Hello and welcome back to Mortgage Advisor on F.I.R.E. This week I will talk a little about the stress of taking my recent exam, and then discuss financial hypocrisy.
Quote of the Week
This quote comes from a song by Avi Kaplan called I’ll Get By. It’s a good song and the lyrics will relate to anyone who has suffered depression. The words I’ve selected come from the song’s opening lines and anyone who has suffered depression will recognise some truth in them. The feeling of being weighed down, and sleep being your only reprieve is one I have felt in the past.
I passed my exam. I was so relieved. Last week I talked about not feeling confident, and I really wasn’t. I had so much of my self-esteem invested in passing the exam. I think I would have been in a bad way had I not passed it. It was like it was the one thing I had the most control over in my life right now, and because passing or failing was in my control, I needed to show I could do it. When the outcome of the exam flashed up on the screen I was delighted. That delight turned to frustration quickly though, because in my life things are rarely simple.
The process for taking these exams is that you attend a testing centre and they sit you down at a computer where you complete the exam. Once you answer all the questions you select the option for “Finish”, at which point you get a pass or fail outcome. Then, you hit “Submit” and your answers are sent to the awarding body. A week or so later, you get a full breakdown of your marks.
It all went smoothly for me until I hit the “Submit” button, at which point an error message appeared stating “Server Error”. Then, my exam disappeared. I was a little stressed out at this, because it appeared my results were lost and it looked for a time like I might have to resit the exam. The testing centre staff determined that the PC was not connected to the internet, and that’s why my results had not been sent to the awarding body. I was now feeling worse than if I’d just failed the exam outright. After several hours the staff were able to recover my results and confirm I had passed. I could really have done without that stress though.
I have now started work on the next exam and it looks very straightforward. The book is much smaller and the exam is only fifty questions instead of a hundred. I am booked in for September 30th, but I’m confident I can finish studying way before that date is due.
Regular readers will know about the struggles I’ve had over the last few months. 2020 has been the worst year of my life, and strangely enough it has almost nothing to do with Covid-19. It has simply sucked on a number of levels and I’ve felt like I’ve been stumbling from one crisis to another with no respite or room to take stock. It’s felt, at times, like being blasted from one end of the boxing ring to the other with just the ropes and sheer tenacity keeping me standing. I need a break. I also need help.
A few weeks ago I started having counselling, and whilst it has helped to talk about things openly and honestly with a counsellor, I don’t feel as though it’s equipping me with the tools needed to manage in the medium and long-term. I’m struggling to focus, and I think that’s why I’ve found preparing for these exams so difficult. It’s like having a broken bone and the counselling is pain relief. It helps for a while, but the bone needs to be set so it can heal. The pain relief helps with the immediate problem for a short time, but it does not address the underlying issue.
If anyone has any practical suggestions for dealing with stress, depression or intrusive thoughts, please let me know.
Current Weight: 114.9 (up 0.8kg from last update).
Current Body Fat: 36.1% (down 1.2% from last update).
BMI: 34.7 (up 0.2 from last update).
Weekly Goal: lose 0.75kg.
Ultimate Goal: 90kg.
Weekly Steps: 27,067.
I really don’t know what to say that I’ve not said before. I need to start making progress here. I’m angry at myself. The thing is, as I said before, this has been the worst year of my life with one stressful thing after another coming up, and when I’m stressed, I eat. It’s a negative cycle which I need to break. In the past week I have rejoined the gym and started easing myself back into exercise. It’s my hope that as I exercise, that outlet for my stress will help steer me away from eating because I’m stressed.
If I’ve done my working out right, there are eighteen weeks until Christmas, give or take a few days. I want to be down to 100kg by Christmas. I’m making a commitment now, that if I am down to 100kg by Christmas, I will donate £100 to a charity of my choice. However, should I not hit my target, I will donate £100 to a charity chosen by my readers. I’ll talk more about this challenge in the coming weeks, and look at setting up a poll on the blog if that’s possible.
Premium Bonds: £20,550 (up £200.00 from last update).
Stocks and Shares ISA: £12,305.58 (down £159.87 from last update).
Fuck It Fund: £0.00 (no change from last update).
Property Value: £187,554 (no change from last update).
Total Assets: £220,409.58 (up £40.13 from last update).
Credit Card: £0.00 (no change from last update).
Residential Mortgage: £143,171.61 (no change from last update).
Total Debts: £143,171.61 (no change from last update).
Total Wealth Figure: £77,237.97 (up £40.13 from last update).
Investment Income in 2020: £86.36 (no change from last update) (target £2,000).
Since Week 32 the value of my ISA has only risen around £500 despite contributions of over £1,000. The stock market is frustrating me at the moment. I would like to start seeing some signs of recovery. It’s not a disaster if I don’t, because pound-cost-averaging means I’m still buying stocks at low prices. However, my plans are dependent, to a certain extent, on the value of my ISA increasing in the next year or so.
It would appear that the solicitors have finally updated the details of the purchase with the correct address. The purchase is proceeding slower than I would like, but we are at the stage where draft contracts have been received and exchange should take place in the near future. A completion date has been suggested in early October which should see us trying to find a tenant by the end of October once we have completed the works we need doing. I would have preferred to have completed earlier, but I’m just relieved to almost have this deal over the line.
When we move on to our second BTL there are a lot of lessons we can take from this process and apply to that next purchase. The main lesson is to be much more selective in viewing properties. At first, I was of the mindset of completing as many viewings as possible. This is just a waste of time for everyone; vendor, agent and myself. So, being more selective about viewings should make the process a little easier next time.
Accumulating Wealth and Financial Education
There have been a number of posts on social media recently that have been bitching about major business owners making more money through the pandemic. These posts are criticising the likes of Jeff Bezos making billions during the crisis. In my opinion, this type of thinking betrays financial ignorance. In life, money can be thought of as a game with clearly defined rules. There are two types of people; those who study the rules of money and those who don’t. Since I started studying the rules of money, it has become so simple to spot those who haven’t studied them. If you give someone the choice between understanding the rules, or being given a million pounds, those who don’t understand the rules will opt for the latter option. The thing is, 60%-70% (depending on who you ask) of those who receive a large windfall without a financial education end up losing it all. You can always acquire more wealth if you understand the rules of the game.
How does this relate to the super-rich acquiring more wealth? Well, the super-rich understand the rules of the game, or employ those who do. Jeff Bezos is an easy one, but Bill Gates will also do. According to an article in The Guardian, 90% of UK households use Amazon. So why is anyone surprised that Jeffe Bezos has an incredible amount of money?
Our entire culture is based on the laws of supply and demand; we are a capitalist society. This is what allows us to have the lifestyle we have, with everything from Netflix to social media. Entrepreneurs spot a gap in the market, and they fill that gap. The real genius is in creating a need, and then satisfying that need. Apple is great at this. They might not have been the first to create a smartphone or tablet, but for many people Apple create the language, create the need and then fill that need. I think it’s hypocritical to bitch about this online through your iPad. I think it betrays your own ignorance about how money works. If you want to use these services, like Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft and so on, you have to pay for them. That money has to go somewhere. Make no mistake about it, the desire for wealth is what drives people to create new products and services. Try going a week without using a smartphone, tablet, PC or laptop. After that, ask yourself what you would prefer? Access to these services knowing it helped make a handful of people very rich for creating these services, or a return to an earlier time with no internet, social media, accessible computers and streaming services.
Thank you for reading this week, and I hope you have a great week ahead. If you are following FIRE or would like to know more about it, please get in touch via Twitter (https://twitter.com/NowWeLive01) or leave a comment on this post.