Part 143

Hello and welcome back to Mortgage Advisor on FIRE.  This week I cover a range of subjects; the recent heatwave across Europe, a bit more on inflation following the post I published midweek, the usual financial updates, and a rant about streaming services.  First, the Quote of the Week:

Quote of the Week

“1976 was worse” ~ various people

Climate change denial is something I don’t get.  I mean, it’s been obvious for decades that we are wrecking the planet.  Whether our increased industrial activity is directly causing climate change is irrelevant, I’d argue.  

I don’t think many would suggest that heavy industry, burning of fossil fuels and destroying the rainforests is a good thing for the environment.  We want biodiversity and we generally don’t like cities shrouded in smog. 

So, assuming for a moment that climate change is not due to human activity, why should we change our way of life? Well, what’s the worst that could happen? We stop using finite resources and switch to energy sources that are essentially limitless and clean?  We stop pumping carbon into our atmosphere and increase the quality of our breathable air? We help stabilise the natural world and preserve species that are in danger of going extinct? Cleaning up the Earth will do all these things, and if climate change is anthropogenic, we will also have the knock-on effect of reducing it.  

With the recent spell of extreme heat we’ve had in the UK, a lot of people have been banging on about 1976 and how it wasn’t “that bad”, ignoring the fact that there was a surge in excess deaths due to the heatwave at the time.  It’s easy to be blase about hot weather when it’s not had a significant personal impact.  In time, I’m sure we will see reports of the deaths this heatwave has caused.  It should be noted that, at the time of writing, it is thought that the July’22 heatwave has been responsible for over 4,000 deaths in Europe; mostly in Germany, Portugal, and Spain.  

Another point to note about 1976, compared to 2022; the highest recorded temperature in the UK in the 1976 heatwave was 35.9C.  In this recent heatwave the highest recorded temperature was just over 40C.  The average UK temperature for July is around 21C.

There is a point at which humans can physically not survive, in terms of the temperature.  Once our internal temperature exceeds 42.3C, the proteins in our body break down and to quote one article, we “turn into scrambled eggs”.  We have ways of regulating our internal body temperature; we do it every day without thinking.  It’s worth remembering that if the weather continues to get hotter, there could come a time when our access to the outside world is limited due to extreme heat.  This is already the case in some parts of the world where the midday sun results in most people taking a break for a few hours.

Weekly Update

I imagine that a lot of people had a similar start to the week, in that they were struggling with the heat.  Last Sunday we had to move our mattress from the bedroom to the living room, as we were preparing for the refurb of our flat.  The bedroom was emptied of furniture and we had to stack most of our possessions between the living room and spare bedroom/home office.  

On Monday the work started and we spent most of our time in the living room trying to survive the heat.  According to our, well I don’t know what it’s called.  It’s this old device my Gran had that predicted weather based on air pressure, and also has a mercury thermometer.  I kept the device after she passed, and it’s been hung on our wall since.  Anyway, the mercury touched 40C several times.  It was hot, to say the least.

Monday and Tuesday were just horrific.  It was a case of waiting out the heat and counting down the hours.  We had a few small USB fans dotted around the living room, but for much of the time they just blew out warm air.  I drank over eight litres of water from Sunday night to Tuesday evening.  

Climate change is a worry and we need a scientific breakthrough, such as via fusion power on an industrial scale.  Eating a little less meat, and cutting down on electricity use at home isn’t even a drop in the ocean.  The overwhelming majority of carbon emissions come from a small group of companies, and until they change their ways, dropping our central heating from 22C to 20C just isn’t going to do much.

Now, I’m not saying there is nothing we can do as individuals but our actions need to be focused in the right direction.  We can’t bitch and moan about countries like China and their carbon emissions whilst at the same time shopping for all our electronics off Amazon where those products have been manufactured in China.  We can’t pat ourselves on the back and say, “well the UK hardly emits any carbon” when all we’ve done is export our carbon emissions to other countries that build things for us.  Also, it would be wise to remember that the UK was the first country on Earth to start emitting carbon on an industrial scale.  

Anyway, coming back from that tangent, the rest of the week has been stressful as the flat is just a complete state with boxes piled up in the rooms not being worked on.  We are sleeping on a mattress in the living room, and our cat is just confused.  We have beds for her in each room and she would normally spend some time in the home office on her bed by the window.  She walked in there the other day and seemed confused as to why it was empty.  She looked up at me and gave a mournful-sounding meow.  Poor girl doesn’t know what’s going on, but it will be worth it in the end.  We’re only doing this work to give our sweet Poppy the best home for her retirement.  

I’ve not been massively impressed with how long the work is taking.  The guy doing the work each day is friendly, polite, and seems to take pride in his work.  It just seems to be going a bit slowly.  We were initially told the work would take a week, maybe a week and a half, but after a week we’re not even halfway through.  It’s frustrating.

This Week’s Tory Shambles

If you haven’t watched The Inbetweeners you might not get this reference, but do me a favour; load up a clip of Will from the show talking.  Close your eyes, and tell me that he doesn’t sound just like Rishi Sunak.  

We have a choice between Sunak or Truss.  It’s like the tagline from Alien vs Predator; “whoever wins, we lose”.  

I suppose on balance I would rather Truss win, for a few reasons.  First, the memes will be amazing.  Second, I think she’s not quite as vile as most Tories and I suspect her level of competence means she probably will not be able to do too much damage.  Sunak arguably has a little more going on upstairs, but he could probably still hide his own Easter Eggs for the annual hunt and finish last.

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

1 – Reduce weight to 90kg.  (Current weight 118.9kg).

2 – Complete 10 “classic” books (4/10)

  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 (10/10)

  1. John Birmingham ✅
  2. Nicole Perlroth ✅
  3. Sabine Durrant ✅
  4. Luke Smitherd ✅
  5. Max Skittle ✅
  6. Harlan Coben ✅
  7. Jo Spain ✅
  8. Kate Elizabeth Russell ✅
  9. Kiersten White ✅
  10. Rob Hart ✅

What Am I Doing?

What I’m reading: I’ve just finished The Warehouse by Rob Hart, and have not started a new book yet.

What I’m listening to: Never by Ken Follett.

What I’m watching: D.B. Cooper: Where are you?

I finished another book, The Warehouse by Rob Hart, and thoroughly enjoyed it.  It wasn’t a book that required a huge amount of thinking, but it was still an entertaining read.  I picked up on most of the twists early on, with one rather gross exception (which I will not spoil for other readers).  The story takes place in the near future where one business has monopolised internet shopping and many public services.  Millions of people live on company campuses where they rarely go outside due to climate change.  It’s dystopian and draws on influences like Brave New World and 1984.  It has an easy style to read and will keep you occupied for a few days.

I’m enjoying Never by Ken Follett.  I read his century trilogy a few years ago and thought it was brilliant, but I’ve not tried any of his other stuff (mostly because the TV adaptation of Pillars of the Earth made me want to stick pokers in my eyes).  I’m about two-thirds of the way through, and have no idea how it will finish.  The book looks at how small incidents can snowball into huge, international conflicts.  It’s interesting, but some of the characters are a little bland.  One random point is that I’ve learned a hell of a lot more about the Republic of Chad in Africa.  Much of the plot takes place there, and in typical fashion led me down the Wikipedia rabbit-hole.  My only major criticism is the way the daughter of the President is written.  It’s almost as though she is there so that the President has someone on whom to dump exposition.  It just feels a bit clumsy.

I have hit my target of reading ten new authors this year, through which I have discovered some fantastic authors.  I just need to crack on with some of the classics now.

Financial Update

Assets

Premium Bonds: £7,200.00 (up £2,200.00 from last update).

Stocks and Shares ISA: £60,619.81 (up £1,810.69 from last update).

Fuck It Fund: £1,550.00 (up £1,000.00 from last update). 

Pensions: £52,118.31 (up £1,378.45 from last update).

Residential Property Value: £229,159.00 (no change from last update).

Buy-to-Let Property Value: £147,876.00 (no change from last update).

Total Assets: £498,523.12 (up £6,389.14 from last update).

Debts

Credit Card: £0.00 (no change from last update).

Residential Mortgage: £183,174.71 (no change from last update).

Buy-to-Let Mortgage: £105,331.99 (no change from last update). 

Total Debts: £288,506.70 (no change from last update).

Total Wealth: £210,016.42 (up £6,389.14 from last update).

Investment Income in 2022: £2,756.09 (target £6,000).

Inflation

There’s a lot of talk about the cost of living crisis and inflation at the moment.  The headlines state figures like “9% inflation”, but this does not tell the whole story.  Many people up and down the country have to account for every penny they spend on groceries.  For these people, who are struggling to make ends meet, the true rise in inflation is much more serious.  

In January this year, blogger and author Jack Monroe highlighted the true extent of inflation.  In her article in The Guardian she explained that Asda’s own brand of dried pasta was 29p for 500g, but a year later the same pasta was 70p.  This is far greater than a 9% increase.  Also mentioned in her related Twitter thread, the cost of 1kg of rice was 45p.  A year on, the cost was £1 for just 500g.  A tin of baked beans increased from 22p to 32p.  From my own experience, a four-pint bottle of skimmed milk has increased from £1 to £1.50.  

If you don’t have to check the price of every item each time you shop, these increases may be missed.  After all, it’s just a few pence here and there.  However, if you are shopping on a rigid budget it can mean the difference between three meals a day, or just two.  Some google-fu suggests that the average UK adult can get by on £40 of food each week.  Such a budget does not allow for much variety or flexibility. 

There are some people who overspend because of a lack of financial education.  However, there are many people up and down the country who are running out of ways to make their income cover the absolute basic necessities of life.  There’s an argument that you can judge a society by how the poorest are treated, and viewed through that lens we have failed.

Streaming Services

Amazon Prime Video: £7.99pcm

Netflix: £6.99pcm (cheapest package)

Disney+: £7.99pcm

Apple TV: £4.99pcm

Now TV (Entertainment package): £9.99pcm

Paramount+: £6.99pcm

Streaming services are getting out of control and it’s to the detriment of viewers.  Back in the day, it was all about Netflix and Amazon and that was fine.  Approximately £15pcm for a wide selection of shows and movies.  Then, studios started getting greedy and we saw the choice of things to watch get diluted among many different services.  

I’m a fan of sci-fi, and I enjoy Star Trek and Star Wars.  Time was, I could watch Star Trek on Netflix, but all that content has moved from Netflix to Paramount+.  This means I no longer watch Star Trek.  New Star Wars content is now available through Disney+, but I refuse to pay for another streaming service.  

To subscribe to the services listed above would cost over £40 each month.  It’s just not worth subscribing to Paramount+ just so I can watch Star Trek, or subscribe to Disney+ just to watch the Obi-Wan Kenobi show.  I’m not alone in feeling this, so all that happens is people start sharing passwords.  Then, the companies come down hard on people who share passwords.  It benefits no one.  

Another point related to this is how shows have to be a huge hit immediately or they get cancelled.  Netflix and Amazon are especially bad for this.  The thing is, it’s a self-reinforcing cycle.  Viewers are reluctant to commit to a new show as they fear it will just be cancelled.  The streaming service looks at viewing figures for the new show and decides to cancel because it’s not getting the viewers.  I can’t be the only one who waits for a few seasons before watching most shows, just to make sure I get to see a complete story.

That’s all for this week, so I thank you for reading.  Please leave a comment if you have any thoughts on the post, and if you enjoy my content please consider buying me a coffee via the links/images on this blog.

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:

www.darrenscothern.com

2 thoughts on “Part 143

  1. Hello, good article. You’ve not published an update re your studies for a while, how are you getting on? I used to a mortgage advisor some 20 years ago and did all my exams back then to get chartered status and the fellowship. It was a lonely journey but it helped my career. Don’t give up! Donna

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, thank you 🙂 I stopped studying for the DipFA a while ago; late 2020 I think? I wasn’t in a good place mentally and I was thinking about how long it would take to achieve the full qualification compared to when I was hoping to be able to retire, and it just didn’t seem worth it. I’m in a comfortable place with my current employment, and it just didn’t feel like the best use of my time. If I thought I was going to be employed in the financial industry for the significant future, I’d still be studying. It’s not where my heart lies though.

      Like

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