March 2020 Report

Note: I’m not hard pushed for updates this month. So much so that my ISA contributions are quite embarrassing in the wider context of the world’s current problems. Please take this post for what it is worth.

In March we saw: markets crashing, a pandemic of the scale we’ve not witnessed in our lifetimes, complete lock-down for most of the population, a $2 Trillion (an unfathomably large number) emergency relief law and over 3 million people in the USA registering to claim jobless benefits (note: this has now risen to 6.6 million), unlimited quantitative easing, and all retail shops closing in the UK.

This is something I’ve spent some time thinking about. My workplace have let most office workers continue their jobs from home, I’m in lock-down and I’m not witnessing first hand what is really happening out there.

I don’t know what it is like to have lost your job and still needing to look after a family. I don’t know what it is like to have to put yourself in harm’s way on the front line in the health sector, or what it is like to be forced to let go of a business that I’ve built up for decades. I don’t know what it is like to have to provide care for a vulnerable person, all the while worrying about infecting them or whether there are enough supplies in the supermarket. But you are all heroes to me. I’m sure this will pass, but it will continue to be painful for a while.

On to the monthly update. Since the market took a downward swing, I have been making regular contributions to a global equity tracker fund. In total I’ve made 7 contributions with an average value of just over £1,000 each and an average of 6 days between contributions. Luckily I had some cash I had started to save over the last few months, and a lot of this has come from transferring my matched betting funds.

I’ve also been making the normal contribution of £550 per month split across two regular saving accounts, both of which pay 5% and I can only keep the interest intact if I abstain from withdrawing until September.

Matched Betting

Before you look at the numbers, please be careful with matched betting and do not go into it without really understanding the theory, particularly with casino offers. With lots of people out of work at the moment it might be tempting to gamble, but please do not confuse the offers I am talking about here with pure gambling. I only do casino offers if they are positive expected value (EV) i.e. a positive probability-weighted average of all the profit/loss possibilities from a particular offer. Most matched betting services state the EV value of each offer up front. Please do not just dive into any casino offers, as most of the time you will lose.

Given the circumstances and the fact that pretty much all sport has been cancelled, I’m not going to recommend a matched betting service this month (although you can find this in previous months’ updates).

In total this month I made £700 from matched betting. I started out with high hopes this month with Cheltenham not being cancelled. However, it really didn’t turn out as fruitful as last year and I only made £300 from sports offers (last year it was over £800). The offers just weren’t as good in comparison, and when you are only really using one set of accounts it wasn’t as lucrative. I originally took the whole week off work, but decided to go back to work only two days in because of the lack of offers.

With ever increasing frequency my mainstay is casino offers, and I made around £400 from these this month. I also hit my target of taking over £400 EV this month. A chart of profit vs EV is below – note the variations in profit – at times you can easily be below zero. To me this is normal, but it has to be expected.

I’ve also emptied all my funds from all bookmakers and casinos. This is partly to protect myself if any of them go under and there are problems with withdrawing. However the main reason is because I am trying to free up cash to invest. This means the matched betting fund is running very low, but in reality I’ve not needed a huge float for a while anyway and I can always top it back up in the future if needed.

Reading Goals

This month I’ve read 3 books, which is 1 short of where I wanted to be. Two of the books were on leadership, namely an essay from Plutarch on how to be a leader, and ‘The Greats on Leadership’ by Jocelyn Davis (which is excellent).

Although it’s been a tough month, I’m happy with my contributions. How did everyone else get on?

5 thoughts on “March 2020 Report”

  1. That’s brilliant going on the matched betting! I probably only made arund £50 on Cheltenham, only have one account left that was giving any decent offers. I’ve yet to do any casino offers so MB is pretty much at zero for me until sports start up again. I’ve lumped a few hundred on Football Index as I think there’s money to be made when the football kicks off again – it’s a gamble but I’ve made a small profit despite there being no matches on!

    Good luck with your investments and stay safe!

    1. Hi Weenie, it was a tough Cheltenham for most people I think. There are some people who claim they made huge amounts, but I’m fairly sure that’s with either a lot of accounts or very big e/w bet wagers. Maybe some large price boosts as well. Before Cheltenham started, the bookie must have been on a clamp down because I lost 3 major accounts for sports betting. That’s restricted me to mostly casino offers now.

      Thanks for your comments and I hope April goes well for you.

  2. Hi Ad Otium,

    March was in fact not a good month in any front! Good to hear that you can work from home, at least you can keep the source of income.

    I was surprised by the 3MM people claiming unemployment benefits in the UK. If I’m not wrong the numbers in the US are quite similar, even so, the population there is bigger than the one in the UK. Does the number surprise you as well?

    I continue investing regularly as well, as planned. Sold 2 stocks (WPP and MER) with dividend cuts and did some screening for newcomers in the Portfolio.

    I wish you a better April.

    All the best.


    1. Hi Odysseus,

      Thanks for the comment and good spot… I’ve now edited this, as I wrote UK when I meant to write USA, but I have now read that this has risen further to 6.6 million!

      Good to hear from you, and all the best for the month ahead

  3. Pingback: The Full English – The problem(s) with behavioural psychology/ economics – The FIRE Shrink

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