Part 131

Hello and welcome back to Mortgage Advisor on FIRE. This week I discuss the link between the mind and body, and how healthy actions in one can help the other. Also, more bizarre customer service, and why I can’t offer mortgage advice to those who contact me on social media.

Quote of the Week

“Healthy mind, healthy body.”

The most effective method I’ve found for managing stress, and depression, is exercise.  I love resistance training, and the feeling of success when I smash out that extra rep or extra few kilos of weight.  A routine of exercise always results in a better diet for me.  For some reason, it doesn’t work the other way around.  Eating better doesn’t motivate me to exercise more, but exercise pushes me to eat better.  

As science advances, we are finding more links between diet, sleep, exercise, mental health, and physical health.  This should not be a surprise, but for many people, it is, as the human body is a closed system and the mind is an emergent property of that system.  So, it stands to reason that a healthy body will promote a healthy mind.  I know, I know, it’s not always as simple as that.  People can be at the absolute peak of physical health yet be ravaged by crippling depression.  On the flip side, some people are impacted by severe physical disabilities yet have a healthy and positive mindset.  

All I can say is that for me, exercise is the best treatment for my mental health.  With a routine of exercise, I see my diet improve.  As I exercise more and eat healthier, my physical appearance improves, which boosts my mental health.  It’s a self-reinforcing cycle.  

The link between diet and mental health is often overlooked.  The body is a machine and like any machine, it needs an energy source; in other words, it needs fuel.  As the saying goes; garbage in, garbage out.  If you feed your body rubbish fuel, you’ll get rubbish performance.

I’m not going to rant about the state of the UK food industry, because we all know it’s shit.  So much processed junk, and even the fresh fruit and vegetables on sale in the supermarkets are of poor quality.  I mean, take the standard tomato on sale in a supermarket, and compare it to what you can get from an independent grocer.  Still, it’s better than nothing.  Eating healthy takes work and generally requires much more time spent chopping vegetables and cooking.  This isn’t possible for everyone, especially those who work 40 hour weeks and spend two hours a day commuting for work.  It’s easy to see how people turn to ready meals.  

We need a cultural shift but I can’t see it happening anytime soon.  The working class seem to have been brainwashed into thinking that working 40 hours a week, from 18 to 68, is what it takes to stay above the poverty line.  I’m so thankful for the small breaks I’ve had in life that have pushed me in the direction of FIRE.  There’s no reason why, in 2022, we have to work five days a week, 8-10 hours a day.  We could easily cut the working week by 20% with no loss of pay, or loss in productivity.  Other nations have shown how it can be done.  More time away from work would allow more time to eat a healthy diet and exercise.  It would allow people to recharge their mental batteries.  As a result, the strain on the NHS would reduce.  There is no downside. 

Weekly Update

Another week and another customer service nightmare.  This time the offending parties were Yodel and Nespresso.  I ordered some coffee capsules as a birthday present for someone.  I arranged for the package to be delivered when the recipient would be home.  Yodel stated on their tracking that if there was no one in, the item would be left in a safe place, with a card posted through the door and a photo of the item where it was left.  

The item was then “successfully delivered” to “neighbour” but the details for that neighbour made no sense.  Imagine a card stating the item was left at number 92, yet number 90 is the last house on the street.  It was that sort of confusion.  No card was left, and I couldn’t find a photo of the item on the tracking page.  So, I contacted Yodel’s customer support by live chat.  I explained the situation in detail.  The agent said they would investigate, and after a few minutes came back to me with a reply that was just telling me what I’d already told them.  The conversation went a little like this;

Me: ok

Yodel: Is there anything else I can help with?

Me: yes, you can tell me where the parcel is.

Yodel: As per my last message, it was left with a neighbour.

Me: All you did was repeat what I’d already told you.

Yodel: …

Me: …

Yodel: …

Me: …

Yodel: Maybe the item will turn up.

Me: Are you for real?

The conversation ended with no resolution, except that Yodel would try to contact the driver and find out what happened.  Yodel suggested I contact the company I bought from.

So, I called Nespresso.  When connected with their agent, she tried several times to take my postcode.  After stating my postcode several times, both using normal letters/numbers, and the phonetic alphabet, she got bored and terminated the call.  Maybe she needed an espresso.

I called back and spoke with someone who sounded like he’d just woken up, or was drunk, or both.  I don’t know, but he was so chill and slow with his speech I thought he needed a shot of adrenaline.  After 40 minutes of investigating, the agent said I should wait and see if the item turned up.

At this point, I was losing the will to live.  I explained that I would not be doing that and I wanted a refund.  I’ve never understood why it’s acceptable for courier services to hand over packages to neighbours.  After some time they eventually agreed to replace the order.  It should not be this difficult.

A few days later I received an email with the following photo:

Yes, this photo really cleared things up.

On Friday we tried a new bar/restaurant in our neighbourhood.  I had a scallop starter served with bacon, parmesan crisp, and a romesco sauce.  It was very nice.  For the main, I had a disappointing diavolo pizza.  Not enough chilli heat, and the pancetta was flabby (gross).  I had to scrape the chunks of pancetta from the pizza for it to be edible.  My girlfriend had a veggie pasta, and we shared a fudge cake.  Considering we had a coke each, the fact it came to over £55 was a little frustrating.  We don’t mind paying for quality food, but this felt like we’d had our pants down.  This was a place that promoted itself as authentic Italian.  It felt like a poor version of Pizza Express, but a more expensive version.  We will not go back.  

Support Mortgage Advisor on FIRE

I love writing this blog, and I’ve met some great people because of it.  Maintaining a website costs money though, and if you want to say thanks for the content I publish, consider a donation to my virtual tip jar on the link below:

https://www.buymeacoffee.com/davidscothern

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

1 – Reduce weight to 90kg.  (Current weight 120.1kg).

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 (1/10)

  1. John Birmingham ✅

What Am I Doing?

What I’m reading:

What I’m listening to: This is how they tell me the world ends by Nicole Perlroth

What I’m watching: MasterChef on BBC iPlayer.  

I’ve had to give up on my latest physical book.  I just don’t find the mental energy during the week to pick up a book and read.  My job is mentally draining at times, and I just can’t face picking up a book and reading.  I finish most workdays with a headache and just want to sit back and not have to think much.  

My current audiobook is a fascinating look into cyberwarfare.  My knowledge of hacking and coding is extremely limited, and this book is a real eye-opener.  It’s also slightly terrifying just how much of our daily lives depend on code, which appears to be open to hacking with minimal effort.

As regular readers will know, my girlfriend and I enjoy our food.  It should come as no surprise that we watch Masterchef as something of a guilty pleasure.  This week saw the semi-finals and has narrowed the competition to five people, with a winner to be crowned this coming week.  For a while, I’ve been thinking the final three will be Radha, Eddie and Pookie.  I don’t see any reason to change that prediction based on the semi-finals.

Financial Update

Assets

Premium Bonds: £18,550.00 (no change from last update).

Stocks and Shares ISA: £43,215.10 (down £116.32 from last update).

Fuck It Fund: £0.00 (no change from last update). 

Pensions: £52,340.56 (down £225.91 from last update).

Residential Property Value: £218,291.00 (no change from last update).

Buy-to-Let Property Value: £140,863.00 (no change from last update).

Total Assets: £473,259.66 (down £342.23 from last update).

Debts

Credit Card: £2,575.63 (up £1,412.19 from last update).

Residential Mortgage: £164,465.27 (no change from last update).

Buy-to-Let Mortgage: £105,385.26 (no change from last update). 

Total Debts: £272,426.16 (up £1,412.19 from last update).

Total Wealth: £200,833.50 (down £1,754.42 from last update).

Investment Income in 2022: £877.70 (target £6,000).

My credit card has taken more punishment as we’ve booked a second holiday for this year.  We had already booked a few days in Paris, but now we’ve also booked another week away somewhere else.  Having holidays to look forward to is a huge motivating factor, and hopefully, we’ll be able to start exploring more of the world.

Over the next few weeks, I’m expecting some further investment income to come through, with a decent dividend from one of the stocks I hold, and the start of rent coming from our BTL.

I’m considering a change of focus for the next few months.  I’m not that concerned about my credit card balance, as I know it will come down to zero again fairly quickly.  However, when we secure a second BTL, it might be time to consolidate and spend some time paying down my debts.  We’ve lived through a few years of exceptionally low interest rates but that is not going to continue forever.  Rates are already creeping up, and I don’t want to be caught unawares when my fixed deals run out.  

Asking me for Mortgage Advice and/or Financial Advice

As this blog has progressed I’ve started getting an increasing number of requests from readers for mortgage advice.  What started as one or two requests here and there, has progressed to almost daily requests with some days seeing multiple requests.

I appreciate the confidence people have in my ability, but I don’t work that way.  I’m not an independent mortgage broker.  I don’t work for myself.  Also, even if I was an independent advisor, I wouldn’t take work from people who contact me via social media because of the potential conflict of interest.  

I also receive numerous requests along the lines of, “I have £XXXX, what should I invest in?”  There are few, if any, one-size-fits-all approaches to investing.  I don’t offer answers, I offer questions.  If you want to learn about investing, you need to ask the right questions; What are my investing goals? What type and level of risk am I comfortable with? What can I afford to lose?  Asking the right questions, and educating yourself through different blogs, books, articles, and podcasts, will give you a range of opinions.  From this, you can find your own answers.  The one point I make time and time again, is that if you don’t understand the investment you are just gambling.  

Biolink and other links

You can now find all my social media pages by checking out my Biolink:

bio.link/davidscothern.

Also, check out Darren Scothern’s blog which talks about autism, being autistic, and general mental health:

http://www.darrenscothern.com

One thought on “Part 131

  1. I’ve long felt that exercise is for both my physical and mental health. The hardest part of lockdown for me was the closure of gyms and I felt like weeping for joy when they were reopened.

    “working 40 hours a week, from 18 to 68, is what it takes to stay above the poverty line” – if it’s a job they mostly like doing, then I don’t think there’s anything wrong with this, with the caveat that they are not spending more than they are earning and that they are saving into pension plans.

    I’m not sure the reduced hours will work in the UK, some people just don’t have the work ethic or companies don’t have the required work culture to maintain productivity. There are still UK companies using COVID as an excuse for shockingly bad service (in terms of not answering or returning calls, or delays in dealing with queries/complaints).

    I work 40 hours a week, have a mostly healthy diet and I make time to go to the gym 3 times a week – it takes a bit of effort, sometimes I feel like I can’t be bothered but I make myself do it because I know it’s good for me. Whilst fewer work hours may help some improve their lives, it won’t help all or many, not when improving their lives is already within their means but they just can’t be bothered to do it.

    All those people cancelling their Netflix subscriptions – wouldn’t it be great if they all started healthy diets and exercising in this newly acquired spare time not spent binge-watching boxed sets!

    Anyway, sorry to hear about your bad experience with customer service – there is nothing more frustrating that they don’t seem to care.

    Like

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