Hello and welcome back to Mortgage Advisor on FIRE. A slightly shorter post this week as I’ve not been feeling great. I’ll be talking a little bit about the football club I support and some more abysmal customer service.
Quote of the Week
Although I’m not as enthusiastic about football as I once was, I still support my local club Sheffield Wednesday. To say that the last couple of decades have been a disappointing time to be an Owls fan would be an understatement. Our fall from the upper tier of professional football has been well documented and most football fans who have followed the game pre-Premier League will know that we were once considered a big club. That is no longer the case.
In 2010 the club was in danger of going under. We were rescued by Milan Mandaric, a Serbian businessman who has had a long relationship with football. Under Mandaric we stabilised and looked to be making slow, but steady progress forward. Then, we were bought by Dejphon Chansiri, a Thai businessman with family links to Thai Union Frozen Group who own brands such as John West Foods which I believe is the world’s biggest tuna producer.
Now, I’m not going to focus too much on the way the club has been run. There are countless threads on message boards such as Owlstalk that highlight problem after problem with the club. Simply put, it’s been a complete farce. A recent article in The Atlantic goes into a lot of detail about the issues with the club in recent years. Chansiri has reportedly invested tens of millions of pounds and, apart from a new scoreboard, there is not one part of the club that has improved. Now, instead of taking us from the Championship into the Premier League, we find ourselves relegated to the third tier of professional football once again.
Last year I took my girlfriend to India for her birthday. We arrived back in the UK just before we entered our first lockdown. The trip was a bit of a disaster, in large part due to the incompetence of the travel agent in India that was appointed by Exoticca; the company over here that we booked with. The decision to use Exoticca came from my girlfriend’s parents who had done a similar trip to India through them a couple of years before and had enjoyed it. However, they had gone to a different part of India with a different local agent appointed.
The parents were due to travel to China for an extended holiday from April’20 to May’20 which they had booked through Exoticca. This was booked sometime in July’19 and cost £2,698. The money was paid in two instalments. Now, buckle up because shit’s about to get weird.
My girlfriend is Romanian and her parents live in Romania. When they booked, this was all disclosed. Exoticca had taken payment from them before for their previous trip to India but for some reason would not take payment from her father. So, my girlfriend made the payment with her father’s card. Exoticca stated they could not take the payment over the phone from Romania, but would let my girlfriend do it from the UK despite it not being her card. This first payment was made in July’19 before anyone had any knowledge of Covid.
As the date of the trip approached, it was clear that the holiday would not go ahead. However, Exoticca still demanded that the second half of the payment was made. My girlfriend’s father decided to make the payment as Exoticca were being a little forceful with their demands. This second payment was made on February 26th, 2020. The trip was cancelled on March 11th, 2020 as expected. Exoticca stated a full refund would be provided within 30 days. They still have not issued a refund. It’s been 424 days.
According to Exoticca part of the problem is that the booking was made as part of a wider booking. My (sort of) in-laws had booked with friends to go on this trip and the lead name on the booking was the friend’s name. Under that booking are sub-bookings for each couple and because the friend has already been refunded, their accounting system will not let a further refund be actioned. Sounds like bullshit to me. Another promise has recently been made regarding the refund, but their communications are patronising and unhelpful with most of the questions asked not being answered.
There’s bad service, and there’s Exoticca.
It’s not been a great week. My mental health is not good. It’s not just down to one thing. I miss Sweep. I’ve spent a lot of the last few weeks in a lot of pain with my leg. I’m probably experiencing some sort of withdrawal from the painkillers that I needed to take the edge of the pain. I’m not happy with my health and the lack of exercise. People close to me are struggling with their own problems. In addition to all this, I just feel utterly and completely unfulfilled.
Now, lots of people will offer help and say that they’re there if I need them. I appreciate all that, but unfortunately there’s not a single thing anyone can do to address the problems I face. I’m the sort of person that wants to tackle problems head on. I’m not generally one for wallowing in despair. If I can’t do anything to change my circumstances, I just have to get on with the day to day stuff and hope in time this dark cloud lifts. I know that some of my problems will end at some point. There’s also the fact that the universe will die a heat death in a few trillion years, which will render all of existence meaningless, so there’s not much point sweating the small stuff.
Winding in from the long term and back to the present, however, there are still things that I know will improve in time. My leg will heal up and I’ll be able to start some exercise again at some point. Also, as I continue progressing towards FIRE I should be able to start using my time to do things that actually make a difference and are fulfilling.
2021 Goals – to be achieved by 31/12/2021
1 – Reduce weight to 92.8kg. (Current weight 120kg).
2 – Finish 104 new books. (Current total: 36).
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).
Premium Bonds: £1,000.00 (up £50.00 from last update).
Stocks and Shares ISA: £21,956.61 (up £538.41 from last update).
Fuck It Fund: £632.31 (up £70.00 from last update).
Crypto: £750.62 (up £51.40 from last update).
Pensions: £45,721.02 (up £767.63 from last update).
Residential Property Value: £199,355.00 (no change from last update).
Buy-to-Let Property Value: £128,644.00 (no change from last update).
Total Assets: £398,059.56 (up £1,477.44 from last update).
Credit Card: £745.16 (up £343.16 from last update).
Residential Mortgage: £139,949.54 (down £358.64 from last update).
Buy-to-Let Mortgage: £93,121.57 (down £23.92 from last update).
Total Debts: £233,816.27 (down £39.40 from last update).
Total Wealth: £164,243.29 (up £1,516.84 from last update).
Investment Income in 2021: £467.64 (target £5,000).
My credit card balance is continuing to increase as I wait for my girlfriend to start her new job. As we get into a routine with the new pay schedule I’ll start reducing the balance on that card. The stock market is doing pretty well of late, or at least the holdings I have in my ISA are. By the time I post next week, I’ll have made my monthly contribution to my ISA. Then, the following week I’ll have been paid which will see my other investments increase. The week after that I should have received some more rent and possibly more dividend payments. It feels like I’m starting to generate a little momentum.
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You can still see Sweep’s Instagram @sweep_the_kelham_island_cat.
Finally, have a look at Darren Scothern’s fantastic blog at darrenscothern.com.