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No. of Recommendations: 30
It’s my Balloon Day today. I’ve been a Fool 21 years.

Over the years, I’ve learned an incredible amount from the people on these Boards and I’d like to thank you. For many years, you were my go-to place on the Internet, my one “safe place” to chat and ask questions. You gave me a mindset and taught me how to think through issues. Work pressures broke me of the habit of visiting the Boards at lunchtime, something I regret. When I come back now, the Boards are quieter; FB has taken its toll.

This is the one place I can go where I can openly discuss money and my budget. Thanks to your influences, I have the following:

Emergency Fund - £10k,
Car replacement fund - £11k
Other short term cash savings/Freedom Funds - £10k
Share investment portfolio - £91k (tax sheltered in an ISA, similar to an IRA)
Pension Fund - £160k (the British version of a 401k)
Investment property - worth £210k (interest only mortgage £101k at 0.86%)
E-fund for that property - £5k
House - our home is worth £460k (repayment mortgage is now £96k at 1.79%)

We live a really comfortable life. Beyond the mortgages, I have no debt. After my £1,100 contribution to the joint account for the household bills, I’m saving £750 a month and investing £800 in the ISA, on a monthly take-home pay of £2,854, plus net rental income of £500 (after mortgage and service charges).

Job-wise, in the time I’ve been a member, I’ve been made redundant twice and DH 3 times. His current fixed-term-contract ends at Easter and isn’t being renewed. I’m also on a short term contract, although its been extended multiple times since I first started here in 2016 and it currently expires at the end of June. (I never wanted to be a contractor; circumstances forced me down this route. I want a “forever employer”.)

Until this week when the UK rules changed, forcing me to go PAYE via an agency, I’d been contracting through my own personal services company, paying myself an annual salary of £45,000. The company has 4-months plus salary built up in it - not a massive amount but that is after paying an additional £10k into our pension funds last May. (DH contracted through the company for a while, too.). Once I’ve done the sums and paid the taxes, I think I’ll roll whatever’s left in the company into the pension funds and shut it down.

I have no idea what my take-home pay will be from this week onwards, but you’ll be pleased to know that my first reaction was to designate a savings account “Salary Park”. When the agency pay me, it’ll go into that account. I only “pay” myself at the end of each month and everything over the current budget will be saved or invested.

You’ll also be pleased to know that my second reaction was to ask “What are you pension arrangements?”. In Britain, they have to automatically enrol you in a pension fund, when you start a new job. I’ve already asked to have my contributions increased to 10%, starting immediately. Once I have visibility of the pension fund, I’ll ensure it goes into an Index Tracker.

You have trained me well. Thank you.

- Pip


PS: You won’t believe my delight when I saw an advertisement for Vanguard on the television. Yes! Vanguard have finally made it to the UK.
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