Part 122

I considered not writing a blog this week.  What is happening in Ukraine puts my plans into their rightful place as not being all that important.  As people are fighting to defend their homes, talking about my financial future seems a little insensitive.  It was the words of my good friend, Yara, who is sheltering in Kyiv right now that convinced me to continue writing.  She is taking cover in her apartment with her elderly mother and disabled brother.  Their walls have shaken from the bombardment of the city.  This is not just a distant war to me, but rather a conflict that might take the life of my friend.  My thoughts are with the people of Ukraine, and the brave souls who are fighting for their freedom.

Quote of the Week

“No dictator, no invader can hold an imprisoned population by force of arms forever. There is no greater power in the universe than the need for freedom. Against that power, governments and tyrants and armies cannot stand. The Centauri learned this lesson once, we will teach it to them again. Though it take a thousand years, we will be free.”

G’Kar ~ Babylon 5

What is happening in Ukraine right now is tragic.  Russia has launched an unprovoked assault on their neighbour and innocent people are dying.  The Ukrainian military is outnumbered but not outmatched.  They are making Russia fight for every inch of land.  Whether it’s the Ukrainian soldier who blew himself up to bring down a bridge, which slowed the Russian advance, or the soldiers on Snake Island who defiantly refused to surrender, there are acts of heroism taking place constantly.  

The world stands on the edge of complete disaster.  I am fascinated with military, and geopolitical, history.  Russia is not playing the same game as the rest of the world.  I have no doubts that if the war turns badly for Russia they will not have any qualms about using heavy artillery, and perhaps even chemical weapons.  

So where does this leave the civilised nations of the world?  Appeasement does not work.  If the West allows Russia to conquer Ukraine, it might satisfy Putin for a few months or maybe a few years.  There will be an armed insurgency in Ukraine and this will keep the Russians bogged down for a time.  It seems that Putin expected a rapid victory in Ukraine, and did not expect such a fierce defence of the county.

The only realistic solution that I see to all this is for someone inside Russia, be it a politician, the police or the military, to take out Putin.  Should another country kill him, that would potentially lead to disaster.  If a head of state is assassinated by another country it will only serve to unite the people of the murdered leader against those who pulled the trigger.  The only people that can stop the Russians long term and without major loss of life are the Russian people.

Weekly Update

Since I realised I was autistic I’ve found that my patience for dealing with, well, people, has diminished drastically.  With a few exceptions people exhaust me.  It’s almost as though the realisation I’m autistic has permanently reduced my capacity to mask.  For those who are unfamiliar with masking, it’s the idea that autistic people act in a way that allows them to fit in with a neurotypical world.  It’s mentally draining and leads to burnout.  For a more complete discussion on masking, I recommend reading the excellent post from Darren Scothern here.

I’ve spoken with other autistic people about this, and it seems to be fairly common amongst those who were identified as autistic later in life.  It’s like a dam bursting, and once the water starts flowing again it becomes much harder to rebuild those walls.

We had been hoping to finalise the adoption of a new cat this week, but the lady we had chosen is undergoing more tests with the vet.  We knew she had a thyroid issue, but the investigations and treatment into that issue have uncovered other health problems.  It’s only right to make sure she is healthy before we bring her home, and the best way to make sure she is healthy is to maintain the continuity of care she has with the vet at the shelter.  

Long time readers will know that the inspiration for my blog came when I was on a cruise around Norway.  My girlfriend likes to create albums for trips we’ve been on, and she’s just finished the Norway album.  It’s a collection of photos and souvenirs from the trip with a quiz at the end, which I’ll admit I didn’t do very well at!  The pictures below are from the album, and it’s an amazing piece of work to remember one of our favourite holidays.

My recent diabetes diagnosis gave me a kick up the ass to get my eyes tested.  I booked appointments for my girlfriend and I.  We turned up at the opticians but there was a mix up where we arrived a little early.  A month early to be exact.  I thought I had booked for February 22nd, but I’d somehow booked for March 22nd.  There was no availability for appointments there and then, so we rebooked for another optician later in the week.  We both needed new glasses, and wanted two pairs each; one for work and one for home.  It came to a bit more than we would have liked, but considering our previous glasses were bought in 2017, it’s not a bad investment. 

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 123.1kg).

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.

What Am I Doing?

What I’m reading: The Future of Another Timeline by Annalee Newitz. 

What I’m listening to: nothing

What I’m watching: The Witcher on Netflix

I finished The Count of Monte Cristo and it is one of the best books I’ve finished.  I can see why it’s considered a classic.  It took a little time to familiarise myself with the characters, as there is a large cast.  I would thoroughly recommend it though.  It’s an incredible story that lives up to the term “epic”.

I don’t have much to say about The Future of Another Timeline as I’ve only just started it.  I should have more to report on by next week.

We’ve started season one of The Witcher in anticipation of watching season two.  It’s not the best thing I’ve ever seen, but it’s entertaining in parts.  Henry Cavill’s performance is good but it’s just a bit too dull in parts.  The disjointed timeline that the show is broadcast is also a bit confusing at first.  

Financial Update

Assets

Premium Bonds: £7,200.00 (up £105.00 from last update).

Stocks and Shares ISA: £44,855.70 (down £1,288.08 from last update).

Fuck It Fund: £5,050.00 (up £25.00 from last update). 

Crypto: £0.00 (down £490.89 from last update). 

Pensions: £48,520.61 (down £2,777.47 from last update).

Residential Property Value: £213,900.00 (no change from last update).

Buy-to-Let Property Value: £138,030.00 (no change from last update).

Total Assets: £457,556.31 (down £4,426.44 from last update). 

Debts

Credit Card: £646.30 (up £646.30 from last update).

Residential Mortgage: £165,264.71 (no change from last update).

Buy-to-Let Mortgage: £92,939.80 (no change from last update). 

Total Debts: £258,850.81 (up £646.30 from last update).

Total Wealth: £198,705.50 (down £5,072.74 from last update).

Investment Income in 2022: £237.25 (target £6,000).

The stock market took a huge hit with the Russian invasion, which I predicted last week.  Although it has bounced back somewhat, it is still not back to pre-war levels.  Some things are more important than the stock market, and I’m not one of those people who complains about it falling.  It’s happened, and I can’t ignore that it’s happened, but peace is more important.  

I’ve cashed in all my crypto.  I’ve tested the water for a year or so and it’s just not done anything for me.  I don’t understand how crypto will ever hope to replace traditional currency.  It just seems like a way to transfer money from the gullible to the already rich.  We had to use our credit card to buy our new glasses, but that balance will come down to zero, or near enough, by next week.  

Work continues on the BTL.  I’m hopeful of having a tenant by April, with the repairs expected to take another two weeks.  Once we have a tenant we will be able to draw some funds out of the equity of the property.  We can take the mortgage up to 75% of the lender’s valuation, which is what I use in the figures on my balance sheet.  Before anyone else jumps in, all the other lending criteria have been satisfied.  We just need a tenancy in place and funds will be released.

Another positive bit of news was that a dividend payment will be due on some of my shares.  This will be paid in around three months and should amount to around £900.  However, the ex-dividend date is April 7th, so if I invest in my ISA on the first day of the new financial year (April 6th) I may be able to buy more units of this stock eligible for a dividend payment.  It’s a tricky one because when the dividend is paid, the share price normally drops by the amount of the dividend. 

2022/2023 Financial Year

As the current financial year draws to a close, I’ve started thinking about the next one.  I’ve been briefed on what my remuneration package looks like for next year and I’m very happy with it.  Even with the cost of living increasing, we are looking comfortable financially.  I appreciate that many are not in such a fortunate position, and it sucks.  The pandemic, Brexit and now war in Europe has really pushed many people to breaking point.  

It’s highly likely that this conflict will have an impact on many FIRE plans.  All I can do is stick to the process and over time my financial future will look after itself.  

For now, my thoughts are with the people of Ukraine, and the brave men and women who are fighting to protect their homeland.  

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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