Part 114

Hello and welcome back to Mortgage Advisor on FIRE.  The first blog post of 2022 is a tragic one, as I report the passing of our cat Bobby.  I take a look at how positive Covid tests impacted our Christmas, and look ahead to 2022.  First, the Quote of the Week:

Quote of the Week

On Boxing Day, around lunchtime, our sweet Bobby passed away.  We’d only adopted him in May’21.  He was still healthy and active from what we could tell.  Aged 12-13 he still should’ve had many years ahead of him.  His death was so sudden, and it’s difficult to write about.  In some ways, even harder to write about than with Sweep, whom I loved so much.  With Sweep, it was easier in some ways to handle his passing.  He was old and had been in a gradual decline for many months.  It was his time.  We got to say goodbye to him properly, as we spoiled him.  I remember the night before we took him to go to sleep for the last time, we spent the night sleeping with him next to his favourite bed.  It still hurts now to think about Sweep, but I know he loved us and that he knows we loved him.  

I was washing my hands in the bathroom on Boxing Day when my girlfriend started shouting at me to come into the living room.  Bobby was on the sofa, his eyes were open and he was moving slightly.  I think he was moving, at least.  My girlfriend had his head supported in her hand as his head was hanging off the edge of the sofa.  He suddenly let out a cough, or some sort of exhalation.  Then, he just went limp.  He didn’t move again.  

When we first took Bobby in, it was a difficult adjustment for us and him.  He was a very nervous cat and would jump or hide at the slightest thing.  Over time he realised he was safe.  He started to come out of his shell, and we saw what a sweet little man he was.

Bobby was a real character.  He was a typical cat in many respects; he liked to sit on Amazon boxes, and he liked to chase the red dot (the laser pointer).  He also loved to attack the TV where we would often play videos for him of birds or mice.  His favourite video involved blue jays landing on a tree stump.  He would try to catch them by tapping furiously at the screen and then he would jump up and rest his front paws on top of the screen so he could peer over and see where the birds went.  On more than one occasion he would come to find me in my home office, or wake us up in bed by meowing and signal us to follow.  He’d go into the living room and look at the blank screen of the TV, look back at us, then back at the TV.  It was clear what he wanted.  He wanted to catch the birds.  

When Cats Protection brought Bobby to us, he was in a large cage with a blanket and a small knitted toy that was filled with catnip.  He loved that toy.  It was made by an elderly woman who loved cats, and she sold them for a few pounds each.  When we realised how much he loved this toy, we ordered several more for him so he had at least one in each room.  We have kept the original toy and blanket he came with, but we will recycle his other toys for our next cat if they will take to them.

Bobbity was also a cat who knew what food he liked.  He liked all food.  Any time we sat down with something to eat, it had to pass the “sniff test”.  He wasn’t a lap cat, but he would jump in your lap to get food.  He would reach out with his paw and tap your arm to get your attention.  He would do this for food, or just to be petted.  If you tried to take your hand away, he would reach out and pull your hand back.

One of the cutest things about Bobby was how he would sleep in our bed.  He would wait for the bed to be made each morning and then he would crawl and squirm under the duvet until he found the right spot.  We started putting stuffed toys under there for him, and if you lifted the cover a little later he would be asleep hugging one of the toys.  It melted the heart.  Sometimes in the night he would jump on the bed and step all over us until we lifted the duvet for him.  Then he would settle down between us.

On the last morning of his life, Bobby did something he’d never done before.  He got on the bed and fell asleep on my pillow just above my head.  He’s slept almost everywhere else on the bed, but it was the first time he’d done this.  

It didn’t seem real when he passed.  His body went cold so quickly.  We found an emergency vet and I got him there as quickly as possible.  My girlfriend couldn’t go as she had tested positive for Covid on Christmas Eve.  I was allowed to go as I’d had a negative test on Boxing Day morning.  On the journey to the vet, you could have been mistaken for thinking he was just asleep.  When the time came to hand him over to the vet, I broke down.  It was at that moment that it hit me.  

Losing Sweep in March’21 and then Bobby in December’21 has hurt so much.  I’d do it all again though, and we will do it again when we have had some time to grieve.  We purposefully adopt older cats because they are often overlooked.  Our time with them can be short, but for the cats it’s priceless.  They get a loving, safe home to see out their days, and whilst they are with us they bring joy, humour, and their own love for us.  

If you are thinking of getting a pet, please consider adopting an older animal.  They are already trained and have a settled personality.  All they want is a quiet home to retire in.  There are some great, smaller, animal charities.  We love our local Cats Protection and are still in contact with the lady from whom we adopted Sweep back in 2019.  These volunteers do so much good for these abandoned animals.  When we are ready, we will definitely adopt from them again.

Weekly Update

This has been the worst Christmas I remember, and I’ve had a couple of awful ones in the past.  On Christmas Eve we were supposed to go for a meal with my Mom and her husband.  However, shortly before leaving my girlfriend and I took lateral flow tests.  Mine was negative, but her test was positive.  We decided to do the safe thing and stay home.  

On Christmas Day my Dad was supposed to come over for a few hours.  However, with my girlfriend having Covid, and my Dad working in the NHS in a patient-facing role, it was not safe for him to come over.  Boxing Day saw the death of Bobby, and then the following day I tested positive for Covid.  

Merry.  Fucking.  Christmas.  

The New Year is always an anticlimax.  “Yay, the Earth completed roughly another orbit around Sol.” I say roughly because a year is technically 365.25 days, although that is still not completely accurate.  We have a leap year every four years to make the numbers add up, but a day is not exactly 24 hours either.  So, yeah, “happy almost-kind-of new year!”

Having Covid really does suck, and I’ve only got it fairly mild I think.  Even with it being mild, I’m tired much of the time, am constantly coughing, and feel light-headed.  Trying to concentrate for more than half an hour at a time is difficult, which has meant I’ve had to put this blog together over several episodes of writing.

I think the most frustrating aspect of all this is the self-isolation.  I love going out for a walk whilst listening to an audiobook.  Having to stay indoors all this time is making me climb the walls.  From 02/01 I can take lateral flow tests again, and if I get two consecutive negative results on consecutive days I can end my self-isolation early.  I don’t feel as though they would come back negative though.  I’ll just have to wait and see.

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.

2022 Goals – to be achieved by 31/12/2022

1 – Reduce weight to 90kg.  (Current weight 125.8kg).

2 – Complete 10 “classic” books.

  1. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky (1866)
  2. Moby-Dick by Herman Melville (1851)
  3. Dracula by Bram Stoker (1897)
  4. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller (1961)
  5. The Iliad by Homer (8th century BC)
  6. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas (1844)
  7. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy (1867)
  8. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens (1859)
  9. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo (1862)
  10. Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes (1605)

3 – Read 10 authors I’ve not read before.

Looking back at my 2021 goals, I failed miserably to lose any meaningful weight. There are all sorts of reasons for this with my health issues, but hopefully I can have another go in 2022. My reading challenge was much more successful. I ended the year having finished 119 new books, and you can see the full list here.

Financial Update

Assets

Premium Bonds: £20,700.00 (no change from last update).

Stocks and Shares ISA: £43,410.05 (up £214.11 from last update).

Fuck It Fund: £3,000.00 (up £200.00 from last update). 

Crypto: £743.86 (up £14.18 from last update). 

Pensions: £53,107.26 (up £1,096.05 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: £466,569.17 (up £1,524.34 from last update). 

Debts

Credit Card: £1,781.41 (up £375.52 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: £261,123.74 (up £375.52 from last update).

Total Wealth: £205,445.43 (up £1,148.82 from last update).

Investment Income in 2022: 0.00 (target £6,000).

My credit card balance increased due to the emergency vet bill for Bobby.  Apart from that increase, my financial position looks strong going into 2022.  However, I still don’t know how much the refurb of the BTL will cost.  It’s possible that in a couple of weeks we will be able to release some equity from the property, but whether the money comes from funds we already have or from the equity in the property, it will still impact my total wealth.

There are two priorities I have in the first weeks of 2022; increase my Fuck It Fund to £5,000, and pay off my credit card.  Then, I can turn my attention towards maximising my ISA allowance when the new financial year starts in April.

The last few years have been tough for many people.  The pandemic has affected the physical, mental, and financial health of the nation.  I can’t do anything to help with the first two, but in terms of financial health, I hope this blog will make a difference.  The first step to improving your financial situation is to educate yourself.  In the age of the internet, there is the entirety of human history and expertise available whether you view this from a smartphone, a laptop, or a PC at your local library.  I published a bonus blog post about Financial New Year Resolutions a couple of days ago, in which I give some more practical advice about controlling and managing your finances going forward.  There is no better time than now to commit to improving your financial health.

As always, if you have any questions or comments, please let me know.  You can either leave a comment below the post or message me on social media.  Thank you for your continued support as Mortgage Advisor on FIRE enters a fourth year.  Happy New Year!

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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