Hello and welcome back to Mortgage Advisor on FIRE. This week I discuss the difference between risk reduction and risk elimination. Also, a week of change in my financial position. First, the Quote of the Week:
If there is one thing that the pandemic has demonstrated, it is that many people struggle to understand the difference between risk reduction and risk elimination. In life, it is impossible to eliminate risk completely. There is risk in everything we do, from crossing the street safely to taking medication prescribed by a doctor. Risk is everywhere. Before I get into my point, I want to take you on a trip back in time to nineteenth century Vienna, specifically the two maternity wards of the general hospital.
In the 1840s the mortality rate of the two maternity wards of the general hospital varied, and not just by a little. One ward was under the care of doctors whilst the other ward was under the care of midwives. The ward looked after by the doctors had a mortality rate more than three times greater than that of the other ward. Death during, and after, childbirth is still a risk today but back then it was an even greater risk. No one could work out why there was such a large, consistent difference between the two wards though. Enter Dr. Ignaz Semmelweis.
Ignaz took a scientific approach to the problem and after some trial and error, determined that the doctors’ ward had a factor that the other ward did not. The doctors would often be called away from their autopsies to help in the maternity ward and it was not standard practice for the doctors to wash their hands between the two departments. In short, doctors would assist mothers giving birth whilst still having the remnants of dead bodies on their hands and clothes.
To combat this, Ignaz put in place procedures stating that the doctors should wash their hands in chlorinated solution before treating mothers. The mortality rate on their ward plummeted instantly. Mortality was not eradicated completely though, as there will always be complications with giving birth. However, this simple act of washing hands reduced the death rate.
Coming back to my point in the present day. Lots of people talk about how masks are not stopping the spread of covid, or they mock the vaccines for not making people completely immune to the virus. In respect of the masks, there is faulty logic as people are not comparing the act of wearing a mask to a control group not wearing a mask. Every study has shown that wearing a mask reduces the risk of catching or spreading covid. The vaccines are not 100% effective either, but they are still effective to some degree and some protection is better than none.
The Nirvana Fallacy and The Perfect Solution Fallacy
These two logical fallacies are so closely related that both apply to the point I am making. Just because a solution is not perfect, it does not mean it should be ignored. Back in the Vienna maternity wards of the 1800s, they could have looked at the act of washing hands and rejected it because it did not stop all deaths but I don’t think I would find any sane person who could argue that it should have been rejected on those grounds. Washing hands reduced the number of deaths, and so was a good process to introduce. Seat belts do not stop all deaths from car accidents but in general terms, statistically, they save more lives than they cost. Masks are not 100% effective but they are still effective to some degree. Not wearing a mask because it does not provide 100% protection is stupidity of the highest order, and is a perfect example of illogical thinking. It is the same with vaccines.
So, please, wear your damn mask.
My gout (jeez, I feel old just typing that) is getting better. I’m no longer on crutches but I am still in considerable pain. I have been prescribed two drugs; colchicine and allopurinol. I’ve been taking them for a few days but I’m going to stop. The side effects are worse than the problem they are treating. I struggled with these side effects the last time I took these meds and when the treatment is worse than the problem, something is amiss. I’ll speak with the GP next week but for now I’m making the decision to stop.
With the lockdown easing we were looking forward to Peddler near where we live. Peddler is an event run once a month where different street food vendors come together with some music and drinks for a party of sorts. Normally, the event is packed with people shoulder to shoulder browsing the food stalls and pop up shops selling all sorts of arts and crafts. In the socially distanced model, the event is not as crowded and instead of wandering around, you sit at a table and order food via an app.
We booked for Friday because there were some street food vendors we have eaten from before and really enjoyed. We were disappointed to turn up and find none of the advertised vendors were present, and the choices on offer instead were not great. We ordered burgers and after taking one bite of mine, I sent it back and asked for a refund. I don’t mind my burgers done medium, but this burger was cold. I didn’t pay much attention prior to taking my first bite, but after realising how cold it was I had a proper look and the outside edge of the burger was still pink in places. I suspect the burger had been on the edge of the grill where it was not getting as much heat. Overall, very disappointing.
2021 Goals – to be achieved by 31/12/2021
1 – Reduce weight to 92.8kg. (Current weight 118.9kg).
2 – Finish 104 new books. (Current total: 27).
3 – Complete RO3 for my DipFA. (In progress).
4 – Complete RO4 for my DipFA. (Not started).
5 – Complete RO5 for my DipFA. (Not started).
6 – Complete RO6 for my DipFA. (Not started).
I’ve lost a little weight this week but I’m not feeling too happy about it. I need to lose more and I need it to be consistent. Gout can be brought on by being overweight (check), stress (check), lack of exercise (check). The frustrating thing is that the three factors just mentioned are all interlinked, and lead to me comfort eating which just makes the problem worse. I know I will feel much better when I achieve FIRE, but that is still some time off. If I can’t improve my situation before FIRE, I just need to make sure it doesn’t deteriorate further.
I have been reading more physical books recently, as well as smashing through more audiobooks. Audible really is an incredible service. My only regret is that I didn’t find the service earlier. Listening to an audiobook is one of my greatest pleasures in life, especially if I’m enjoying a good walk in the sun at the same time. I wrote a brief post looking at the books I’ve finished so far in 2021, and you can find that post here.
My DipFA studies are at a standstill. I’m trying not to beat myself up about it with everything else I have going on. I’ve rescheduled my exam (again) so that it will take place towards the end of May. Part of me wonders if it is worth progressing with the qualification whilst I’m still working full time, or whether it would be wise to hang fire a little bit. It is looking like I’ll be acquiring a second and, possibly, third BTL before the end of the year. Once I have multiple sources of rental income coming in, things will get very interesting and the march to FIRE could accelerate significantly.
Premium Bonds: £525.00 (up £200.00 from last update).
Stocks and Shares ISA: £20,582.45 (down £1,885.88 from last update).
Fuck It Fund: £392.29 (up £242.29 from last update).
Crypto: £721.05 (up £381.22 from last update).
Residential Property Value: £199,355.00 (up £4,446.00 from last update).
Buy-to-Let Property Value: £128,644.00 (up £2,869.00 from last update).
Total Assets: £350,219.79 (up £6,252.63 from last update).
Credit Card: £0.00 (down £280.84 from last update).
Residential Mortgage: £140,308.18 (no change from last update).
Buy-to-Let Mortgage: £93,145.49 (no change from last update).
Total Debts: £233,453.67 (down £280.84 from last update).
Total Wealth: £116,766.12 (up £6,533.47 from last update).
Investment Income in 2021: £215.84 (target £5,000).
I sold my units in a fund that was invested in the US stock market for a gain of just over 10%. I used some of those funds to pay back a family member who had loaned me some cash for repairs to the BTL. I then spread the remaining money between my Premium Bonds, Fuck It Fund and Crypto. The next time I release cash from my ISA will be to fund another BTL purchase and that will not be for a few months yet.
The estimated values of my properties have increased this week, according to my mortgage lender. This means that in the next few weeks I may be able to release some equity to put towards my FIRE journey. Things could get very interesting on this front as the year progresses.
I have been putting a fair amount of my spare cash into crypto in the past few weeks but I’m going to reduce that going forward. Crypto is still something I don’t understand fully, so this investment is more speculative than my other investments. I don’t want to expose myself to too much potential risk here. Apart from my normal monthly subscription to my ISA, my efforts will now focus on Premium Bonds and my Fuck It Fund as I gear up to another BTL purchase.
Every so often I like to take stock and look at my asset allocation to make sure it’s consistent with my long-term goals. Broadly speaking, I am on the right track with my ISA. There is a huge imbalance in that most of my ISA is made up of shares of one UK company. However, those shares are earmarked as the deposit for a future property purchase. When I look at the gain I’ve made on those shares so far, in terms of purchase cost compared to current value, I am just over 33% up. I also believe those shares have some room to increase in value further. Their pre-pandemic price was a little over 50% higher than their current value and it was considered low even then.
If I take those shares out of the equation, I am happy enough with the makeup of my ISA. My goal is to have a balance of bonds and accumulation funds, with a chunk of income funds mixed in. It’s what you might call a hybrid approach.
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