Hello and welcome back to Mortgage Advisor on FIRE. This week I take a brief look at the possibility of a further lockdown in the UK. Also, how I was subject to a social media pile-on. There are the usual financial updates, and the start of our search for the second BTL. First, the Quote of the Week:
Quote of the Week
We’re getting to the point where it’s a question of when, not if, we have another lockdown. I’ve got mixed feelings about lockdowns. When they are enforced, they can be a great way of fighting pandemics. Limiting contact between people reduces the transmission of the virus, which can allow the health service to treat people without causing the whole system to collapse.
The problem is, many people refuse to follow the instructions of a lockdown. These people think the rules don’t apply to them. This attitude, when combined with a lack of education or a belief in crackpot conspiracy theories, is a dangerous combination. It leads to people ignoring expert advice and leads to the virus running rampant for much longer than is needed. It is this group of people that are then most vocal about lockdowns not working. The mental gymnastics needed for this to make sense is impressive.
Linked to all this is the Dunning-Kruger effect, which is the name given to the idea that some people are so uninformed that they don’t realise how uninformed they are. These people are so far behind everyone else, they think they are in the lead when they’re actually in danger of being lapped.
Our illustrious leader, Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson **oh we’re using our made up names** is like a walking, talking Dunning-Kruger example. I have about as much faith in Johnson to guide the UK through Covid and Brexit as I do for the Tory party to stick to their manifesto promises. This government only gets things right when it involves the transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich. It’s sickening.
I may have mentioned it once or twice in the past, but John Lewis’ customer service sucks. For a retailer that is supposed to be about quality, they really are awful. My issues with this “partnership” go back over a decade. The first incident I had was when I bought a set of dining chairs and one of them was faulty. This led to the chair breaking as I was sitting on it. I landed hard on a solid wooden floor and injured my back. I went into the store and they treated me like something you’d scrape off your shoe. So, I went down the legal route and won a payout of £3,000.
When we moved into our apartment in 2012, we ordered some matching bookcases and a desk. They delivered the bookcases but not the desk. They kept saying they were out of stock, and this went on for months. Eventually, they discontinued the range, but we still had no desk. After a lot of time on the phone with them, they eventually got me a similar desk.
We have then had issues with exercise equipment; an exercise bike I bought was impossible to put together. The instructions had no relevance to the product delivered. I bought a games console from them that was faulty, and the staff in the store were rude and unhelpful.
You would think all of this would put me off buying from them, but because I’m a complete dumbass I thought I’d give them another opportunity to disappoint me. I ordered a new washing machine from them. They tried to deliver to our apartment in a massive lorry that would not possibly fit into our development. I would have thought that the person planning this delivery would have noticed it’s a city centre apartment and checked if the lorry would fit. The only thing I can think is that, much like their Sheffield store, the person planning the delivery did not have electricity on every floor.
After some back and forth we were able to get the washing machine delivered. We now come to the latest John Lewis clusterfuck. Last November we ordered a new dishwasher. Getting it installed was difficult, because they couldn’t find a place to park. Eventually, it was installed and we were more or less content, despite the unit being fitted slightly wonky and there being some moisture leakage. These were not hills I was prepared to make a stand on, so we just let it go. A little over a week ago the new appliance broke. I called the customer service line and waited over an hour for the call to be answered. The agent told me I had to phone the manufacturer. I kept a polite tone, but in no uncertain terms told them I was not going to make another call. I bought it from John Lewis. They gave me a two-year guarantee. They can sort it. I was promised a call back on Monday or Tuesday this week. That didn’t happen. So, I took the hit and bought a new dishwasher from elsewhere. This is what I call the John Lewis Stupidity Tax.
In other news, my girlfriend has passed all the necessary steps to gain UK citizenship. She will be attending the ceremony soon, where she has to pledge allegiance to Lizzy, and promise to uphold the laws and values of the country. I commented that I might turn up and start chanting, “one of us” but guests are allowed due to Covid. It’s been a big couple of weeks for her, as she’s also started a new job. This role will be her most challenging to date, but also the best paid. I’m proud of her and know she will do well.
Social Media Pile On
I was subject to a social media pile on for the first time. It’s not a nice feeling. It came from a property investor network group I was part of. I created a post which was a little rant about how useless our BTL agent is. Readers of this blog will know we’ve had issues with them all year. Well, we had yet another issue with rent last month, with the agent not knowing if it had been paid or not. Late last week, the agent emailed to explain the tenant had reported the heating as not working. I’ve got a few friends who are plumbers, so if it was going to be a big job I would rather get someone I know and trust on it. However, the agent stated they could send someone to have a look at what was going on. I replied that it was fine to send them up to investigate, but I wanted to know what work needed doing before they actually did anything. I didn’t receive an update, despite asking several times, until the middle of this week. I was concerned that my tenant would have no heating and wanted to make sure I was upholding my responsibilities as a landlord.
Based on my previous experience with the agent, I just knew what was going to happen. The plumber they sent would have gone, and done the repair without any feedback to me first. This is exactly what happened. The cost was £78 and this is what everyone in that social media group fixated on. I was receiving comments like, “what the fuck do you expect? It’s £78 ffs. That’s cheap”, and things like, “you’re obviously tight if you don’t want to pay £78.” The attacks started getting really personal, so I left the group.
A few points; I never said I was unwilling to pay. I wanted to know what work was needed, because if it was a big job, which needed new parts, I could do this more efficiently via one of my friends. Also, for a big job I would rather trust my people, than the agents’ people. This is because at no stage in the relationship has our agent done something right the first time. As it turns out, the heating was repaired simply and it only cost £78. That’s a relief. However, the agent once again acted outside the authority I gave them. That’s the problem. Not the monetary amount, but the principle that I can’t trust the agent to act in accordance with a simple instruction.
I lost my temper a little with the agent, and they have agreed to make a contribution towards the work that was completed. It’s now the end of the road for them, though, and we’ve started the process of switching to another agent. The manager of our current agency has asked for another chance, with promises that she would be our sole point of contact. She promised this before, and that did not happen. Also, why wait until your customer is so pissed off they are going to voluntarily pay hundreds of pounds to transfer their business to a competitor? Once your customer has been pushed to that stage, it’s just too late.
A Brief Interlude
I’ll never hide this blog behind a paywall, but it does cost money to run the site. I spend a minimum of six hours each week writing the blog, and maintaining the other parts of davidscothern.com. It is a labour of love. However, many of you have asked how you can show your appreciation. I set up a Buy Me A Coffee page but the main feedback was that you couldn’t pay by card. Well, now you can! My page now supports card payments and Apple Pay. So, if you want to show your support and appreciation for the content I create, please buy me a coffee. It really does mean a lot.
2021 Goals – to be achieved by 31/12/2021
1 – Reduce weight to 92.8kg. (Current weight 121.7kg).
2 – Finish 104 new books. (Current total: 98).
Monthly Goals – October
1 – Reach 100 completed books.
2 – 200,000 steps in October.
3 – Reduce weight to 117kg.
I’m not making much progress with my weight loss. It’s just so difficult to maintain a healthy diet when you’re stressed, and working from home in a sedentary job. Throw in my health concerns and it can’t be surprising that I’m not exactly eating the ideal, balanced, diet.
My reading challenge is progressing well and I’m within touching distance of completing 100 books. I should hit my monthly goal for reading, and I suspect I’ll hit the 2021 goal of 104 books with several weeks to spare.
Premium Bonds: £7,000.00 (up £450.00 from last update).
Stocks and Shares ISA: £43,225.34 (down £137.16 from last update).
Fuck It Fund: £1,500.00 (up £150.00 from last update).
Crypto: £866.78 (up £42.12 from last update).
Pensions: £49,835.03 (up £654.78 from last update).
Residential Property Value: £210,058.00 (no change from last update).
Buy-to-Let Property Value: £135,550.00 (no change from last update).
Total Assets: £448,035.15 (up £1,159.74 from last update).
Credit Card: £1,048.86 (up £734.07 from last update).
Residential Mortgage: £157,555.15 (no change from last update).
Buy-to-Let Mortgage: £93,019.03 (no change from last update).
Total Debts: £251,623.04 (up £734.07 from last update).
Total Wealth: £196,412.11 (up £425.67 from last update).
Investment Income in 2021: £3,088.85 (target £5,000).
It’s nice to see a sustained period of growth in my total wealth, which has been boosted by the recent property value increase but is underpinned by the consistent gains in my ISA over the last couple of months. It’s frustrating to see my credit card balance increase once more, but it was unavoidable with the need for a new dishwasher.
My income increased a little but I’ve resigned myself to falling short of the £5,000 target for 2021. Still, it’s an improvement on 2020 where I achieved less than £200. Last year was a strange one though, as many expected dividends were cancelled due to Covid, which also put back the purchase of my BTL. I suspect I’ll end up with around £3,500 of investment income for 2021, which is fairly respectable considering where I am on my FIRE journey.
The search for the second BTL has started. There are a lot of lessons to be learned from the first BTL, such as being more selective with viewings. When I looked for my first investment property, I was viewing anything and everything. This was a huge waste of time. The key moving forward will be to filter out as many properties as possible without leaving my apartment. I should only visit a property if there’s a real chance of a bid being submitted. It would be fantastic to have a second deal over the line before the end of 2021, but that would be almost miraculous. I think it’s more realistic to aim to complete by the end of the financial year.
You can now find all my social media pages by checking out my Biolink at bio.link/davidscothern.
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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.
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Finally, have a look at Darren Scothern’s fantastic blog at darrenscothern.com.