Part 144

Hello and welcome back to Mortgage Advisor on FIRE.  This week I talk rant about Bullshit Jobs.  Also, a reminder of why financial independence is so important to me as an autistic person is a neurotypical world.  There are some positive financial updates and the usual memes and gifs.  First, the Quote of the Week:

Quote of the Week

Well, maybe.  The strict definition of being a millionaire is having wealth and/or currency of at least one million units.  It’s easier to be a millionaire in Romania than the UK, because £200,000 would buy approximately 1.17 million lei.  

Being a millionaire is something that many have aspired to, most famously in the classic TV comedy Only Fools and Horses, where Del Boy would frequently tell his exasperated brother, “this time next year, we’ll be millionaires.”

On one hand, it could be kind of annoying, but you also have to admire and respect Del’s relentless optimism, ambition, and drive.  

I don’t necessarily need to be a millionaire.  I just want enough wealth to achieve my goal of being financially independent.  This isn’t just to hoard wealth or throw money away on insane purchases.  I want to acquire more time, but to acquire time you need money.  If you have enough wealth to survive, you don’t have to work.  If you don’t have to work, you have instantly opened up anywhere from 30-60 hours each week.  

I really hate having to work, but I understand why I need to work.  I hear people saying they love working, and they love their job.  That’s great.  Everyone should be able to do what they love, so long as it doesn’t harm anyone else.  What I’ve only just realised in the last year or two is that my desire to be able to quit paid employment is down to being neurodivergent.  As an autistic person dealing primarily with neurotypical people, in a world designed for and by neurotypical people, each day is a constant bombardment of conflicting sensory information, mixed social signals, and illogical relationships between words and actions.  This leads to burnout, which in turn leads one to think about how to escape this neurotypical prison.

Weekly Update

The work on our apartment will now continue into a third week, despite the original estimate being “a week or so”.  The guy doing the work seems nice enough.  He’s friendly and polite.  I do feel frustration at the slow progress being made though, and most days he works from roughly 9am to 3pm-ish, with a lunch of around 40 minutes.  

Our original quote was for the place to be painted, carpets ripped up and disposed of, and some furniture to be dismantled and disposed of.  We got rid of most of the furniture ourselves through charity collection and selling on Facebook.  We are still waiting on the living room and kitchen to be painted.  We believed that, under the carpets, there was wood flooring.  It turns out that is only partially true; some rooms have it and some don’t.  Those that do have the wooden flooring need it replacing anyway.  So, I get how and why that causes a delay, but still, to be entering a third week with not even all the painting done is just really annoying.

The contractors stated they could get the new laminate flooring fitted, but couldn’t start the job until August 22nd.  We can’t go on like this until then.  We don’t have a bed, or wardrobe, or sofa.  Our only seats are our office chairs, at our desks where we work from home.  We’re reluctant to move things about too much, knowing we’ll just have to move it back for the flooring to be done.

We think we’ve managed to get someone else in to sort the flooring next week.  If they can, I’ll be delighted.

The delivery of the new laminate flooring was hilarious.  Altogether there are 24 packs, with the total weight coming in well over 300kg.  The packs are unwieldy and can only be carried one at a time.  I thought I might be able to use our extendable trolley and cables to stack some of the boards on, and then transport them a few at a time.  However, lengthwise the boards wouldn’t fit on the trolley because the space between the handles was too narrow.  Also, width-wise was a non-starter as the boards are too wide for the doors and corridors.  This meant I had to carry all the boards by hand from the ground floor entrance to the lift, then stack the lift, then unload the lift, and then carry the packs down a few corridors and four internal doors.  I then stacked them outside our apartment door before transporting them into the room we are storing the other supplies in.  It was hard work and did my various physical ailments no favours.

Bullshit Jobs

A few years ago I read Bullshit Jobs by David Graeber.  It was funny, infuriating, and something I could relate to.  Graeber suggests that a huge proportion of jobs are pointless.  The man has a point.  

Many years ago, in between my time at the University of Leicester and the University of Central Lancashire, I worked for a major UK bank.  I’m not going to name them, but let’s just use the name Watnest for them.  They were the absolute shits to work for.  So much of their process and procedure was utterly pointless.  The bank was organisationally lazy, and I saw this at the three branches I worked for.  I’ll give one example from my time there.  I was asked to take charge of a daily process where reports from each cashier were collected, sorted, and filed.  What would happen is each cashier would print their own reports and drop them in a box.  The person collating them would then take all the reports out and spend half an hour simply putting them in order.  The first thing I did was to replace the box with a stack of paper trays, like the old school inbox and outbox trays before email.  Each tray was labelled with which sheet it was for.  The result was that each cashier had to spend an extra fifteen seconds putting the sheet in the right tray, but it saved thirty minutes every day for the person organising them.  The thing that really made this a bullshit job was that the reports were never, ever referred back to again.  (In truth, they could be needed for up to several months, but this doesn’t detract from my point as you will see). 

If no one hardly ever read these reports, why was this a daily task when the reports could be printed weekly, or monthly, with a daily breakdown?  I asked the question, and the answer was, “that’s how we’ve always done it.”

One job I always look back at fondly was working for a health insurance provider as a claims assessor.  It was a fun workplace, and some really great people worked there.  Even this business was not immune to bullshit jobs though.  Again, it is related to reports.  There was a time when we were all asked to record what we were doing in regards to claims, for example how many claims were new, existing, previous claims being reopened, and then to also record what the claims were for, for example, neck pain, knee pain, cancer, heart attack and so on.  It’s easy to understand why an insurance company would want to know this.  You would think that there would be systems in place to automatically track this sort of data.  Well, you would be right.  I raised this point and demonstrated how this could be done using existing reports, rather than asking dozens of people to painstakingly record their daily activity.  Nothing else was being recorded; just this information about claims.  The end result was that we all still had to manually record the data.  Just complete bullshit.  

These are tasks within a job that are bullshit, but there are entire jobs out there that are overwhelmingly pointless.  Take the IT worker who automated his job, allowing him to earn a salary whilst doing just a couple of minutes work a day.  That guy is my hero.  

If it works, is it lazy?

So many jobs now are tedious.  Many office jobs are done according to a flowchart, where “if A, then B” type decisions are made for you.  Sometimes these rules can be hidden under many layers of red tape, jargon, and policy summaries, but when you drill down into the detail, it’s a case of following the flowchart.  These types of jobs could be done entirely by AI and it wouldn’t even have to pass the Turing Test to complete the work to a satisfactory standard.  

I firmly believe that what frustrates most people in office-based work is that their job is seen as pointless, adding no value to society, that it could be largely automated, and that there is no room for personal decision-making.  

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 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: Hostage by Clare Mackintosh.

What I’m listening to: Torment by Jeremy Robinson.

What I’m watching: The Control Room on iPlayer.

I’m only a few pages into Hostage but my girlfriend enjoyed it, so I’ll give it a chance.  Torment is an older book by JR but it’s been released with new narration.  It was originally published under a pen name, as he was experimenting with a different style and genre.  The story starts with nuclear war and some survivors, who were in space during the brief conflict, return to Earth to find people hungry for human flesh. 

The Control Room was an interesting three-part thriller involving an emergency call centre worker who takes a call from someone in his past.  I found the first episode a bit weak, but it picked up massively in the final two.

Financial Update

Assets

Premium Bonds: £12,000.00 (up £4,800.00 from last update).

Stocks and Shares ISA: £62,716.14 (up £2,096.33 from last update).

Fuck It Fund: £1,550.00 (no change from last update). 

Pensions: £52,557.77 (up £439.46 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: £505,858.91 (up £7,335.79 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: £217,352.21 (up £7,335.79 from last update).

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

Two huge points this week with my total assets smashing through the £500,000 barrier for the first time.  Also, my total wealth figure has recovered and then passed through my previous all-time high.  There will likely be further dips in the future but it’s a nice mental boost for my assets to exceed £500,000 in value for the first time.

I was able to release some funds to increase my Premium Bonds balance, and the stock market has performed well for me which benefited my ISA and pension values.  Next week will see my debts reduce as my monthly mortgage payments are made.  

I’m afraid that’s all I’ve got for this week.  I posted a brief blog the other day explaining that I’m stressed right now with all the upheaval at home and with my health.  Hopefully, next week I’ll be typing in an apartment that is largely finished.

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

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