Part 64

Hello and welcome back to Mortgage Advisor on F.I.R.E.  This week I discuss what having rights means, before looking at my return to work.  Also, the usual financial update and some interesting developments on my buy-to-let.  First, the Quote of the Week:

Quote of the Week

There is a lot of talk about rights at the moment, in terms of wearing masks, vaccinations and free speech.  The frustrating thing for me is that when hysterical people start raging about their rights, they are normally not considering the rights of the other party. 

In the past week, Donald Trump has been banned from several social media platforms.  Some commentators have criticised this as a move to curb free speech.  I have two arguments to counter this assertion.  The first argument is that the social media platforms are private companies, and they have the right to choose who can be a member.  They have the right to set standards for the content posted and the way in which their services are used.  If a member is violating those standards, then that company can ban them.  The second argument I have follows on from the first.  Freedom of speech does not give someone the right to free speech without consequence.  In addition to free speech, people have a right not to be the subject of slander.  This is why we cannot make false claims about another person; we have free speech, but the other person has rights to protect them.  

In a similar vein, it seems like not a day goes by without someone complaining that they were ejected from a business for not wearing a mask.  There are a few things to unpack here, and it is an emotive topic.  In most cases, if you have a medical condition that means you cannot wear a mask, then I do not believe you are well enough to be outside mixing with other people.  Note; I am not talking about people who would prefer not to wear a mask due to a medical condition, but people who legitimately cannot wear a mask without risking their physical health.  I suspect that when most people claim they cannot wear a mask, it is a preference rather than a necessity.  I am not saying those people cannot have that preference; they can, no matter how stupid I think it is.  What they must understand, however, is that a private business can refuse entry to whomever they want.  Also, other customers have a right to not be put in unnecessary danger, and if you do not wear a mask out of a preference, then you have no grounds to disagree with someone who has a preference not to be in your presence.  

Sometimes you have to fight stupid with stupid.

A somewhat trickier issue arises when people do not feel like they can wear a mask because of mental illness.  I understand why some people cannot wear a mask due to PTSD, or anxiety, or related issues such as autism.  Accommodations do have to be made for people in this situation.  I do not think there is an easy answer here, but a potential solution is special shopping times for this vulnerable section of society as well as priority over home delivery slots.  There is a need to balance the rights of the individual who cannot wear a mask due to mental health, and those who are wearing masks.  As a society, we are generally so wrapped up in maintaining our own, often skewed, perception of our rights without consideration to the rights of others.  

The last week has seen many countries stepping up their vaccination programs.  As expected, there is a vocal minority of people stating that they will not accept the vaccine.  As stupid as I think that view is, and let us be clear, it is really fucking stupid, I will acknowledge that people have a right to choose what vaccines they receive.  As with the other examples I have discussed, there is a need to balance the rights of the individual with the rights of the people they interact with.  Just as the individual has the right to choose not to be vaccinated, so do other people have the right not to be forced to associate with that person.  This could result in a type of “vaccine passport” where only those with valid proof of having been vaccinated are allowed to enter shops, restaurants, bars, and even to cross national borders.  

The point I am making with the above examples is that we all have rights, but those rights only extend to the point they do not conflict with the rights of other people.

Weekly Update

I returned to work this week for the first time in four months.  When I say “returned to work”, what I mean is I turned on the other laptop in my spare bedroom.  Still, it was a momentous occasion.  I am fortunate to have a great group of people with whom I work, and they stepped up to the plate admirably to cover for my absence. 

I am on a phased return to help adjust back into a routine of work.  My mental health has been awful for these past few months and without this time off, I dread to think what sort of condition I would be in now.  I needed that time more than I can express in words.  I have received several messages of support in the past week, as well as many people asking me if I am ok.  The answer is still, “no”, but with the clarification that I am better than I was.  I think it will be a long time before I am ok, and I do not know if I will ever truly be ok working in this type of role.  That is not to say there is anything wrong with the role.  The issue is with my own mental health.  Since my problems started in May last year, I have changed.  I no longer have the same type or scale of mental resilience I once had.  I think it was a case of extreme mental and emotional burnout.  I may recover that, in time.  I may not.  I do know that for my own well-being, I need a change.  I suppose it is a good thing I started this journey towards FIRE when I did.  

2021 Goals – to be achieved by 31/12/2021

1 – Reduce weight to 92.8kg.

2 – Finish 104 new books.

3 – Complete RO3 for my DipFA.

4 – Complete RO4 for my DipFA.

5 – Complete RO5 for my DipFA.

6 – Complete RO6 for my DipFA.

I have had another week of weight loss, which keeps me on track for my first 2021 goal. I have completed three books so far with the last book being Barack Obama’s excellent A Promised Land. Although I do not follow US politics all that closely, I always thought Obama came across as thoughtful and dignified. His book was fascinating and surprising in equal measure. One thing I did not expect was how complementary Obama was about his predecessor, George Bush. During the transition from one administration to another, President Bush was accommodating and supportive to the incoming Obama. It changed my perception of Bush, as well as serving to highlight just how undignified Trump is.

Financial Update

Premium Bonds: £2,650 (no change from last update).

Stocks and Shares ISA: £16,791.64 (down £306.34 from last update).

Fuck It Fund: £425.00 (no change from last update).

Residential Property Value: £194,909.00 (up £7,355.00 from last update).

Buy-to-Let Property Value: £125,775.00 (up £1,275.00 from last update).

Total Assets: £340,550.64 (up £8,323.66 from last update).

Credit Card: £2,227.64 (up £1,773.34 from last update).

Residential Mortgage: £141,383.76 (no change from last update). 

Buy-to-Let Mortgage: £93,049.67 (no change from last update). 

Total Debts: £236,661.07 (up £1,773.34 from last update).

Total Wealth Figure: £103,889.57 (up £6,550.32 from last update). 

Investment Income in 2021: £0.00 (target £5,000).

Another great week of growth, although much of that growth is abstract as it relates to the estimated value of my two properties.  I take the valuations from what my lender has recorded on their index.  Property valuations are not an exact science, and the lender’s valuation is probably not going to match up with a sale valuation.  However, seeing as though it is the lender’s valuation that is used when calculating how much money we can release from the mortgage via a further advance, it is nice to see those figures increasing.  

My credit card balance has increased massively.  This is due to a number of things, such as having a girlfriend who is not a UK national and is applying for citizenship.  The application fee for this is crazy.  As my girlfriend has a smaller credit limit than I, it made sense for me to pay for it and she will pay me back for it in a few weeks.  I could have left the balance out, but that goes against my preference for transparency.  In addition to that fee for applying for citizenship, it was my girlfriend’s birthday recently and I bought her a couple of gifts both on my behalf, and her family’s.  Due to Brexit it is difficult for them to send items across Europe, so it made more sense for me to buy the items and for them to send me the money.  In short, the credit card balance will be paid off in the coming weeks.  

BTL Update

Last week I mentioned that a family was applying to move into the property.  They have withdrawn their application, but another applicant has come forward.  My agent informed me that the applicant does not have a great credit report, but is willing to pay six months upfront and have a guarantor.  I have decided to proceed so long as the guarantor passes a credit check.  Having six months rent paid upfront will be a huge positive as it allows us to invest that money ahead of time.  However, I am not getting too carried away as the applicant could decide to move elsewhere.

We have had to reduce our desired rent on the property to attract more interest.  We initially marketed the property at the upper end of what we thought we could achieve.  However, due to a limited amount of interest and after discussions with the agent, we decided to drop the requested rent by £40.00 per month.  It is a strange time with the UK in the middle of a third national lockdown, but there will still be people who need to move home.  Hopefully we can secure a tenant sooner rather than later.

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