago. It was a lot of fun, and very cool to see the German Christmas markets, but absolutely freezing!

What do you think?