Hello and welcome back to Mortgage Advisor on FIRE. This week I touch on death, space exploration, and celebrate two years since I last gambled. First, the Quote of the Week:
Quote of the Week
As we get older the one certainty is that we will encounter death, whether ourselves or through those we know. A few days ago I saw that someone I knew had passed away. I was never particularly close to her, but she was very good friends with my girlfriend for a time. It would be disingenuous to suggest that we were friends but I did not wish her ill. Sadly, she passed away at a young age, survived by her parents and her baby. No parent should ever have to bury their child but life is rarely fair or just. My thoughts are with her family.
For some, the prospect of death is frightening. My belief is that the fear is not so much about being dead, but rather a fear of how one will die. It’s not a nice subject to consider but it is something I think we all should. There are practical aspects to how your estate will be dealt with upon death. Planning for death helps make these decisions easier for those you leave behind. Even if you have no assets to leave, simply stating how you wish your body to be treated will take a lot of emotional pressure off those who have to organise the funeral on your behalf. Far from being morbid, taking action to answer these questions is an act of consideration for those you love. Being dead is not hard for the deceased, but it can be very difficult for those who are still living.
It’s been one of those weeks where the days pass quickly but the hours seem to drag. This is the reality of life in a pandemic where you spend most of your time at home working from your spare bedroom. Part of me thinks it would be good to return to the office, but the bigger part of me prefers working from home and being able to just pop in and see my cat when I want, and being able to get a fresh snack from the fridge when I feel like it. I do miss seeing some people face to face but, as someone who has misanthropic tendencies, the current arrangement suits me fine.
The news story that caught my attention this week was the launch of New Shepard which carried Jeff Bezos and a small crew past the Karman Line 100km above the Earth which is considered by some to be the dividing line between our planet and space. However, as cool as this launch was, it’s important to point out that there is still atmosphere 100km up from the Earth. In fact, even at 400km away from Earth there is atmospheric drag on the International Space Station which needs frequent boosts to push it back into a low-Earth orbit. So, although I think it was a cool launch in many respects, I don’t personally think it qualifies as a space launch. It would be like jumping off a balcony and claiming you had flown.
Despite it seeming like I’m putting a complete downer on the story, I think it’s actually an important milestone. Space exploration is something I am very passionate about. Sooner or later something will happen to this planet and it could wipe out our species in an instant. It could be an asteroid, solar flare, nuclear war, a deadly pandemic, a rogue planet, climate change, or a gamma ray burst. The one certainty is that eventually this world will no longer be able to sustain human life. We need to branch out and establish colonies on other planets and moons. Preferably, in other star systems as well but that is a long, long way off.
Although there is a lot of talk from various national space agencies, it seems most are content to just shuttle astronauts to and from the ISS. It’s just not seen as a vote winner for politicians to promise huge funding for space. The thing is, there is a huge trickle down effect from space exploration and there is a dedicated Wikipedia page just for spinoff technologies from NASA that we use in daily life. I understand the argument that there are problems that need solving on Earth such as hunger, poverty and climate change but to suggest it is an “either or” exercise between solving these problems or exploring space is a false dichotomy. There is plenty of wealth to do both. If the governments are not going to force the issue on space exploration, then it falls to the mega rich to do so. The debate we need to have is around how to effectively tax the wealthy so that they pay their fair share to society.
Spending on space exploration has been a lesser priority since the race to the Moon was won. At the height of the space race, the US was allocating approximately 4.4% of the national budget to NASA. In 2020, NASA received 0.48% of the national budget.
I would love to explore space and I hope that space tourism will be easily accessible within my lifetime. Failing that, I would at least hope to see our people land on Mars.
The week has been capped off by the visit of a good friend from my days at university in Preston. Also called David, he came over on Saturday and we went for Mexican food with my girlfriend. It was great to catch up after three years since we last met up and over the course of tacos, nachos, churros and drinks we put the world to rights.
2021 Goals – to be achieved by 31/12/2021
1 – Reduce weight to 92.8kg. (Current weight 122.1kg).
2 – Finish 104 new books. (Current total: 63).
I’ve found a new series of books to keep me entertained. It is the Kaiju series by Jeremy Robinson. For those who don’t know, the term Kaiju is a Japanese word used to describe any large creature like Godzilla. This series of books is a separate universe apart from Godzilla and the like. In fact, the books frequently reference popular culture with characters name-checking Cthulhu, Star Trek and the X-Men to name just a few. The humour in these books is great and although they are serious books, they don’t take themselves too seriously. I still have a few more books to complete before finishing the series but I’ve seen that the author has written many other sci-fi books so I should be busy for a few months yet.
Premium Bonds: £18,200.00 (up £700.00 from last update).
Stocks and Shares ISA: £27,413.50 (up £211.04 from last update).
Fuck It Fund: £125.00 (up £125.00 from last update).
Crypto: £397.58 (down £3.75 from last update).
Pensions: £48,016.38 (up £318.21 from last update).
Residential Property Value: £207,807.00 (no change from last update).
Buy-to-Let Property Value: £134,098.00 (no change from last update).
Total Assets: £436,057.46 (up £1,350.50 from last update).
Credit Card: £441.73 (up £262.30 from last update).
Residential Mortgage: £158,925.57 (no change from last update).
Buy-to-Let Mortgage: £93,079.52 (no change from last update).
Total Debts: £252,446.82 (up £262.30 from last update).
Total Wealth: £183,610.64 (up £1,088.20 from last update).
Investment Income in 2021: £2,105.57 (target £5,000).
A decent week financially with my assets increasing in value and some more investment income being received. The mini-slump in my ISA seems to have been halted with some modest gains recorded this week. My credit card took a small hit as we had to pay for Bob’s latest visit to the vet. He’s having a full set of blood and poop tests to see if we can work out what’s going on with him.
As we progress through Q3 I am moderately happy with my progress towards FIRE. I had hoped to have a second BTL behind me but that will take as long as it takes. Covid has turned the world upside down and so long as my loved ones and I have our health, that’s the main thing.
I’m working on something that should see my Premium Bond total hit £20,000 by the end of next month and once I hit that target I will probably scale back the investment into those bonds and start trying to build up my income generating funds in my ISA.
When we arrive in October, the index values of my properties should update again and hopefully they will increase once more. In order to release funds from the BTL, I’d need it to increase in value by approximately a further 5%.
Regular readers will know about my struggles with gambling addiction. Well this weekend marks two years since I last gambled. It’s gone so quickly in some ways. To those struggling, you have my support and if you ever need someone to talk to you can find me on Twitter, where there is a great network of people helping each other recover from this addiction.
Please show your support
I spend several hours each week writing this blog and make it freely available to all readers. I do not hide my content behind a paywall. However, maintaining a website incurs costs. If you can afford a small donation, it would be gratefully accepted. Click on the Buy Me A Coffee image to be taken to my supporter page. You can either make a one off donation, or sign up to a monthly subscription. If you can’t make a donation, please share my blog on your social media.
My Instagram is @david_scothern and my Twitter is @advisoronfire. You can also email me at email@example.com.
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.