Net Worth and other updates – November 2018 (+£7k)

As December begins, before fully embracing the festive season and all the festivities, it’s time to review the previous month of November. After October’s financial haircut, how did I fare last month?

And more importantly, how was the month of November outside of finances?

How was November?Leaning tower of Pisa

  • Overall I had a lovely if a rather busy November. Just the way I like it.
  • My Chinese course is taking more and more of my time. But you know what? It is working. The grammar is slowly starting to sink in. Moreover, I think I am making small steps with my listening and speaking. At the end of the day, I believe it’s a marathon, not a sprint. And a little every day helps.
  • I’ve spent a lot of time volunteering – which has been hard work but ultimately very rewarding.
  • And it was another month with some travel – this time with a trip to Italy to see Florence and Pisa.Duomo Florence
  • I absolutely love this region of Italy for so many reasons. Both the food and wine are right up my alley. Pizza and pasta are mainstays of my diet and taste amazing when freshly made. Not to mention the abundance of cheap and tasty wine.
  • And the art and architecture are astounding –  even someone like me who doesn’t get religion can really appreciate the beauty of the Renaissance Masters.
  • Seeing Michelangelo’s David in real life was awesome. The size and scale were mindblowing. Not to mention the accuracy and level of detail he sculpted by hand. From one slab of rock. A piece of rock that someone had already made a half-hearted attempt with.


You know how some plays are so bad – they are good? That’s what I thought of Chekov’s First play, at Battersea Arts Centre.

Chekhov's First Play

It’s clear the actual play itself was hard to work with, but I absolutely loved how the company interpreted it here. At times it got more and more extreme. Then just when it was too absurd the plot twisted again.



DavidSo, travel is one of my main vices, alongside chocolate. So how did this trip impact my spending?

I won’t lie, my spending was a bit high in November. When in Italy, one should appreciate the food and drink in my view. Spend on what matters to you personally, and for me that is travel.

My annual spending is still up at £21.5k, keeping my savings rate at 79%. But I’m not going to beat myself up about it, as these are just arbitrary numbers. At the end of the day, if it remains under £23k for the tax year I’ll be content.

Show me the numbers

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

  • Net Worth at £776k (+£7k)
  • FIRE fund at £516k  (+£7k)
    • Which is 69% to the £750k target
    • 23.4 x current annual expenses

So there has been a little bounce back, but nowhere near making up all the losses of last month. And at this stage in the Brexit negotiations, it feels like December will be another volatile month, especially if you are denominated in Sterling.

At this stage, I am just sitting back and holding steady with the markets. It’s a good test of my resolve and my ability to withstand the (minor) bad times while I am still earning. As I know this will be much harder when I’m not working and have to suffer large losses without any income to balance them out like last month.


Also on the getting comfortable agenda is my pension contributions. I am planning on reducing them substantially from next year, as I think I’ll have enough there by the time I can access it at 58. While the maths shows this is the right thing to do if I want to retire early and have money to live on before 58, I still am not 100% comfortable.

Passing up that tax deferral is a hard thing to do – and it will feel weird not maxing out my pension. So I’m working on myself and getting comfortable with this decision. And accepting that I will lose that tax advantage. Which to be honest shouldn’t be that big a deal.


Every month I like to check my country allocations – nothing really of note and my UK allocation is slowly decreasing as I planned.

Ms ZIYOu Nov 2018 Asset Allocation

I always like to check my top 10 underlying holdings for any movement. And this month we have no new entries, but a few changes in positions with Microsoft overtaking Apple.

  • 1.38% Microsoft
  • 1.34% Apple
  • 1.12% Amazon
  • 1.08% HSBC
  • 0.88% Shell Class A
  • 0.84% Tencent
  • 0.82% BP
  • 0.73% Shell Class B
  • 0.69% Berkshire Hathaway
  • 0.68% Taiwan Semiconductor

And now looking at the performance of my portfolio how are the trailing returns looking with the recent drops? Overall not too bad, the 3 year and 5-year returns are still very strong – with the yearly return small but still positive.

  • 3 Months -4.46%
  • 6 Months -1.28%
  • 1 Year 2.87%
  • 3 Years Annualised 14.21%
  • 5 Years Annualised 10.98%

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

  • 0.15%

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Over to you

  • How about you?
  • How has November 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.



18 comments on “Net Worth and other updates – November 2018 (+£7k)

  1. How much of your fire fund is in your pension and how much outside? I always wonder how much to put away inside and outside a pension. I currently put about 14k a year on which is 18.98% of salary (including 6% contributions from my employer) .

    Ive also got a large bonus of 38k which will go in on Jan 2020. That will put me on about 210k to 250k in my pension (depending on the market ) at age 39. I have about 86k in investments outside not including my cash allocation. I’m torn between putting more in my pension which I’m well able to do and considering the lifetime allowance. At 5% (not including inflation) that will put me on about 850k at age 55)and that’s without increasing my contribution I might up my contribution so its an even 20% and leave it at that

    1. Hey FBA – I’m at 50/50 at the moment on pension/non-pension investments. I want to increase my non-pension to at least 55% at a minimum.

      And that could take me near the lifetime allowance, but only if investment returns are amazing in the next twenty years.

      It’s always a difficult one deciding what is best for you and your situation personally.

  2. Good job on +7K! Although the way the markets have been, valuation is all about timing.
    The trend is your friend though and sitting on 23.4x CAE is a great position to be in!
    I’m sitting on 6.9x CAE which is hoplessly too high (due to childcare costs in part and being a spend thrift).
    Interesting that you are reducing your pension contributions – just like I have.

    The challenge for me is that a FIRE scenario involves bridging the bap between 36 (age now) and 58 (probably when I can touch pension funds) without running out of money or heaven forbid going back to work!

    1. Hi GFF – yeah I totally agree – it’s all timing and a semi-arbitrary line in the sand. Childcare costs always shock me where I hear how much people pay – ouch is all I’ll say there.

      And that bridge is the real problem …. working out how much you’ll need and how much certainty you need. And I think after the first five years, you’ll be able to predict if you will make it. I’m quite risk adverse and willing to take a risk – and I would be happy to go back to work for a while if I needed to.

  3. Also planning to reduce my pension contributions next year and feeling similarly conflicted re: tax. For the last few years, I’ve been putting in 70+% of my income in – but with a salary reduction in the offing (due to going part-time) and more than £400K in the pension – I think it’s time for shift towards spending/living now. I can’t see me reducing the contributions to zero though.

    1. Hi Greencat – indeed that is a mighty pension pot you’ve got there. Very impressive.

      I was actually hoping that the govt would cut the allowance and make the decision for me, but alas they did not come through!

  4. If there is one place on my bucket list to go before I die, it would be Italy….Your numbers look great…. The US markets have had a reurn to volatility. The 3% down day on Monday looks to be followed by another decline tomorrow. I just keep throwing cash at the market as it declines. I hope that I am able to mitigate the decline in net worth by increased contributions. Thank you for posting, Ms ZiYou.

  5. Sounds like you had a really interesting and action-packed November, Ms ZiYou!

    Never been to Italy (apart from a working week in Rome) and would love to go to Florence and Pisa. I know I’d just be in absolute awe of the statues, architechture, chapels etc. What was so bad about Milan?

    Fantastic increases to your networth/FIRE fund, despite the wobbly markets. It looks like the markets aren’t looking so great again this current month, may pick up again before the end of the year but I’m not too hopeful.

    It’s not a great feeling to see numbers dropping but like you, I’ve been wanting them to drop (so it’s cheaper to invest). Got what I wanted but don’t feel like I’m so happy about it, haha!

  6. Congrats on the utterly fulfilling month! Your saving-rate is wonderful, wish I could reshape my household to get to even half that. Carry on! 🙂

    Almost to a fresh investment milestone, it looks like! 25x means you could pause at 4% withdrawal rate should you be forced to. I’ll binge-read your archives to discover what you’re actually aiming for ….

    1. Hey Joseph, thanks for reading and commenting.

      And yeah, the high income makes it easier to maintain the savings rate.

      And I can’t go off the 4% rule on its on, as pensions can not be accessed before 55…. Likely 58 when I get there.

  7. I’m reluctantly coming round to the idea that I may be putting too much (relatively) into my pension. It just goes against all my instincts as putting as much as you can afford into your is one of those things that you never think is going to be a bad idea (maybe I need a spreadsheet after all).

    How do you feel about your weighting to the US? I have most of my funds in global trackers and they are around 50% US. I know that it’s logical given the size of the US market and US companies I just would rather it was less (more Asian weighting rather than more UK). I’m struggling with that as well as I don’t want to tinker (for that way lies extra stress) and it’s an emotional, rather than rational, feeling. But my fingers are getting twitchy…

    Also I loved Florence as well. I was thrown by how big David is. Before I saw it I had it in my head as human sized so wasn’t expecting the scale. Absolutely amazing though!

    1. Hi Caveman, I think initially you never put too much into your pension, but as you get closer it might worth running the numbers to see how things could play out.

      As for my US weighting, I feel it’s on target – it’s the biggest economy and I’m comfortable with it being the majority as the uber-capitalist nature means it is very profitable. I do have a fair bit in Asia and often wonder if I should increase it – as the future growth is in developing countries. But for the moment I’ll stick with my targets and see how Brexit and Trump and Xi all play out.

      Yes, David was massive….and perfectly situated so everyone could simultaneously take pics of him.

What do you think?