Part 107

Hello and welcome back to Mortgage Advisor on FIRE.  This week I discuss the developing issue in UK care homes as staff who refuse the vaccine are sacked.  Also, an update on our BTL search, and a rant about customer service (again).  First up, the Quote of the Week:

Quote of the Week 

We have been living with this pandemic for almost two years, yet people still refuse to get vaccinated, refuse to wear masks when it would be sensible to do so, and refuse to comply with reasonable requests to socially distance and abide by lockdowns.  Ignorance is no longer an excuse.  The information that demonstrates the safety and efficacy of vaccines is freely available online.  I’m not talking about propaganda pieces, but rather the research that went into the development and creation of these vaccines.  I blame no one for not knowing something, but willful ignorance; the active resistance to learning is something that frustrates me.

In the UK there is a story developing where those working in care homes have to be fully vaccinated, or be medically exempt, to continue in their role.  If the workers refuse, they lose their job.  No jab, no job.  

There are arguments, some of them compelling, that state a person should not be forced to undergo a medical procedure.  At first glance, this might seem like common sense.  However, the more I think about this the more uncomfortable I am with that being a sweeping rule.  

In any civilised society, you give up certain freedoms for the good of the whole.  Some examples are not making excessive noise in residential areas late at night, or agreeing to dispose of rubbish in bins instead of just on the street.  There are also laws about not intentionally placing other people in danger, for example by driving whilst under the influence of drugs.  

If you are working in a care home you are more likely to come into contact with people who are vulnerable, such as the elderly or those who are medically compromised in some way.  As such, I believe it’s only right that the people employed to look after these care home residents should be fully vaccinated to minimise the risk of spreading the virus.  No vaccine is perfect, and it’s impossible to eliminate the risk of passing covid on completely.  This is why we have layers of protection, such as masks, vaccines, and extra cleaning.  It’s why cars have seatbelts and airbags.  It’s why pharmacies have your meds checked multiple times.  We are talking about risk management, not risk elimination.  

The argument that each care worker should have the right to refuse the vaccine is, in my opinion, a spurious one.  Many jobs have criteria that have to be met for someone to be able to carry out that job.  When you are employed to care for the health and well-being of other people, your rights do not exist in a vacuum.  

I don’t like to see people losing their jobs.  Covid has impacted all aspects of our lives.  I couldn’t sit here and side with the care workers when I would refuse to have my elderly relatives cared for by workers who were not vaccinated.  It would be disingenuous for me to pretend otherwise.

Weekly Update

I’ve managed to wreck my ankle (again) with no obvious cause (again).  I’ve been having treatment on my left ankle for some time, but in the last few days, my right ankle has started hurting again.  On Friday it became so bad I could hardly place any weight on that side.  I’m sick of these problems now.  I started having trouble with my ankles in late 2019.  It’s been two years of pain.  I just want to be able to walk without pain.  I don’t think that’s too much to ask.  

On Friday I attended the hospital for a SeHCAT scan.  I’ll wait whilst you google it.  

The science behind it is fascinating, as a radioactive substance is used to track bile acid malabsorption.  I need to go back to the hospital next Friday for repeat scans, at which point I should have a clearer picture as to whether bile acid malabsorption is what’s causing many of my health problems.

My girlfriend had her citizenship ceremony and is now officially a British citizen.  It doesn’t change much as she had indefinite leave to remain, but at least this secured her ability to stay and work here in the UK.  Guests were not allowed, which was disappointing as I would have loved nothing more than to have my photo taken next to a massive portrait of the Queen *sarcasm*

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.   

2021 Goals – to be achieved by 31/12/2021

1 – Reduce weight to 92.8kg.  (Current weight 122.6kg).

2 – Finish 104 new books. (Current total: 105).

I’ve now hit my 2021 goal of completing 104 new books.  This doesn’t mean I’m going to stop reading or listening now though.  This month sees the release of the final book in The Expanse series, as well as the latest Jeremy Robinson book, Mind Bullet.  Yes, the rumours are true and I have booked a week off work to allow myself to fully enjoy these.  

As I’m not even close to hitting my weight loss goal, I’m going to take a step back from it in the short term.  My ongoing ankle problems, not to mention the fact I have a massive kidney stone that will probably need surgery, means I have so much on my mind that I should probably go a little easier on myself.

Financial Update

Assets

Premium Bonds: £19,000.00 (no change from last update).

Stocks and Shares ISA: £43,934.73 (up £251.74 from last update).

Fuck It Fund: £1,700.00 (up £50.00 from last update). 

Crypto: £1,006.26 (up £135.07 from last update). 

Pensions: £52,335.41 (up £888.54 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: £463,584.40 (up £1,325.35 from last update).

Debts

Credit Card: £434.93 (up £302.21 from last update).

Residential Mortgage: £167,164.52 (no change from last update).

Buy-to-Let Mortgage: £93,000.74 (no change from last update). 

Total Debts: £260,600.19 (up £302.21 from last update).

Total Wealth: £202,984.21 (up £1,023.14 from last update).

Investment Income in 2021: £3,415.65 (target £5,000).

Some good-looking figures this week, with my assets increasing nicely.  My credit card balance has increased but this was to be expected.  It’s going to fluctuate a little between now and mid-January as Christmas, the New Year and my girlfriend’s birthday all come around.  There are also some bits we need to pay for in our apartment, like decorating and some new furniture.  

BTL Update

On Saturday we attended two viewings of potential properties.  The first was near our current BTL and the second was a fair bit further out.  The first property was a dump.  It would have needed a full refurb, which is not what we want.  This was also not clear from the photos or description on the listing. It’s quite annoying when this happens and I’m not sure why agents bother making a property seem better than it is on the listing.  All it does is create a false impression and when the person views the property they are going to feel pissed off that their time has been wasted.  

The second property was very nice inside.  It has been lovingly maintained and will make someone a great home.  There were negatives though.  The property is next to a very busy road.  From the sofa in the living room to the road, it’s no more than four meters.  A family with small children would be constantly worried about their kids somehow getting out onto the road.  Another downside was that directly across the road is a pub.  The main bedroom overlooks the main road and faces the pub.  I can see this being noisy.  Finally, the washing machine was in the backyard inside a small cupboard.  There was no cover, so if you wanted to do laundry in the rain you would get wet.  

Overall, the negatives were too much for the positives and with an asking price that we felt was at least 20% too high, it was never going to work out.  For an owner-occupier, like a couple downsizing, it will probably be a comfortable home.  For us, it’s back to research.

The criteria we have agreed on, is that we will not spend more than £120,000.  The property needs to be ready to rent, and we will only consider properties which require minimal repair work or decorating if they are not immediately ready to be tenanted.  What I found surprising was just how much interest the first property we viewed has.  The agent told us they were booked solid for viewings, and they’ve already had an offer just under asking price from a cash buyer.

Customer Service Rant

There is one thing that is starting to annoy me more and more about dealing with companies, and it’s when you have to call them.  Almost every company has recorded messages on their phone lines explaining that you can do most things, or answer most questions, by going on their website.  The general tone suggests they’d rather not have to deal with your call.  It’s 2021 and the internet has been around for over two decades.  The overwhelming majority of people do not enjoy calling up their bank, energy supplier, or broadband provider.  Most people will go online and try to get an answer to their question that way.  When they can’t, they have to call up.  It’s aggravating to then have to listen to repeated messages about how it’s “easier to go online”.

Not too long ago I had to deal with an issue with John Lewis, who are the absolute worst when it comes to customer service.  Their website was sending me in a loop without answering my question.  So, I called up.  I spent ages on hold whilst being told I could do what I needed to do online.  I gave up waiting on the phone and went back to the website.  I managed to open up a live chat, at which point I was told I’d need to phone up.

If you are a business and you are going to offer a phone number to your customers, please don’t make them out to be assholes for having the audacity to call up.  Almost every one of them will have already tried to do what they need to do on your site.  The fact they are calling is a sign that your online service is not good enough.  So, take down your recorded messages proclaiming that it’s easier and more convenient to visit your website.  It’s annoying and insulting.

Biolink

You can now find all my social media pages by checking out my Biolink at bio.link/davidscothern.

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.

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. 

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