Cracking Retirement Hogmanay Fireworks

2016 – End of Year Summary.

2016 End of Year Summary

As the year comes to a close, it is traditional to review the past year, and look forward to the year ahead. So here is my 2016 End of Year Summary. I’ll do another post shortly, not so much with New Year Resolutions, rather my dreams for the coming year. In my view it’s not quite the same thing.

A bit early really, but we are away for a month from next Wednesday, so I did a cut of the year-end finances today. The stock market is closed until Wednesday, and I am certain I will be far too busy packing to worry about what is happening to my investments!

I set off into 2016, with no big dreams. Rather I was wondering what the year would bring, but without any great idea of driving what it contained for me. The year ticked on with quite a few funerals. I’m struggling to remember what order everything  happened, but I have attended 5 funerals, and was unable to attend a further 3 for a variety of reasons. The ages were 50, 56, 59, 64, 75, 86, 97, 99. So, half were under standard UK retiring age. 1 heart attack, 3 cancer, 1 suicide, 1 ‘other’ illness and 2 old age. Hence all the more reason of the time that is ahead of us, whatever your age. It sort of gave me a focus, I realised I was just too comfortable and drifting along in a nice pleasant bubble, yet I have in all possibility another third of my life to live. To not make the most of it would be silly and a waste.

Setting My Goals

By September, following the reading of many ‘Financial Independence, Retire Early’ blogs, and ‘self-help’ blogs / websites, I realised it was time to take a long hard look at what I was up to. I read in several places that the most successful people set goals, dream big, and take time to themselves, planning their day, following through scenarios and generally contemplating their path to success. So I sat down and articulated a few ‘big dreams’, I signed and dated them. 24th September, using my best fountain pen. They are my own dreams, I think about them often, I want to keep them to myself, but I will share some of my more immediate goals.

Increase Our Net Worth by 9.35%

Why 9.35% I hear you ask? It was a percentage that would bring my husband & my net worth up to a nice round number. It was a significant stretch. 9.35% represents more than our annual net income. It was to be done without revaluing our largest asset, our house. That I will do, when a similar house is sold nearby.  Until then, it will stay fixed on our ‘balance sheet’. The balance sheet includes our pension pots, ISA’s, cash, share investments etc.

2016 Outcome: Final outcome should be measured on 31st December, but as I will be on holiday in New Zealand then, I am cutting the books a few days before year end. The figure today is 9.53%. Very respectable really. So all, in all, I am really pleased. It exceeded our net income by about 6 weeks income. Which essentially means we lived for free last year, and had 6 weeks extra spare….

Increase investments managed by me, by more than our professional investments.

I retired in 2011. Since then I have managed a small portfolio. My investment strategy has changed over the years. 2012, 2013, I concentrated on stock picking. Great first year (39%), less good 2nd year (7.7%), pathetic 3rd year (-2.5%). During the 3rd year, I started concentrating on a High Yield Portfolio (Dividend Income). While I did well on dividend income, the shares generally loss capital value, so I turned in a loss for year 4 as well ( -4%). So over the last two years, over time I have revamped my portfolios.

Last years ISA went into 5 different funds, which have all returned well up between 5% and 15%. This years ISA went in to Vanguard Equity Funds (80% shares, 20% bonds etc). It was done quite late on but still up 2%. My 2013/14 and 2014/15 ISA’s I slowly converted from dividend shares to Vanguard ETFs. VMID, VUKE, VGOV, VWRL. All have 0.29% charges. That has now reversed the negative trend (with the exception of VGOV), but still a way to go. The theory is that if VUKE etc drop, VGOV should rise, but not totally certain…. I also hold a portion invested in a ‘celebrity’ manager, Neil Woodford, (the UK version of Warren Buffet), one is doing pretty well (26% up over 2.5 years, the other down 8% over 18 months).

2016 Outcome  This year, our professionally managed investments less fees returned 7.64%. I managed only 4.98%. However over the years from Jan 2012 to Dec 2016, I have returned 8.2% more than they have, so I am reasonably content. I’m not too worried, I am taking a long term view. The end result is that I now have a  portfolio that requires very little management. I’ll do a End of Financial Year summary on or around 5th April 2017. On the good news, the dividends would have more than covered our fuel bills for the year, if I hadn’t reinvested them.

Start Blogging

I had written a blog sporadically between 2010 and 2014. Then one day, I just deleted it. One of my aims is to widen my streams of income, so I thought I would give this a shot. That’s right – this blog. It is proving a bit of a challenge, but it is slowly getting traction. The other day, I had a little bit of a breakthrough with using Mailchimp / Mailmunch to start collecting email addresses. I am trying to be more active on forums such as Rockstar Finance, and then I had a wee bit of a breakthrough, I was  featured in a list of newcomers to blogging by Think Save Retire. Thank you so much – that alone brought 300 readers. Great!! Sadly no-one Opted in for a mailing list!

2016 Outcome: A long way to go, but at least I have started, and the journey has been fun. It’s still a Hobby though, at least until next year. I’ve made quite a few online friends, I have also had loads of support from other bloggers. Thanks Hotels and Money, Retirement Manifesto, Mystery Money Man  and Choose Better Life to name but a few. My total views was tonight 1045.  If someone had told me in September, I would have more than 1,000 views by year end, I would not have believed them. Still a long way to go, but positive vibes! However, it was vastly boosted by a ‘shout out’ for new bloggers by Steve of ThinkSave Retire. Thank you so much

Get Healthy and Fit

Sadly not so good there. I have had a lousy chest infection since the end of October. Three lots of antibiotics later, I am still coughing and spluttering, and driving my husband mad. In 1 week I am getting on a plane to New Zealand, I have to be rid of it then… I also aimed to lose about 10kg over the year.

2016: Outcome Sadly, I have only lost 3Kg or so, hence this one is very much in progress…

Learn French & Spanish

I spent 4 weeks last year in Nice, France. I realised then that I had just about forgotten all my French

Nice 2016 End of Year Summary

Promenade Des Anglais, Nice

I struggled to have a basic conversation, though menus were fine.So I thought – I must do something about that, and did nothing at all about it.

Then this year, we had a 6 week holiday in Barcelona planned.

Barcelonetta Beach 2016 End of year Summary

Barcelonetta Beach

The week before I headed to Barcelona, a friend suggested I try out Duolingo. This is a free language package, that allows you to learn about 14 languages, for free on your PC at home. Now, before I started, I knew no Spanish at all, within 1 week, of pretty constant effort, Duolingo said I was 30% fluent, an exaggeration in my eyes, but nonetheless a great introduction. However what I had not realised was that the people of Barcelona speak Catalan. A sort of cross between French and Spanish. However I kept going while I was in Spain, and continued once I got home with a few hiccups. Today I am 58% fluent… While I would say, that is probably a reasonable ‘reading’ estimate, my speech is pretty dire, and my ‘listening’ skills need a lot of work. My preferred request will be lentemente, por favor. (Slowly please…)

I then picked up French, to improve the very basic school French. This has been a lot easier. Obviously my subconscious had retained some of it. It is definitely more natural to me. I am already at 53% despite having spent a fraction of the time on it. Again though my reading is good, my speaking and listening aren’t so good.

2016 Outcome Both can be considered a Work In Progress. It needs more regular focus than I have been able to give it so far.

Spend More Time With My Family

This one is a bit more difficult, one son lives 500 miles away, and the other son lives on the other side of the world.

We have booked a holiday starting on 28th December to go and see my younger son in New Zealand for 1 month. He and his wife are building a house, so it will be lovely to see how that is progressing and also help him and his wife get their existing house ready for sale.

I have only managed to meet up with my older son three times this year. A lovely weekend with him and his wife in London, a sadder weekend at my sister-in-law’s funeral, and then just a few days ago, a very peaceful weekend when he came to see us for the weekend, while his wife went off to see her parents. We also have a family weekend planned for early March, which is something to look forward to.

We were over in Ireland for a friend’s wedding in Ireland, and had a few days holiday when we were there. I spent time, not only with my cousin, but also with two ‘second-cousins’ so at least I made contact again with my extended family.

2016 Outcome  Work In Progress. 2017 is looking hopeful!


 2016 Outcome :We haven’t done so badly on this front


Do More Metal Work

2016 Outcome A bit of a mixed bag here. I took part in a recent Makers Fair at St Margaret’s House, and I was very pleased that my work appeared in a couple of the photographs. This candelabra is totally made out of copper. Very satisfying to make.

Copper Candelabra 2016 End of Year Summary

I also managed to sell a few things which was good. But my stock is now almost done, so I need to get creative as soon as I get back from New Zealand.

So Here’s to 2017

As they say in Scotland. Have a Good New Year when it comes

hogmanay street party edinburgh 2016 end of year summary

Hogmanay Street Party Edinburgh

hogmanay fireworks 2016 end of year summary

Hogmanay Fireworks Edinburgh


  1. Great overview of the year (LOVE the line “wrote objectives with my best fountain pen, they’re mine”). Thank you, thank you for the shout out, happy I could help w the MailChimp!

    Enjoy New Zealand!! (You’re killing me!! You know that, right!?)

    1. Thanks Fritz. Firstly Mailchimp linked with Twitter and automatically tweeted this post, and then you retweeted it! So thanks on both counts.

      Happy Christmas


  2. Hi Fritz, thanks for the support. I felt so good that day when I signed my list of objectives. It certainly focused me again. Nothing like having something to aim for!
    Thanks for the help with Mailchimp – now I just need a few more subscribers….
    New Zealand will be worth the wait….

  3. These are some great goals! I agree the 9%+ net worth increase is a little bullish, but you can probably do it. I don’t know what your specific investment allocation is, but the international and US markets are poised for some large gains in 2017 so I think it’s definitely possible if you have a fairly aggressive risk allocation! Learning French sounds fun too! Love the blog!

    1. Thanks M$M.
      My investments are mostly in equities… I have some in bonds but no more than 20%, and cash about 10% ( half in inflation linked National Savings…)
      I’m saving as much as I can, while enjoying a few trips…
      Meanwhile, a few weeks in France next year to help my French would be good, and it’s warmer than the UK!

      Happy Christmas

  4. Erith, that seems like an unusually high number of funerals for one person to bear in a year. I’m very sorry about those losses. But I appreciate your focus on trying to spend time with your family and take well-deserved vacation/holiday time. Thanks for sharing and we will be back to check on you again in the future. I followed you here from the Rockstar Forum. Cheers and good luck!

    1. Thanks Mrs.Need2Save. a tough year indeed, but it was also a good one in other ways. as i write this, i am in Guangzhou, halfway to New Zealand. Another 18 hours and we’ll be there. looking forward to seeing my son and his wife, i haven’t seen them in 2 years….

      Rockstar has been really good for increasing my views. i am finding it very enjoyable!

      Happy New Year

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