The Christmas is coming.
November has come and brought with it the start of the much anticipated Christmas season. Everyone did their best to buy a few gifts so that their finances don’t get hit pretty bad on the next December. As soon as the Halloween ended, the shops started setting up their Christmas themes. It was as soon as the 1st of November. Long live the Capitalism.
Everything is going smooth and me and Mrs. WB had a great time on our one week trip back to Portugal at the end of the month. Also, as promised on our last blog post, I would like to talk about the UK money management app, Yolt and also about the money transfer service, Transferwise that we used for the first time to exchange some Pounds into Euros. (Spoiler Alert*) They are both great!
But first our trip back to Portugal. Luckily for us we both live in the south of Portugal, where thousands of Brits fly every day to get some sun and have some delicious – and inexpensive – food by the beach. This has lowered the flight tickets prices a lot. Our return trip flights with Ryanair from Bournemouth to Faro did cost us the ridiculous amount of £30 each.
Being almost December the weather wasn’t that good but it didn’t even rain while we were there. It hasn’t actually rain anything at all during the last 6 months. This is causing some serious problems related with the water shortage on the dams, preventing to irrigate agricultural fields and to feed the cattle properly.
Anyways, we had a great time, met most of our friends and family, had some great food and wines and did manage to get some sun. Nine days gone by in a blink of an eye. Since we’re not going back for the Christmas holidays, we had to buy all the necessary gifts and get them all wrapped up. Between gifts, two night outs, eating out a couple of times, four tickets for our four parents to come visit us next January and special groceries to bring back to the UK, we spent nearly £700. A ridiculous amount of money for a week. Hopefully next time it won’t be that bad. We don’t even know when will it be our next trip there but maybe within four months time.
So about the Yolt application. It’s been quite a few months that i’ve been looking for an application for money management, something similar to the PersonalCapital or Mint which, unfortunately aren’t compatible with the UK banking system. That search is finally over. Yolt is the app that I was looking for. Easy, quick and free to use. After adding your bank credentials it will sync all your account data. Then you can chose for each transaction, which category is it going for. As you do this, the app will get smarter, sorting all the right data into different categories.Of course that before handing over my bank credentials to a not so known app I got concerned about it’s security. Since the app is own by the ING Group, a Dutch multinational banking and financial services corporation with headquarters in Amsterdam, I believe that they have the resources, the know-how and the experience regarding security. The only thing that it’s still missing is the connection with investment management companies, like Charles Stanley or Hargreaves Lansdown. This way we can also have our investment accounts shown on the app. Let’s hope for that feature to be added in a near future. Can’t recommend this app enough.
About the money exchange. We got really excited about using the Transferwise service. Before using their service we would send money over our UK bank to our Portuguese one. With a standard fee of £10, three or four pennies less than the actual exchange rate and a few days to have the money available, we would lose quite a lot of money sending £700 over there. We did this mistake for 2 years. I guess we live to learn. With Transferwise it was just like ordering a pizza. Create an account using my Facebook data, chose how many pounds I would like to send it over (on this step we can see their exchange rate offer, which is barely the same as the current one), insert the IBAN that we would like to send the money and voilà. Nine hours later and the money was available on my Portuguese bank account. It cost us £8 in fees sending £700 on three different transfers (we were transferring as we needed) whereas if it was through the bank we would have payed maybe £80 or more.
Really glad that I finally got sick of the banking system and looked for a smarter way to exchange money.
Regarding our income, both me and Mrs. WB got some regular paychecks which totalled an income of £3,770. Nothing new here. No bonus or even a pay raise on sight for me and Mrs. WB didn’t work any extra shift that could increase our income. Still a solid income for a DINK young couple without any loads.
November wasn’t pretty. There was too many gifts and we ended up spending quite a lot of money with our holidays back home. We thought that staying for one week would be alright, since we were staying at our parents house and having food with them, but the Christmas spirit was kicking in and we bought too many gifts. We did also eat out quite a few times. Everyone asked to go for to a different restaurant, on a different day. We just couldn’t refuse to go. We did also help with the groceries to the big family dinner, which included seafood, good wines, beers and desserts on the menu. It feels really good to gather the whole family in one place right before we leave.
As for our investments, we kept our small £300 contribution while fuelling our emergency fund. Since we are due to increase our monthly contributions I think that it will be a good new year’s resolution to focus a bit more on our budgeting skills and take our investments even more seriously. We’re still trying to figure out how much will that increase be but we’ll probably double it to £600. We’re not with our ideal emergency fund amount setup yet, so there will be some cash going into it.
Get ready for this next month’s blog post as there are some really big news regarding our net worth.