Hello and welcome back to Mortgage Advisor on FIRE. This week I discuss the rise in interest rates, and the impact on the BTL market. Also, I discuss autistic masking, and the brilliant book on autism by Pete Wharmby.
Quote of the Week
“Autistic burnout is the complete collapse of interest in living.”
~ Pete Wharmby
I lived more than 30 years masking without realising I’m autistic. Since unmasking, and engaging with the Actually Autistic community, so much of my past has fallen into place. It seems that every week I find something out, which makes me think of my past and the penny drops. There are some fantastic resources out there for autistics, and those wanting to know more about autism, such as my Dad’s blog. Through my Dad I began following Pete Wharmby on Twitter. He’s a former teacher and autism communicator. From what I can tell he’s about my age, and he’s just released a book; What I Want To Talk About. I finished this book in less than a day. It blew my mind. For extended periods of the book I felt like I was reading my biography. It was at times funny, harrowing, upsetting, and insightful. I’m not ashamed to admit I shed a tear or two as parts of my past were brought to the surface. Anyone who wants a better understanding of the struggles autistic people go through simply existing in our world should read this book.
It’s not a biography despite having biographical elements. Pete instead talks about the things that interest him; things he has been fixated on in his life, as one thing that seems to be common amongst many autistics is a tendency to retreat into hobbies, activities, or other things that interest them. This is a level or two above just being interested in something, it’s not quite an obsession, but it’s close. Acting in this way is a refuge for many autistics from the world. It’s a chance to feel safe, secure, and shielded from the stress and anxiety of just being. Due to the nature of these types of hyperfixations, autistic people can find themselves mocked for their interests, with many typical interests being seen as uncool, for example, having an interest in trains, or Lego, or professional wrestling, or science fiction and fantasy.
One thing that clicked in my head reading Pete’s book, and listening to him describe his fixation on Star Wars, for example, is that things like Star Wars, Star Trek, Lord of the Rings, Transformers, professional wrestling, and superhero stories like the Marvel Cinematic Universe, is that at their core the stories are simple. Yes, there may be twists and turns in the plot, with characters going through their own personal journeys, but when you break it down, the one thing they have in common is a simple battle of good versus evil. These stories exist in their own, self-contained, reality and you know that it’s a story of good versus evil, and that it’s psychologically, emotionally, mentally safe. This is probably, in some part, due to the fact we don’t have to worry about the complex nature of communication with neurotypical people, and all the physical and social cues that autistic people miss or just don’t understand.
For a long time I had to hide my uncool interest in things like Star Trek, or professional wrestling, because people would mock me for it. This happened from a young age, all the way through school, and to some extent to present day. The tragic thing is, for an autistic person, when you do this it is not just “gentle ribbing”. Even something that a neurotypical person might thing is a small joke can make an autistic person feel hugely self-conscious, and it destroys the shelter they have from the outside world that is constantly pushing in on them from every direction. If you know an autistic person, and they have an interest that you think is uncool, such as Star Wars, or cartoons, or professional wrestling, if you care about them, don’t demean their interests, even if you think it’s just a small joke. You have no idea the damage it does to that autistic person. They might fake a smile and a laugh, because that’s what they’ve had drilled into them since childhood; it’s all a part of masking, but inside that person will be suffering. Let them enjoy their topic of interest; it does you no harm, and it’s not just a form of passing the time for the autistic person. For them, it’s shelter. It’s emotional safety. It can be the sole thing that brings some joy to their life. It can literally be the thing that saves their life.
Oh, you’re being dramatic!
Depending on where you look the average life expectancy of an autistic person is anywhere from 36 years old to 54 years old. Rates of suicide are much, much higher in autistic people than neurotypical people. This is the thing, for autistic people, living in this world comes with constant level of stress and anxiety. The safe shelters for us can be few and far between. So just let us take what pleasure we can in the things that interest us, and if you’re going to make comments about it, just remember that your comment might just be nudging that autistic person closer to the edge of just giving up. If you know an autistic person, just give them the space to take what pleasure they can without making them feel self-conscious about it. Ask yourself, if you are going to make a “jokey” or “piss take” comment, what do I get out of this? If the answer is “a laugh” then you are just a cunt; it’s that simple. Taking pleasure out of making someone else miserable is about the shittiest thing you can do in life.
/ end rant.
I was supposed to have a medical appointment this week as part of an ongoing referral into some of the long-standing health issues I have. As this was being done with a third-party my information was transferred across to this other organisation. In this transfer, a couple of things went wrong (it happens, no big deal). My date of birth was wrong by one digit and my surname had been subjected to an overly enthusiastic piece of spellchecking software. I was supposed to get the phone call at 13:30. My phone rang at 13:14.
Them: Is that David Southern?
Me: It’s David Scothern.
Them: Oh, I think we have the wrong number luvvie.
Me: You probably have the right number but the wrong name. Is this regarding XYZ?
Them: Yes luvvie.
Me: Ok, well I’ve emailed you a few days ago to correct my name. There was also an issue with my date of birth.
Them: Oh, ok luvvie. Well we’ll have to send this back to the admin team and then arrange another appointment.
Me: Why? There’s a clear audit trail and the errors are obviously typos. It’s not like you have Daniel Scotland on your end, is it?
Them: Well luvvie it’s all to do with data protection.
Me: What do you mean?
Them: Data protection… So, is that ok luvvie?
Them: … what do you mean no?
Me: You asked me if it’s ok that you can’t help me now due to a simple mix up. I’m telling you it’s not ok.
Them: … well I have a nursing licence…
Me: That’s great. Still doesn’t mean it’s ok.
I ended up just saying I wasn’t prepared to go around in circles anymore, especially as they had called ahead of time when it wasn’t exactly convenient. To be clear, I’m not annoyed at the typos in my info; this sort of thing happens. I rarely have an issue with a mistake being made, so long as the resolution is appropriate. In this example, the resolution wasn’t ok. It was just someone following a process without using any discretion or common sense.
There seems to be a growing issue with companies being incapable of getting even the most basic things right. I’ve posted in recent weeks regarding the issues with Ikea. Well, I now have several different problems ongoing with Amazon and some third-party sellers. We bought a rowing machine as we now have much more room following the works to our home. I was told that the delivery would come on Monday via DPD but that wasn’t convenient, so I asked for it to come on Tuesday. I received confirmation this was ok. The delivery happened without incident, but when I opened up the box half of the parts for the rower were missing. It turns out it is shipped in three packages that all arrive on different days. I raised this issue with the seller, and their first move was to offer a 50% refund. I’m not going to turn down such an offer, but I was surprised at how quickly this escalated. Ikea offered £170 as a refund on an order of approximately £5k, and most of the stuff Ikea supplied was faulty. Some random seller is giving me £300 back on a £600 rower.
Now for the frustrating parts of dealing with Amazon. We ordered a storage unit via a third-party seller we’ve used before. The item was faulty. Amazon have changed some of their policies recently, so rather than arranging collection of the item, they require you to sort this out yourself, and they then refund you. I spoke with the seller directly and they said they would arrange a courier instead, and the courier would have all the necessary labels. The courier didn’t turn up on the expected day, so I went back to the seller and explained I was unhappy. The first thing the next day the courier buzzed our flat. I took the item down and confirmed they had all the labels. That was a month ago. The item is lost, according to the courier. The seller will not refund as they don’t have the item. I’m pretty annoyed as it’s £50 we’re out because of this. The box will be sitting in some corner of a warehouse collecting dust, and will probably be noticed months down the line.
Even Google knows what the score is…
We bought another item from a different seller, and delivery was due on Friday. I happened to be looking at my phone when an alert came up saying the item had been delivered. However, our buzzer didn’t go off. I went to the postroom immediately but the item was not there. I asked the seller what was going on and they sent a blurry image of some boxes in our post room.
Within a few minutes of the item being delivered, it was stolen. I wouldn’t be surprised if the driver had something to do with it, as it’s the same courier who lost my other parcel.
I’m now done with third-party sellers on Amazon. In addition to the examples I’ve given, we’ve had a lot more, minor, issues regarding product quality. It’s just not worth the risk.
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2022 Goals – to be achieved by 31/12/2022
1 – Reduce weight to 90kg. (Current weight 124.8kg).
2 – Complete 10 “classic” books (4/10)
- Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky (1866)
- Moby-Dick by Herman Melville (1851)
- Dracula by Bram Stoker (1897) ✅
- Catch-22 by Joseph Heller (1961)
- The Iliad by Homer (8th century BC) ✅
- The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas (1844) ✅
- War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy (1867)
- A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens (1859)
- Les Miserables by Victor Hugo (1862)
- Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes (1605) ✅
3 – Read 10 authors I’ve not read before (18/10)
- John Birmingham ✅
- Nicole Perlroth ✅
- Sabine Durrant ✅
- Luke Smitherd ✅
- Max Skittle ✅
- Harlan Coben ✅
- Jo Spain ✅
- Kate Elizabeth Russell ✅
- Kiersten White ✅
- Rob Hart ✅
- Edward Aubry ✅
- Marina J. Lostetter ✅
- S. J. Morden ✅
- C. J. Tudor ✅
- Greer Hendricks ✅
- Clare Mackintosh ✅
- Stephen Baxter ✅
- Pete Wharmby ✅
What Am I Doing?
What I’m reading: Pretending by Holly Bourne.
What I’m listening to: – between books at the moment.
What I’m watching: MCU in timeline order.
I’m finding Pretending by Holly Bourne fascinating. It’s probably more aimed at women, but my girlfriend enjoyed it so I figured I’d give it a go as I was stuck for an actual book to read. The book tells the story of a young woman who was raped by a previous boyfriend. She now works for a charity dealing with sexual violence, and is struggling to understand men. It’s quite harrowing but it keeps you turning the page. Our MCU adventure continues and we’ve recently finished Endgame, and have started the What If? series. We’ve only watched the first episode, Captain Carter, and it was good fun. The premise is what if Peggy Carter was given the supersolider treatment instead of Steve Rogers. I’m looking forward to seeing where it goes from here.
Premium Bonds: £5,500.00 (+ £1,500.00).
Stocks and Shares ISA: £63,624.19 (-£1,664.93).
Fuck It Fund: £1,050.00 (+£50.00).
Pensions: £52,951.06 (-£1,216.46).
Residential Property Value: £229,159.00 (no change).
Buy-to-Let Property Value: £147,876.00 (no change).
Total Assets: £500,160.25 (-£1,331.39).
Credit Card: £0.00 (no change).
Residential Mortgage: £181,721.51 (no change).
Buy-to-Let Mortgage: £105,301.46 (no change).
Total Debts: £287,022.97 (no change).
Total Wealth: £213,137.28 (-£1,331.39)
Investment Income in 2022: £4,280.70 (target £6,000).
Is BTL Dead?
This week saw the Bank of England raise the base rate by another 0.5%. This was less than the expected 0.75% increase, but it still sees interest rates at their highest level in almost two decades. This has impacted the rates available for BTL. When we bought our first BTL, we were able to secure a rate just over 2%. Now, for the same type of set up, we’d be looking at 4.5% – 5.5%. If we were paying that level of interest on our current rental property, we’d be losing money. Rents will increase, but it will take longer and it will not happen to the same degree. Low interest rates were always a temporary thing, but back in 2019/2020 I didn’t think they’d increase so much, so soon. However, a coming together of several once-in-a-generation events all at the same time has hammered the economy. If we’d had competent government we may have rode this storm out, but instead of competence we have the Tories.
I suspect that for the next couple of years, BTL is probably not going to be a profitable type of investment. This is a minor point compared to the trouble I think many will face in coming months. If you bought a property a couple of years ago, and went for the maximum you could borrow at that point, you could be looking at rates much higher than you hoped for. Back in 2019/2020 there were rates for those buying a property at around 1%-1.5%. Even with a reasonable loan-to-value, it’s looking like many people switching deals will be lucky to get anything lower than 3.5%. I was speaking to a friend who is an independent broker about BTL rates, and he was telling me there are some lenders offering rates over 8%.
Things will stablilse and correct themselves in time, but I think we will soon see falling house prices as supply starts to outstrip demand. It’s a simple conclusion; many relationships break down over money. Many couples will have bought a home, and find they are struggling to meet the payments. This stress leads to break ups and more properties go on the market. Eventually, rates will come down to encourage spending and the cycle starts again.
If you are worried about affording your mortgage payments, speak to your lender as soon as possible. Be open, and honest, about your situation. The more information you give, the more likely you are to receive help and support.
Until the market settles down, I’ll be pausing my search for more BTL properties. BTL isn’t dead; it’s just having a snooze.
Biolink and other links
You can now find all my social media pages by checking out my Biolink:
Also, check out Darren Scothern’s blog which talks about autism, being autistic, and general mental health: