Part 54

Hello and welcome back to Mortgage Advisor on F.I.R.E.  This week I will discuss the US Presidential Election.  I will also look at how many people are still uncomfortable talking about money and I’ll also feature a photographer who is taking advantage of the pandemic to hone his craft. First, the Quote of the Week.

Quote of the Week

In a move that restores some order to the world, the United States of America have elected Joe Biden as their next President.  This puts an end to the absurd, hilarious and yet tragic Presidency of Donald Trump.  The outgoing President is not a nice man.  He’s a horrible human being and rightly joins the history books as a one-term President, which is one-term too many.  Right now, the world needs strong, stable and sensible leadership.  Trump is divisive, ignorant and dangerous in his stupidity.  He is not the man to govern the most powerful democratic country on Earth.  

The behaviour of the Trump camp before, during and after the election has been disgraceful, and childish in its approach to defeat.  It’s difficult to understand how this man was ever elected, but then I see the way that some of his supporters are behaving on the news and just shake my head in bewilderment.  The relationship that Americans, some not all, have with guns is slightly terrifying.  Seeing Trump supporters turn out in groups dressed in combat gear and armed with a number of firearms is just weird.  I’ve had this debate with a number of Americans over the years, and the pro-gun group always fall back on the constitution.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not having a go at the constitution but the document was written a long time ago and when the US was a fledgling country, it made sense for the general population to have the right to arm themselves.  However, this was in a time when the most dangerous personal firearm was a musket or rifle with a rate of fire of two to three shots a minute, with varying degrees of accuracy.  Weapons can now be owned that have rates of fire that measure shots per second.  If there is one thing that history has taught us time and time again, it’s that the law has to change with technological and societal development.  

I hope that Trump does not make life difficult and leaves office without too much resistance.  However, I fear that he will be as disruptive as possible and will whip up such an atmosphere of resentment that we may see rioting and violence on the streets of the US.  The sooner Trump fades into history, the better for everyone.

Weekly Update

I’ve been feeling a little off colour this week as I try to cut down on the tramadol for my pain.  It’s left me feeling nauseous and tired.  I’ve spent a lot of the time watching TV or listening to audiobooks, and I’ve been treated to some fantastic stories.

My partner has been pestering me for some time to watch a show on Netflix called Elite.  It’s a Spanish show, set in a prestigious private school.  Three children from working-class backgrounds are given scholarships to this school when their own school collapses due to poor construction.  The show is a muder-mystery told in flashbacks and is simply one of the best shows I’ve seen.  On Rotten Tomatoes the show has 100%, 91% and 100% for the first three seasons respectively.  Elite has a slick production with three-dimensional characters who can have you rooting for them one moment, before cursing them the next.  I cannot wait for the fourth season to come to Netflix and may very well go back and binge the show again before the fourth season.  

Another result of my partner’s pestering has been my listening to four books by Carlos Ruiz Zafon which make up the Cemetery of Forgotten Books series.  These books are set in Spain from the start of the 1900s and chart the course of the following fifty-years or so.  The books are told in a non-linear fashion and are loosely set around events involving a family of second-hand book sellers.  To listen to the description, it does not sound like the most exciting story but this series of books is simply one of the finest series I’ve ever experienced.  

In my life I have had the pleasure of reading some great series of books.  My favourite of all time is the Warlord Trilogy by Bernard Cornwell.  I’ve completed this trilogy a number of times.  I’ve also loved the Century Trilogy by Ken Follet, and the Three Body Trilogy by Cixin Liu.  The Cemetery of Forgotten Books is right up there with the best of them.  

Health Update

I don’t have much to say about my health this week.  My physical condition remains the same, and with the gyms closing due to the lockdown, it’s unlikely I’ll get any exercise done before the new year.  My mental health continues to suffer but I’m trying, little by little, to do things to improve my situation.  The thing is my mood can change from minute to minute; one moment I’m fine and the next I’m in despair.  I honestly don’t know what the answer is, but keeping my head above water feels like a victory at the moment. 

Financial Update

Premium Bonds: £20,700 (no change from last update).

Stocks and Shares ISA: £12,730.85 (down £146.03 from last update).

Fuck It Fund: £175.00 (up £75.00 from last update).

Property Value: £187,554 (no change from last update).

Total Assets: £221,159.85 (down £71.03 from last update).

Credit Card: £240.21 (up £106.45 from last update).

Residential Mortgage: £142,099.37 (down £357.06 from last update). 

Total Debts: £142,339.58 (down £250.61 from last update).

Total Wealth Figure: £78,820.27 (up £179.58 from last update). 

Investment Income in 2020: £164.81 (no change from last update) (target £2,000).

The last couple of weeks have seen the stock market dip a little.  This is due, in my opinion, to the uncertainty over the US Presidential Election and the series of lockdowns announced through Europe.  I’m hoping that in the coming weeks we will start to see some steady gains in the stock market, but I think we are in for a sustained period of instability.

A few weeks ago I wrote that the government might be best served extending the furlough scheme until the new financial year, and it seems as though they have agreed to do just that.  Hopefully, this will stave off a wave of job cuts in the new year.  Sooner or later though, these government schemes will have to be paid back.  I can’t see how taxing the working class more will make much difference, as most of the working class are barely above the standard tax threshold as it is.  So, it will probably be the middle class that takes the brunt of the financial pain.  

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John Wildman – Photographer

In 2007 I began studying at the University of Central Lancashire, known as UCLan.  One day I was at the library and I had a Sheffield Wednesday picture on my desktop.  A man was walking past, a few years older than me with a big white beard.  He introduced himself as David and said he was from Sheffield and was a Wednesday fan as well.  We got talking and it turns out he used to live just up the road from where I lived.  This David became a good friend to myself and my girlfriend, and they both worked at the UCLan library.  In turn, they both befriended a man called John Wildman, who also works at the library.  I’ve never met John in person, but over time his name began dropping into conversation more and more.  Long after studying, my girlfriend would show me pictures that he had taken in, and around, Preston.  The pictures are incredible.  I’ve since become acquainted with John on social media and we share the occasional discussion here and there.  His work is extraordinary, and for someone with no formal training I am in awe at the technique and artistry his work demonstrates.  I spoke with John early last week and asked if I could feature some of his work on my blog, and he kindly agreed.  

I asked John to give a brief overview of how he discovered his love for photography, 

“I started out with photography a couple of years ago, a friend at work kind of got me into it, originally just used a smartphone, then borrowed cameras from my place of work, then saved up and bought my own camera. Lockdown gave me the opportunity to hone my skills during my bouts of exercise everyday. I’ve won three competitions on a photo competition site called Gurushots. I think everyone has a skill mine seems to be photography, it’s just a matter of finding out what that skill is. Plus you need to enjoy it and I find there is nothing better than walking through parks and countryside taking photos of wildlife. I specialise in wildlife but at the moment I am practicing with urban photography.”

I’ve mentioned to John several times that I believe his work could be put together in a book and I hope to see his work on sale soon.  If you want to follow John’s photography, here are links to his social media:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/742466609522154

https://www.instagram.com/jcwildman/

Talking About Money and Property

There is a Facebook property investment group I am a member of and whilst some of the discussions are interesting, most of the time I’m left frustrated by what I read.  Last week someone was boast-posting about how they had given up their job and gone into full-time property investing, and they’d managed to make a lot more money out of it.  That’s great and I’m happy for them.  However, they mentioned the concept of “burning the ships”.  For those of you who are not aware, the phrase comes from the Spanish conquest of South America.  In the early 16th Century the Spanish commander Hernan Cortez landed his troops in South America and then ordered them to burn their ships so they had no means of retreat.  They had a simple choice; win or die.  This property investor stated that he had resigned from his safe, stable job in a modern day equivalent of burning his ships so that he had to succeed at property.  Whether this is brave or stupid, or a combination of both, is subject to personal opinion.  In my view, promoting this approach is dangerous.  

There is a logical error known as survivorship bias in which things that pass some selection criteria or filter are remembered, and those that fail are forgotten.  This investor passed the filter and made a great living for himself.  We will never know if he would have failed or succeeded without burning the ships, but by promoting his success attention is drawn away from the number of people who would have tried the exact same thing and failed.  A quick google search will provide a number of examples of people who tried their hand at property investing and failed miserably, and it’s important to remember that people are more likely to promote their successes rather than their failures.

There is another online group I’m a member of, in which I talked a little about my financial plans.  The response was somewhat mixed with a couple of people praising my ambition and efforts to date, but most people were negative and a few were even abusive.  Below are some screenshots of the type of negative comments I was receiving:

There seems to be a fundamental lack of understanding about what professional property investors do, and how they can help people. I admit there are rotten landlords, but there are also plenty of decent landlords who help provide housing for those people that need flexibility and for one reason or another, cannot own a home or simply don’t want to.

I went back to my Facebook property investing group and asked how other people deal with negative comments they receive for being a property investor, and someone shared a fantastic meme:

Ambitious people are always met with people urging caution, and this is not always a bad thing.  Caution is good in some respects and my own investment strategy is mostly “slow and steady”.  There are times when caution can become too negative though.  Friends and family can be well-intentioned but sometimes their negativity can beat you down.  It seems to be human nature that people don’t like to see others succeeding, as it makes them feel envious.  It takes a strong personality to look at someone succeeding and congratulate them.  It’s not always something I’ve been good at.  

One thing I have realised is that it’s important to surround yourself with people who challenge you, but also support you.  Who question you, but push you to learn.  Jim Rohn once said that you are the sum of the five people you spend the most time with.  If you look at those people and are disappointed with the lack of support you receive, find new people.  If you look at those people and are not inspired, find new people.  If you look at those people, and objectively you are the most ambitious and successful, find new people.

A Quick Request

I know there is a small group of people that read this blog regularly and I enjoy the engagement I have with those readers through email and social media.  I would love for this blog to take off and grow through 2021.  Gaining readers is the hardest thing for any blogger to achieve.  I enjoy writing this blog and want it to grow, so if you are enjoying this content, please take a moment to share it on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Reddit, Whatsapp or any other social media.  Shares are the ultimate sign of success for any blogger.  If you have any feedback, comments or questions whether positive or negative, please leave a comment below.  

My Instagram is @david_scothern and my Twitter is @nowwelive01. You can also email me at mortgageadvisoronfire@gmail.com.

Also, please check out my cat’s Instagram @sweep_the_kelham_island_cat

Finally, have a look at Darren Scothern’s blog at darrenscothern.com.

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