Part 162

Hello and welcome back to Mortgage Advisor on FIRE.  This week I look ahead to my 2023 financial goals.  Also, thoughts on the “where are you really from?” incident.  There are yet more frustrating customer service examples, but a nice end to the week with some street food and a Christmas market.  

Weekly Update

Would you believe me if I said I’d had another week with poor customer service?  I’d ordered some stuff online and it was being delivered by DPD.  Somehow, despite the retailer having the correct address on the order, DPD printed the wrong label for the package.  So, I waited at home for the delivery and tracked it via their app.  Just before the driver got to me, it came up with a message stating that because I wasn’t home the package was being sent to a supermarket a few miles away.  

The thing about companies like DPD is that they are organisationally shit.  As soon as something goes wrong, you know you’re in for a bad time.  I called the depot a few times but no one knew what had happened.  It wasn’t until my fifth call to them (as their promised callbacks never happened) that someone worked out that they had messed up.  

Fortunately, the driver came back later that night and delivered the package at almost 9pm.  Considering that it should have arrived by 10am, and my day had been planned around that, I wasn’t best pleased.  I didn’t blame the driver because he could only deliver to the address he was given.

A little later in the week, we were due to have a new fridge freezer delivered via John Lewis; another company that is organisationally shit.  We only ordered from them because every other retailer had sold out of the design we wanted.

We live in an apartment complex in a part of Sheffield that has undergone massive regeneration in recent years.  It used to be the industrial heart of the city but has developed so much that in the last few years it was voted the best place to live in the UK in a national newspaper, and also recently featured in the top fifty places to live in the world on a travel website.  Where we live is awesome, but it does have some drawbacks, with an obvious one being a lack of parking.  

The road that comes into our development has double yellow lines meaning parking is not allowed.  No one, not even the people handing out tickets, applies this to vehicles making deliveries because it would be dumb.  Every single day, without fail, you see supermarket vans, couriers, and other vehicles parked for a few minutes at a time whilst they make deliveries.  John Lewis also comes here to make deliveries regularly, yet every time it’s the same song and dance where they claim they’re not allowed to park, and we explain they can, they say they need to check, and so on.  Eventually, they agree they can park.  

The guys who came to take the item were not the best people I’ve dealt with.  They stated they didn’t know if they could fit the new fridge in the lift to bring it up (it was fine as I checked before ordering).  So they wanted to take the old fridge down to the van, and then measure the lift to see if the new fridge would fit.  I had to ask a few times if it would not be better to measure first to put their minds at ease.  It was not until I was ready to start drawing pictures with crayons to explain why it was better to do it that way that they understood.

To round off another week of bad service I had to make a complaint to my bank for the first time since joining them over three years ago.  There was a problem where my debit card was being declined by multiple retailers despite having sufficient funds.  I logged into the app and loaded up the live chat function.  I wrote a simple, clear breakdown of what was happening, in that I was getting to the stage where I had to approve the transaction in the bank’s app but when I did, and then returned to the retailer’s page it would decline.  

One of my biggest frustrations in life is being asked to repeat myself or being asked the same question over and over again.  Please don’t misunderstand me here, as I appreciate there are times when people don’t hear properly or something.  I’m not on about those times.  I’m talking about times when people don’t like your answer so they just bombard you with the same question until it becomes easier to just change your answer than keep declining.  I don’t do this anymore though.  Some might think I’m an asshole for it, but if I keep getting asked the same thing over and over I just let my answers get increasingly blunt each time I reply.  

Anyway, back to the issue with the bank.  I’d typed out the problem I was facing into just a few sentences; “My card is being declined by multiple retailers.  I get to the stage where I’m asked to approve the transaction in the app, but when I approve it, the retailer declines the transaction.”

The bank’s agent said they needed to read the information I’d provided so far, and then proceeded to ask the following;

“Have you tried with multiple retailers?”

“Are you approving the transaction in the app?”

“What happens then?”

The bank upheld my complaint but I had to laugh when I read through the email, which stated that agents have to ask questions to find out more information about the issue.  Looking at what I initially wrote, and what was asked, I still can’t work out what extra information they were able to obtain.

Lady Susan Hussey

On the subject of people being asked to repeat themselves, I want to say a little about the incident involving Susan Hussey and charity boss Ngozi Fulani a few days ago.

According to reports, Lady Hussey asked Ms Fulani where she was from.  Would this question have been asked if Ms Fulani was white?  Somehow, I doubt it.  

Ms Fulani apparently took the question in stride and replied that she was British.  What followed was, reportedly, a series of questions about where Ms Fulani was “really from” and where her “people were from”.  

This isn’t political correctness gone mad, or some other such rubbish.  It’s basic human decency.  What does “really from” actually mean?  How far back are we talking?  If you trace my family line back more than a few generations I’m really from Scandinavia, despite my parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents all having been born in the UK.  

This isn’t even about not asking about people’s heritage or background, it’s just that there are ways of doing that which are respectful. Granted, the transcript below is from Ms Fulani’s point of view but seeing as though I have no reason to doubt it and it’s not been disputed (as far as I know), but it still makes shocking reading.

Back to the Weekly Update…

We ended the week by attending the Kelham Island Victorian Christmas Market.  The last few years it has been a bit underwhelming, as it seems to get smaller each time.  There’s still a good vibe, and the live music, people in costume, and street food combine for a festive atmosphere.

One interesting thing happened when we were looking at an artist’s stall and saw the name on the work; A Scothern. My surname is not that common, so I struck up a conversation with the woman and we shared our frustration at how people often mispronounce our name or just assume we are actually called Scotland or Southern.  Yes, it’s annoying.  

On Saturday evening we went to Peddler Market, which takes place at the start of each month.  There’s live music, lots of pop-up restaurants, and arts and crafts.  One of our favourite vendors was there (Kebab Cartel) and we also had some food from another vendor we’ve liked in the past (Mor Mor) but their food was a little disappointing this time.

A Sick Person with Documents

Regular readers will be aware of the mental health struggles I’ve had, particularly since 2020.  This week someone referred to me as “a sick person with documents”, which is the English translation as the comment was made in another language.  My reaction to this comment was, first of all, confusion.  Was this an insult? Was it just a statement?  

After finding out it was intended as an insult I found it hilarious, and to paraphrase a favourite quote of mine, “ignorance and stupidity all in the same package, how efficient…”

When people use such vulgar and ignorant terms it betrays their own values, beliefs, and prejudices.  This isn’t any major loss to me as I’d never been a fan of this particular person, as they are a walking, talking, personification of Dunning-Kruger.  I have no problem with people who don’t know or understand a subject but are open and willing to learn.  Willful ignorance, when you don’t understand something and aggressively refuse to learn, says more about the person firing the insult than the person on the receiving end.  

Anyway, here is a picture of me with my documents.

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

1 – Reduce weight to 90kg.  (Current weight 126.4kg).

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 (24/10)

  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 ✅
  11. Edward Aubry ✅
  12. Marina J. Lostetter ✅
  13. S. J. Morden ✅
  14. C. J. Tudor ✅
  15. Greer Hendricks ✅
  16. Clare Mackintosh ✅
  17. Stephen Baxter ✅
  18. Pete Wharmby ✅
  19. Devon Price ✅
  20. Nick Jones ✅
  21. Nathan Hystad ✅ 
  22. J. P. Pomare ✅
  23. Max Hastings ✅
  24. Brian Lumley ✅
  25. Steve Richards ✅

What Am I Doing?

Reading: Fake History by Otto English.

Listening: The Expanse series by James S. A. Corey

Watching: Dark on Netflix.

I’m still working through Fake History a few pages at a time.  I’m almost done, but it’s starting to get a bit repetitive.  Overall, still an interesting book but for me, I think it would have worked better as an audiobook.

I’m on the fourth book of The Expanse series, Cibola Burn, which is often seen as the weakest in the series.  I would tend to agree simply because every other book is excellent, so just by being very good, it finds itself as the weakest entry.  I’m looking forward to book five, Nemesis Games, as it takes the whole story in a new direction.  The way this series was written is so clever, as the nine core books can be split into three trilogies, but Nemesis Games is right at the middle of the story and it’s fitting that it’s what moves the story on.

Financial Update

Assets

Premium Bonds: £9,795.00 (+£200.00). 

Stocks and Shares ISA: £64,578.71 (+£338.60). 

Fuck It Fund: £1,675.00 (no change).

Pensions: £55,773.76 (+£772.88). 

Residential Property Value: £233,989.00 (no change). 

Buy-to-Let Property Value: £150,993.00 (no change). 

Total Assets: £516,804.47 (+£1,311.48). 

Debts

Credit Card: £0.00 (no change).

Residential Mortgage: £180,028.08 (-£438.44). 

Buy-to-Let Mortgage: £105,101.46 (-£92.44). 

Total Debts: £285,129.54 (-£530.88). 

Total Wealth: £231,674.93 (+£1,842.36)

Investment Income in 2022: £5,102.27 (target £6,000).

I was really hoping for a big Premium Bonds win this month but sadly, I’ve not won anything.  There are just three more scheduled posts in 2022 so I really need to start thinking about my goals for 2023.

2023 Financial Goals

The most important goal for 2023 is to acquire more property.  Recent reports suggest that house prices have fallen for the third month in a row, with the most recent month showing a £4,000 (average) drop.  Once the new year is out of the way, I hope to step up the search for a second BTL and secure something in the first half of the year.  

My projections for investment income in 2023 look positive.  Assuming that there are no major issues with our first BTL, my investment income should look something like this:

Rental income: £3,564 p/a

Parking space income: £780 p/a

Dividends: £3,800 p/a (based on projected yields). 

Total investment income for 2023: £8,144.

The above projections do not account for any Premium Bond wins, nor do they account for reinvesting income.  Could I reach £10,000 investment income for 2023?  It would be incredible if I could…

Goal 1: Acquire BTL 2.

Goal 2: £8,500 investment income (accounting for reinvesting income).

I can’t think of any other specific goals for now.  I do have a general desire to reduce my levels of debt moving into the new year now that interest rates are higher.  Rather than a goal, that’s just more of a generalised aim.  

Do you have any financial goals for 2023?  Leave a comment and let me know.

Thanks for reading.

Disclaimer

The views and opinions in this blog are my own, and do not represent the views or opinions of my employer, nor should they be considered advice.

If you want personalised financial advice, seek an appropriate professional.  If you are in financial difficulty, seek advice via the resources below:

StepChange

MoneyHelper

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

4 thoughts on “Part 162

  1. Let me guess..,’bolnav cu acte’? There is really no limit to how rude people can be. I love reading your blog, but as a fellow sufferer, the animated memes make it very difficult to read.

    Like

  2. I saw a few issues with the Lady Hussey/Ngozi Fulani conversation.

    Firstly, Lady Hussey missed the social cue that the person she was talking to didn’t want to answer her questions.
    Secondly, Ngozi should have realised what Lady Hussey was getting at, as it was quite obvious.
    Thirdly, Lady Hussey is an old lady in her 80s, from a different generation.

    Changing her name to an African one (Ngozi’s real name is Marlene Headley) and proudly wearing African dress, it seems daft for Ngozi not to expect people to ask about her background and strange that she would not want to answer questions about it.

    This is me speaking as someone who has been asked the question ‘Where are you REALLY from?’ on numerous occasions in my life (and will probably continue to be asked), usually by people of an older generation. Younger folk will ask the more neutral, ‘What’s your family background?’

    With a face obviously not descended from Anglo Saxon stock, I think it’s normal for people to ask as a matter of interest and I’m happy to answer that I was born in England but my folks weren’t.

    I feel that too big a deal was made by Ngozi. For what purpose and who benefitted?

    People are just being interested when they ask such questions and are making conversation, and now it’ll probably be another thing people can’t talk about for fear of offending . So much for embracing diversity.

    Like

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