Part 182: FIRE, Interrupted.

Hello and welcome back to Mortgage Advisor on FIRE.  This week I share some of my frustrations with how people communicate.  Also, thoughts on the series finale of Star Trek: Picard, the usual financial updates, and a big boost to my investment income for 2023.

Quote of the Week

“Shares? It’s bullshit.”

It’s been a while since I included this section in the blog, and I know a few of you have asked about it. This week I’ve had a few things happen that can all be brought under the header of “People Frustrate Me”.

There is a belief that autistic people struggle with turn-taking in conversation.  I don’t know where this comes from, because so many neurotypical people seem to struggle with basic things like not interrupting the person who is answering the question they just fucking asked.  Seriously.  If you ask someone a question, at least give them a few seconds to attempt an answer before jumping in and interrupting.  This has happened to me a couple of times this week, and the latest instance was just bizarre.  The person I was talking to kept asking me a question and then within a few seconds was talking over me.  Each time I just stopped talking, but this person just carried on.  The next time it happened I decided to just carry on talking, but after ten seconds of us just talking over each other I gave up.  The next time it happened, I timed how long this person talked after interrupting me.  They talked, non-stop, for two minutes and forty-three seconds.  It might not sound like a long time, but try it out.  Start talking and set a stopwatch going.

The other instance that frustrated me this week was when I called Sainsbury’s to deal with a food delivery (I’ll get to this shortly) and the agent I was talking with kept answering my question before I’d finished asking it, meaning they were answering the question they thought I was asking rather than what I was actually asking.  This all leads to conversations that end up being deeply unproductive.  As the saying goes, “You have two ears and one mouth for a reason; use them in that proportion.”

Anyway, how does this relate to the quote?

There are many ways in which our brains take shortcuts when it comes to processing information.  These are known as heuristics, and they allow us to analyse information and react more quickly, but not always more accurately.  There is an evolutionary advantage to this.  If our brain needed to spend precious seconds interpreting a strange noise, by the time we had identified it, a predator would have pounced on us.  So, it’s better to react first and analyse later in this setting.  

So, heuristics are like little programs our brain runs so that we can almost do things on autopilot.  The problem with this is that we are then more vulnerable to cognitive biases which can drastically reduce the accuracy of our thinking.  Imagine software that has been created to sort through images.  You want it to sort through a selection of images of fruit and vegetables, and you set up a rule so that red, roundish items go into the folder labelled “tomato”.  You set the program running but find later the tomato folder has red apples, red peppers, and some strawberries and raspberries.  So, you refine the program to take greater care when sorting through the images.  Each refinement slows the program down.  It is this sort of speed versus accuracy tradeoff that happens in our mind when it comes to decision-making.

One major cognitive bias that frustrates the hell out of me is anchoring bias.  This is where people put an undue amount of weight on the first piece of information they receive, even if that information is later countered by many other sources.  For example, a young man who has an inflated sense of self-importance, with an opinion of his own ability that can’t be backed up by any achievements, may believe his equally arrogant and misinformed parents when they say that “shares are bullshit.”  That piece of information will act as an anchor for any future discussion around investing in the stock market.  So, when you are sat around a table with this person and the subject of shares comes up, they believe your investing approach is bullshit but they can’t back up that opinion, so they sit there smugly like a poster child for the Dunning-Kruger effect, not realising that everything they do, say, and think is just parroting what came before.  If we want to find a source of Zero Point Energy we would be as well looking inside this person’s skull because something is causing the little sparks of consciousness they exhibit and it can’t be a brain, but I digress…

The key takeaway here, and it might sound like common sense, but don’t just believe what you are told.  Just because you hear one thing before the other, it doesn’t follow that the former is true and the latter is false.  As the famous quote argues, “A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.”

Weekly Update

We were supposed to have a Sainsbury’s food shop delivered this week.  We live in a city centre apartment and have had deliveries to our apartment every couple of weeks for over a decade.  Our neighbours also have deliveries from all the big supermarkets.  Each time, they bring the delivery to your apartment door.  Enter Sainsbury’s.  

This particular delivery driver refused to bring the order to our door because of the double yellow lines outside our building.  A few things to note, although there are double yellow lines, our apartment is at the end of a road with a dead end.  There is no traffic.  The only vehicles that come down this road are ones entering the secure car park for the development, or supermarket delivery vans which just park on the pavement as it is wide enough to comfortably accommodate a van.  

Our driver would only bring our food order up if we went to guard his van.  I’m not going to send Oana to guard a van at night, nor am I going to go and guard the van whilst this driver drops off a large, heavy shop which Oana would have to unpack from the crates.  We don’t work for Sainsbury’s, and we’re paying a delivery fee.  

I said to the driver, “Every other driver brings the shopping to the door.  If you are refusing to do that, you’ll have to take the order back.”  I didn’t raise my voice, I just laid the information out like that.

So he started arguing with us.  If only I was joking.

Three hours and three phone calls later, we were trying to explain to Sainsbury’s customer service what had happened.  We were promised a manager call back, which didn’t happen.  We were promised a credit for the delivery fee, which didn’t happen.  We were told we’d get a delivery slot confirmed for the following day, which didn’t happen.  Basically, we were told this would all be looked into and we’d hear from them, but it never happened.  We had to chase them each time to try and get a resolution.  

We had ordered the delivery for the date we choose because we were both off work.  Sainsbury’s seemed put out by the fact we were selective over the time we could accept delivery the next day, almost as though they were doing us a favour.  We arranged delivery for between 7pm and 8pm, as that was when I’d be done working for the day.  The driver rang our apartment at 6:27pm to bring our delivery.  I was still working.  So, he had to come back an hour later.  I mean, it really shouldn’t be this difficult.

On Friday I messaged Sainsbury’s about the apparent “gesture of goodwill” we were supposed to get, but we’ve had nothing as yet.

In other news, it feels as though my elbow problem is starting to get worse again so I think I might be pushing the rehab too far too soon.  I would have seen the physio this week, but Bupa told me I had reached the limit of my cover until I got a report from the physio.  It then turned out this was incorrect information, but by this point, I’d already cancelled my appointment.  A few years ago, this sort of mistake would really frustrate me, but now it’s just another part of daily life.

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2023 Goals

Click here to see my 2023 progress (opens a new tab). 

What Am I Doing?

TV: Picard (Amazon), Street Food USA (Netflix), Masterchef (BBC).

Audiobook:  The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Picard has ended and it was largely disappointing.  The final episode was a lazy rehash of Return of the Jedi.  Space battle with a fleet engaging a space station? Check.  Aging star ship flying to the centre of a huge spaceship to blow up a reactor-type thing?  Check.  Our hero confronting an evil villain with the fate of their relative in the balance?  Check.  It was entirely derivative, and as much as I wanted to like it, the more I think about it the more disappointed I am. On the plus side, it was visually stunning.

Anyone who knows me or Oana well, will know that we are foodies.  We’ve been watching the Street Food series on Netflix, with the most recent one focusing on the US.  The last episode took us on a tour of Portland’s thriving food truck scene.  Some of the food looked amazing, but food is as much art as it is science.  The most technically brilliant food doesn’t stand up to more rustic dishes that have been made with love.  Street food is the perfect combination of skill, invention, and passion.  Food isn’t just about food, as bizarre as that statement may seem.  Food and culture go hand in hand, and one of the best ways to learn about a culture is to learn about their food.   

I decided to have a go at The Great Gatsby having seen the ballet a few weeks ago.  The book was better than I expected, but I did have a fairly low expectation based on the ballet and what I’ve seen of the film.  I only took the chance because the title was available for free, and I doubt I would have bothered if I’d had to pay to listen.

Financial Update

Assets

Premium Bonds: £1,350.00 (+£850.00). 

Stocks and Shares ISA: £87,546.90 (+£537.88). 

Fuck It Fund: £375.00 (+£50.00).

Pensions: £58,315.72 (+£681.87). 

Residential Property Value: £226,085.00 (no change). 

BTL Property Value: £145,893.00 (no change).

Total Assets: £519,565.62 (+£2,119.75).

Debts

Credit Card: £0.00 (no change).

Loans: £9,600.00 (no change).

Residential Mortgage: £178,204.93 (no change). 

BTL Mortgage: £105,001.75 (no change).

Total Debts: £292,906.68 (no change). 

Total Wealth: £226,758.94 (+£2,119.75).

Investment Income in 2023: £1,555.75 (target £8,500).

A good week for my investments with solid gains in the stock market, and a nice dividend hitting my investment account.  Next month will see an even bigger dividend, and by the end of May I should have over £3,500 of investment income for the year so far.

I don’t have a huge amount more to say this week.  The frustrations I’ve mentioned have taken up a lot of my mental bandwidth, but it just keeps pushing me further towards FIRE.  I have a lot of faith in the goodness of humanity, but we can be seriously annoying at times as well.  

Anyway, until next time, thank you for reading.  If you have any comments or feedback, I’d love to hear from you.  Leave me a comment and I’ll reply as soon as possible.

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

If you want to show your support for my FIRE blog, please Buy Me A Coffee at the link below: 

https://www.buymeacoffee.com/davidscothern

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