Part 68

Hello and welcome back to Mortgage Advisor on F.I.R.E.  This week I will talk about the relationship between luck and hard work, and share a frustrating and costly update on my BTL.

Quote of the Week

I do not believe there is some mystical force that acts for or against us, in a way that one could describe as luck.  I believe that what happens in life is a consequence of a complex set of factors in the environment we are in.  What happens to us depends on not only our own choices but the exposure we have to the choices of other people.  Saying that luck is down to hard work is just lazy, in my honest opinion.  People can work hard and come away with nothing.  Work rate is not everything.  It is not enough to just work hard, you also have to work smart.  It is like the idea of sharpening the axe, which I have talked about before.  If you are asked to chop down a tree you can just dive right in and spend hour after hour chopping into the tree trunk with a blunt axe.  You can build up a sweat and work to exhaustion before the tree finally falls.  The alternative is to spend some time sharpening the blade of the axe and then start chopping.  The tree will come down in fewer swings of the axe.  Working smarter is often better than working harder.  

I have just finished a book exploring luck by psychologist and magician Richard Wiseman.  I have seen him in person at a special lecture when I was an undergraduate psychology student and he is a fantastic personality.  I feel that this book, The Luck Factor, was just a little too much like pop psychology instead of being a serious, scientific investigation into luck.  The main lessons learned are that if you want to increase your luck, you need to be open to new experiences and be more outgoing and friendly with new people.  


There are some people who are extremely unlucky, because they happen to be the consequence of someone else’s poor judgement.  No amount of hard work will stop a drunk driver smashing into you after they run a red light.  That is just a tragic example of bad luck.  Some people can be on the receiving end of one instance of bad luck after another, for example, losing their job because the company senior management ran the business into the ground.  The person could then lose their home because their landlord stopped paying the mortgage.  Try telling someone like this that if they had just worked harder, or been more open minded they would have had better luck.  

I understand that successful people want to motivate others, but I find I look favourably at successful people who acknowledge the role that luck had in their success rather than just banging on about how they made their own luck through hard work.  In a way, this concept is linked to the debate on white privilege or male privilege, although those are not the only two types of privilege.  The difference between success and failure can often come down to the factors you do not initially perceive.  An example could be someone being successful in starting a business because their parents were able to spend more time helping them with homework as a child.  Someone else may have worked harder but had a lesser understanding of the financials because their parents had been working their asses off in minimum wage jobs and been unable to help with homework.  Another person might have been successful because they got into a great school because of the postcode they lived in, whereas someone two streets down fell into a different school catchment area.

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Saying that hard work equals more good luck is simplistic.  It might be true in some situations, but those who work hard can also have their hard work crushed by bad luck.  These people rarely have the platform to speak though, and so the good luck stemming from hard work argument persists through survivorship bias; a concept I have also spoken about recently.

Weekly Update

I am starting to feel the itch to go on holiday again.  It seems as though we have been living with this virus forever when it has only been a year or so.  At least now the end looks to be in sight with the UK managing to roll the vaccine out fairly well so far.  It feels weird praising the UK government when they almost always snatch defeat from the jaws of victory whilst simultaneously putting their foot in their mouth before shooting said foot.  

My routine is starting to be pieced back together as my phased return to work continues.  The way my period of ill health has been handled by my employer has been fantastic and it has made my return as seamless as possible.  The one major part of my routine that is missing is exercise.  I want to be back in the gym.  This pandemic will have damaged the health of the nation in many subtle ways and there will be a great many people who have seen their physical and mental health deteriorate in the past year.  This is the thing that many Covid-skeptics do not understand.  It is not just about how many people die.  It is also about those people hospitalised for extended periods.  It is about those people who will develop life long health complications due to Covid.  It is about the social and economic damage that this pandemic causes the longer it goes on.

I want to get back to Malta. I need a holiday.

Setting Daily To-Do Lists

Since the start of the year I have been setting daily to-do lists.  These lists include even the basic stuff, like completing my shift at work.  I have found that doing this has helped me stay on top of the basic day-to-day tasks that can be forgotten about when one is stressed, anxious or depressed.  I know it will not work for everyone, but I have found it really useful and my productivity has increased as a result.  

One thing I am making sure to include each day is some time to go do something I actually enjoy, such as reading a book or watching a movie.  It is easy to get caught up in what needs to be done whilst forgetting to look after yourself by making sure you have time to relax and decompress when stress takes hold.  

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.

My weight has not changed in the past week, which is something of a positive.  I am trying not to beat myself up too much about this, but I have seen a little reduction during 2021 so far.  I have now completed ten books this year, which is keeping me on track to finish 104 by the end of the year.

I have not yet resumed studying for DipFA.  I had planned on studying this weekend, but something came up which distracted me for quite a while and, well, stressed me out.  I will come on to this when I talk about my BTL.  

So, on the whole only a little progress towards my 2021 goals.

Help support Mortgage Advisor on FIRE and buy David Scothern a coffee. Click the image for more information.

Financial Update


Premium Bonds: £4,050.00 (up £50.00 from last update).

Stocks and Shares ISA: £17,458.22 (up £296.20 from last update).

Fuck It Fund: £600.00 (up £50.00 from last update).

Residential Property Value: £194,909.00 (no change from last update).

Buy-to-Let Property Value: £125,775.00 (no change from last update).

Total Assets: £342,792.22 (up £396.20 from last update).


Credit Card: £1,853.86 (up £154.89 from last update).

Residential Mortgage: £141,026.49 (no change from last update). 

Buy-to-Let Mortgage: £93,199.07 (no change from last update). 

Total Debts: £236,079.42 (up £154.89 from last update).

Total Wealth: £106,712.80 (up £241.31 from last update). 

Investment Income in 2021: £3.71 (target £5,000).

My credit card has taken more abuse this last week, and it is going to be worse next week I fear.  Apart from that, I was able to put more money towards Premium Bonds and my Fuck It Fund, and my ISA saw some small gains as well.  I have received my first income of 2021 via a small dividend from a fund I started investing in late last year.  By the end of this month I should have my first set of rental income to report as well.  

BTL Update

I mentioned a little earlier in this blog that I have had a stressful weekend so far.  The electrical safety checks on my BTL have been completed and there is some remedial work required that is going to cost £4,200.  This is a huge blow and makes a dent in our funds for the next BTL we were hoping to acquire in a few months time.  

We are trying not to be too downbeat about this as the property is a long term investment, but it does still feel like a punch in the gut.  I was not expecting such an outlay so quickly and it is going to take some time to release the funds to pay for the work, and time is against us to get this work completed before the tenant is due to move in at the end of the month.  

Supporting Mortgage Advisor on FIRE and Buy Me A Coffee

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My Instagram is @david_scothern and my Twitter is @advisoronfire. You can also email me at

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

Finally, have a look at Darren Scothern’s blog at

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