Hello and welcome back to Mortgage Advisor on FIRE. This week I briefly discuss the NHS and RMT strikes. Also, a great year for investment income. I discuss some frustrating changes in my personal life, and a look ahead to the final blog posts of 2022.
Quote of the Week
“Richard, you’re just talking to yourself, you’re ranting. Richard you’re ranting”
~ Mick Lynch
Assuming you’ve not been hibernating you must have noticed that *checks notes* pretty much everyone seems to be going on strike. I want to focus on two strikes; the nursing strike and the railway strikes. If you want an example of how the mainstream media is treating these strikes, look no further than Mick Lynch being “interviewed” by Richard Madeley.
Nurses, the NHS, and the 17% pay rise…
At first glance a 17% pay increase demand seems unreasonable, however there are a few things to consider. Striking is very much a last resort. I believe that the overwhelming majority of those going on strike would rather be working and helping the public. This strike action is not something that has come about suddenly. The NHS has been treated badly for years. The work gets harder whilst in real terms the staff are being paid less and less. With worsening working conditions, more pressure, and less pay, and coming off the back of a global pandemic, that 17% starts to look less unreasonable. If you’ve been getting pay increases at a rate less than inflation for several years, then you’ve been getting paid less in real terms year on year. That 17% is to not only reset the clock, but also to account for how badly the NHS as a whole has been treated by central government. Giving them the pay increase would be a start, but it doesn’t solve the fundamental problems the NHS faces regarding job satisfaction and pressure.
The NHS needs heavy investment in people and infrastructure, but training new doctors and nurses is a long term project. It takes 10-14 years to train as a doctor. So if you want to make the job more attractive, you have to account for the fact that you are appealing to 18 year olds looking at what degree they will study. You then have to realise you will not see any benefit from your investment for a further 14 years. Depending on the election cycle, that’s 3-4 elections until you start to notice a difference. Will any government throw hundreds of millions, maybe billions, at the NHS when there’s a chance they’ll be out of office when the benefits are reaped? Party politics is not condusive to projects that take more than five years to produce benefits.
In the short term, just give the nurses the money.
The nursing and railway strikes both suffer from the same problem; a lack of quality PR management. Already I’ve seen signs of people losing sympathy for the striking workers because of the media campaign that is at best neutral to the strikes, and at worst is highly critical. The optics of the railway workers striking for four days over Christmas doesn’t look good, even though the rationale is that the railways are closed for most of that time. As much as some people love Mick Lynch, there needs to be better management of the PR side of these strikes because public opinion seems to be shifting.
Again, I have a lot of sympathy for those striking and I agree with many of the demands from the workers. I can’t see the strikes ending well. At best, the can will simply be kicked down the road for the next government to deal with. At worst, the country grinds to a standstill in 2023 as more industries strike.
I’ve not had the best week due to some changes in my circumstances, which I can’t talk in much detail about so I’ll try to discuss it in more general terms. As an autistic person a large part of my mental well being comes from routine, and having a sense of control over what I do, and when I do it. The rug was pulled out from under me this week and I had the one-two punch combo of dealing with a negative change in my circumstances but also finding out about it in less than ideal circumstances.
Moving forward this will negatively impact my mental health but there’s not much that can be done about that. I want to come back to spoons for a moment to explain why. For those unfamiliar with the concept of spoons and mental health, it goes a little like this…
Each day you have an amount of spoons. The amount can vary daily depending on your general mood, physical health, and so on. For the sake of argument let’s assume that I have anywhere from 8 to 12 spoons each day.
Waking up, showering, breakfast, and the general morning routine might take 2 spoons. Household chores a further 4 spoons. Spending time with loved ones a further 3 spoons. So, 9 spoons so far. If you had 8 spoons to start with, you are in a deficit already.
There are certain things we all need to do each day, and those tasks come with a cost to your spoon balance. If the base cost of those necessities goes up, then you are having to budget for a greater number of spoons each day. Whilst I might be able to meet that cost, because the task is essential, it will leave a reduced number of spoons for other things for an indefinite length of time. This type of change might seem manageable to the outside observer, but it comes with a medium to long term cost on mental health.
If spoons don’t do it for you, think about it in terms of hit points or health points, like in a computer game. You have a set amount, and when you take damage, you health reduces. Over time you can build up your balance but it generally takes longer to recover these points than it does to spend them. A particularly stressful interaction with someone can wipe out a hit point balance in minutes that can take days, or even weeks, to recover. This also fails to account for the fact that a person’s maximum spoon, health, or hit point balance can be irrevocably reduced. You might have been able to store twenty spoons at one time, but a single, high-level stress event or a constant level of stress can permanently reduce your maximum capacity to store these spoons.
So what’s the answer? Well, we are all playing this game called life, and the rules of life cross over to a huge extent with the rules of money, which are in turn dictated by capitalism. For someone like me, the aim is to learn the rules and then apply them in such a way so as to facilitate an exit from the game. The only way to win over the long term is not to play, and that’s why FIRE is so important. If your financial health and independence is not determined by other, external factors, then you can simply tip the table over and refuse to play, much like how many games of Monopoly end. Until you reach that point, you have to smile as much as possible and keep focused on the exit strategy.
On Saturday morning we viewed a possible BTL. When we arrived at the property we did the usual and had a good look at the brickwork and roof. We spotted a possible gap in the tiles. When we looked inside, there were corresponding areas which suggested the early signs of damp. Despite the rest of the property being great, a hole in the roof which lets in moisture is only going to get worse. It’s also one of those repair jobs which can uncover other problems. The numbers didn’t stack up if we account for that level of repair, and unfortunately meant it would not work as an investment.
Following the viewing, I went out with my girlfriend for lunch and some shopping. It didn’t exactly go to plan. We had originally booked for a Chinese restaurant but they called to explain they had to close as several staff were sick. We booked another restaurant that advertised Viking Tapas, which sounded interesting. When we arrived, the restaurant was quiet and several staff were milling around. No one greeted us. We approached one member of staff but as we started to speak, she walked off. We tried again with another member of staff and were eventually shown to a table. The menu was different to what was displayed online, and not in a good way. We missed the brunch options by four minutes and were left with a choice of pizza or salad. We were already a bit miffed with the service and decided to go elsewhere.
We tried a Japanese restaurant next but were put off by the cleanliness, which was further concerning when the staff dropped our menus on the floor and then simply picked them up and placed them on our table. We ended up going with what we knew and went to Lucky Fox (a place that does excellent fried chicken) and really enjoyed our meal.
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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)
- 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 (24/10)
- 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 ✅
- Devon Price ✅
- Nick Jones ✅
- Nathan Hystad ✅
- J. P. Pomare ✅
- Max Hastings ✅
- Brian Lumley ✅
- Steve Richards ✅
What Am I Doing?
Reading: Fake History by Otto English.
Listening: The Expanse series by James S. A. Corey
Watching: Nothing at the moment – having a break from TV.
I’m down to just a handful of pages of Fake History. What started well has devolved to a real slog to get through. I probably would have enjoyed it more as an audiobook.
I’m halfway through Persepolis Rising (book 7 of The Expanse). This is my second run through the books and I’m enjoying them just as much, if not more, than the first time through. The jump from book 6 to 7 is a little jarring at first (not going to say why as don’t want to spoil it, but if you know, you know) but once it gets going it’s highly entertaining.
Premium Bonds: £19,260.00 (+£760.00).
Stocks and Shares ISA: £62,980.29 (-£1,205.48).
Fuck It Fund: £0.00 (no change).
Pensions: £54,763.58 (+£16.62).
Residential Property Value: £233,989.00 (no change).
Buy-to-Let Property Value: £150,993.00 (no change).
Total Assets: £521,985.87 (-£428.86).
Credit Card: £0.00 (no change).
Loans: £10,000.00 (no change).
Residential Mortgage: £180,028.08 (no change).
Buy-to-Let Mortgage: £105,101.46 (no change).
Total Debts: £295,129.54 (no change).
Total Wealth: £226,856.33 (-£428.86).
Investment Income in 2022: £5,536.85 (target £6,000).
It’s the last payday before Christmas and the New Year and my finances are looking healthy. I’ve missed my investment income target, but not by much. In the coming week, a dividend payment will land in my account which will take my income to just over £5,600, so I will have hit roughly 93% of my target. It’s still a huge increase from the previous year where I brought in £3,771.93.
2022 marks the third full year of my FIRE plan. My plan runs counter to a lot of other people’s, as I’m more focused on income whereas other FIRE followers are concerned with their total investment pot. My income is definitely moving in the right direction. The average monthly income from investments for each of the last three years is as follows:
2022: £467.00 (a few pence over/under depending on dividend payment on 19/12).
2023 is projected to average out at £708pcm. The finish line is getting closer, albeit slower than I’d like.
Next Sunday is Christmas Day and the following Sunday is New Year’s Day. As such, the next couple of blog posts will be a little different. The Christmas Day post will be a look back at the most popular posts of the year. New Year’s Day will be something of a soft reboot as I tweak a couple of things with the format of each post. I’ll also look at my reading goals for 2023.
If there’s anything you want to see included going forward, leave a comment and I’ll see what I think. Thanks for reading, and have a great time over the Christmas holiday period.
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:
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: