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.

Support Mortgage Advisor on FIRE

I love writing this blog but maintaining a website costs money.  If you want to say thanks for the content I publish, consider donating to my virtual tip jar on the link below:

https://www.buymeacoffee.com/davidscothern

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

Part 161

Hello and welcome back to Mortgage Advisor on FIRE.  This week’s post looks at culture, human rights, more misleading property listings, and a positive week of financial updates.

Respecting Culture

I’m not going to spend too much time on this because the whole tournament is farcical, but I saw a story in the news about one, possibly two, English fans who were turned away from a match in Qatar because they were dressed as crusader knights.  Once I picked up my jaw off the floor after marvelling at the mind-numbing stupidity of dressing as a crusader knight in a Muslim country, I started thinking about the concept of respecting culture.  

Apologists of this World Cup have used this argument, respecting culture, to explain why the tournament should not be boycotted.  I agree that culture should be respected but only so far as it extends without impacting basic human rights.  Culture should be respected but not at the expense of fundamental, basic, human rights.  That’s a hill I’ll die on.  

So, whilst I might not personally find Qatari culture all that appealing, I understand why dressing up as crusader knights would be offensive.  The crusades were absolutely fucking brutal, with estimates of those killed ranging from a conservative figure of one million, to three million or more.  Both sides in the conflict committed horrific acts of violence and it really shouldn’t be joked about in this way.  No doubt some people will say, “it’s only a bit of fun”, but where does that fun stop?  Would you object to someone dressing as a suicide bomber whilst attending a baseball game at Fenway Park?  What about a Saudi fan dressing as bin Laden at a football match at Wembley?

Weekly Update

I’m afraid I don’t have much to report this week.  Oana, my girlfriend, has been struggling with covid and I’ve been doing my best to look after her.  It’s knocked her sideways, but I’m still testing negative so far.  

We’re now at a point where covid is just part of the new normal.  As a society, we failed to deal with the first waves, and containment has been impossible for a while now.  Although it may be part of the new normal it is still important to follow basic safety measures if you are infected.  If you have covid-type symptoms, try and avoid direct contact with others, and wear a mask around others.  Simple measures like this can help stop the spread of the virus.  We might not be able to eradicate it, but it’s no excuse for making no effort to reduce the spread.  

Late Friday I received a message about a possible property investment.  A house was going up for sale on a road I used to live on.  I arranged a viewing for Saturday morning but the property was no good.  The photos were months, possibly years, old and were used for the rental listing.  The house was being sold because the tenant who had just moved out had trashed the property.  It needed a lot of work.  The agent tried to put a positive spin on it, but it would have needed a full refurb to be up to the standard I would want.  Had the pictures been accurate, I wouldn’t have bothered.  The pictures were not accurate though, so all that happened is I wasted my time, the agent wasted their time, and no one gained anything from the exercise.  Why do agents do this?  I’m not asking a rhetorical question, I’m genuinely interested to know why agents list properties with misleading information.

Support Mortgage Advisor on FIRE

I love writing this blog but maintaining a website costs money.  If you want to say thanks for the content I publish, consider donating to my virtual tip jar on the link below:

https://www.buymeacoffee.com/davidscothern

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.

Having recently enjoyed 1899 on Netflix, we’ve started Dark which is made by the same people.  It also shares the same ominous atmosphere, and the directing and choice of music are excellent.  I’m not going to say too much about what’s happening in the show because I don’t want to spoil it for those who haven’t seen it.  However, if you enjoy slow-burning science fiction, you’ll probably enjoy Dark.

I’ve finished the first two books of The Expanse series and I’m on the novella set between the end of Caliban’s War and the start of Abaddon’s Gate.  Although I’ve read these books already, I’m still thoroughly enjoying them.

I need to start thinking about a new reading challenge for 2023.  I’m open to suggestions, so if you have ideas please leave a comment.

Financial Update

Assets

Premium Bonds: £9,595.00 (+£235.00). 

Stocks and Shares ISA: £64,240.11 (+£995.31). 

Fuck It Fund: £1,675.00 (no change).

Pensions: £55,000.88 (+£347.07). 

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

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

Total Assets: £515,492.99 (+£1,342.38).

Debts

Credit Card: £0.00 (no change).

Residential Mortgage: £180,466.52 (no change). 

Buy-to-Let Mortgage: £105,193.90 (no change). 

Total Debts: £285,660.42 (no change). 

Total Wealth: £229,832.57 (+£1,342.38)

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

A solid week where I received my delayed dividend payment.  With the stock market making some positive moves my overall wealth figure is looking healthy.  I think this is the highest my total wealth figure has been, so the year seems to be drawing to a positive end.  

Looking ahead to 2023 I really need to get a second investment property on the books if I want my FIRE plan to start coming together.  Assuming that I don’t get another property early in the year, I should still be on track for approximately £7,500 of investment income in 2023 but another property could boost that to over £10,000.  With those sorts of figures compounding gains really start to make a difference.  

I’ve mentioned a few times in recent weeks that we might have to take a slight financial hit to improve our kitchen.  Well, we’re having another think about how we can do the work without it being such a major undertaking.  Rather than getting the whole thing ripped out and a new kitchen fitted, we’re going to work at it in stages.  This means less disruption and the cost should be spread out.  What changed our minds was the probable need for a skip to take away all the rubbish.  We live in a city-centre apartment where there is a real lack of parking space.  There isn’t anywhere a skip could be placed, so rubbish would have to be taken away each day.  After the issues we had over the summer with the rest of the refurb, neither Oana nor I can face that again just now.  

That’s all for this week.  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

Part 160

Hello and welcome back to Mortgage Advisor on FIRE.  This week I talk about tax codes, tax bandings, and how the autumn statement impacts on the tax you pay.  Also, updates from my Lego Rocinante project, and a frustrating learning experience.  

Quote of the Week:

“I only built it on a computer.”

Those following me on social media will have seen my posts about my Lego build of the Rocinante; the main ship of The Expanse series.  The model has over 5,000 pieces and has cost over £600 to obtain the parts needed.  When complete, the model is almost a meter long and is built at a scale of roughly 1:60.  It’s an amazing-looking model.  The only problem is the design doesn’t work in the real world.  

For those who don’t know there is a community of Lego enthusiasts who design their own models for things not officially licenced by Lego such as Star Trek, Babylon 5, and so on.  There is software out there that allows you to build models and publish designs for other people to build.  The designs have to work within the rules of Lego; pieces that don’t fit together can’t be forced together, is what I mean.  What the software does not simulate is gravity.  If you put a model together in the software, no matter how flimsy the connections, it will stay connected.  

Anyway, the design for the Roci has 1,010 steps.  All was going well until around step 800.  Then, some of the components would simply not stay connected because of, well, gravity.  I ended up making some modifications to the design for it to work.  I then got to the final stage of the build, which was the drive cone at the rear of the ship.  I picked up the model to change its position to allow me to build that part, and several components fell off and smashed apart.  

I went back to the person who designed the model and it turns out they’ve never actually built the physical model; they’ve just played about with it on a computer.  It’s such a shame because if it could be completed it would be absolutely stunning.  I’ve left the partially completed model on display, but each time I look at it I just get angry again.  

Weekly Update

I’ve felt extremely stressed for much of this week.  It’s not been because of anything that serious, in the bigger picture, but rather little things here and there that have accumulated to the point where I’ve felt like I needed some time out.  Here’s one example of something that happened this week;

I went to Boots to pick up several prescriptions for myself and one for Oana, my girlfriend.  I am medically exempt from paying for prescriptions and Oana has an annual prepayment certificate.  So, I go up to the counter and this is how the conversation goes.

Me: Hi, I have some items to collect *I hand my exemption card over so they can find my details”.  Also, I have an item to collect for my partner.

*I notice that the person didn’t seem to hear me, so I repeat myself.  However, they’re still engrossed in something on their screen so I let them finish.”

Boots: It’ll be around ten minutes.

Me: Thanks, but I also have an item to collect for my girlfriend and this is her prepayment certificate *I show my iPhone screen that has the info on it*.

Boots: Ok, thanks, it’ll be ten-fifteen minutes.

*I check the time and it’s 11:15.*

At 11:35 the pharmacist calls my name and hands me a bag with my name on it.

Me: What about my partner’s meds?

Pharmacist: Did you tell them when you came here?

Me: Yes, three times and I showed your colleague my partner’s payment info.

Pharmacist: Ok, well I’ve got something else to do now so you’ll just have to wait.

Me: Excuse me? First, this isn’t my mistake.  Second, it’s one item which I can see on the shelf behind you.  How long does it take to grab that item and get a colleague to check it?

Pharmacist: You’ll have to wait as I’m busy now. 

*Twenty more minutes pass by*

Pharmacist: *calls out Oana’s name*

Me: *takes bag* is that all?

Pharmacist: what do you mean?

Me: An apology? Some basic politeness or acknowledgement of the mistake you’ve made?

Pharmacist: An apology for what?

At this point, I kind of lost my shit a bit.  It was now almost an hour since I entered the pharmacy.  Mistakes happen, I get that, and if there’d just been a simple apology and acknowledgement they’d got it wrong, it wouldn’t have been a big deal.  The attitude of the pharmacist was awful though.

This pharmacy is used by a few people I know because of its convenient location.  Everyone says the same thing though; the attitude of the staff is awful.  

Over the last couple of years, it’s seemed as though I’ve had one bad experience after another when it comes to customer service.  When I speak with other people, I hear the same horror stories.  Is customer service generally getting worse, or are people becoming less tolerant of poor service?  Is it a bit of both?

The week has come to a positive end though.  On Friday my Dad came over to see us, Oana and myself.  We had some good food and my Dad got a chance to see the place now that much of the work is complete.  

Understanding Autism

This might seem like a sudden change of subject but there is a loose connection to customer service.  Since receiving confirmation that I’m autistic I’ve stepped up my research into autism.  I already had a foot in the door, so to speak, as my Dad had been identified as autistic a few years ago.  My Dad writes a popular blog about his autistic journey, and through him, I’ve been able to network with other autistics.  The point is, I am fortunate enough to not be dealing with being autistic alone.  I have a good support network around me, so I’ve been able to filter out the harmful myths around autism whilst learning what it is to be Actually Autistic (the #ActuallyAutistic tag is one of the best to search for on social media if you want to know more about the genuine autistic experience).  

Anyway, I was made aware of a course on Understanding Autism via The Skills Network.  The course was free, but if you failed to complete it there was a £100 fee to pay.  The other day I loaded up the course and I had my head in my hands within just a few minutes muttering FFS.  The material was not just awful, it was out of touch, offensive, and potentially harmful.

Some examples include;

  • Using the term “high-functioning autism”.
  • Using the puzzle/jigsaw piece as a symbol of autism.
  • Referring to the autism spectrum as a linear line with “low” at one end and “severe” at the other.
Screenshot from the learning material.

There is no such thing as high-functioning autism, just like there is no such thing as low functioning autism.  Autistic people, like all people, have areas in which they can perform better or worse, and times at which they perform better or worse.  In short, we are all high, medium, and low functioning at different things, at different times, and in different situations.  As a term, it adds nothing, means nothing, and is harmful and misleading. 

You may see the puzzle piece used as a symbol of autism in promotional material, books, and other media.  However, to the vast majority of autistic people, the puzzle piece is a symbol of hate.  This symbol is used by the group Autism Speaks which views autism as an illness that needs eradicating, and they share views that are dangerously close to eugenics.  Talking about Autism Speaks and all their dangerous bullshit could take up a book on its own.  The point is, autistic people, in the main, do not like this symbol.  Another reason the symbol is hated is because of the way the puzzle piece is used, in which it suggests that autistic people have something missing or are somehow deficient.  It’s insulting.

As for the autism spectrum…. I don’t even know where to begin with this one.  I remember when I was doing A-Level psychology back in 2001, the spectrum was described as a linear model ranging from low to severe.  However, this was not how the spectrum was conceived and it’s not how the spectrum actually works.  The best way to describe the autistic spectrum is to look at an image like this one:

Within this spectrum each autistic person has their own pattern which is unique to them, almost like a fingerprint or retinal scan.  We are not “all a little bit autistic”.  

I contacted the course provider with my concerns and they replied quickly to confirm I could withdraw with no penalty.  However, no comment was made regarding the content of the course, and this is where I get frustrated.  Let’s use an imaginary scenario…

Imagine you are learning about autism having almost no prior knowledge.  You’ve seen some examples in fiction and think you have a rough idea of what autism is.  You are instructed to take a course titled Understanding Autism.  You read through the slides which have a high production value and watch the videos that explain that the autism spectrum is a straight line from low to severe.  You come out of the course thinking you have a good, basic, understanding of autism.  

A few days later you are talking with a colleague and you mention the course.  The colleague states that they’re autistic and they ask a few questions.  You are confused because the course seemed to suggest that autistic people would struggle to pass as “normal”.  You ask your colleague where on the spectrum they are, and they sigh gently and start explaining what the spectrum actually is.  Just think about this for a second because this sort of situation happens a lot in life, not necessarily about autism, but about lots of things.  You are told something and you believe it because you have no reason not to.  Then, someone tries to correct you, but you don’t believe them because your (incorrect) information came from an official course with slick production values.  Sometime later, be it days, weeks or even years, you look up the subject and realise that you were wrong and your colleague was right.  In general, people have a tendency to believe what they are told first, and a tendency to believe what they are told from positions of authority.  The thing is, authority does not always correlate with accuracy.  

There will be people out there that take this course and walk away with, what they think, is an accurate understanding of autism.  It’s wrong, it’s harmful, and it perpetuates many myths about autism that make it much more difficult for autistic people in a world designed for neurotypical people.    

Support Mortgage Advisor on FIRE

I love writing this blog but maintaining a website costs money.  If you want to say thanks for the content I publish, consider donating to my virtual tip jar on the link below:

https://www.buymeacoffee.com/davidscothern

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: nothing at the moment.

I’ve decided to go back and listen to The Expanse series again, this time in complete chronological order including the novellas.  The series has nine main novels that are loosely split into three trilogies.  Between the main books, some novellas were published that add a bit more context to some of the major events and characters.  

The Expanse is the finest science-fiction series out there, and that’s a hill I’ll die on.  The TV show was also excellent but sadly not able to hit the heights of the original book series.  If you feel like you want to read this series, or even listen to the amazing audiobook versions, just do it.  Whilst it helps to have a basic understanding of physics it’s hardly essential to enjoy the story.  

I started watching Elite season six but gave up partway through the first episode.  The early seasons of Elite, which focused on the original students, were fantastic television.   However, it quickly suffered from the same problem as the Fast and Furious series in which each new instalment had to be bigger, louder and more absurd. 

Financial Update

Assets

Premium Bonds: £9,595.00 (+£235.00). 

Stocks and Shares ISA: £63,244.80 (+£1,743.77). 

Fuck It Fund: £1,675.00 (+£50.00).

Pensions: £54,653.81 (+£622.87). 

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

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

Total Assets: £514,150.61 (+£2,651.64). 

Debts

Credit Card: £0.00 (no change).

Residential Mortgage: £180,466.52 (no change). 

Buy-to-Let Mortgage: £105,193.90 (no change). 

Total Debts: £285,660.42 (no change). 

Total Wealth: £228,490.19 (+£2,651.64)

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

The stock market seemed to respond well to the Autumn statement from the new Chancellor.  My investment income climbed a little as I received rent from my BTL.  However, the dividend payment I was expecting on Friday seems to have been paid late, so it will only be counted from next week’s blog.  

The Autumn Statement

There was a lot of stuff in the autumn statement which may not even come to pass.  Several measures are not due to be implemented for some time and, with the current clusterfuck of a government, things can change from one day to the next.  However, I want to touch on one point which a few people have asked me about; the freeze on personal tax-free allowances.  

Before we get into the changes announced we need to look at how employed people pay income tax.  In the UK each person has a personal tax-free allowance which is denoted by their tax code.  The standard code is 1257L, which means the first £12,570 you earn is not subject to any tax.  However, what you earn between £12,571 and £50,270 is taxed at 20%.  There are two additional tax bands for those earning £50,271 or more, and those earning £150,000 or more.  

One common misconception is that if you are earning £50,000, and you get a pay increase to £51,000, you will somehow take home less money.  This comes from a misunderstanding of how the tax brackets work.  If your earned income is £51,000 then you pay 20% tax on the amount that falls between £12,571 and £50,270, and you pay 40% tax on the amount that falls between £50,271 and £150,000.  Let’s break it down…

Examples

Steve earns £12,000 p/a and his tax code is 1257L.  He pays no income tax.

Naomi earns £27,500 p/a, and her tax code is 1257L.  She pays no tax on the first £12,570 of her income.  This leaves £14,930 subject to tax.  This is taxed at 20%, because her total taxable income (£27,500) falls in the 20% band of between £12,571 and £50,270.  So, 20% of £14,930 is £2,986.

James earns £59,400, and his tax code is 1257L.  His tax liability can be calculated simply, using the following bandings:

Up to £12,570 – no tax.

Between £12,571 and £50,270 he pays 20% tax.

Between £50,271 and £150,000 he pays 40% tax.

The calculation for James looks like this;

£7,540 tax due from the 20% band.

£3,652 tax due from the 40% band.

Note; James only pays 40% tax on the amount that falls into that tax bracket, i.e. (£59,400-£50,270)*0.4 = £3,652.  

I have known some people who think that if you fall into the higher tax brackets, then the higher rate of tax is applied to all your income.

So, coming back to the autumn statement… The Chancellor announced that the tax-free allowances are going to be frozen for the next few years.  Whilst technically not a tax increase, it does mean that more people will pay more tax.  The tax bandings have been amended meaning that more people will fall into the 45% banding, but if you earn less than £125,000 this will not impact you.  The impact comes from the tax-free allowance being frozen.  Like many financial concepts, it is best explained with an example.

Jim earns £20,000 p/a and has the standard 1257L tax code.  

Year 1: Jim pays £1,486 tax.

Year 2: Jim has had a 5% salary increase.  He now earns £21,000.  He now pays £1,686 tax.

Year 3: Another 5% salary increase; salary £22,050, and tax paid is now £1,896.  

As your salary increases, but your tax-free allowance remains the same, you pay more tax.  

The people who are really going to get hit hard with this are those earning £40,000+.  It is entirely plausible that someone earning over £40,000 could soon find themselves creeping into the higher tax bracket, as well as paying more in the 20% bracket as their tax-free allowance does not increase in line with inflation and wage increases.  Take the following example;

Kate earns £47,000 p/a with a standard tax code and receives a 5% increase in pay each year.  Her tax liability looks like this:

Year 1: £6,886

Year 2: £7,356

Year 3: £8,159

Year 4: £9,195

Year 5: £10,283

So after five years of 5% wage increases, Kate’s new salary is approx £57,129 p/a; and her tax liability has increased by almost 50%.

I’m not anti-tax, and I appreciate money to pay for public services has to come from somewhere, but this is a catastrophe that the Tory party had a huge role in creating, and I predict these measures will see the Tory party weakened as a serious political force at the next election for a long, long time.  

That’s all for now.  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

Part 159

Hello and welcome back to Mortgage Advisor on FIRE.  Thoughts on crypto, and questions you should ask yourself when looking at an investment opportunity.  Also, how Covid has kicked my ass this last week.  

Weekly Update

It’s been a bit of a rubbish week as I started feeling rough last weekend, and then tested positive for Covid on Monday.  In many ways, this bout was worse than the first time I had it, and I’ve spent most of the week stuck inside.  As someone who gets physically restless, this has been very frustrating.

Another thing that annoyed me about getting Covid is that I’d just started my Movember challenge, which depended on me being physically active.  With a week lost to Covid, I don’t think I’m going to be able to give the challenge my best, especially as it looks like my self-isolation will continue into next week.  

I suspect I probably caught Covid at the gig I mentioned last week.  The venue was crowded so I’d imagine a few people came away from that gig with symptoms. 

I’ve had four vaccines, and Covid on at least two occasions.  It’s possible I’ve had other, minor, instances of it.  The fact that Covid is probably here to stay should not be seen as a criticism of the vaccines.  Rather, the vaccines have provided a layer of defence to reduce the impact of infection.  Think of it like this, if you build a castle you don’t destroy the enemy’s army.  The castle reduces the ability of the enemy army to damage your home.  In this example, the castle is the vaccine and the enemy army is the virus.  

Support Mortgage Advisor on FIRE

I love writing this blog but maintaining a website costs money.  If you want to say thanks for the content I publish, consider donating to my virtual tip jar on the link below:

https://www.buymeacoffee.com/davidscothern

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 ✅

What Am I Doing?

Reading: Fake History by Otto English.

Listening: Necroscope V: Deadspawn by Brian Lumley.

Watching: The Crown.

Although I’m as far from a monarchist as you can get, I have enjoyed The Crown on Netflix.  The key is to remember that it’s a work of fiction based loosely around the royal family.  The production values are incredible and every episode is a work of art, from the direction, costume and set design, and the fantastic score.  Season five recently dropped on Netflix and we smashed through it in short order.  Sheffield’s own Dominic West plays Charles and gives a great performance.  Although, I feel West is too stocky for the role.  My favourite performance is from Jonathan Pryce who plays the Duke of Edinburgh.  Quite how much of the story of the show is true to life is up for debate, but the show manages to create a version of Philip that is often sympathetic, in that we have a man trapped by the system and tradition.

I’m on book five of the Necroscope series and whilst it’s still enjoyable, I think there’s been a slight drop in quality.  Some of this is down to the awful narration on books four and five.  The narrator manages to make many of the characters sound like people from a Harry Enfield sketch show.  I have no idea what, if any, direction the voice actor received but their performance is detracting from the enjoyment of the series.  A good narrator can elevate the material.  The best example I can think of is Jonathan Keeble’s work on Bernard Cornwell’s Arthur trilogy.  The writing alone is fantastic, and Keeble’s voice work elevates it even further.  A competent narrator should not be noticed; as their voice work should be neutral and not stand out.  Every now and then, though, I come across one who negatively impacts the material being read.  It’s annoying.

Financial Update

Assets

Premium Bonds: £9,360.00 (+£100.00). 

Stocks and Shares ISA: £61,501.03 (+£913.30). 

Fuck It Fund: £1,625.00 (no change).

Pensions: £54,030.94 (+£715.83). 

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

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

Total Assets: £511,498.97 (+£1,729.13).

Debts

Credit Card: £0.00 (no change).

Residential Mortgage: £180,466.52 (no change). 

Buy-to-Let Mortgage: £105,193.90 (no change). 

Total Debts: £285,660.42 (no change). 

Total Wealth: £225,838.55 (+£1,729.13)

Investment Income in 2022: £4,805.27 (target £6,000).

The stock market has rallied this week and added some value back to my bottom line.  It all feels like a bit of a waiting game with my finances now, until we start the new financial year in April.  I’ve maxed out my ISA some time ago, and it’s looking like a second BTL purchase will also be a few months away.  In the meantime, I’m consolidating funds where I can and trying to account for upcoming expenses.


Over the coming months, we have a few things to pay for;

  • Norwegian cruise.
  • Work in our kitchen.
  • Increase in mortgage payments when some of our deals end in 2023.

We have funds in place to cover the cruise, and to clear some of the mortgage that is coming to the end of its deal.  The kitchen work will need funding though, and it might have to come from a small loan or credit card.  I’d rather not have to do this, but our kitchen desperately needs improving.

Crypto Madness

This isn’t a boast-post, but I saw the writing on the wall for crypto some time ago; it’s almost 40 weeks since I cash in all my crypto.  In many ways, it was similar to what happened with Football Index, and I exited that platform before it all came crashing down.

There are three main questions any person should ask when confronted with an investment they don’t understand:

  • Where is the money?
  • Who is gaining from this?
  • Can you explain the investment in terms a five-year-old would understand?

Where is the money?

When investing you need to fully understand where and how your money is stored.  Is your cash protected? If the platform becomes insolvent, are your funds safe?  Where are the rewards/interest/dividends coming from?

Who is gaining from this?

If you can’t work out who is gaining from the investment, and if it seems too good to be true, then you are the product.  If the rewards/returns seem too good to be true, go back to the previous question and ask where the money is coming from.

Explaining the investment in simple terms…

As a (very) general rule of thumb, the more complicated an investment seems, the more it is trying to hide the answers to the previous two questions.  Legitimate investments should be clear, transparent, protected, and at their core simple.  If it seems overly complex or too good to be true, then you need to think very carefully before parting with money. 

Take Football Index as an example.  This was an app where you would buy and sell shares in football players.  Note, this did not result in any actual ownership, but simply shares the app created for these players.  For example, you could buy ten shares in Harry Kane, but this did not mean you had any actual interest or stake in Harry Kane.  The shares were, for all intents and purposes, imaginary.  As you held shares in players you would receive dividends based on how those players performed or were mentioned in the media.  What I couldn’t work out was a) how the owners of the app made any money and b) where the money for the dividends came from.  

When I looked at Football Index and attempted to answer the first of my questions, I couldn’t arrive at an acceptable answer.  So, I cashed out and ran.  I was fortunate enough to make money from this venture, but it was small change compared to the eye-watering losses some people experienced when the index came crashing down.

There may be a future in cryptocurrency but my thoughts are it will probably not be one of the current batch of currencies out there.

Here’s a question for you, and please have an actual guess before googling the answer.  How many cryptocurrencies are out there?

The answer; well, depending on which articles you believe it’s anywhere from 10,000 – 20,000+ different cryptocurrencies in circulation.  

If you are thinking about gambling on a cryptocurrency, just ask yourself a few questions;

Why do I believe this crypto is going to perform better than the thousands of others out there?

Do I understand how my money is protected?

Can you explain in simple terms what blockchain is without using the word blockchain?

I swear whenever I hear someone banging on about blockchain I automatically think of someone using the bible as evidence as to why the bible is an accurate history.   

That’s all for this week.  Please remember to like, comment, share, and subscribe to this blog.  Have a great week.

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

Part 158

Hello and welcome back to Mortgage Advisor on FIRE.  This week I look at the latest farce surrounding the Qatar 2022 World Cup.  A look back at the Kiefer Sutherland gig, and a surreal interaction on Facebook.  The usual financial updates and a possible increase in debt in the coming weeks.

Qatar 2022

As the World Cup draws closer the controversy over the competition is heating up again.  Gary Neville was ripped a new one by Ian Hislop on Have I Got News For You over his decision to attend as a commentator.  Neville had responded that he felt it was a choice between not going, or going and highlighting the problems with the tournament’s host.  Hislop asked why he couldn’t stay in the UK, not take the Qatari’s money and highlight the problems from home.  It’s a fair, and obvious, question. 

I always try to be balanced and fair in my opinion, but this World Cup is an abhorrent, morally bankrupt, circle jerk by the rulers of Qatar.  We have a country that, if I’m being polite, has a medieval approach to human rights, and is seemingly fine with working hundreds (maybe more) of immigrant workers (is “slaves” too strong a word?) to death.

There is now the issue that they are bribing fans of different countries to be cheerleaders who will be contractually obligated to post only positive stories about their time in Qatar.  These fans will be given flights, accommodation, and spending money.  It’s an absolute fucking disgrace and shows that, for some people, they can be bought for the equivalent of £60 per day.  So far I’ve read that fans from England, Wales, and Dutch fans have been bought.

If I was a high-profile footballer who was going to be included in the World Cup squad, I’d have refused.  Some things are more important than money, and players at that level are already financially comfortable.  I don’t buy the argument that it’s down to sponsors either.  Imagine if an England international refused to go on principle.  Would a sponsor really come out and say, “well yeah, lots of people have died and Qatar’s human rights record is awful, but you should put money ahead of your morals.”  Not a chance; it would be even more damaging to their brand.  Also, I think that had someone jumped off the bandwagon early enough, more would have followed.  Anyone who voluntarily takes part in this farce needs to have a look in the mirror and ask if it’s worth it.

My decision to not watch the World Cup might not achieve anything, but at least I can say with a clear conscience that I didn’t contribute to it. 

Weekly Update

We had a fun start to the week as we saw Kiefer Sutherland in concert at the Leadmill in Sheffield.  It’s the second time we’ve seen him and although we enjoyed the first gig, this second one was much better.  This might be because we are more familiar with his music, but whatever the reason we had a great time.

I had a frustrating interaction with someone on Facebook.  I’ll let the screenshots tell the story;

It’s incredible how many assumptions were made from just a short post from me.  She’s getting worked up about points I’ve not even made, and arguing against positions I’ve not even stated.  She’s basically arguing with herself.  People like this are impossible to have a rational debate with.  The key to any argument should be to reach an understanding, rather than simply score points off each other.  Sometimes though, people are just playing a different game by their own rules.  

I’m due to have an operation to remove a troublesome kidney stone next week and I’ll be under general anaesthetic.  That doesn’t bother me, but waiting around for hours until my surgery is stressful, especially in a hospital environment.  It might not happen though as I feel like I’m coming down with a cold.

A large part of my week has been spent building my Lego Star Destroyer.  It has almost 5,000 pieces and has been fun to build.  I’m nearly finished and you can see my progress in the images below:

The Star Destroyer is the Devastator, the first Star Destroyer seen in the original Star Wars movie.  Although it’s been fun to build, there have been a few steps in the instructions that were not very clear.  Also, one of the pieces broke but I had a spare from another Lego set.  

I should receive the last few parts for my Rocinante model, so if I’m not going into the hospital next week I’ll probably be building that instead.

Movember

In 2017 I completed a cycling challenge for Movember.  Through the course of the month, using a stationary bike at the gym, I cycled the distance from Land’s End to John o’Groats.  I raised a few hundred pounds for Movember, and it was the most satisfying charity campaign I’ve been a part of.  

This year I’m raising money for Movember again.  I’m aiming to lose weight this year; 10kg in November for Movember.  I’ll share my fundraising page throughout the month and update you on my progress.  

Why does Movember matter?  Over 500,000 men take their own lives around the world each year.  Movember funds research and services to help men of all ages with mental health.  Times are hard for us all, but even a small donation can make a difference.  You can find my fundraising page here:

https://movember.com/m/13607662?mc=1

Support Mortgage Advisor on FIRE

I love writing this blog but maintaining a website costs money.  If you want to say thanks for the content I publish, consider donating to my virtual tip jar on the link below:

https://www.buymeacoffee.com/davidscothern

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 ✅

What Am I Doing?

Reading: Fake History by Otto English.

Listening: Necroscope III: The Source by Brian Lumley.

Watching: Nothing at the moment.

I’ve loved the Necroscope series so far.  In short, the series follows young Harry Keogh, from the north of England, as he discovers he can talk to the dead.  Set against a backdrop of vampires and ESP-based intelligence services in the UK and the Soviet Union in the 1970s it’s as refreshing as it is bloody.  One of the main things I like about the series is that actions have consequences, and characters don’t have much plot armour for protection.  It’s something I find frustrating in many works of fiction when the main characters survive absurd events which would kill anyone else.  

Financial Update

Assets

Premium Bonds: £9,260.00 (+£100.00). 

Stocks and Shares ISA: £60,587.73 (+£1,868.79). 

Fuck It Fund: £1,625.00 (no change).

Pensions: £53,315.11 (+£1,123.96). 

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

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

Total Assets: £509,769.84 (+£3,092.75). 

Debts

Credit Card: £0.00 (no change).

Residential Mortgage: £180,466.52 (-£432.10). 

Buy-to-Let Mortgage: £105,193.90 (-£85.33). 

Total Debts: £285,660.42 (-£517.43). 

Total Wealth: £224,109.42 (+£3,610.18)

Investment Income in 2022: £4,805.27 (target £6,000).

I had a £100 Premium Bond win which helped boost my investment income for the year.  Also, the stock market has had a mini-surge which boosted my ISA and pension.

It feels as though things have gone a bit flat on the investment front.  I had hoped to be much further on by now, but as I stated last week there have been a lot of uncontrollable factors at play.  As we head into 2023 I’m expecting house prices to stall and then fall.  So, the aim is to try and acquire our second BTL by the midpoint of next year.

It’s likely that in the coming months my debts may increase a little as we pay for additional work in our apartment.  Our kitchen is in need of modernisation.  I use the word “need” correctly here as certain parts of our kitchen just don’t work properly, such as our extractor fan, taps, power points for the dishwasher, and several other things.  We’ve been using workarounds for a while now but it’s got to the point where we have to put in place more permanent solutions.  We’re getting quotes for the work and I’m expecting something in the region of £5,000-£7,000 for what we want to do.  

That’s it for this week.  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

Part 157

Hello and welcome back to Mortgage Advisor on FIRE.  This week I look back on three years since I started this blog, and my FIRE journey.  There are the usual financial updates, and some more examples of poor customer service.  

Three Years On…

I started this blog on November 1st, 2019, and this post will go live on October 30th, 2022.  Within a window of a couple of days, this is the third-anniversary post.  So, what progress have I made?  Where did I expect to be on my journey?

November 1st, 2019 Financial Statement

Premium Bonds £8,250.00.

Stocks and Shares ISA: £6,519.00.

Fuck It Fund: £1,650.00.

Pensions: £32,150.00 (approx).

Residential Property Value: £172,500.00.

Total Assets: £221,069

Three Years on…

Premium Bonds: £9,160.00. 

Stocks and Shares ISA: £58,718.94. 

Fuck It Fund: £1,625.00.

Pensions: £52,191.15. 

Residential Property Value: £233,989.00. 

Buy-to-Let Property Value: £150,993.00. 

Total Assets: £506,677.09

It’s clear that some great progress has been made over the last three years but if I were to rate my progress against where I’d hoped I would be, I would have to say it would come under the heading, “underachieving”.  However, I think there are a fair few mitigating factors.

Brexit

The shadow of Brexit has loomed over us ever since the referendum result in 2016.  From that point until we left the EU, the stock market was subject to some intense variability.  Had Brexit not happened, I believe my ISA would have a higher valuation.  

Covid-19

My FIRE journey started less than six months before the UK went into lockdown.  The pandemic has hammered the economy, and I believe some of the provisions for home buyers during this time (such as the SDLT offers) contributed to heating the housing market more than was necessary.  We’ve seen some, frankly, unreal house price growth in the last couple of years and the housing market has been incredibly competitive.  Had this madness been avoided we would almost certainly have more than one BTL property on the books by now.  

The War in Ukraine

Russia’s war of aggression in Eastern Europe has had many knock-on impacts on our lives here in the UK.  The most obvious is the impact on our energy bills.  Our household energy bills have more than tripled despite us halving our usage in kWh.  It’s just insane.  Had our energy bills remained sensible, all the extra money we’ve paid on bills would have been assigned to investments instead.

Cost of Tory Greed Living Crisis

In addition to the above points we are living through a period of inflation not seen in decades.  All these factors in combination have gradually worn away at the proportion of my income I’ve been able to allocate to investments.  

Liz Truss, Kwasi Kwarteng, and Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson

The damage done to this country by these three Tories, in particular, makes me angry.  In just a few weeks Truss and Kwarteng essentially ruined lives.  Think about it like this… Imagine the UK population as the owner of an antiques store.  The owner hired two new members of staff; Truss and Kwarteng.  These two came into work on their first day and took baseball bats to thousands of items of stock.  The whole store was ruined.  The store owner fired them.  All is well, yes?  Well, no.  They might have been fired, but this action does not unfuck the damage done to the store’s stock.  

As for ABdPJ, I hate this guy.  When I see his face on TV I feel an almost physical revulsion and hatred for him.  It’s not just that he was a poor leader.  He was dishonest in his personal and professional life.  He revelled in ignoring scientific advice at the start of the pandemic as he boasted about shaking hands with people.  Under his leadership the government wasted tens of billions of pounds on PPE contracts.  There’s the clusterfuck over the test and trace system.  Failure, after failure, after failure.  If it was just wasted money that would be bad enough.  It wasn’t though; it was wasted money, lies, and thousands upon thousands of avoidable deaths.

Please don’t misunderstand me; I’m not trying to compare the impact that ABdPJ’s leadership had on my FIRE plans with the pain and suffering many people went through due to the death of their friends and family.  I’m only mentioning it here because it did have an impact on my plans, but that impact is such a minor thing compared to how many people suffered due to Johnson’s actions.

Weekly Update

A week dominated by poor customer service, unfortunately.  I’ve posted a few times about poor customer service and I’m convinced it’s getting worse over time.  I suspect this can be, in part at least, traced back to those in front-line service roles being paid minimum wage.  There are a few movements ongoing around this, such as Act Your Wage and Quiet Quitting.  Major corporations pinching pennies by paying minimum wage when just a modest uplift would have almost no impact on their bottom line. £1p/h more might not sound like a lot, but for someone working 40 hours per week, it’s at least £160pcm more (pre-tax).  Ultimately, if you can’t pay a decent wage and make a reasonable profit at the same time, then your business model doesn’t work.

All companies make mistakes because companies are made up of people, and people are far from perfect.  However, if a business has in place policies and procedures that assist when things go wrong, along with good quality training and support, then mistakes will be quickly resolved to the satisfaction of the customer.  Ikea seemingly do the opposite.  

Ikea Training Day One

“If it’s complicated, just hang up the call.”

We had to deal with Ikea again to organise the return of our mattress.  This is part of their T&Cs where it can be returned for an exchange within 90 days of the date of purchase.  However, we had it agreed by one of their customer service managers that we could return for a refund instead of an exchange, so long as it was within 90 days.  

Anyway, we called their contact centre and explained the situation.  Note; we spent 20 minutes on hold waiting for someone to answer.  Then, after a few minutes of conversation, we were placed on hold again for over ten minutes.  The agent came back to repeat the policy that the mattress could only be exchanged.  So, once again I explained that I knew this and that she’d already said all this, but as I’d explained before we had an agreement from the manager (the full name of which we passed along).  Once more we were placed on hold for ages before they disconnected our call.  Over an hour on the phone and no progress was made.  This was actually one of the better instances of service from Ikea; yes, they set the bar that low.  As a result, we’re now back dealing with the CEO’s office.  

My girlfriend, Oana, had a pretty bizarre interaction with Skechers.  She signed up on the website for an offer as a first-time customer, which meant she got a discount on her first purchase.  She’s never had Skechers before and chose the size she thought would fit.  The trainers arrived but were too big, so she arranged to return them so she could get the next size down.  She was told she had to get a refund and reorder.  However, following those instructions did not allow for the discount on the smaller size.  Thinking this would be a simple issue to sort out, she emailed their customer service team to explain.  Their response was less than stellar:

Not only did they get my girlfriend’s name wrong, they ignored the basic facts.  

Rounding off the week we ordered in for dinner on Thursday.  A new(ish) pizza place called Rudy’s (part of a national chain) had opened in the city centre.  We had a table booked here in a couple of weeks but thought we’d try it ahead of time.  We ordered two pizzas and one garlic bread.  This is what turned up:

We had ordered through Deliveroo who gave us a refund, but seriously if you’re delivering pizza how hard is it to realise that you store the fucking thing flat.  The rider had blatantly shoved these in the bag on their side.  It wasn’t just the fact the pizzas looked like they’d been smacked about, the food was coated in a sheen of grease and oil.  It was just gross.  We called the restaurant and cancelled our reservation and explained why.  I understand the restaurant was not to blame for the way the food was delivered, but the volume of grease was just seriously off-putting. 

On a more positive note, I’ve signed up for a new meal delivery service called Field Doctor.  I struggle with various digestive problems and trying to find meals that are safe to eat without causing flare-ups is hard.  Field Doctor offer a range of low FODMAP meals which are thought to be better for those with certain digestive problems.  We had our first delivery on Friday and I tried my first meal, salmon teriyaki with brown rice, on Saturday.  It was very nice.  Hopefully, this service will make life a bit easier.

Movember

In 2017 I completed a cycling challenge for Movember.  Through the course of the month, using a stationary bike at the gym, I cycled the distance from Land’s End to John o’Groats.  I raised a few hundred pounds for Movember, and it was the most satisfying charity campaign I’ve been a part of.  

This year I’m raising money for Movember again.  I’m aiming to lose weight this year; 10kg in November for Movember.  I’ll share my fundraising page throughout the month and update on my progress.  

Why does Movember matter?  Over 500,000 men take their own lives around the world each year.  Movember fund research and services to help men of all ages with mental health.  Times are hard for us all, but even a small donation can make a difference.  You can find my fundraising page here:

https://movember.com/m/13607662?mc=1

Support Mortgage Advisor on FIRE

I love writing this blog but maintaining a website costs money.  If you want to say thanks for the content I publish, consider donating to my virtual tip jar on the link below:

https://www.buymeacoffee.com/davidscothern

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 (23/10)

  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 ✅

What Am I Doing?

Reading: Fake History by Otto English.

Listening: Necroscope by Brian Lumley.

Watching: War of the Worlds (2019).

After years of trying to convince me to read Necroscope, my Dad has finally succeeded.  I’m about halfway through the first book in the series and I’m enjoying it so far.  Much of the story is based in Romania and most of the places mentioned are places I’ve spent time in.  It always adds an extra layer to any story when the places are ones you know firsthand.

Financial Update

Assets

Premium Bonds: £9,160.00 (+£820.00). 

Stocks and Shares ISA: £58,718.94 (+£5.64). 

Fuck It Fund: £1,625.00 (no change).

Pensions: £52,191.15 (+£487.95). 

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

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

Total Assets: £506,677.09 (+£1,313.59). \

Debts

Credit Card: £0.00 (no change).

Residential Mortgage: £180,898.62 (no change). 

Buy-to-Let Mortgage: £105,279.23 (no change). 

Total Debts: £286,177.85 (no change). 

Total Wealth: £220,499.24 (+£1,313.59)

Investment Income in 2022: £4,705.26 (target £6,000).

No major changes in my finances this week.  Next week’s post will show the impact of November’s mortgage payments, but what I really need is for the stock market to start making serious gains.  

LeanFIRE

I was chatting with Oana about how much money is needed to cover my basic living expenses, i.e. LeanFIRE.  We arrived at a figure of approximately £1,300pcm.  By the end of 2022 I will have averaged around £450pcm investment income.  Assuming my projections for 2023 end up being accurate, I should average a little over £600pcm in investment income.  So, there’s still a way to go.

When I started this project in 2019 I had in mind a four-year timeline in mind.  It was always going to be difficult but I would rather set a tough goal and fail than an easy goal and smash it.  By aiming higher I think it pushes me to do more, and work harder.  I suspect that I’m still three full years away from FIRE.  The question is, can I continue with my current life set up and succeed over the next three years?  I suspect something will have to give somewhere.  The main thing is that I’m still getting closer to my goal, even if the pace of my progress is much slower than I’d hoped. 

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

Part 156

Hello and welcome back to Mortgage Advisor on FIRE.  This week I look ahead to 2023’s investment income goal.  Also, thoughts on the latest Tory Shambles.  

This Week’s Tory Shambles

It looks like the lettuce won.  If you aren’t sure what I’m talking about, it’s the Daily Star’s campaign to see what would last longer, an iceberg lettuce in a blonde wig, or Liz Truss.  In case you’ve been living under a rock, Liz Truss resigned as Prime Minister hours after stating she was a “fighter, not a quitter.’  

I’ve got to hold my hands up at this point because when it came down to Sunak or Truss for PM, I said I’d rather see Truss because I felt she was too stupid to be truly dangerous.  All I can do is admit I was wrong.  She was both stupid and dangerous, and her actions have damaged our country so badly that it could take years to repair.  On the plus side, she may have irrevocably broken the Tory party.  

It’s hard to understand how these people get to the positions they hold.  I didn’t think I’d find myself agreeing with any element of the Russian government, but their foreign ministry hit the nail on the head when it referred to Truss as “catastrophically illiterate”.  Let’s not forget the time, just prior to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, when Truss met Sergei Lavrov and confused regions of Russia (where they had troops stationed) believing they were part of Ukraine.  It’s gross incompetence.

Speaking of which…

There are reports Boris Johnson may attempt to regain the office of Prime Minister.  It will not come as too much of a surprise to regular readers of this blog that I’m not a fan of Boris Johnson.  I’m not saying he’s a totally incompetent skidmark on the reputation of this country; he’s worse than that.  

There’s a website devoted to the lies Boris Johnson has told, which you can find at boris-johnson-lies.com.  Lying seems to be a way of life for this man, and I just don’t comprehend how any working-class, or even middle-class, person would support him.   If the previous website about his lies doesn’t float your boat, then check out another dedicated to his lack of integrity; costofjohnson.com.

I mean, just look at the state of some of the things this guy has come out with? 

Johnson doesn’t give a single, solitary fuck about anyone but himself.  Why, WHY would anyone publicly declare that they support him? 

My only hope is that there are enough decent Tory MPs out there to mean that Johnson has no hope of forming a new government.

Fake History and Fake News

We attended a talk by journalist Otto English to promote his new book, Fake History.  I’ve followed Otto on Twitter for a while and listening to him in person was great.  He’s articulate, and seems to share many of my political opinions, mainly that Boris Johnson is a deceitful shit who shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near a position of power or influence.  It was amusing listening to Otto take apart lie after lie from Johnson, but after a while it’s like beating a dead horse and he moved on to other areas of fake history.  

One thing that he discussed, which I think is a lesson many people would do well to learn, is that the first thing you hear is not necessarily always right.  Whilst this may seem like common sense so many people fall victim to this cognitive bias.  For example, you call your bank to ask about a process or policy.  You are given an explanation.  You then call back to follow through on that process, only to be told that it doesn’t work that way.  The tendency is to reply, “well the other person said I could.”.  The implied meaning is that the first person was correct, and the second person was not.  

Why is this important?

In our political climate it often doesn’t seem to matter what is true and what is complete fabrication.  All that matters is who speaks first.  There are many variations on the phrase, but there seems to be some truth to the argument that “a lie travels halfway around the world whilst the truth is still putting its boots on.”  The point is that if you speak first, people will believe you and no matter how many times the point is refuted, it doesn’t seem to make a difference.  Case in point; Jeremy Corbyn.  I’m not Corbyn’s biggest fan simply because there are areas of policy I disagree with him on.  However, many of the stories about him in media when he was Labour leader were simply false.  The points were refuted, but when the vast majority of our media is owned by Tory donors or supporters, it should be clear to see why the truth is not always easy to spot.

Weekly Update

I recently mentioned that I’d spent £520 on Lego parts for my Rocinante model.  Well, I’ve gone and done it again.  I’ve bought a Lego Star Destroyer.  It should have cost around £620 but due to a limited time offer I was able to get it with over 30% off.  I don’t have room to display the model, as it’s over a meter long but the price was too good to pass up.  I’ve wanted a Lego Star Destroyer for ages and the detail on this model looks incredible.  It’s strange in a way that it’s the Empire’s ships from Star Wars that tend to be more iconic.  I would guess that if you asked people to list the most iconic ships from Star Wars you would get plenty of responses for the Millenium Falcon, but possibly more for Star Destroyers or TIE fighters.

The Star Destroyer was not the only Lego model I received this week, as I also took delivery of Lego’s Starry Night.  I’ve been fortunate enough to see the original Starry Night twice, and it’s my favourite painting.  I could stare at it for hours and still find new detail.  Once I’ve assembled it I’ll post pictures in the following blog.

Support Mortgage Advisor on FIRE

I love writing this blog but maintaining a website costs money.  If you want to say thanks for the content I publish, consider donating to my virtual tip jar on the link below:

https://www.buymeacoffee.com/davidscothern

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

1 – Reduce weight to 90kg.  (Current weight 124.3kg).

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 (22/10)

  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 ✅

What Am I Doing?

Reading: Fake History by Otto English.

Listening: Battle for the Falklands by Max Hastings.

Watching: War of the Worlds (2019) series.

We’ve abandoned our MCU marathon after getting burned out with it following Moon Knight.  We’ve started the series based on H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds.  It’s a joint UK/French production and has a few interesting twists on the original story.  We’re only about halfway through the first season and it’s been entertaining so far.  There was one part that made me shout out “bullshit” though.  Mild spoilers follow:The aliens have these robot dogs (yes, similar to that Black Mirror episode) which are hunting down survivors of the initial attack.  These robots have gone up against squads of soldiers armed with rifles and grenade launchers and won.  So, when two pensioners are able to dispatch one of these robots by closing their eyes and spraying it with machine gun rounds, all the while not hitting their partner who is wrestling with the robot on the ground… Yeah, bullshit is the word.

Financial Update

Assets

Premium Bonds: £8,340.00 (-£1,360.00). 

Stocks and Shares ISA: £58,713.30 (-£188.26). 

Fuck It Fund: £1,625.00 (+£575.00).

Pensions: £51,703.20 (+£834.85). 

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

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

Total Assets: £505,363.50 (-£138.41).

Debts

Credit Card: £0.00 (no change).

Residential Mortgage: £180,898.62 (no change). 

Buy-to-Let Mortgage: £105,279.23 (no change). 

Total Debts: £286,177.85 (no change). 

Total Wealth: £219,185.65 (-£138.41)

Investment Income in 2022: £4,640.26 (target £6,000).

I cashed in some of my bonds to pay for a few unexpected things but the balance will increase again in time.  With our property plans on hold for the time being, there’s no major pressure to have funds in place immediately.  I suspect that stock market investments, such as my ISA and pension, will continue to fluctuate until our government has some stability.  Unfortunately, I can’t see any stability until a general election takes place, so we might be waiting a while. 

The cost of living crisis, which now encapsulates the rising cost of energy, food, and sky-high mortgage rates (relative to recent years) means that there will be less money from our earned income to allocate to investments.  The investments themselves will have to do much of the heavy lifting in terms of compounding.  This means the FIRE plan will slow down, but not stop altogether.  The beauty of compounding gains is that once momentum builds it is very difficult to stop.

With just two potential rent and dividend payments due before the end of the year, it’s pretty much impossible that I’ll hit the £6,000 income goal for this year.  It’s looking like I’ll end up with around £5,300.  It’s still a solid increase from last year, and I’ll soon start work on projections for next year.  Assuming that I end the year on £5,300, that would represent a 40.5% increase on 2021.  Using that increase as a goal for 2023, I should be aiming for £7,446.  To achieve that, I’ll need two properties that are generating rent.

The most interesting part of this is what will happen to the mortgage and housing markets.  Rates have increased much faster than many thought, but that’s par for the course for this Tory government; always finding new ways of fucking things up.  I doubt there will be any major change in house prices this year, but the first quarter of 2023 will be interesting.  

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

Muchos Libros

Since I discovered audiobooks I’ve been able to smash through dozens of books a year.  As I write this, I’ve completed 106 books for 2022.  It’s fair to say that audiobooks are my favourite form of entertainment, ranking above TV, film, music, and gaming.  One question I am often asked is what my favourite books are.  It would be difficult to come up with a list of my top five, ten, or even twenty books, as I’d always be stressing about leaving certain books out.  Instead, I will share a few of my favourite series of books.  I’m not going to include series that are still in progress, but rather focus on those that are complete.  Mild spoilers will follow each series listed.

  1. The Century Trilogy by Ken Follett;
    1. Fall of Giants
    2. Winter of the World
    3. Edge of Eternity

I was not initially a fan of Ken Follett.  I found the Pillars of the Earth to be quite dull.  The Century Trilogy does not, on the face of it, sound that exciting but as the story progressed I was gripped.  The books follow several families in the UK, Russia, and the US against the backdrop of world history.  We are introduced to these families in the early 20th century, and then we see how their fortures rise and fall through the Spanish Civil War, the Second World War, the Cold War, all the way to present day.  

Favourite Scene: There are many to chose from, but the concert in West Berlin in the third book was an emotional scene.

  1. The Warlord Trilogy by Bernard Cornwell
    1. The Winter King
    2. Enemy of God
    3. Excalibur

I’ve read this series more than any other over the years, and I’ve listened to the incredible audiobook version narrated by Jonathan Keeble more than once.  From all the books about Arthur published to date, this is the definitive version.  Grounded in reality, these books follow the Celtic warlord Arthur, bastard son of High King Uther, as he attempts to unify the warring kingdoms of Britain against the Saxon invaders.  The story is told from the point of view of Derfel, one of Arthur’s most trusted soldiers.  This story is less knights in shining armour, and more spearmen in shieldwalls fighting bloody battles.  Many of the traditional elements of the Arthurian legend are turned on their head, such as the portrayal of Lancelot, the Holy Grail, and the Round Table, but in my opinion Cornwell’s version is superior because of these changes.  No matter how many times I complete this series, the ending always leaves me choked up and emotional.

Fans of the show The Last Kingdom will love this series; it’s the same author, and The Last Kingdom works almost as a loose sequel to The Warlord Trilogy.

Favourite Scene: The Battle of Lugg Vale, towards the end of the first book.

  1. The Expanse by James S. A. Corey
    1. Leviathan Wakes
    2. Caliban’s War
    3. Abaddon’s Gate
    4. Cibola Burn
    5. Nemesis Games
    6. Babylon’s Ashes
    7. Persepolis Rising
    8. Tiamat’s Wrath
    9. Leviathan Falls

Technically The Expanse series also includes a number of novellas that take place between the books of the main series, but it’s not essential to read them.  The Expanse is just pure art.  James S. A. Corey is the pen name of due Daniel Abraham and Ty Frank, the latter of whom worked with George R. R. Martin, the author of Game of Thrones.  

If I had to describe The Expanse briefly, it would be Game of Thrones in space, but the good GoT that involved political intrigue, nuanced story telling, and tense action, as opposed to bizarre character turns, coffee cups in castles, and battles you can’t see in the dark.  

The Expanse is set a couple of hundred years in the future.  Humanity has colonised Luna, Mars, many of the Jovian and Saturnian moons, and The Belt.  In this setting there are rival factions vying for supremacy against the backdrop of a newly discovered technology.  Mars and Earth are at each other’s throats.  The colonists of The Belt yearn for independence and respect.  In some ways it’s like powder keg of Europe before the world wars.  The characters we follow are the crew of the Rocinante, a salvaged warship, as they find themselves trapped between the various powers of the solar system.  

Favourite Scene: The battle between the Rocinante and the Pella.  I will not say anymore about it so as not to spoil the action for those who’ve not read it.  It is the finest space battle put on the page.  Incredible.

  1. The Cemetary of Forgotten Books by Carlos Ruiz Zafón
    1. The Shadow of the Wind
    2. The Angel’s Game
    3. Prisoner of Heaven
    4. The Labyrinth of Spirits

A Spanish series set in, and around, Barcelona in the first half of the 20th century.  I started these books with some reluctance as the idea just didn’t grab me.  I was wrong.  I cannot praise these books highly enough.  There are books that tell entertaining stories.  There are classics.  There are tales that cross into mainstream culture, and then there are works that are just pure art.  The Cemetary of Forgotten Books can, technically, be read in any order, although most people recommend reading them in the order I’ve listed them.  I don’t want to say much about these books because I think it’s best to go into them with no expectations.  There are few books that resonate with me so deeply, but I loved these.  

Favourite Scene: Impossible to choose just one.  The whole series is just beautiful.

  1. Remembrance of Earth’s Past by Cixin Liu
    1. The Three-Body Problem
    2. The Dark Forest
    3. Death’s End

You may have seen posts on social media about the upcoming Netflix adaptation of The Three-Body Problem by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, the guys who adapted Game of Thrones for TV.  There is also a Chinese adaptation in the works which I suspect will be more faithful to the books.  

The Three-Body Problem is a story of first contact with an alien civilization, the mystery surrounding a computer game, and a series of suicides amongst scientists who claim physics isn’t real.

The first book in the series is excellent, but for me the second book, The Dark Forest, may be the single finest science fiction book around.  The name comes from a theory put forward by one of the characters to explain why space is so quiet, and we we haven’t made contact with aliens.  The theory is simple, and horrifying.  The scene in which this is discussed is one of my favourite scenes across all the books I’ve read.  

Favourite Scene: Luo Ji and Da Shi discuss Dark Forest Theory.

  1. The Nemesis Saga by Jeremy Robinson
    1. Island 731
    2. Project Nemesis
    3. Project Maigo
    4. Project 731
    5. Project Hyperion
    6. Project Legion

I discovered Jeremy Robinson by accident.  As I was scrolling through Audible I saw the cover for Infinite, and the summary was interesting so I bought it.  It was then forgotten about as I got sidetracked with other books.  I then found myself craving Kaiju stories, and I came across The Nemesis Saga.  The series follows the adventures of Jon Hudson, an agent of the paranormal section of Homeland Security in the US.  During a routine investigation he uncovers a shady group experimenting with Kaiju DNA.  

The series, like all of Jeremy’s work, features great dialogue and the characters feel real, albeit with some traits dialled up to eleven.  

Favourite Scene: When we first encounter the full sized Nemesis.

I hope you found this interesting and I’m sure this list will change over time as more series are completed. Some contenders for inclusion in future include, 

  1. Chess Team by Jeremy Robinson
  2. The Stone Man series by Luke Smitherd
  3. The Lady Astronaut series by Mary Robinette Kowal

If you have read an incredible series that you think I might like, please leave a comment and let me know. Also, if you enjoy my writing please leave a tip in my virtual tip jar by clicking the image below:

Part 155

Hello and welcome back to Mortgage Advisor on FIRE.  A shorter post this week as I’ve been distracted with other things.  There’s only one place to start; The Tory Shambles: 

This Week’s Tory Shambles

Kwasi Kwarteng was one of those Tory politicians who was seemingly promoted way beyond his competencies. During his time at the Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Security, whenever I saw him interviewed I felt like I was watching a comedy show.  When he was appointed Chancellor, I just laughed.  He may have failed miserably, but you also have to assign some blame to the person who appointed him; Liz Truss, the current Prime Minister.

To understand just how bad Kwarteng’s time as Chancellor was, just take a look at those who held the position of Chancellor for the shortest periods, and why they left office.

Iain Macleod – 30 days

Macleod’s time as Chancellor was short as he passed away in office.  He had spent a long time as Shadow Chancellor, and his death came shortly after a general election.

Baron Denman – 31 days

Only ever an interim appointment.

Nadhim Zahawi – 63 days

Another interim appointment, this time by Boris Johnson.  The day after his appointment, Zahawi stuck the knife in Johnson’s back by calling on him to resign.  The 63 day reign was only due to the time it took the Tory party to appoint a new leader.

George Canning 103 days

Another example of a politician dying in office.  

So, to be clear, Kwarteng did not die, nor was he subject to a change in government.  He was just a terrible appointment, by a terrible PM.  

Our whole political situation in the UK is an embarrassment.  We’ve had four PMs in six years.  We’ve had four chancellors in four months.  I would not be surprised to see another PM before the year is out.  Liz Truss is ruling with no mandate, and no credibility.

Weekly Update

Not a huge amount to tell this week.  I’m back on the list for surgery to remove the kidney stone that will not budge.  According to the scans, it’s far too big to pass naturally and it needs to come out.  The op is pencilled in for November 9th, with my pre-op booked in for next week.  

I’m not looking forward to the procedure, but not for the reason you might think.  General anaesthetic doesn’t worry me.  I’m just stressed about going into a ward with lots of other people, having to fast for hours before (which as a diabetic is a pain in the ass), and being worried about what happens to all my stuff whilst I’m in surgery.  I wanted to have this done privately but according to the consultant there are no private hospitals in Sheffield that have the necessary equipment.  

As the week came to an end, I decided to revisit an old Lego project.  I’m a huge fan of The Expanse and a few months ago I bought a PDF guide to building a model of the Rocinante; the main spaceship from the books/TV show.  It’s over 5,000 pieces, and when complete will be 87cm long.  I can’t wait to get started on building it.  I spent most of Saturday afternoon checking what pieces I have, and then several hours shopping online for the remaining parts.  The monetary cost; £520.  Don’t judge me.

I should also note that getting carried away with Lego is the main reason why this post is a bit shorter than normal.

Before I forget, I finally received my branded hoodies with the blog’s logo on.  See the pics below: 

Support Mortgage Advisor on FIRE

I love writing this blog but maintaining a website costs money.  If you want to say thanks for the content I publish, consider donating to my virtual tip jar on the link below:

https://www.buymeacoffee.com/davidscothern

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

1 – Reduce weight to 90kg.  (Current weight 124.3kg).

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 (21/10)

  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 ✅ 

What Am I Doing?

What I’m reading: nothing at the moment.

What I’m listening to: Waiting to start a new audiobook.

What I’m watching: Rings of Power.

Rings of Power… I was hoping it was going to be great.  It’s poor though.  The large ensemble cast has varying levels of quality.  There are a few decent performances, such as Owain Arthur as Durin IV.  On the whole though, the performances are not great.  I suspect that it’s a case of the actors doing what they can with poor scripts and poor direction.  Sadly I think this show is an example of story-by-committee, with too many parallels to the Lord of the Rings;

  • Dwarf-Elf bromance? ✅
  • Human-Elf romance? ✅
  • Wizard-like character befriending adventurous hobbit-like creature? ✅
  • Rough around the edges, noble warrior who refuses to be king? ✅

It’s as though the producers took the most popular elements from the film trilogy, made them worse, and then repackaged them as a TV show.  

Financial Update

Assets

Premium Bonds: £9,700.00 (no change). 

Stocks and Shares ISA: £58,901.56 (-£1,035.44). 

Fuck It Fund: £1,050.00 (no change).

Pensions: £50,868.35 (-£2,227.19). 

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

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

Total Assets: £505,501.91 (-£3,262.63). 

Debts

Credit Card: £0.00 (no change).

Residential Mortgage: £180,898.62 (no change). 

Buy-to-Let Mortgage: £105,279.23 (no change). 

Total Debts: £286,177.85 (no change). 

Total Wealth: £219,324.06 (-£3,262.63)

Investment Income in 2022: £4,562.87 (target £6,000).

The stock market and pensions took a bit of a hammering last week.  I don’t see many gains being made until there is some stability in our government.  So I guess that means limited progress until the next general election.

In response to the economic clusterfuck we find ourselves in, I’ve tweaked my ISA a little.  I’ve cashed in three funds I was invested in, and I’ve used the proceeds to consolidate the money in my ISA into just two assets; one fund and one stock.  The fund is one that pays a monthly income, and I should start receiving around £80pcm going forward, instead of the £71 I’ve been getting for the last few months.  The stock I’m invested in is one I’ve held for a long time.  I believe it will increase in value and I’m loathe to cash in.

I’m edging closer to my 2022 goal of £6,000 investment income.  I still think I’ll fall slightly short of the target.  Unless I get a win on Premium Bonds, I’ll probably end up with around £5,200 by the end of the year.  Whilst still a decent increase on the year before, there’s a long way to go until I can FIRE.  

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

Part 154

Hello and welcome back to Mortgage Advisor on FIRE. This week I discuss the recent update to the house price index. Also, thoughts on the war between Ukraine and Russia. Also, the usual financial updates and some pictures of how our apartment is coming along.

Quote of the Week

“Everything illegal must be destroyed, everything stolen must be returned to Ukraine, everything occupied by Russia must be expelled.”

~ Ukrainian Presidential Advisor, Mykhailo Podolyak.

Following the illegal annexation of Crimea by Russia in 2014, a bridge was built linking Russia and the occupied territory.  That bridge has been destroyed in what many believe to be an operation by Ukrainian partisans or special forces.  Whatever the cause, this is a huge blow to Russia’s ability to resupply forces in the south.  The lack of Russian effectiveness in this conflict has surprised some, but many commentators with knowledge of Russia’s military have stated, for some time, that the Russians have poor logistics.  War isn’t just about who has the most soldiers or the best weapons.  It often comes down to logistics; who can move the most stuff from point A to point B.  There’s no point having troops advancing as part of an invasion if you can’t supply them with ammunition, food, medicine, armour, and so on.  

Russia has lost a huge amount of material in this invasion of Ukraine, as well as a lot of high ranking officers.  In an army of conscripts this is especially damaging.  One element to this, that hasn’t been as widely publicised as I expected, is due to the US supplying Ukraine with sixteen HIMAR systems (basically a mobile rocket launching system on a flatbed truck, but you know, much cooler).  These missile platforms are highly mobile and can launch a variety of different warheads.  Ukraine is using them to devastating effect and has reportedly destroyed over 400 targets with them so far.  In the coming months the US is going to supply Ukraine with more of these HIMAR systems, and with Russia seemingly incapable of defending against them, I suspect Ukraine will use these weapons to expel Russia from their land.

When it comes down to it, in conventional war, the side that can build the most stuff, transport the most stuff, and supply its troops most effectively, is the side that wins.  With the majority of the developed world supporting Ukraine, and with Russia hammered with sanctions, I see a few possible outcomes for this conflict and none of them end well for Russia.

Scenario One: Russia is expelled from Ukraine and is forced into a negotiated peace.  Russia’s economy will be in ruins and it will take years, if not decades, for them to replace the people and equipment in their military.  With Russian access to advanced microchips extremely limited, they will find it difficult to build the missiles, tanks, drones, and other aircraft a 21st century military would expect.  

Scenario Two: Russia deploys tactical nuclear weapons inside Ukraine.  Should this happen, the gloves of the western world would come off, but this doesn’t mean a nuclear response from the US or NATO automatically.  I believe that if Russia deployed nuclear weapons inside Ukraine, Putin would quickly be removed from power by elements inside Russia.  The Generals inside the Russian military must know that any use of nuclear weapons is suicidal for Russia.  To stop the full might of NATO airpower turning Russian cities into rubble, Russia would need to remove Putin, withdraw from Ukraine, and agree to demilitarisation.  

Scenario Three: Russia refuses to back down in Ukraine and is forced into a lengthy conflict over the disputed regions along the border.  Russian losses mount forcing them to deploy conscripts of ever lesser quality (in terms of training and morale) with older equipment.  Ukraine’s military becomes fully trained in the use of advanced NATO and US weapons systems (this training is ongoing right now).  The war ends when Putin dies.  

Weekly Update

Would you believe me if I said I’d had yet more poor customer service?  As part of the improvements to our apartment, I ordered a new espresso machine from Nespresso.  I’ve had four machines prior to this one; one which worked fine until I gave it up (the first machine I had from them), two machines which developed faults within weeks of being bought, and finally one which was faulty out of the box.  I figured that I couldn’t be so unlucky as to have another machine with a fault.  I was wrong.  The new machine seemingly had two faults; it would not heat up to the required temperature, and water would not flow through the machine.  I spent half an hour on the phone with technical support.  The call ended when they said there wasn’t more they could do and that I should try working through more troubleshooting.  If that failed I should return the item via the retailer I bought it from.  So, I’ve sent it back for a refund.  I wasn’t even angry; I think I knew on a subconscious level it would be faulty.  Five machines; four of which wouldn’t work.  That’s some piss-poor workmanship.  

Something weird has happened in the last couple of weeks.  My go-to trainers when I head out have started giving me blisters on both feet in the exact same place.  These are not new trainers, and I’ve worn them without a problem for a while.  Just seems bizarre that they’ve suddenly started giving me blisters.  I’ve tried adjusting the laces, using an insert, and a couple of other things without any improvement.  I’m utterly confused by this, and if anyone has any theories about what the cause is, I’d love to know.

Following my frustrating medical call that I mentioned a week or so ago, I had a follow-up conversation with my GP.  It was decided to increase the dosage on my mirtazapine from 15mg to 30mg.  I took the first, higher, amount on Friday evening.  Saturday morning I woke up feeling like I’d got a huge hangover.  It wasn’t a headache, but I felt like a zombie.  I could barely walk in a straight line.  I decided to go out for a walk, and a coffee, to try and clear the cobwebs but it wasn’t until lunch time that I started to come around.  I was like this when I first started taking this medication, but after a few weeks, I adjusted to it.  

Our apartment is really starting to come together.  My girlfriend, Oana, has done an amazing job organising things, and I love how the living room looks now:

Support Mortgage Advisor on FIRE

I love writing this blog but maintaining a website costs money.  If you want to say thanks for the content I publish, consider donating to my virtual tip jar on the link below:

https://www.buymeacoffee.com/davidscothern

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

1 – Reduce weight to 90kg.  (Current weight 124.3kg).

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 (21/10)

  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 ✅ 

What Am I Doing?

What I’m reading: The Good Samaritan by John Marrs.

What I’m listening to: Lost Time by Nathan Hystad.

What I’m watching: MCU in timeline order.

The Good Samaritan is messed up.  It’s told from the point of view of two characters.  The first you are introduced to is Laura who works on a charity phone line for people who are depressed.  She picks callers who meet a certain type, and then slowly encourages them to take their own life.  It’s a page-turner and I’ll have it finished in the next day or two.

I was enjoying the time travel series by Nick Jones, but the fourth book in the series is not released until October 11th.  In the meantime I’ve been listening to The Bridge Sequence by Nathan Hystad.  Lost Time is the second book in the series.  It’s nice, easy listening but I doubt I’ll remember it in detail in a few months.  The story centres on an archeologist who is trying to find out what happened to his dad, also an archeologist, who went missing.  Objects have been detected at the edge of the solar system heading for Earth, and there’s a shadowy group of “believers” who are preparing to receive their alien masters.  It’s entertaining, but is trope-heavy.

Financial Update

Assets

Premium Bonds: £9,700.00 (no change). 

Stocks and Shares ISA: £59,937.00 (+£1,157.05). 

Fuck It Fund: £1,050.00 (no change).

Pensions: £53,095.54 (-£239.08). 

Residential Property Value: £233,989.00 (+£4,830.00). 

Buy-to-Let Property Value: £150,993.00 (+£3,117.00). 

Total Assets: £508,764.54 (+£8,864.97).

Debts

Credit Card: £0.00 (no change).

Residential Mortgage: £180,898.62 (-£822.89). 

Buy-to-Let Mortgage: £105,279.23 (-£22.23). 

Total Debts: £286,177.85 (-£845.12). 

Total Wealth: £222,586.69 (+£9,710.09)

Investment Income in 2022: £4,305.87 (target £6,000).

The quarterly house price index update took place and saw both my properties increase in value.  I wouldn’t be surprised if this is the last increase for a while, as I’m expecting something of a reset to the housing market with the current rate situation.  I don’t think we will see a complete crash, but I’m now thinking there will be a period of instability whilst the ripples of this Tory government’s latest fuck up spread through the economy.  

I’d talked with my investment partner about additional borrowing on our BTL, but we’ve decided against it.  Whilst the value of the BTL may drop in the coming months, making extra borrowing more difficult, we feel this is outweighed by the level of rates right now.  If we completed £10k of additional borrowing (the lowest amount possible) we’d be looking at an interest rate of almost 6%.  Roughly speaking, £50pcm on interest only to secure £10k of capital is not worth it.  So, it’s looking like we will not release funds from the initial BTL for some time, but that’s ok.  Each month that passes sees our BTL balance reduce slightly, and it’s been demonstrated time and time again that in the long-term property values increase.  

Just out of curiosity, have your plans to buy/sell a property changed because of what’s happening in the world?  I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on the matter.

For now, we are still thinking that adding to our BTL portfolio would be a mistake.  We’ll see how the market responds throughout the rest of 2022 and into 2023.  In the meantime, I might be putting some money towards a place for my Dad to buy outright.  For those who don’t read his blog, first of all you should.  But yeah, he’s talked about how frustrating it’s been looking for a place to buy since he sold his previous property.  With the mortgage market as it is, and with us both having spare cash, it makes sense to put it to use.  The idea would be that when rates stabilise we could release funds by securing a mortgage against the property in the future and use those funds to buy further BTLs.  We’ll see how it develops.

That’s all for this week.  Thanks for reading.

Disclaimer

The views and opinions in this blog are my own, and do no 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