Author Topic: What's your system?  (Read 1033 times)

icbatbh

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What's your system?
« on: November 02, 2017, 06:12:22 AM »
Hi,

Was just wondering what sort of 'system' everyone has for investing once they have been paid? Do you invest a fixed amount on payday, or do you wait until the end of the month and invest whatever is left?

I'm paid weekly and so on each payday I transfer a fixed amount into another account from where my mortgage is collected. I then transfer another amount to a slush fund, which pays for vehicle costs such as repairs, insurance and tax. I also have another account where I transfer a small amount each week for gifts for people's birthdays, Christmas etc. Then I take a fixed amount (currently 37.5% of my net pay) from what's left, which I invest. The remainder is used for bills, food and any other expenses.

On the whole this system works for me, but the margins are so tight that when an unexpected expense crops up I often have to use money from my liquid emergency fund, which I replace over the following few weeks. I therefore feel that my system is a little bit complicated and am looking for ideas to simplify it. So what do you do?



shelivesthedream

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Re: What's your system?
« Reply #1 on: November 02, 2017, 07:08:11 AM »
Hi,

Was just wondering what sort of 'system' everyone has for investing once they have been paid? Do you invest a fixed amount on payday, or do you wait until the end of the month and invest whatever is left?

I'm paid weekly and so on each payday I transfer a fixed amount into another account from where my mortgage is collected. I then transfer another amount to a slush fund, which pays for vehicle costs such as repairs, insurance and tax. I also have another account where I transfer a small amount each week for gifts for people's birthdays, Christmas etc. Then I take a fixed amount (currently 37.5% of my net pay) from what's left, which I invest. The remainder is used for bills, food and any other expenses.

On the whole this system works for me, but the margins are so tight that when an unexpected expense crops up I often have to use money from my liquid emergency fund, which I replace over the following few weeks. I therefore feel that my system is a little bit complicated and am looking for ideas to simplify it. So what do you do?

Why don't you:
1. Have your mortgage collected out of your main account?
2. Allow a bit more of a buffer to accumulate in your main account? Not investing for one month would give you a significant buffer which would mean you could whip out your debit card with ease.

We have four current accounts: joint, my personal, husband’s personal, my business.

My husband’s pay comes in monthly on the 1st. Every bill that let me specify comes out on the 3rd. As of recently, £333 a month goes into my husband’s LISA. On the 3rd: personal money goes into each of our personal accounts, money goes into an eSaver (for: holidays, quarterly wine orders, annual insurance, misc expenses like home improvements). We pay for food and transport with joint account debit cards.

My pay comes in intermittently to my work account. I keep a £1000 buffer in there because I usually have to buy materials and be reimbursed and it makes my life simpler if I don’t have to panic about being reimbursed. I know people who buy materials on a rewards credit card but the rewards wouldn’t be worth the stress for me. We save* out of there intermittently depending on when I work, when I get paid, and what big work expenses I might have coming up, so it tends to be lump sums between every month and every quarter. I do it manually because I don’t know when it will be or how much it will be. The £1000 is also our emergency money.**

So yeah, it’s not simple exactly but it feels like the appropriate groupings of money for us and we’re not operating so close to the line that we go into overdraft. When you say “unexpected expense” and “liquid emergency fund”, what do you mean? We have money for bumpy expenses in our eSaver at the same bank as our joint account and it’s no trouble to log on and transfer the money across instantly into our current account because we know in advance when they’ll be and what they’ll be. September? Insurance time. Planning a holiday? Transfer the money before I book our accommodation. We have yet to have an expense that is so sudden and unexpected that we can’t find time to get at that money – and if we do, there’s my work buffer.

As for the time I spend managing our money… I do a ‘monthly report’ categorising our joint account expenses. Takes maybe half an hour with internet banking, a spreadsheet and a cup of tea. Food, transport, joint going out and house stuff are the only categories that really vary. When we have a ‘bumpy’ expense, I take five minutes to log on and transfer some money over. When a bit of money has built up in my work account, I take five minutes to log on to my investment website of choice (currently straddling HL and Vanguard) and invest it. A while ago I tracked my personal spending very closely for three months, mainly to find out I spent it all on snacks. Now I know that I’ve stopped tracking until I find myself in the position of standing there at the end of the month thinking “but where did it GO?!” again.

*I always call it saving but what I mean is investing.
**I mean serious emergency where I need to be able to whip out a debit card and pay for it RIGHT NOW. Like we’re stuck in a strange city in the middle of the night and need to eat and sleep, or our boiler just exploded and we need a plumber round within the hour. It’d cover us for a day or three until we could get at our other money.

FWIW, it doesn’t sound like your system is too complicated. It sounds about as complicated as mine, and I find ours easy to use. It just sounds like maybe you’re not categorising your money in a way that aligns with the way you spend it. Why does insurance and wine go into the same account for us? Because they’re both the same kind of expense to us (planned but non-monthly).

sea_saw

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Re: What's your system?
« Reply #2 on: November 02, 2017, 07:55:00 AM »
I'm a YNAB fan so use the virtual envelopes in the program rather than moving cash around between accounts very much. Right now things are a bit weird with the new flat, but until a couple of months ago the system was:

* Get paid monthly
* Fill up all the YNAB categories to appropriate amounts (sometimes to be spent in full, e.g. 'rent', 'restaurants', other times to build up to an appropriate balance at a target date in the future e.g. 'laptop replacement')
* Monthly direct debit from current to savings account, for the minimum I wanted per month
* Transfer any further windfalls or excess slack into savings account as and when
* Quarterly transfer money from savings account into ISA, rebalancing my portfolio using the new purchases.

Sounds like your pay situation is different so you're likely to be dealing with any system weekly rather than monthly. If you wanted to simplify, I would really recommend keeping track of the purpose of your money in a separate system than the physical bank accounts. Only use separate bank accounts for actually different purposes e.g. interest rates, perks, sign up bonuses, etc.

You can still assign everything in one bank account a purpose so it's not all one big spending pot mentally, but it's easier to adjust your records when things change than keep shifting money around.

icbatbh

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Re: What's your system?
« Reply #3 on: November 02, 2017, 08:09:02 AM »
Thanks shelivesthedream for your reply. To answer your questions:

1. The mortgage is actually collected out of a joint account. My girlfriend gets paid monthly and puts her half in there on payday. I pay in a regular amount each week. This amount covers my half of the mortgage for the month plus an extra couple of hundred, which has been slowly building up and will allow us to pay off a small lump of the balance when we next remortgage.
2. I do sort of have a buffer. I have an e-savings account which is where I put my investment money each week. Then at the end of the month I - as you do - log in to HL and invest everything in this account, apart from £1,000 which I keep in there as my aforementioned 'liquid emergency fund'. I keep this emergency money for the same sort of right now emergencies as you do, and this is the emergency fund that I borrow from and replace regularly. Incidentally I also have a £5,000 emergency fund in yet another account for any major emergencies - but haven't touched this in the 18 months since I started investing. Perhaps I am being a little too cautious here.

When I say 'unexpected expenses' I think I am referring to the same things as you call 'bumpy' expenses. It's not so much a car breaking down or the washing machine packing up, it's more things like getting a hotel room at a friends far away wedding reception, or a new car seat as our baby has outgrown her current one.

I must admit I haven't tracked any spending for well over a year. Maybe it's time to have a closer look at things.

Thanks for the help - it would certainly appear that our systems are not so different!

icbatbh

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Re: What's your system?
« Reply #4 on: November 02, 2017, 08:17:42 AM »
I'm a YNAB fan so use the virtual envelopes in the program rather than moving cash around between accounts very much. Right now things are a bit weird with the new flat, but until a couple of months ago the system was:

* Get paid monthly
* Fill up all the YNAB categories to appropriate amounts (sometimes to be spent in full, e.g. 'rent', 'restaurants', other times to build up to an appropriate balance at a target date in the future e.g. 'laptop replacement')
* Monthly direct debit from current to savings account, for the minimum I wanted per month
* Transfer any further windfalls or excess slack into savings account as and when
* Quarterly transfer money from savings account into ISA, rebalancing my portfolio using the new purchases.

Sounds like your pay situation is different so you're likely to be dealing with any system weekly rather than monthly. If you wanted to simplify, I would really recommend keeping track of the purpose of your money in a separate system than the physical bank accounts. Only use separate bank accounts for actually different purposes e.g. interest rates, perks, sign up bonuses, etc.

You can still assign everything in one bank account a purpose so it's not all one big spending pot mentally, but it's easier to adjust your records when things change than keep shifting money around.

Thanks for your reply. I think the fact that I am paid weekly does make things complicated for me, as the majority of fixed expenses such as the mortgage and bills are collected monthly. This is why I tend to have different accounts for everything as I'm worried I would spend the money before the direct debit is taken.

I'm wondering how much of a pain it would be to live off of my emergency fund for a month so that I can save an entire month's wages and use that to pay myself monthly going forwards.

sea_saw

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Re: What's your system?
« Reply #5 on: November 02, 2017, 08:54:30 AM »
Apologies, I just noticed something that may have been confusing – when I said transfer money to savings account, that was all the money NOT required to cover all my YNAB categories (which included ALL expenses, including 'bumpy' ones like hotel rooms, destination weddings, birthdays, etc). The savings/investments were for a house deposit, today they would be for FI.

It was nice knowing that the money I was filing away as 'savings' was genuinely surplus to requirements. When I first started I did have to dip into the savings occasionally for a big purchase, but now that I've been tracking for over five years, I'm really pretty confident in my numbers. Which actually would allow me to live on the knife edge of cash flow if I really wanted to (but I don't, as I don't see a benefit).

I hate to embarrass myself with un-British enthusiasm, but I think YNAB could work really well for you. It is specifically designed to do exactly the things you're talking about: track spending, eliminate need for account juggling/worrying you'll spend the money if it doesn't disappear from your current account, and helping you build a buffer so you're not living on the money the second it comes in.

My current account has five grand in it today, as there's money in there to cover about half of my next holiday, the full amount for my expensive laptop replacement (that I've been accumulating £20 a month in the pot for literally years since I bought the previous one), all of next months' bills, some money for furniture as I just moved house, and so on. But that five grand doesn't inspire me to go on a spending spree any more than the five grand you have in a separate account does for you, because I know it all has a purpose that I'm happy with. On the other hand, if I had a £700 emergency, it wouldn't be hard to re-prioritise.

dreams_and_discoveries

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Re: What's your system?
« Reply #6 on: November 02, 2017, 09:35:49 AM »
Wow, these seem very complicated, and a bit risky if you accidentally go overdrawn.

I have one main current account that I use, everything is on direct debit, and at the month end I check the balance is in line with expectations - I  have a tab on my spreadsheet that does monthly cashflow which is an upgrade from my previous fag packet approach. I also have a back up current account, but no savings accounts.

I'm self employed, get a small monthly salary and quarterly variable dividends; keeping everything in one account keeps it easy and acts as a simple slush fund. It was better when Santander paid 3% on the balance, but I'm happy enough with the 1.5%. I've got enough  disposable income to cover most expenses, and a massive expense would mean I just invest less the following.

What interest rates are you getting on these savings? Would it be beneficial to get them all in an interest paying current account?

Also, to pick on something you said..being worried about spending money...it sounds like you might be struggling to control your spending. If your bank balance had a big number, are you tempted to spend more? Or do you keep the same spending patterns regardless?

shelivesthedream

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Re: What's your system?
« Reply #7 on: November 02, 2017, 09:42:04 AM »
I don't want to grind away too much at the details, but you seem to be saying you keep your "right now" emergency money in an esaver. So if you get abandoned on a motorway at midnight with a Travelodge sign flashing on the horizon, how are you going to get at the money immediately? Or you're in the airport and your sister is in hospital in another country with hours to live but you missed your flight and have to buy another ticket.

Obviously we all have different emergency scenarios. My emergency money is in a current account with a debit card so I can spend it ABSOLUTELY LITERALLY RIGHT NOW if I need to. Anything other than "in the next thirty seconds", I can either sell investments or, if that's an administrative problem to getting the money in time, get a credit card or get a small loan from someone. I have no need for X months of expenses in cash. It would be a waste. This is partly because my husband has a very very secure job, but you wouldn't get fired with zero notice - you'd have time to plan financially.

Think about what emergencies you're really going to need the money for and where it should go. That said, part of my middle-term emergency planning involves keeping as much shelf-stable food and loo roll on hand as will fit in the house. It makes me feel better. Maybe a few thousand sat around in cash is important for your mental wellbeing.

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Re: What's your system?
« Reply #8 on: November 02, 2017, 12:27:32 PM »
I’m paid monthly so appreciate that’s different to the weekly scenario. I’ve always based my thinking on immediate term, short term and long term.

My current account is my immediate term account. When I am paid, generally all direct debits will come out within 5 days or so e.g. all core bills - council tax, electric, gas etc. I keep a spreadsheet so I can average costs like food, petrol, electricity bill etc so I know exactly what I’m spending and therefore how much to leave in the current account to cover them.

My short term account is a savings account. On the day I am paid I immediately transfer a set amount that covers my adhoc non-monthly bills. So in here goes car savings (covering tax, insurance, servicing), clothes budget, home maintenance, large items (I.e. replacing cooker, fridge etc), presents, hols, and entertainment. I maintain a spreadsheet so I understand the split between these categories.

Categories like hols and entertainment I simply choose the amount I am willing to spend in the year and divide by 12. Categories like large items I have added up the total of all home appliances (at the level I’m happy to buy) and divided this by 96. I.e. on average I expect/hope to get 8 years out of them. So because I only have one account here covering all these categories that may be where you could simplify things.

My long term accounts are my work pension and my ISA’s. The work pension is taken before I’m paid and the ISA’s are through a monthly savings plan that is taken out of my current account shortly after I’m paid.

So my current account spikes on payday and then plummets fairly quickly as everything is taken out. A small amount approx £200 is left in there to cover any emergency situations where I need cash right there and then. Most of my spending will be on a credit card, paid off in full at the end of each month.

If I was paid weekly then I would do something similar. It’s just once a month I would move the money out of the savings account and into the current account just before all the direct debits fire.

It works well for me. Interesting how many different approaches there are. Hope my way doesn’t come across weird!

TartanTallulah

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Re: What's your system?
« Reply #9 on: November 02, 2017, 05:01:42 PM »
My husband and I both get paid a predictable amount on the same day each month. As soon as the money is in our current account I sweep all but £2,300 into the linked savings account (1% interest) where I'm building a cash fund to cover my first 9 months of retirement. The £2,300 is our £2,000 aspirational retirement spending + £200 into my husband's SIPP + £100 into my S&S ISA.

Then I check the current account every few days and shuttle some money back if it's looking low or if we're going away and might want access to cash in an emergency. Most months we have a small surplus.

Random little sums from selling on eBay and cash gifts go straight into my S&S ISA before I can be tempted to spend them.

My occasional extra payments in recognition of extra work get divided up according to our priorities at the time and I enjoy the logistics of making that decision.



londonstache

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Re: What's your system?
« Reply #10 on: November 03, 2017, 04:58:56 AM »
My husband and I both get paid a predictable amount on the same day each month. As soon as the money is in our current account I sweep all but £2,300 into the linked savings account (1% interest) where I'm building a cash fund to cover my first 9 months of retirement. The £2,300 is our £2,000 aspirational retirement spending + £200 into my husband's SIPP + £100 into my S&S ISA.

Then I check the current account every few days and shuttle some money back if it's looking low or if we're going away and might want access to cash in an emergency. Most months we have a small surplus.

Random little sums from selling on eBay and cash gifts go straight into my S&S ISA before I can be tempted to spend them.

My occasional extra payments in recognition of extra work get divided up according to our priorities at the time and I enjoy the logistics of making that decision.

I have the same type of system but in reverse. 

Everything goes into the current account then a fixed allocation automatically goes into a separate, shared "house" account with Mrs londonstache to cover all the bills and the mortgage. Automated savings are then taken out going to various instant savings accounts.

At the end of the month, anything left over goes into the main instant savings account. I run an 'artificial' envelope-type budget where I count down from £300 for the month for all incidental expenses rather than working to the remaining balance, which generally leaves a decent month-end surplus. This surplus goes into savings. Random little sums go there immediately too.

When the instant savings account is above £5,000 (most months) the additional amount above this goes into the LISA and when this is fully funded, regular S&S.

twistedfirestarter

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Re: What's your system?
« Reply #11 on: November 03, 2017, 07:26:35 AM »
Our system is:

Salary goes into joint account, standing order into S&S ISA and DD for all bills. £200 “allowance” per month is paid into our individual accounts for us to do with what we choose including clothing, haircuts, hobbies etc...

Expenses tracked using good budget (free version) which helps with averaging spends over many months for things such as holidays.

Annual bonus and overtime gets manually added to ISA.

skip207

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Re: What's your system?
« Reply #12 on: November 03, 2017, 08:29:30 AM »
We don't really have a system as such.  I research on here and MSE and try and do different things.

Moiser

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Re: What's your system?
« Reply #13 on: November 04, 2017, 01:03:12 AM »

I work a rotation overseas, currently I am saving 80% of my wages and travelling on the remainder.

Next year I am hoping to increase that to a 90% - 10% split.

PhilB

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Re: What's your system?
« Reply #14 on: November 24, 2017, 02:50:05 AM »
I have to say that some of these systems seem like a lot of work, but whatever floats your boat - or, more importantly, what works with your individual personality.  For myself I don't find I need artificial pressure from only having £x left in an account to stop me from spending as I'm naturally tight fisted. 
The key elements of my system are a) Offset mortgage that I've kept live despite the fact that I could pay it off tomorrow.  I aim to keep the net balance around zero by transferring money back and forth between my current account (in the offset) and a saving account outside it, but I don't worry too much about getting it exact and typically pay / miss out on about £1 or £2 of interest a month.  This gives me a big line of credit in case any big expense did turn up.  b)Joint Amex cashback card and individual lower rate, but more widely accepted, cashback credit cards used for most of our expenditure and set to pay in full by direct debit. c) A spreadsheet to track expenses in total each month and with rolling 6, 12, 24, 36 and 48 month averages.  This excludes train travel to work as that won't exist post-FIRE.  Expenses are not broken down into categories, but notes are kept of any large expenditures that distort individual months.
The key psychological trick for me is that my 'target' monthly expenditure is slightly higher than my typical spend.  I do this deliberately as that means most months I get to feel good about beating it.  If I set a stretch target instead I'd probably end up spending the same amount, but fretting more and feeling bad about missing it.  This works for me, but YMMV.

MmatoO

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Re: What's your system?
« Reply #15 on: November 25, 2017, 01:11:39 AM »
a) Offset mortgage that I've kept live despite the fact that I could pay it off tomorrow.  I aim to keep the net balance around zero by transferring money back and forth between my current account (in the offset) and a saving account outside it, but I don't worry too much about getting it exact and typically pay / miss out on about £1 or £2 of interest a month.  This gives me a big line of credit in case any big expense did turn up. 
I'd be keen to learn a bit more about how this works - am looking at it myself and have obviously been inspired by MMM's post about springy debt instead of a cash cushion :)
Does this sound right?:
"Overpayments (monthly or lump sum) up to a total of 99.9% of the outstanding loan per year are allowed without charge. Any amount repaid over the 99.9% limit will incur an Early Repayment Charge."
*AND*, at the same time, since this is an account with outstanding balance, you can also take out money?
Haha, I can't believe I have a journal!

PhilB

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Re: What's your system?
« Reply #16 on: November 25, 2017, 10:30:57 AM »
a) Offset mortgage that I've kept live despite the fact that I could pay it off tomorrow.  I aim to keep the net balance around zero by transferring money back and forth between my current account (in the offset) and a saving account outside it, but I don't worry too much about getting it exact and typically pay / miss out on about £1 or £2 of interest a month.  This gives me a big line of credit in case any big expense did turn up. 
I'd be keen to learn a bit more about how this works - am looking at it myself and have obviously been inspired by MMM's post about springy debt instead of a cash cushion :)
Does this sound right?:
"Overpayments (monthly or lump sum) up to a total of 99.9% of the outstanding loan per year are allowed without charge. Any amount repaid over the 99.9% limit will incur an Early Repayment Charge."
*AND*, at the same time, since this is an account with outstanding balance, you can also take out money?
For that kind of mortgage the big question is whether or not you can take the overpayments back out again.  I'm with First Direct where they do a 'proper' offset arrangement so the issue doesn't arise.  I get to choose which accounts are within the offset arrangement and which one's aren't.  Each day they add up the net balance across all the accounts in the arrangement (in my case my current account, OH's current account and a couple of savings accounts.  If I owe them money they charge me BoE Base rate plus 1%.  If they owe me money I don't get any interest (which is why I shuffle any excess off to an account outside the arrangement.)  The actual balance in any particular account is irrelevant - only the overall balance matters.

itimjim

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Re: What's your system?
« Reply #17 on: December 09, 2017, 10:40:36 AM »
I have three bank accounts

#1: Bills, Work Expenses and Expendable income. (Wages get paid here)
#2: Yearly spending (Insurances, Clothes, Holidays, Home maintenance, etc)
#3: Monthly spending (Food, Fuel, Kids, Misc)

I distribute an amount to #2 and #3 account as a standing order from #1 on the first working day of every month. My wife looks after most of the spending in account #2/3.

From an investment point of view, I do the following:

1. Workplace DC pension (pay 3.5% salary, company pays 7%, so total 10.5% salary paid before tax) - consists of lifestyle funds (blackrock etc)
2. 2nd property. The rent covers the mortgage payment with a bit of profit
3. Pay 17% of salary into SIPP (AJ Bell Youinvest Platform), shares for the moment. Due to tax relief, I pay about 10.2% in, as 20% is added by the provider, and and additional 20% on tax return.
4. £150/month goes into a junior SIPP for my daughter, and about £50/month into a JISA.
5. Pay around 10% of salary into either crypto currency, or shares ISA once I've accumulated enough crypto (which is not for the faint hearted).

Almost everything is fully budgeted for , and leaves me with about £300/month expendable income. I use work annual bonus for any big spending that's not budgeted for.

ExitViaTheCashRamp

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Re: What's your system?
« Reply #18 on: December 11, 2017, 11:37:16 AM »
I'm a coward when it comes to real investing. Well, that's not quite true, my pension which contains various funds has a good chunk paid into it monthly, but as it is off-balance sheet it doesn't really feature in my mind. Instead I try to collect as much as possible in current accounts/regular savers. Works out that I receive about 4.5% on my cash. Whats holding that back is finding enough direct debits to meet the minimum criteria for the higher %ages on offer.

 Money mostly comes in at the end of the month, at the start of the new month I bounce a couple of grand around all my accounts (16 current accounts alone !) to collect the freebies and meet the minimum requirements to keep the high %age on the current accounts, dump the monthly allowance into all the regular savers, pay off the credit cards minimums and collect the cashback from them. Drop all the excess into Satanders 1-2-3 account, which is the liquid bank where I can get my hands on a large chunk of change and gather interest on stoozed money.

 Spending is as far as possible on credit card so I can collect cashback, small change -- but aggregation of marginal gains and all that !

never give up

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Re: What's your system?
« Reply #19 on: December 11, 2017, 12:44:56 PM »
Wow that takes some discipline ExitViaTheCashRamp! That really is a well constructed and thought through system.

ExitViaTheCashRamp

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Re: What's your system?
« Reply #20 on: December 12, 2017, 07:36:40 AM »
That's very kind of you never give up :) I've never been very highly paid (YMMV !) but found that bouncing money around and collecting bank freebies/promotional offers/exploiting credit cards has improved my annual earnings by as much as 5% per year for the past ~15 years or so, so whilst it does a fair bit of effort, in terms of £ gained per hour spent doing the necessary - it pays more than my job !

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Re: What's your system?
« Reply #21 on: December 12, 2017, 09:10:33 AM »
Wow, great that you’re rewarded for the effort. Some fund managers would fail to beat 5% every year over that length of time!