Part 165

Hello and welcome back to Mortgage Advisor on FIRE.  A look at our plans for Christmas, and a list of my most-read posts of 2022.  Also, the usual financial updates, and some BTL developments.

Weekly Update

I always find this time of year a bit strange.  I used to be quite anti-Christmas, but now I just don’t give much of a fuck about it.  I enjoy some time off work and spending time with those I care about, but the whole Christmas Thing I find a bit pointless.  There’s also something a bit bleak and depressing about a lot of the classic Christmas songs.  I used to think it was just me, but I’ve noticed a few people voicing the same opinion this year.  

As much as I’m indifferent to this time of year, my girlfriend, Oana, loves the music and always works hard to thaw my cold, dead heart when it comes to Christmas.  I will admit that I love our Christmas tree because it’s batshit crazy and tells the story of our time together.  

I’m writing this a little earlier in the week, so I don’t have to work on it too much over the weekend.  Our plan for the 24th to the 26th is lots of food and television.  This is different to the rest of the year in exactly zero ways.  My Dad is coming over on the 25th so the three of us will be chilling out and hoping we don’t have a repeat of last year.

Last Christmas was a bit of a clusterfuck.  On the 24th Oana and I were supposed to have dinner with my Mom and her husband.  We had to cancel as Oana tested positive for Covid.  As my Dad works in the NHS he didn’t want to risk catching Covid, so he didn’t come over on Christmas Day as we originally planned.  On Boxing Day our cat, Bobby, passed away suddenly on our sofa.  He was cleaning himself, and then had some sort of seizure.  Oana was with him at the time and shouted for me to come through.  As I knelt next to Bobby, he give out a final breath. 

I rushed to the emergency vet but Bobby wasn’t moving and had already gone cold in the short time it took me to get there.  I remember as I passed him to the nurse I just broke down.  Bobby was the sweetest little guy.  We had only adopted him a few months prior.  It took him time to settle in and, although we can’t prove anything, we believe he was mistreated or neglected as he was jumpy and a bit of a scaredy-cat.  Once he settled though, he was sweet, gentle, and loving.  I miss him and I hope he realises how much he was loved and how much he is missed.

We’ve been so lucky with the cats we’ve adopted.  We had Sweep for two and a half years, and he crossed rainbow bridge at the old age of nineteen.  Bobby was a little younger, but should still have been with us for years.  Now, we have Poppy, a crazy, beautiful, lady.  We’ll never be without a cat for long now.  Adopting older cats is so rewarding, and the affection they give is incredible.  If you look after them, they’ll look after you.

Here’s a couple of pics of Sweep, and Poppy. Also, the paintings we commissioned from artist Laura Slade of Sweep and Bobby:

Back to Christmas though, and this is our tree:

And this is the card Oana made me:

The two animal drawings are based on her two favourite childhood toys who have pride of place on our sofa.  

On Saturday we spent several hours cooking and baking so that on Sunday we don’t have to work too hard and can chill as much as possible.  

Customer service, again…

I received an email from Nespresso regarding an offer where I could buy a new machine for half price, and get 50% off my coffee for a year.  Great, I love coffee.  I ordered the machine and coffee, and delivery was scheduled for Monday.  I kept an eye on the tracking info from Yodel and when it was almost time for my delivery I went downstairs to the entrance to our apartment building.  I opened the door for the courier, but he obviously didn’t realise it was my parcel as he stepped inside and basically body-slammed my parcel onto the floor.  I was not impressed.  Fortunately, the machine seems to be working fine, but I did raise the issue with Nespresso just in case the machine develops a fault.  

Although there are many small hills I will happily die upon, there is one that really frustrates me, and it’s to do with delivery companies (including Royal Mail) in general.  How is it acceptable for a delivery company to just hand your possessions off to a stranger?  You buy something to be delivered and you aim to be at home when the delivery takes place, however companies will sometimes deliver on the wrong date, or you might be in the bathroom or something when they arrive.  So why can they pass your stuff to some random person who happens to be nearby? I just don’t get it.  

This situation came to light on Friday as I had arranged the delivery of a bouquet of flowers for an older relative.  She didn’t get to the door, so the driver left the package outside, and by the time my relative checked the package had been stolen.  The delivery company has the option to leave the package in a “safe place” if there is no answer.  I didn’t select that option, so the package should have gone to a collection point.  Instead, I received a call from the driver stating he’d left the package outside.  

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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.

The burning question is will I ever finish Fake History?  Yes.  Probably.  Maybe.  I don’t know.  

I’m halfway through Leviathan Falls, the final novel of The Expanse series.  There is a novella set after which I’ve not read before, but I’ll have the whole series wrapped up by Boxing Day evening, I think. 

There are a few things we want to watch on Christmas Day, but the one film we absolutely have to watch is Four Lions.  Oana and I love this movie and not a day goes by without us quoting scenes to each other.  The last time we watched it we were on a late-night flight to Bucharest and we had it playing on my Macbook with a headphone splitter plugged in.  We laughed our asses off.  Part of the appeal is that much of the film was shot in Sheffield, and even the scenes set in London are streets we know well.  There’s also a scene featuring Benedict Cumberbatch before he hit the big time.  

Financial Update

Assets

Premium Bonds: £19,350.00 (+£90.00). 

Stocks and Shares ISA: £64,090.82 (+£1,110.53). 

Fuck It Fund: £0.00 (no change).

Pensions: £54,956.93 (+£193.35). 

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

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

Total Assets: £523,379.75 (+£1,393.88). 

Debts

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: £228,250.21 (+£1,393.88).

Investment Income in 2022: £5,685.20 (target £6,000).

I’ll go through the progress made in 2022 in the next blog post, which will go live on 01/01/2023, but this year has seen some great progress.  My investment income target was ambitious and the fact I came so close to hitting it gives me hope for the future.

BTL Update

Our BTL’s EPC is coming up for renewal and this prompted us to look at the current rating, and where we stand in the context of the new legislation on BTL EPCs coming into force in 2025.  The long and short of it is it will take a lot of work to bring it back up to a “C” from the “D” rating it will almost certainly have now.  As it happens my investment partner is looking for somewhere new to live, and he has offered to buy my share of the property so he can convert it to a residential basis.  All the finance is in place, and it’s just a case of waiting for the tenants to move out so he can move in.

This might seem like a step backwards in my plans for FIRE, and in some ways it probably is.  However, looking at the numbers I’ve made money on this deal, where many first-time landlords do not.  Also, I’ve learned a lot of lessons from this investment which I can take forward to future property investments.  

Most Read Posts of 2022

As promised, these are my most read posts of this year (top five):

Fifth:

Fourth:

Third:

Second:

First:

That’s all for this week.  I hope you are having a great Christmas.  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

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