Hello and welcome back to Mortgage Advisor on FIRE. In the final post of 2021 I look back at the progress I’ve made on my FIRE journey this year. Also, a break from hammering the Tories as I highlight what could be the stupidest thing I’ve read in a long time. There are the usual financial updates, and some frustrating developments with my BTL. First, the Quote of the Week:
Quote of the Week
Please note, the quotes below are reproduced with the quoted party’s errors in spelling and grammar as they originally appeared.
“I’m also a massive believer in law of attraction, illness is created and attracted based on stress, negative thinking and negative emotions, for many if it wasn’t covid it would have been something else, then there’s the many who unfortunately are massively influenced by the circumstances around them, so the media etc have actually contributed to mass negativity which would have contributed to the negative thinking which killed people.”
“I find it’s much better to have an understanding and knowledge of the godlike, unlimiting spiritual beings we are, learning how to connect with our infinite intelligence gradually being a deliberate creater of life in contrast to which is a very unblissful ignorance and one which continues to create a world we don’t want, a result of the ignorance in not understanding everything that happens to you is in response to what you created in your mind.”
The above quotes come from someone talking about Covid. The quotes are replies to some points I made which most people would think are quite reasonable; like if you test more people, you will get more positive results. However, if you stop testing, the cases will still be there but just be unreported. I don’t think this is a controversial point.
I just need to take a minute here, because, well, the quotes I’ve highlighted might be the dumbest things I’ve read all year.
Let’s just get one thing out of the way first. Everyone is equally entitled to their own opinion, but all opinions are not equally valid. For example; if you have two differing opinions about how to treat cancer, who has the most valid opinion? The oncologist or the airline pilot? If you have a question about how to maintain your car, do you go with the opinion of an experienced mechanic, or a five-year-old?
My second point is that the facts don’t give a single solitary crap about your opinion. Sometimes an opinion can just be wrong. People, for the most part, deserve a basic level of respect. Opinions and beliefs have no such protection. If your opinion is dumb, and you don’t listen to those with a more informed opinion, then your opinion deserves to be mocked.
Just because you don’t understand the science behind vaccines or viruses, it does not mean that it’s magic or some sort of conspiracy. It just means you didn’t pay attention when your school teachers were talking about science. As Leonardo DiCaprio’s character in the film Don’t Look Up states when confronted by science deniers online, “It’s called the scientific method. It’s what led to the development of the computer you are typing on.” (I might have the quote slightly wrong here). When I see people ignoring reality to live in their own fantasy, whilst at the same time putting others at risk with their behaviour… Yes, it stresses me out.
With it being the Christmas season I’m writing this on the 24th so that I can take Christmas Day to just chill out and eat lots of food. I fully expect to have a post-lunch snooze whilst bingeing on Netflix. That’s just how I like my Christmas. I’m not a drinker, and neither is my girlfriend. So, it will be food, food, and more food.
I have mixed views on this time of year. I don’t like all the hustle and bustle. I don’t like the frantic way in which people feel they have to get presents, food, and drink. It all just feels a bit desperate at times. From a financial point of view, people can end up spending way more than they can afford, and the result is they are paying that money back for months, sometimes years, after. It’s a lack of financial restraint in these situations that can spiral into long-term financial difficulty.
I think part of the reason I’m not that bothered about the traditional Christmas stuff is that I’m autistic. I’d always felt uncomfortable having family get-togethers where there’s lots of people, and lots of music and loud talking. It’s just sensory overload. I always thought I was just different, but now I know why I’m different. It makes it easier to deal with.
It just seems to me that people put these unrealistic expectations on Christmas, and then get stressed out on Christmas Day and then feel tired and regretful of their spending in the New Year. Apart from a few little treats in terms of food, we’ve hardly done anything differently. My girlfriend and I haven’t bought each other gifts, as we’d rather just pool our money and spend it together on a nice meal, or a trip somewhere.
Anyway, back to the week just gone. It did not start well. Our tenant moved out on December 18th. I know people who live near to my BTL and they told me that the property had rubbish mounted outside and that the gardens looked in a terrible state. I had arranged via email to meet the agent at 9am on the 20th to complete the final inspection. I stated several times that the agent needed to have the keys with them because I suspected they would turn up without them. I’ve had so many issues with this agent that nothing surprised me. So, I made a point of emphasising this several times.
I turned up at the property a little before 9am. The front and back gardens were horrific. Mattresses, cardboard boxes, bags of rubbish, pet carriers, children’s toys, and a pushbike were all just scattered across the garden. It was almost heartbreaking because the previous owners had created a beautiful space in the decades they’d owned the property. When the agent turned up, it quickly became apparent that they did not have the right keys. I was not impressed.
After giving the agents a verbal barrage, I left the issue with them to sort out. To their credit, they arranged for a locksmith to change all the locks and provide us with a new set of keys. A little later, we received the report regarding the internal condition of the property. The phrase “shithole” springs to mind. The tenant had wrecked the place. Burns on the carpet, blinds broken, light fittings smashed, bare electrical wiring from where she had ripped out light switches and light fittings. Paint and wallpaper scraped and ripped off. The toilet seat had been broken off the toilet. The brand new cooker we supplied looked like it had not been cleaned in a decade, despite having been used for just a year. The kitchen was under a cm of water as the tenant had disconnected a washing machine and not turned the water off. This is just the tip of the iceberg. It is going to cost thousands to put right, so we’ve decided to go the whole way and do a complete refurb, more or less.
A lot of people have asked if this has put me off property investing. It hasn’t. Yes, we’ve made mistakes but you can be damn well sure we will not make those mistakes again. We have learned a lot about how to manage the agent we employ, as well as how to properly vet a potential tenant.
Looking ahead we are meeting with a new agent just after the new year. We will discuss the work that needs doing and then let the agent organise it. Whilst that is ongoing we will be looking for the next two properties. The plan is to have three investment properties by the end of 2022 at the absolute latest.
EDIT – I wrote most of this blog early on 24/12 but later in the day we were due to go out for dinner. My girlfriend and I both took lateral flow tests, and whilst mine was negative, my girlfriend came back with a positive result. As such, dinner cancelled and we can’t have my Dad over for Christmas Day. Whilst this all sucks, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Some people are having it much, much worse. So far, we’re all ok. My girlfriend has a sore throat, and that’s about it. Fingers crossed it’s a mild case and she’s back to full health quickly.
A Brief Interlude
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2021 Goals – to be achieved by 31/12/2021
1 – Reduce weight to 92.8kg. (Current weight 123.2kg).
2 – Finish 104 new books. (Current total: 115).
I’ve been working some long days this week, and in the time I’ve not been working I’ve been busy with other things. For the first time this year, I think I’ve gone a whole week without finishing a book.
For 2022 I’ve been thinking about what sort of reading challenge I could do. Another year of just finishing a set number of new books might be a bit dull. I’ll see what I think of between now and January 1st.
Premium Bonds: £20,700.00 (no change from last update).
Stocks and Shares ISA: £43,195.94 (up £1,151.70 from last update).
Fuck It Fund: £2,800.00 (up £150.00 from last update).
Crypto: £729.68 (up £56.20 from last update).
Pensions: £52,011.21 (down £338.02 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: £465,044.83 (up £1,019.88 from last update).
Credit Card: £1,405.89 (up £77.17 from last update).
Residential Mortgage: £166,365.78 (no change from last update).
Buy-to-Let Mortgage: £92,976.55 (no change from last update).
Total Debts: £260,748.22 (up £77.17 from last update).
Total Wealth: £204,296.61 (up £942.71 from last update).
Investment Income in 2021: £3,771.93 (target £5,000).
My ISA seems to have rallied in the last couple of days, whereas my pension has dipped slightly. Overall, as the year draws to a close, my finances are looking healthy. Yes, my credit card is a little high but it’s not out of control and is still in an interest-free period. It will be paid up in full before too long.
Goodbye 2021, Hello 2022
This is the last post I’ll be making before the New Year, as the next part will go live on 02/01/22. Looking back at some key data from the start of this year, it’s clear just how far my FIRE plans have progressed. This is a comparison of some of my financial information from the start of 2021 and now:
Total Assets at the start of the year: £331,758.82
Total Assets at the end of the year: £465,044.83
Total Debts at the start of the year: £235,696.43
Total Debts at the end of the year: £260,748.22
So, my debts have gone up by roughly £25,000 but my assets have increased in value by £134,000. In the same time, my Total Wealth has more than doubled to just over £200,000. It has been a profitable year, and demonstrates that I’m heading in the right direction.
The coming year is going to be very important in setting the pace for my FIRE journey. To stay on track to meet my goal of hitting FIRE by the end of 2023, I need to secure two more properties at a minimum. I’m hoping that the stock market will return to normal in respect to dividend payments, which have left a massive hole in my anticipated investment income for 2020 and 2021.
I haven’t hit the £5,000 target I set myself for investment income for this year, but I’m confident that next year will see an increase on the figure for this year. The only uncertainty in my mind is how much of an increase I’m looking at. There’s no science behind setting this target. To some degree, it is just plucking a figure from the air, but the main purpose of the goal is to track the growth of my investment income. I’d be satisfied with £6,000. It would put me a little behind my ideal schedule, but it would still be a major increase on 2021. To have a realistic chance of hitting my target FIRE date, I probably need to bring in a minimum of £7,500 in investment income for 2022.
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