Who, What, When, Why?

When I started this blog the intention was to have a purely financial focus.  I wanted to write about my journey from being an employee of a large corporation to someone who was financially independent.  I came to realise that the “what” and the “how” were not the only factors here.  The “why” was also important.  

As my blog evolved I have written more frequently about my mental health.  Regular readers will know that back in 2020 I had something of a mental breakdown.  I don’t want to go into the specifics of what triggered this; think of it as a lot of separate things with one specific event being the straw that broke the camel’s back.  

The point is that my “why” is my mental health.  That is the point I’ve come to realise in the last year.  For a long time I had dealt with stress, anxiety and depression through a series of coping mechanisms whether that was getting engrossed in computer games, books, exercise or gambling.  I have a tendency to throw myself into projects and then get burned out as they become less an outlet for relaxation and more an obsession, or in the case of gambling, an addiction.  

On March 15th I celebrated 600 days since I placed my last bet.  This is the longest I have gone without gambling since I first placed a bet in 2007.  It’s a good feeling.  I am still angry at myself for how much money I wasted in those years, but I console myself in the knowledge that it could have been much, much worse.  I did not get into serious debt to fund my gambling, and I came out the other side with a better understanding of the industry and the futility of the act of gambling.  

My struggles and experiences over the years have been hidden from the world through other coping mechanisms, with one typical example being my general sarcastic attitude.  I tend to use humour as a defence mechanism or when I’m nervous.

There is a term I have recently become aware of in respect of mental health; masking.  This is where a person hides their true feelings behind a mask of other feelings they are essentially faking.  We all do this from time to time; for example pretending to be happy with a gift that is utter rubbish, or pretending to like your co-worker.  The thing that differentiates this type of masking, to the type of masking that I’m going to talk about, is that pretending to be happy with a gift you don’t like is a fairly easy thing to do.  You don’t have to pretend for long, and it does not cause a lot of mental strain.  The same applies to pretending to like a co-worker you see for a few minutes at the office each day.  It might cause some stress, but it is infrequent and you can remove yourself from the situation quite easily.  Masking mental health is an entirely different animal though.

I first came across the term masking in regards to autism and the ways that autistic people mask their symptoms.  Autism is a developmental disorder, although the exact definition is the subject of heated debate.  There is also a lack of consensus over the causes and accepted symptoms of autism.  There is a quote regarding autism, that if “you meet one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism.”  This quote explains that every autistic person is different, with a unique combination of symptoms.  I have learned a lot about autism this past year.

Some of you will know that my father was diagnosed as autistic a few months ago.  This came after a long period where he knew he was autistic but just needed the official diagnosis.  We both suspect that there have been other instances of autism further up the family tree.  

When I had my breakdown last year, it was suggested that I might be autistic.  I have looked back over my life and armed with more knowledge about the symptoms and effects of autism, I think this could be a possibility.  I am waiting for a formal assessment, but although this was requested a few months ago, the waiting list still has a few more months to run.  

For a long time I have masked thoughts, feelings and behaviours.  I’ve never felt fully at ease with myself in social situations.  Many people I’ve developed a relationship with, be it romantic, platonic or professional have said something along the lines of “you’re actually pretty sound” or “I thought you were an asshole”.  Some still think I’m an asshole, but that’s ok; I know I am at times.  The point is, I don’t make a good first impression.  I often look angry, but that is just my face.  I also have bad eyesight and have to furrow my brow to concentrate on what I’m looking at.  I have been told this makes me look like an eagle.  

One of these is a majestic being, beloved by many and the other is an eagle cuddly toy.

In recent months I have been thinking a lot about my school years, in particular secondary school and sixth form.  For a while, I thought I was happy.  I had a large group of friends and had a succession of girlfriends.  I was playing regularly for the school football team and competing in the school athletics team.  I always felt like the outsider on the inside of my friendship group though.  I used to put this down to the fact that all my friends lived on one side of the city, and I lived on the other side.  They had all known each other for a long time before, having come from the same group of primary schools, whereas I had come from a different school.  It was around this time that I started to notice the first signs of my declining mental health.

I did the expected thing and went to university where I was removed from my familiar surroundings and established friends and support networks.  It did not go well.  I lasted a few weeks into the second year before dropping out.  I just could not cope mentally.  It was a bad idea to go to university at that time.  I just was not mentally right for it.  I came home, and got a job working for Natwest who were unbelievably shit.  I lasted about six months before getting a job with Norwich Union Healthcare who were great.  I really enjoyed my time working there.  It was a good office and an interesting job.  The people were great and although I left in 2007 I am still in touch with a few people from the office.  The company treated me well and it was a tough decision to leave the job and go back to university, but I felt like I needed to finish what I had started.  

My mental health was mostly fine at UCLan.  I did very well with my studies and made some great friends.  I met my girlfriend there and thirteen years later we are still together.  In October 2009 I had a mini mental health crisis.  I hid it from almost everyone but I was a complete wreck.  I do not know how I managed to drag myself through it, but I did.  I worked my ass off and completed my dissertation, for which I was awarded a first.  This is one of my proudest achievements.  

Looking back, I should have stayed on and completed a masters but at the time I felt like I needed a break from studying.  Hindsight is great but ultimately unhelpful.  I finally settled on my current employer in 2011 and they have been extremely supportive regarding my physical and mental health problems.  It’s almost as if my body was an older iPhone model that Apple decided to stop supporting.  One problem after another has hit me since I turned 30.  I came to realise that there was no way I could continue working in a typical workplace until my 60s.  It just could not happen.  

As my physical and mental health has deteriorated and my medical history started to resemble a sixty-year-old’s (an actual quote from one of my doctors) I believed that there must be something linking all these problems.  The chances of an otherwise fit and healthy man in his thirties coming down with so many different and unrelated problems was extremely unlikely.  When I started looking into autism in more detail, I realised that autism is associated with a vast range of other health problems.  Establishing a causal relationship is often difficult but simply having something that links many of my health problems has taken a weight off my mind.  

Conditions Comorbid to Autism

– Anxiety ✅

– Depression ✅

– IBS ✅

– Sleep disorders ✅

– Tinnitus ✅

– Vitamin deficiencies ✅

– Joint pain ✅

There are also theories around other health conditions being linked to autism, such as thyroid and neuroimmune problems, both of which I experience.  

Maybe I am autistic.  Maybe I’m not.  I personally believe I will be diagnosed as autistic when I eventually have my assessment.  The people close to me that I’ve discussed this with also believe I am autistic.  It doesn’t bother me.  I’m not beating myself up about the possibility of being autistic.  If anything, it will be something of a relief to have an answer as to why I feel the way I do.  It will help answer why I have always felt like an outsider and why I’ve often felt a sense of unreality or detachment about life.  

I need to get to FIRE as soon as possible.  I honestly believe that my health depends on it.  The stress I feel at having to work a “normal” job is not sustainable.  It’s difficult to explain just how mentally exhausting masking can be, but now I realise that is what I’ve been doing for most of my life.  This probably explains why I have so many headaches and migraines.  

Some of this may come across as a “first world problem” with some people thinking autism is a new, trendy thing. It’s not. Autism has been around for a long time and the way autistic people have been treated is horrific. Just look up how Nazi Germany treated autistics, for example.

I’m not in any danger of suicide, despite my nihilistic approach to life. Many autistics are at risk though, and many do succumb to the struggle of living in a neurotypical world that is fundamentally designed against autistics. 

As a people we need to realise that a one-size-fits-all approach to life is not helpful to anyone. At the same time, the practicalities of existing in an interconnected society mean some standardisation is necessary. The key is to find a balance that supports neurotypical and neurodiverse people. 

So I’m not really sure how to wrap this up.  This post, or something like it, has been on my mind for a while.  I didn’t know whether it was something I should make public or not, but there is so much misinformation and misunderstanding out there about autism.  Although there are many factors that prompted me to write this, a major part of my decision to post this was the disgusting behaviour of Sia, and the film she made called Music.  I’m not going to talk much about it, because everything that needs to be said has been by people much more eloquent and informed than I.  I will just say two things; the film is hated by almost everyone I’ve spoken with who has real life experience with autism.  The second point is that the movie has 8% on Rotten Tomatoes at the time I write this.  

If I am autistic, and I suspect I probably am, it does not change who I am.  It does help explain my past though, and that explanation helps inform my future.  

Thanks for reading this extra post and in the next part of Mortgage Advisor on FIRE I will talk about the numbers involved in the different levels of financial independence.

If you have enjoyed this post, or others from Mortgage Advisor on FIRE, please consider supporting the site by clicking on the Buy Me A Coffee links and making a small donation towards the running costs of the site.

Part 72

Hello and welcome back to Mortgage Advisor on F.I.R.E.  This week I will be talking about suicide and suicidal thoughts, in addition to male on female violence.  The following content may not be suitable for all readers.  

Quote of the Week

There has been a lot of talk recently about suicide, in the wake of the interview with Meghan Markle.  As always when suicide is discussed by celebrities you get the same ignorant comments from people, such as, “what do they have to feel depressed about?”  This is a dangerous and ignorant line of thought.

Suicide is not just the end result of someone feeling a bit down.  It is complicated and sensitive in nature, and even if you think someone might be lying about having suicidal thoughts it does not do anyone any good for you to voice the opinion that you think they are lying.  

Let’s assume that you bump into a colleague at work at the vending machine.  You are talking about the Meghan Markle interview and your colleague comments on how Meghan had talked about suicidal thoughts.  You respond with a scoff and state your opinion that she was just lying for attention.  Your colleague gets their drink and walks back to their desk.  You did not know that your colleague was suffering with severe depression and suicidal thoughts.  That evening, they take their own life.  

The situation could have played out differently.  Your colleague could have commented on the suicidal thoughts Meghan had mentioned, and you could have responded with something like, “it just goes to show that anyone can be struggling.”  Later that night, your colleague reaches out to you and opens up about their depression and suicidal thoughts.  

Basically, if you don’t have something supportive to say about suicide, it’s probably best not to say anything at all.  You never know who is struggling with their own thoughts, and if you talk about how you think someone is just making up things for attention, you are declaring to the world that you are not receptive to people talking about their mental health.  

I know, and have known, several people who have spoken with me in confidence about their suicidal thoughts.  I think it’s probably more common than most people realise.  Many of these people have stated the only thing keeping them from acting out their thoughts is a feeling of connection or obligation to the people they know and care about.  You might be the reason someone is alive, just by being you.  Don’t be an asshole and say things like “suicide is wrong” or “suicide is selfish”.  If someone gets to that point, they are in a state of crisis and they need to know that you will not judge them.  Be supportive.  Be kind.  You never know what is going on inside another person’s mind.

Weekly Update

It’s been one of those weeks which seems to have both dragged and flashed past at the same time.  I’ve also spent most of the week with a headache and neckache.  I have absolutely no complaints about the way my health has been handled by my employer; they have been fantastic.  The thing is, I’m finding it harder and harder to get through the days of work.  I think part of this is due to my own mental health and also just the fact that I’ve been doing this job for a decade.  I need something to change and I’m hoping that my DipFA studies will open up some doors for me until I achieve FIRE.  

The news about Sarah Everard is tragic and horrific, and if it turns out that a police officer is responsible for her death it could cause a huge amount of social unrest.  

Male on female violence is a problem, as is misogyny in general.  Yes, there are other forms of violence and men can be victims too, but that’s not the point here.  Just like Black Lives Matter does not state anywhere that other lives do not matter, just because we acknowledge that male on female violence is a problem it does not mean other forms of violence are irrelevant.  

There was a post online a while ago, where the question was asked of women, “what would you do if men had a 9pm curfew?”  The answers should be a source of shame for men everywhere.  The link to the story on BBC is below, but a quick google search will bring the story up on other sites too:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/bbcthree/article/491cd13b-fcfd-4e9b-b64d-a72cf8ad8c8b

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The hashtag “curfewformen” has been trending recently and although I get the sentiment, I don’t think it’s a helpful suggestion.  Assuming for a moment that all men had to stick to a curfew, what about the military, police, doctors, firefighters and so on?  Well, you could say there would be an exception for police officers.  However, the lead suspect in the murder of Sarah Everard was a police officer.  The solution to a social wrong cannot be another social wrong.  

I have some ideas about how to make the world safer for women, but unfortunately none of the ideas are flashy or exciting.  There needs to be more street lighting.  There needs to be better public transport.  There needs to be more police on the streets.  Also, I would install panic stations throughout our towns and cities.  The idea is that anyone can go to one of these stations and push a button, and bright lights would light up the area, CCTV would cover the station from several angles and it would immediately connect the person through to a security office.  

In an ideal world, no one would have to think about how to contact the emergency services discreetly but we don’t live in an ideal world.  I’ve placed a link below to the Apple support pages which show how you can secretly call the emergency services.  I would suggest if you have an iPhone that you review that information.  If you have another make of smartphone, research the equivalent settings.  

Also, there is an app that I’ve seen people recommend, although I have not tested it out.  The app is called Hollieguard and it is designed to alert chosen contacts if you are in danger.  I would suggest researching this app, or equivalent ones.  

2021 Goals – to be achieved by 31/12/2021

1 – Reduce weight to 92.8kg.

2 – Finish 104 new books.

3 – Complete RO3 for my DipFA.

4 – Complete RO4 for my DipFA.

5 – Complete RO5 for my DipFA.

6 – Complete RO6 for my DipFA.

I finished book fourteen of my reading challenge this week, which was The Supernova Era by Cixin Liu.  I’m a big fan of Liu’s work, but this was his weakest book.  I was not surprised to learn it was one of his earlier works either.  The premise is that a nearby star goes supernova and the resulting radiation kills all adults on Earth.  It is left to the children to rebuild.  The book started well, but I felt it lost its way around the halfway point.  There were plot threads introduced and then seemingly forgotten about.  It was a confusing book and, if I’m being really harsh, read like it was written by children.  

Financial Update

Assets

Premium Bonds: £150.00 (no change from last update).

Stocks and Shares ISA: £21,133.23 (up £679.29 from last update).

Fuck It Fund: £40.00 (down £60.00 from last update).

Crypto: £120.47 (up £10.30 from last update).

Residential Property Value: £194,909.00 (no change from last update).

Buy-to-Let Property Value: £125,775.00 (no change from last update).

Total Assets: £342,127.70 (up £629.59 from last update).

Debts

Credit Card: £0.00 (no change from last update).

Residential Mortgage: £140,665.49 (no change from last update). 

Buy-to-Let Mortgage: £93,163.50 (no change from last update). 

Total Debts: £233,828.99 (no change from last update).

Total Wealth: £108,298.71 (up £629.59 from last update). 

Investment Income in 2021: £4.14 (target £5,000).

A few points to note this week in that my ISA increased in value, as did my crypto balance.  I had to use some of my Fuck It Fund to avoid putting a balance on my credit card.  With my partner not having a regular income, and with various expenses relating to the BTL cropping up, it has been difficult to accurately budget.  This has meant I’ve had to dip into my reserves more than I would have liked.  Hopefully this situation will stabilise now that the BTL has a tenant and the initial set of costs have been covered.  

I have also signed up for a SIPP (Self Invested Personal Pension).  This is a way of me thinking ahead to when I eventually leave my employer.  When that happens I will transfer my pension to this SIPP so that I can manage the underlying investments myself.  I will also invest a little into the pension each month, as another strand to my eventual financial independence.  As this is a very long-term investment, I will not be counting it as part of the regular financial update.

Supporting Mortgage Advisor on FIRE and Buy Me A Coffee

If you like my content, please consider supporting my writing.  I spend several hours each week writing this blog and make it freely available to all readers.  I do not hide my content behind a paywall.  However, maintaining a website incurs costs.  If you can afford a small donation, it would be gratefully accepted.  Click on the Buy Me A Coffee image, or use the donate buttons on this site.

Gaining readers is the hardest thing for any blogger to achieve.  I enjoy writing this each week and if you are enjoying this content, please take a moment to share it on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Reddit, Whatsapp or any other social media.  Shares are the ultimate sign of success for any blogger.  If you have any feedback, comments or questions whether positive or negative, please leave a comment below.  If you would like to make a donation to support the running costs of this blog, please use the donation button on the home page.

My Instagram is @david_scothern and my Twitter is @advisoronfire. You can also email me at mortgageadvisoronfire@gmail.com.

Also, please check out my cat’s Instagram @sweep_the_kelham_island_cat

Finally, have a look at Darren Scothern’s blog at darrenscothern.com.

Part 71

Hello and welcome back to Mortgage Advisor on F.I.R.E.  This week I vent a little as I discuss poor customer service with a related update regarding my BTL that is extremely frustrating. Also, news on a group weight loss challenge for charity.

Quote of the Week

I have had my fill of dealing with awful customer service.  In recent weeks I have had terrible experiences with E.ON, John Lewis, Nespresso, Trading212, Lewis Wadsworth (now Linley and Simpson) and my old bank account provider.  I now dread each interaction with a business because I expect it to go wrong.  The thing is, it should not be as hard as it is.  

E.ON have been absolutely awful.  Our electric meter is in a communal room on the ground floor of our apartment block.  We are on the top floor.  This means that the distance between our apartment and the meter room is too great for a smart meter display to work.  Our traditional meter was broken over a year ago and we have not been able to get a replacement.  Each time an appointment is arranged from E.ON, they manage to get it wrong.  We tried for a fourth time, a few weeks ago, to arrange a new meter installation.  I explained that access had to be arranged through our management company and that there was no parking, and so the engineer would need to park down the street and walk a couple of hundred meters.  I was told that the engineer would not need access to the property itself and would just swap the meter over in the meter room.

The appointment comes around and the engineer knocks on our door asking to use our bathroom.  I refuse.  We made a decision to not let anyone in our apartment unless absolutely necessary.  It sucks when you need a bathroom, but everything about this pandemic sucks.  The engineer then said he needed to come in anyway to test our sockets.  I explained we were told this would not be necessary.  The engineer refused to complete the work without carrying out this step.  As such, the appointment did not go ahead.

Calling E.ON is a stressful experience at the best of times.  Wait times are insanely long and then when I do get through, the department I need to speak to is not working.  I am frequently promised callbacks which do not happen.  Then, out of the blue I receive emails and text messages apologising for appointments not going ahead on dates I did not arrange.  From top to bottom, they seem set up to frustrate customers.

Something else that really makes me angry about customer service is how when you call a company, you can guarantee they will have a series of recorded messages telling you that you can find answers to common questions on their website.  You would have to have been living under a rock for years to not try looking on the company website first before calling.  If you are calling, it is precisely because you could not find your answer.  I don’t think businesses realise how much this attitude damages their brand.  Customers do not want to hear thirty minutes of recorded messages saying you can find answers online.  It’s even more frustrating when you go on their website as a result of that message, have a live chat and are then told you have to call up to deal with that query. 

None of this compares to the experience I have had dealing with my old bank account provider though.  They are utterly and completely incompetent.  I have been lied to and had my calls terminated because their agents did not want to deal with my complaint, which was that funds had been sent to my old account.  Every person I spoke with told me a different story about what needed to happen to get the money.  It took one agent over an hour to register my complaint, which was then logged incorrectly.  It has so far taken over four hours on the phone and I am no closer to a resolution.  Compared to my current bank provider, Starling, it is like night and day.

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Weekly Update

Now that I am back working full time hours, I feel that there is little to update people on.  Life is just a simple routine of work, eat and sleep with a (un)healthy amount of TV watching in between.  I have been binging a show called This Is Us on Amazon Prime which is really good.  It’s a family drama taking place across different times with a non-linear style.  The cast is great and the script is fantastic.  It is also a show that deals with addiction and mental illness in a realistic way, with no punches pulled.  

For over a decade I have been a member of Owlstalk, a Sheffield Wednesday forum, and a group of us have decided to lose weight to raise money for Sheffield Hospitals Charity.  We have a Just Giving page (link below) and have, at time of writing, raised over £100 in less than a day.  We are hoping to lose at least 100kg between us over the next ten weeks.  If you have any spare cash, please consider a donation to our cause.

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/owlstalk

There was one funny incident this week when I had a cold call from a UK number, but when I answered it was clear the caller was based somewhere in India.  The man was very pleasant but completely oblivious.  See the image below for an overview of what happened.

2021 Goals – to be achieved by 31/12/2021

1 – Reduce weight to 92.8kg.

2 – Finish 104 new books.

3 – Complete RO3 for my DipFA.

4 – Complete RO4 for my DipFA.

5 – Complete RO5 for my DipFA.

6 – Complete RO6 for my DipFA.

I have not made any real progress with the weight loss, but I hope that this charity fundraising and the fact I am accountable to others will help motivate me going forward.

My reading list is up to thirteen new books for 2021.  The latest book was Of Ants and Dinosaurs by Cixin Liu.  I have read a few of Liu’s books now and he is a fantastic author.  His imagination is incredible and the Three Body Problem trilogy is one of the finest sci-fi works of all time.  Of Ants and Dinosaurs was completely, utterly, batshit crazy but I loved it.  The book tells the story of the evolution of rivalling dinosaur and ant civilisations on Earth millions of years ago.  I can’t say more than that without spoiling it, but I thoroughly enjoyed it.  

RO3 is almost finished, or at least the first run through the textbook is.  As much as Liu’s book was enjoyable, RO3 is dull.  My exam is booked in towards the end of the month so I am pretty much on track.

Financial Update

Assets

Premium Bonds: £150.00 (no change from last update).

Stocks and Shares ISA: £20,453.94 (up £474.42 from last update).

Fuck It Fund: £100.00 (up £10.00 from last update).

Crypto: £110.17 (up £32.09 from last update).

Residential Property Value: £194,909.00 (no change from last update).

Buy-to-Let Property Value: £125,775.00 (no change from last update).

Total Assets: £341,498.11 (up £516.51 from last update).

Debts

Credit Card: £0.00 (no change from last update).

Residential Mortgage: £140,665.49 (down £361.00 from last update). 

Buy-to-Let Mortgage: £93,163.50 (down £35.57 from last update). 

Total Debts: £233,828.99 (down £396.57 from last update).

Total Wealth: £107,669.12 (up £913.08 from last update). 

Investment Income in 2021: £4.14 (target £5,000).

It’s always a nice feeling when the assets go up and the debts come down.  My ISA has stabilised above £20,000 for the first time since I started this project.  The next milestone is to get my total wealth to £200,000.  If property values increase over the next few months, this will help in pushing me forward but ultimately the figure for wealth is hypothetical as it depends on someone actually buying the property for that amount.  

BTL Update

I have been getting increasingly frustrated with our letting agent, Lewis Wadsworth, this past week.  Every time they have contacted us to request money for a repair or a fee for letting, we have paid them promptly.  However, it seems that each time we interact with their accounts team a different person is involved.  There has been some confusion over what charges still need to be paid, and some disagreement over what we have already paid.  So, I went to them with a simple request; provide a full breakdown of all charges and payments since we signed them up as agents.  Somehow, they have managed to get this request wrong four times.  You can only ask the same question so many times, getting a different response each time, before you start doubting your own sanity.  The way their accounts team have handled the payments is just bizarre.  An example; assume you are asked for £100 and then a few days later £200.  You pay £100 and then £200.  However, they allocate the £100 payment to the £200 invoice and the £200 payment to the £100 invoice.  Then, you have one person saying you owe £100 and another person saying you have paid £100 too much.  This is the sort of crap we are having to deal with.  It is extremely annoying when you are paying an agent to manage the property, and you feel like you are having to manage the agent instead.  

We are still in dispute with the agent about the current financial position and we have not received any rent yet, as they are claiming there are outstanding invoices that the first rental payment will be retained to cover.  It is not that I have an issue with paying what needs to be paid, but rather I have an issue with confused and contradictory communications from the agent.  I have this tendency to assume that other people have a basic level of competence when it comes to doing their job.  I think this is why I am so often disappointed with the service I receive.  

Supporting Mortgage Advisor on FIRE and Buy Me A Coffee

If you like my content, please consider supporting my writing.  I spend several hours each week writing this blog and make it freely available to all readers.  I do not hide my content behind a paywall.  However, maintaining a website incurs costs.  If you can afford a small donation, it would be gratefully accepted.  Click on the Buy Me A Coffee image, or use the donate buttons on this site.

Gaining readers is the hardest thing for any blogger to achieve.  I enjoy writing this each week and if you are enjoying this content, please take a moment to share it on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Reddit, Whatsapp or any other social media.  Shares are the ultimate sign of success for any blogger.  If you have any feedback, comments or questions whether positive or negative, please leave a comment below.  If you would like to make a donation to support the running costs of this blog, please use the donation button on the home page.

My Instagram is @david_scothern and my Twitter is @advisoronfire. You can also email me at mortgageadvisoronfire@gmail.com.

Also, please check out my cat’s Instagram @sweep_the_kelham_island_cat

Finally, have a look at Darren Scothern’s blog at darrenscothern.com.

Part 70

Hello and welcome back to Mortgage Advisor on F.I.R.E.  This week I talk about social media, and discuss whether anyone has a right to censor what other people post. Also, another significant update on my BTL.

Social media has become so interwoven with life that it is becoming increasingly difficult to separate one’s physical life with their digital life.  Some sites offer a degree of anonymity, like Reddit, whilst others are more transparent, like Facebook.  I do not actually like Facebook, or Twitter, but I use them out of necessity.  Apart from sharing content, like this blog or memes, the vast majority of what I share is just blatant shitposting.  Most people get this, but some do not.  I really do not care.  The thing with social media is that you can choose who you want to follow or unfollow.  There are a fair few people who I am connected with on social media but who I have unfollowed because their content annoys me.  I understand they are entitled to post what they want and if I do not like it or agree, I will generally just move on with my day.  I will sometimes challenge what I see as dangerous propaganda or unhealthy opinions, such as those arguing against vaccines.  This is the exception though, and not the rule.  My rule of thumb; your profile, your choice.

A few days ago I posted that I like it when people publicly declare their intention to not have the Covid vaccine, because it is nice to know who is stupid.  I honestly believe that unless there is a legitimate medical issue, you should have the vaccine.  If you choose not to do so, then you are a dumbass.  The world is in the midst of a horrific pandemic and the world has pumped so much time, energy, money and knowledge into creating these vaccines.  There may be some side effects but that is the case for pretty much every vaccine out there.  The vaccines are not a hundred percent effective, but that is the same for every other vaccine out there.  Just because something is not perfect, it does not mean you just ignore it.  There is a whole logical fallacy named after this principle; the Nirvana Fallacy.  If you have your own opinion, that is completely fine.  Everyone is entitled to their own opinion.  However, this should not be mistaken as being the same as believing that all opinions are equally valid.  If you want a medical opinion, you speak to a medical expert.  If you want a financial opinion, you speak to a finance expert.  If you want an opinion on the Covid vaccines, you do not listen to your mate down the pub who spends his time driving buses, in the same way that you would not approach a doctor for their opinion on the state of public transport.  

I do not know the first thing about how these vaccines were created.  I mean, I know a little bit here and there, but I put my trust in the scientific method and in the fact that the overwhelming majority of doctors, nurses, scientists and lab workers know what they are doing.  I do this in the same way I put my trust in an airline pilot to safely fly me from one place to another, or in a chef to cook me a safe, tasty meal.  We all put our trust in other people on a daily basis, whether that is on drivers to stop at a red light, or for people to just behave in a civilised manner.  Yet despite all this, some people have this, frankly bizarre, distrust of modern medicine.  

So, back to my post on Facebook.  It sparked quite the debate and I was finding it good fun.  A few people got involved but then it seemed to take a somewhat nasty turn.  Several of my readers will know that I have had a really bad year.  My tolerance for bullshit is almost zero.  I use social media how I want to use it, and I let people use theirs how they see fit.  If you do not like what I post, then you have several choices; unfriend, unfollow or keep on scrolling.  I deleted the post that caused this latest shitstorm as a gesture to one specific person.  Moving forward though, I am not going to censor my social media.  This is not a knee jerk reaction to what happened this last week, but the cumulative build up of me getting increasingly frustrated at having to placate other people.  I have no patience left for that anymore.  None.  Zero.  Zilch.  

Weekly Update

I will be so happy when this pandemic is over.  Every week just seems to be the same with nothing to look forward to.  I want to go on holiday, but at this point I would settle for sitting in a cafe with a good coffee. This week saw me complete my first full week at work following my phased return.  I am now back at full time hours and I do not think Sweep is too happy with me.  I finished my shift at 18:00 the other day and he could not wait to get some attention.

There is not really much else to report and I suspect that is the same for most people up and down the country.   

2021 Goals – to be achieved by 31/12/2021

1 – Reduce weight to 92.8kg.

2 – Finish 104 new books.

3 – Complete RO3 for my DipFA.

4 – Complete RO4 for my DipFA.

5 – Complete RO5 for my DipFA.

6 – Complete RO6 for my DipFA.

I lost a little bit of weight this week, and I have now finished twelve books.  The last book I finished was The List by Siobhan Vivian.  I bought it, and over a dozen other books, during an Audible sale.  I did not look too closely at the books and just went a bit click happy.  This book was disappointing, but I am still glad I gave it a try.  It was a book about a high school where a list is published each year of the attractive and unattractive girls.  I thought it was going to be more psychological but it was actually just high school drama by the numbers, and not that interesting.  

I am almost halfway through my first read through of the RO3 textbook.  To say it is dull would be an insult to dullness.  This is possibly the most boring thing I have ever read.  The first read through is the hardest though, and once I finish the book I can start looking at practice questions and then drill down into the areas I am weakest on.  

Financial Update

Assets

Premium Bonds: £150.00 (no change from last update).

Stocks and Shares ISA: £19,979.52 (up £163.78 from last update).

Fuck It Fund: £90.00 (down £110.00 from last update).

Crypto: £78.08 (up £17.44 from last update).

Residential Property Value: £194,909.00 (no change from last update).

Buy-to-Let Property Value: £125,775.00 (no change from last update).

Total Assets: £340,981.60 (up £71.22 from last update).

Debts

Credit Card: £0.00 (no change from last update).

Residential Mortgage: £141,026.49 (no change from last update). 

Buy-to-Let Mortgage: £93,199.07 (no change from last update). 

Total Debts: £234,225.56 (no change from last update).

Total Wealth: £106,756.04 (up £71.22 from last update). 

Investment Income in 2021: £4.14 (target £5,000).

I had to dip into my Fuck It Fund this week to account for the mortgage payment on the BTL that is due on Monday.  Apart from that, there has not been much change in my financial position.  There has been the usual change in my ISA and in the value of the cryptocurrency I am invested in, but that is just the usual day-to-day movement one expects.  

I am thinking of setting up another investment pot by opening a SIPP.  I have a respectable pension pot through my employer, but I do not plan on being there forever and when I do leave I will transfer my pension to a platform which gives me more control.  I will discuss this in more detail when I have made a definite decision.  

BTL Update

Our tenants moved in on Friday and we should get our first instalment of rent from the agent early next week.  It has been a hell of a long road to this point, but it has finally happened – we have a tenanted BTL.  

The aim now is to secure a second property before the summer is up.  This will be dependent on the pandemic, but I am confident we can get a second and third property over the line by the end of the year.

Supporting Mortgage Advisor on FIRE and Buy Me A Coffee

If you like my content, please consider supporting my writing.  I spend several hours each week writing this blog and make it freely available to all readers.  I do not hide my content behind a paywall.  However, maintaining a website incurs costs.  If you can afford a small donation, it would be gratefully accepted.  Click on the Buy Me A Coffee image, or use the donate buttons on this site.

Gaining readers is the hardest thing for any blogger to achieve.  I enjoy writing this each week and if you are enjoying this content, please take a moment to share it on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Reddit, Whatsapp or any other social media.  Shares are the ultimate sign of success for any blogger.  If you have any feedback, comments or questions whether positive or negative, please leave a comment below.  If you would like to make a donation to support the running costs of this blog, please use the donation button on the home page.

My Instagram is @david_scothern and my Twitter is @advisoronfire. You can also email me at mortgageadvisoronfire@gmail.com.

Also, please check out my cat’s Instagram @sweep_the_kelham_island_cat

Finally, have a look at Darren Scothern’s blog at darrenscothern.com.

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Part 69

Hello and welcome back to Mortgage Advisor on F.I.R.E.  This week I talk about hate and how it can be motivational.  Also, a lot of changes in my finances and a further update on the BTL as the start of the first tenancy draws closer.  First, the Quote of the Week:

Quote of the Week

This time of year is difficult for me, for reasons I am not going to go into.  There is a lot to unpack from my life in the first few weeks of the year and although anniversaries should not really have that much meaning, they can sometimes be powerful reminders of where you have been and where you come from.

The quote I have chosen this week relates to an idea I have discussed before, about how hate can be a positive thing.  Hate can push you forward to achieve things and part of the reason it can be so powerful is that it is one of few emotions that can endure with just one person feeling it.  The object of the emotion may not even be aware of it, but the person feeling that hate can be pushed onto bigger and better things by holding on to that hate.  The opposite of hate would be love, but love is difficult to maintain in a single direction.  Love needs both people to feel it in order for it to endure.  

I am not saying that hate is always a good thing.  Hate is like a fire; it is a tool that can be used for warmth but too much of it and you hurt yourself or burn your food.  Just the right amount of hate can be a great thing.  It is so important to make sure that it does not develop into an obsession though, because you can end up having the object of your hate setting up home inside your mind and living there rent free.  That is not a good situation to be in.  

If I was to talk to a therapist about this outlook I am convinced they would say it is not healthy, but I am becoming increasingly skeptical about the efficacy of talking therapy when it comes to severe mental health struggles.  I will never forget my last therapist’s response when I talked about how my anger would boil over into rage, and I would be so angry that I felt like I would explode.  In those situations I would take myself away from everyone until I calmed down.  Her response was, “you need to calm down”.  Great, here is your £50.  

Weekly Update

Work is ramping up as I continue my phased return.  It is like I have never been away.  Working from home is great, but I do miss the day to day interaction with some people.  I doubt many offices will see a return to pre-pandemic ways of working this calendar year.  I think the world has changed and businesses have realised that it is possible to have a workforce primarily based from home.  What impact this has on commercial property remains to be seen, but I am predicting a lot of empty office buildings around the world over the next few years.  After all, why would a business rent a huge office space when they can have their workforce spread across multiple sites.  The danger with fewer, centralised offices is that if one location is evacuated, for example, the whole business takes a hit.  It is also better for the bottom line if the business is not paying the heating, air conditioning, lighting and power bills for the computers.  

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We have new(ish) neighbours and in the last few weeks I have had to go around and tell them to be quiet.  One time they were making noise well past midnight.  A couple of nights ago we were trying to sleep and we could hear them through the bedroom wall, as it is next to their living room.  I get that there will be noise in an apartment block, but if you are making enough noise to be clearly heard late at night, you are being too loud.  This time, my girlfriend and I both went over, instead of just me.  My girlfriend wanted to do the talking this time, so I stood a little to the side, out of sight of the doorway.  The neighbours answered and one of them started getting loud and a little aggressive.  I stepped into view and he took a few steps back.  I think this says everything I needed to know about the type of person he was.  The other neighbour is the one who normally answers the door and he actually came around this morning to try and talk things through calmly.  It was a cordial conversation and we have exchanged phone numbers so that if there are noise disturbances in the future we can just text each other.  

2021 Goals – to be achieved by 31/12/2021

1 – Reduce weight to 92.8kg.

2 – Finish 104 new books.

3 – Complete RO3 for my DipFA.

4 – Complete RO4 for my DipFA.

5 – Complete RO5 for my DipFA.

6 – Complete RO6 for my DipFA.

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Being back at work has disrupted my eating habits and I have had a bad week.  So, on to the next week.  

I have finished a fantastic book on mental health this past week, called My Sh*t Therapist by Michelle Thomas.  Although it is written from a female perspective, and there are some things that are lost on me as a guy, it is the best book on mental health I have read and there was a lot I could identify with.  When recounting her experience with a therapist, Michelle talks about a time she described a really severe anxiety attack she experienced.  It was bad she could barely breathe or talk.  The therapist said that should this happen again, she should have a mug of tea and calm down.  

This week also saw me resume my studies towards my DipFA and I have booked my RO3 exam for the end of March.  I have been doing a little bit of studying each day, gradually increasing the amount each time, to gently get myself back into the routine of work and study.  I would love to say this module is interesting but so far I am just learning about the tax status of employee cars and childcare.  It might actually be the most boring thing I have ever read.    

Financial Update

Assets

Premium Bonds: £150.00 (down £3,900.00 from last update).

Stocks and Shares ISA: £19,815.74 (up £2,357.52 from last update).

Fuck It Fund: £200.00 (down £400.00 from last update).

Crypto: £60.64 (first entry).

Residential Property Value: £194,909.00 (no change from last update).

Buy-to-Let Property Value: £125,775.00 (no change from last update).

Total Assets: £340,910.38 (down £1,881.84 from last update).

Debts

Credit Card: £0.00 (down £1,853.86 from last update).

Residential Mortgage: £141,026.49 (no change from last update). 

Buy-to-Let Mortgage: £93,199.07 (no change from last update). 

Total Debts: £234,225.56 (down £1,853.86 from last update).

Total Wealth: £106,684.82 (down £27.98 from last update). 

Investment Income in 2021: £4.14 (target £5,000).

A lot to discuss this week.  The unexpected cost of rewiring our BTL property, and wanting to pay my credit card off, meant that I depleted my Premium Bonds and Fuck It Fund.  I used some of the funds released, in addition to my salary, to increase my ISA.  I have also dabbled a little in cryptocurrency.  The site I have signed up with had offers on where you could earn free crypto, so I am going to see how this develops and allocate a little each month towards this.  I might lose money, but it might very well end up being a great investment.  

Although it is frustrating having to use my savings, I feel good having reduced my credit card back down to zero after several weeks of seeing the balance creep up.  Moving forward I should be able to concentrate on building my wealth balance before purchasing the second BTL later this year.

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BTL Update

In addition to the property needing a rewire, it now appears that the gas fire is unsafe for use.  This means an additional expense to make it safe.  We are waiting on quotes, but it will probably end in the fire being ripped out.  

My girlfriend referred to this property as being a money pit so far, and she is right to an extent.  However, as an investment for the next few decades we will still make money from this property.  The other thing to remember is that this is a learning experience.  In the last few weeks I have had something of a realisation.  At first, I thought that this property was a good buy, in part, because the owners had lived there a long time and seemingly cared for the property.  However, the fact it had not had a survey completed in over twenty years meant that some of the health and safety issues would not have been picked up or addressed.  Had we bought the property from someone who had only lived there a few years it is likely that several of the issues we have had to contend with would have been picked up along the way.  

Our tenant is still due to move in towards the end of the month, so hopefully it will not be much longer before I can start reporting rental income.  

Supporting Mortgage Advisor on FIRE and Buy Me A Coffee

If you like my content, please consider supporting my writing.  I spend several hours each week writing this blog and make it freely available to all readers.  I do not hide my content behind a paywall.  However, maintaining a website incurs costs.  If you can afford a small donation, it would be gratefully accepted.  Click on the Buy Me A Coffee image, or use the donate buttons on this site.

Show your support for Mortgage Advisor on FIRE and buy David a coffee.

Gaining readers is the hardest thing for any blogger to achieve.  I enjoy writing this each week and if you are enjoying this content, please take a moment to share it on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Reddit, Whatsapp or any other social media.  Shares are the ultimate sign of success for any blogger.  If you have any feedback, comments or questions whether positive or negative, please leave a comment below.  If you would like to make a donation to support the running costs of this blog, please use the donation button on the home page.

My Instagram is @david_scothern and my Twitter is @advisoronfire. You can also email me at mortgageadvisoronfire@gmail.com.

Also, please check out my cat’s Instagram @sweep_the_kelham_island_cat

Finally, have a look at Darren Scothern’s blog at darrenscothern.com.

Part 68

Hello and welcome back to Mortgage Advisor on F.I.R.E.  This week I will talk about the relationship between luck and hard work, and share a frustrating and costly update on my BTL.

Quote of the Week

I do not believe there is some mystical force that acts for or against us, in a way that one could describe as luck.  I believe that what happens in life is a consequence of a complex set of factors in the environment we are in.  What happens to us depends on not only our own choices but the exposure we have to the choices of other people.  Saying that luck is down to hard work is just lazy, in my honest opinion.  People can work hard and come away with nothing.  Work rate is not everything.  It is not enough to just work hard, you also have to work smart.  It is like the idea of sharpening the axe, which I have talked about before.  If you are asked to chop down a tree you can just dive right in and spend hour after hour chopping into the tree trunk with a blunt axe.  You can build up a sweat and work to exhaustion before the tree finally falls.  The alternative is to spend some time sharpening the blade of the axe and then start chopping.  The tree will come down in fewer swings of the axe.  Working smarter is often better than working harder.  

I have just finished a book exploring luck by psychologist and magician Richard Wiseman.  I have seen him in person at a special lecture when I was an undergraduate psychology student and he is a fantastic personality.  I feel that this book, The Luck Factor, was just a little too much like pop psychology instead of being a serious, scientific investigation into luck.  The main lessons learned are that if you want to increase your luck, you need to be open to new experiences and be more outgoing and friendly with new people.  

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There are some people who are extremely unlucky, because they happen to be the consequence of someone else’s poor judgement.  No amount of hard work will stop a drunk driver smashing into you after they run a red light.  That is just a tragic example of bad luck.  Some people can be on the receiving end of one instance of bad luck after another, for example, losing their job because the company senior management ran the business into the ground.  The person could then lose their home because their landlord stopped paying the mortgage.  Try telling someone like this that if they had just worked harder, or been more open minded they would have had better luck.  

I understand that successful people want to motivate others, but I find I look favourably at successful people who acknowledge the role that luck had in their success rather than just banging on about how they made their own luck through hard work.  In a way, this concept is linked to the debate on white privilege or male privilege, although those are not the only two types of privilege.  The difference between success and failure can often come down to the factors you do not initially perceive.  An example could be someone being successful in starting a business because their parents were able to spend more time helping them with homework as a child.  Someone else may have worked harder but had a lesser understanding of the financials because their parents had been working their asses off in minimum wage jobs and been unable to help with homework.  Another person might have been successful because they got into a great school because of the postcode they lived in, whereas someone two streets down fell into a different school catchment area.

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Saying that hard work equals more good luck is simplistic.  It might be true in some situations, but those who work hard can also have their hard work crushed by bad luck.  These people rarely have the platform to speak though, and so the good luck stemming from hard work argument persists through survivorship bias; a concept I have also spoken about recently.

Weekly Update

I am starting to feel the itch to go on holiday again.  It seems as though we have been living with this virus forever when it has only been a year or so.  At least now the end looks to be in sight with the UK managing to roll the vaccine out fairly well so far.  It feels weird praising the UK government when they almost always snatch defeat from the jaws of victory whilst simultaneously putting their foot in their mouth before shooting said foot.  

My routine is starting to be pieced back together as my phased return to work continues.  The way my period of ill health has been handled by my employer has been fantastic and it has made my return as seamless as possible.  The one major part of my routine that is missing is exercise.  I want to be back in the gym.  This pandemic will have damaged the health of the nation in many subtle ways and there will be a great many people who have seen their physical and mental health deteriorate in the past year.  This is the thing that many Covid-skeptics do not understand.  It is not just about how many people die.  It is also about those people hospitalised for extended periods.  It is about those people who will develop life long health complications due to Covid.  It is about the social and economic damage that this pandemic causes the longer it goes on.

I want to get back to Malta. I need a holiday.

Setting Daily To-Do Lists

Since the start of the year I have been setting daily to-do lists.  These lists include even the basic stuff, like completing my shift at work.  I have found that doing this has helped me stay on top of the basic day-to-day tasks that can be forgotten about when one is stressed, anxious or depressed.  I know it will not work for everyone, but I have found it really useful and my productivity has increased as a result.  

One thing I am making sure to include each day is some time to go do something I actually enjoy, such as reading a book or watching a movie.  It is easy to get caught up in what needs to be done whilst forgetting to look after yourself by making sure you have time to relax and decompress when stress takes hold.  

2021 Goals – to be achieved by 31/12/2021

1 – Reduce weight to 92.8kg.

2 – Finish 104 new books.

3 – Complete RO3 for my DipFA.

4 – Complete RO4 for my DipFA.

5 – Complete RO5 for my DipFA.

6 – Complete RO6 for my DipFA.

My weight has not changed in the past week, which is something of a positive.  I am trying not to beat myself up too much about this, but I have seen a little reduction during 2021 so far.  I have now completed ten books this year, which is keeping me on track to finish 104 by the end of the year.

I have not yet resumed studying for DipFA.  I had planned on studying this weekend, but something came up which distracted me for quite a while and, well, stressed me out.  I will come on to this when I talk about my BTL.  

So, on the whole only a little progress towards my 2021 goals.

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Financial Update

Assets

Premium Bonds: £4,050.00 (up £50.00 from last update).

Stocks and Shares ISA: £17,458.22 (up £296.20 from last update).

Fuck It Fund: £600.00 (up £50.00 from last update).

Residential Property Value: £194,909.00 (no change from last update).

Buy-to-Let Property Value: £125,775.00 (no change from last update).

Total Assets: £342,792.22 (up £396.20 from last update).

Debts

Credit Card: £1,853.86 (up £154.89 from last update).

Residential Mortgage: £141,026.49 (no change from last update). 

Buy-to-Let Mortgage: £93,199.07 (no change from last update). 

Total Debts: £236,079.42 (up £154.89 from last update).

Total Wealth: £106,712.80 (up £241.31 from last update). 

Investment Income in 2021: £3.71 (target £5,000).

My credit card has taken more abuse this last week, and it is going to be worse next week I fear.  Apart from that, I was able to put more money towards Premium Bonds and my Fuck It Fund, and my ISA saw some small gains as well.  I have received my first income of 2021 via a small dividend from a fund I started investing in late last year.  By the end of this month I should have my first set of rental income to report as well.  

BTL Update

I mentioned a little earlier in this blog that I have had a stressful weekend so far.  The electrical safety checks on my BTL have been completed and there is some remedial work required that is going to cost £4,200.  This is a huge blow and makes a dent in our funds for the next BTL we were hoping to acquire in a few months time.  

We are trying not to be too downbeat about this as the property is a long term investment, but it does still feel like a punch in the gut.  I was not expecting such an outlay so quickly and it is going to take some time to release the funds to pay for the work, and time is against us to get this work completed before the tenant is due to move in at the end of the month.  

Supporting Mortgage Advisor on FIRE and Buy Me A Coffee

If you like my content, please consider supporting my writing.  I spend several hours each week writing this blog and make it freely available to all readers.  I do not hide my content behind a paywall.  However, maintaining a website incurs costs.  If you can afford a small donation, it would be gratefully accepted.  Click on the Buy Me A Coffee image, or use the donate buttons on this site.

Gaining readers is the hardest thing for any blogger to achieve.  I enjoy writing this each week and if you are enjoying this content, please take a moment to share it on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Reddit, Whatsapp or any other social media.  Shares are the ultimate sign of success for any blogger.  If you have any feedback, comments or questions whether positive or negative, please leave a comment below.  If you would like to make a donation to support the running costs of this blog, please use the donation button on the home page.

My Instagram is @david_scothern and my Twitter is @advisoronfire. You can also email me at mortgageadvisoronfire@gmail.com.

Also, please check out my cat’s Instagram @sweep_the_kelham_island_cat

Finally, have a look at Darren Scothern’s blog at darrenscothern.com.

Help support Mortgage Advisor on FIRE and buy David Scothern a coffee. Click the image for more information.

Part 67

Hello and welcome back to Mortgage Advisor on F.I.R.E.  This week I will talk about my return to work and a mistake I made with my daily meds.  I also look at my BTL now that a tenancy has been signed.  

Quote of the Week

Another quote that hits home.  Life does not have a plan laid out for you.  There is no grand plan, or destiny.  If you want to get something out of life, you have to grab life and bend it to your will.  There are times when you are left with no choice but to react to what happens to you, but there is also a lot of time and opportunity for you to be proactive.

There are three phases in life; childhood, adulthood and old age.  The key is to maximise the middle part and stretch it out as far as possible.  I am not saying there is no quality of life in old age, but the fact is there are many elderly people who struggle financially because sufficient provision was not made during the adult phase of life.  The earlier in the adult phase you make your plans and put them into action, the better chance you have of a higher quality of life in later years.  

Life is not just about quantity, it is also about quality.  The earlier you plan, the more of both you will probably have. 

Weekly Update

I have not felt quite right for a few days this week and it is because I am an idiot.  I take a number of different medications each day and I have a weekly planner for them.  This means each day I simply have to open the box for that day and take the meds in one go.  This saves me opening up lots of packets each day as I just organise the meds once a week.  It works great, when one remembers to actually include all the meds.  I forgot one of them, which meant I went into sharp withdrawal.  I was spaced out, tired, light headed and nauseous.  It was not a fun time.

I had thought that my symptoms were the result of my getting used to working again.  I have completed three weeks of my phased return and I will be ramping up my working hours over the next two weeks.  The plan is to be back to normal by the end of the month.

A few weeks ago my girlfriend and I started using Hello Fresh, which is one of the food subscription services that have cropped up in recent years.  I thought we should give it a try based on a number of my friends raving about it on Facebook.  The way it works is you sign up for a weekly delivery and select how many meals you want.  Then, you choose the meals from a weekly menu.  The meals come in a well packaged box with all the chilled items together with a number of ice packs.  Then, all the non-chilled items are wrapped up in numbered bags.  Included in the box are the recipe cards.

We used the service for three weeks and the meals were, for the most part, great.  The food was tasty and the portion sizes good.  Each meal left us full.  We had three issues though, that have resulted in us cancelling the subscription.  The first issue is one of mess.  Many of the recipes require the use of a lot of different utensils, bowls, cups and chopping boards.  This is fine once in a while, but when you get halfway through your working week and you have had to cook like this for the last couple of nights, it gets a bit tiring.  There are recipes that are designed to be “quick” and “easy”, which to be fair they are.  Even then, it is still a bit too stressful in a small kitchen when you have both been working.  

The second issue, which is more of an annoyance for me than it would be for some people, is that the billing seemed overly complicated.  There was a glitch on the website when I signed up which resulted in two accounts being created and multiple transactions coming off my credit card.  It took two calls and a web chat to resolve.  This was before we had received any boxes.  Then, the billing each week was confusing with multiple transactions instead of just one, simple, bill.  For someone who tracks their finances as obsessively as me, it was a little annoying.  The final issue was that we received an incorrect order where the ingredients were for a completely different meal.  It is difficult to make roasted cauliflower with penne and mushrooms.  In fairness again, we did receive an account credit.

2021 Goals – to be achieved by 31/12/2021

1 – Reduce weight to 92.8kg.

2 – Finish 104 new books.

3 – Complete RO3 for my DipFA.

4 – Complete RO4 for my DipFA.

5 – Complete RO5 for my DipFA.

6 – Complete RO6 for my DipFA.

I have now finished eight books on my route to completing 104 new books by the end of 2021.  The last book I finished, The Remaining, was the first book in a series of post-apocalyptic fiction.  It sucked.  I was bored and disinterested and could not wait for the book to be over.  I was also disappointed that the first book seemed like half a story.  It is not often that I start a series and do not finish it.  It was that bad.  

My progress with my weight loss has stalled a little, but I put that down to the mistake I made with my meds.  As I was feeling tired and spaced out, I resorted to snacking again.  I have not gained any serious weight, but the losses stopped.  Hopefully I will be back on the weight loss journey from next week.

I would love to announce that I have made some progress on studying for the remaining modules of DipFA, but the truth is I am only able to spread my mental energy so much at this time.  I will get there though.

Financial Update

Assets

Premium Bonds: £4,000.00 (no change from last update).

Stocks and Shares ISA: £17,162.02 (up £1,651.79 from last update).

Fuck It Fund: £550.00 (no change from last update).

Residential Property Value: £194,909.00 (no change from last update).

Buy-to-Let Property Value: £125,775.00 (no change from last update).

Total Assets: £342,396.02 (up £1,651.79 from last update).

Debts

Credit Card: £1,698.97 (down £58.55 from last update).

Residential Mortgage: £141,026.49 (down £357.27 from last update). 

Buy-to-Let Mortgage: £93,199.07 (up £149.40 from last update). 

Total Debts: £235,924.53 (down £266.42 from last update).

Total Wealth Figure: £106,471.49 (up £1,918.21 from last update). 

Investment Income in 2021: £0.00 (target £5,000).

The stock market moved in the right direction for me this week with my stocks increasing in value.  Although I am perfectly happy with low prices, from a pound-cost-averaging perspective, I am now in the position where I need values to increase.  This is because I hope to use the sale of those funds to help fund the next BTLs I purchase.  The BTL mortgage increased slightly as the initial interest balances out with our initial payments, but this will stabilise with the next interest and mortgage payment adjustments. 

The Gamestop story seems to have faded into the background, but I do not think we have seen the last of Redditors banding together to take on the hedge funds.  I have mixed feelings about this, because I want to believe that the markets are efficient.  However, Gamestop’s shares were pumped to roughly $400 per share, and just a week later they are now under $70 a share.  A lot of people made a lot of money, but for every person that made money there will be a lot of uninformed, or amateur investors who lost a lot.  

I am something of a hypocrite though, because had I noticed this story early enough I would have jumped on the stock as it shot up.  If it happens again and I think there is money to be made, I will jump on it.  The real concern with this is that the hedge funds have enough highly intelligent people working for them so that they could infiltrate the social media groups and orchestrate a pump-and-dump campaign to suit their own needs, and this could cause even more financial heartache for the amateur investors.  

The Gamestop share price has tumbled this past week.

BTL Update

I received confirmation today that the tenancy has been signed by the new tenant and it will start towards the end of this month.  The gross rent is £595pcm.  Once agent fees, tax, contingency fund contributions and insurance are all deducted it does not leave a life changing amount for spending or reinvesting; that comes through having multiple properties.  For now, the plan is to roll up some of the net rent back into the mortgage to bring the balance down and increase the equity.  This will help speed up the timeline for releasing that equity and will also serve as a buffer with the lender in case anything goes wrong in the future.  

The process of buying the second BTL will start in the next few weeks but it is a good idea for a little breather, I think.  I doubt anything will complete before the end of quarter two of 2021 as it will take that long to accumulate the necessary deposit.  Also, it will then have been six months since the purchase of the first property completed which means if there have been further increases in the property’s value it will be possible to release that equity.  Most lenders have a six month rule preventing further advances until the mortgage has been open for a minimum of six months.  

Supporting Mortgage Advisor on FIRE and Buy Me A Coffee

If you like my content, please consider supporting my writing.  I spend several hours each week writing this blog and make it freely available to all readers.  I do not hide my content behind a paywall.  However, maintaining a website incurs costs.  If you can afford a small donation, it would be gratefully accepted.  Click on the Buy Me A Coffee image, or use the donate buttons on this site.

Gaining readers is the hardest thing for any blogger to achieve.  I enjoy writing this each week and if you are enjoying this content, please take a moment to share it on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Reddit, Whatsapp or any other social media.  Shares are the ultimate sign of success for any blogger.  If you have any feedback, comments or questions whether positive or negative, please leave a comment below.  If you would like to make a donation to support the running costs of this blog, please use the donation button on the home page.

My Instagram is @david_scothern and my Twitter is @advisoronfire. You can also email me at mortgageadvisoronfire@gmail.com.

Also, please check out my cat’s Instagram @sweep_the_kelham_island_cat

Finally, have a look at Darren Scothern’s blog at darrenscothern.com.

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Part 66

Hello and welcome back to Mortgage Advisor on F.I.R.E.  This week I discuss the bizarre situation with Gamestop shares, and some developments with my BTL property.  First, the Quote of the Week:

Quote of the Week

People are becoming too complacent about Covid, and it means many are dying unnecessarily.  The only time I step foot outside my home is to get food or medicine.  I try to get as much done in as few trips as possible.  Yes, it is frustrating, but I would rather stay safe and I would rather not take the risk of carrying the virus asymptomatically and passing it on.  

I was in the city centre yesterday picking up my prescriptions from Boots.  There were far too many people inside, and they had no concern over personal space.  I was constantly having to step away from other shoppers as I waited for my meds, as they tried to stand beside me.  

This situation is hard for everyone, especially when you have to go weeks or months without seeing friends or family, but dying is even harder.  Ultimately, the risk to the individual is low but much like the odds of winning the lottery, it will happen to someone and maybe someone you love. 

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Weekly Update

I am continuing my phased return to work and it has been difficult and tiring.  I should not be too surprised having had four months away from work.  I am ramping up my hours week on week and should be back full time by late February.  Being back at work has given my days some structure but honestly, I am not one of these people that needs work.  I would be perfectly happy being retired in financial comfort, which is the entire point of my financial plan.  

I have absolutely nothing to report from the week as my time has been taken up by work, reading and TV.  One source of amusement has been my involvement on a thread on Owlstalk, a Sheffield Wednesday message board.  I created a thread called SWFC Memes, and anyone who knows me will know I love memes.  For the past few days my fellow Wednesday fans and I have been roasting the club via memes.  I have posted two of the best efforts below.

The state of the club is just tragic.  I am not going to talk about it length here, as this is not a football blog, but the issues come down to money and the fact the club has none and is struggling to pay the players.  I think there is a real possibility that the club will cease trading in the next few months.  Covid has shone a spotlight on the fortunes of many businesses and highlighted just how precarious their finances are.  The finances involved in football are just insane, and although I would like to think this pandemic will act as a type of reset for the sport, the pessimist in me thinks it will just revert to normal once we are post-Covid.  

2021 Goals – to be achieved by 31/12/2021

1 – Reduce weight to 92.8kg.

2 – Finish 104 new books.

3 – Complete RO3 for my DipFA.

4 – Complete RO4 for my DipFA.

5 – Complete RO5 for my DipFA.

6 – Complete RO6 for my DipFA.

I am still heading in the right direction with my weight, but it is a long-term project.  It is easy to get discouraged when you think you have had a great week only to see your weight unchanged.  However, a person’s weight can fluctuate wildly from day to day, so it is important to look at trends over several weeks rather than focusing on daily changes.  

I have finished seven books in 2021 so far, with the last four books being quite disappointing.  You can see the list here.  The two books by Alex Boese described some truly disgusting science experiments.  I have a fairly strong stomach but some of the studies included were absolutely vile.  I also read two books on the concept of the “infinite game” which has a link back to gambling addiction.  Although the idea of the infinite game is interesting, I found both books quite dull.  In short, an infinite game is one that has no end.  In terms of gambling you can never win because any winnings will just be used to bet again.  A finite game, on the other hand, has clearly defined rules and time limits.  The game ends when exact conditions are met, be it a score or period of time elapsing.  The distinction between finite and infinite games helped me move away from my gambling addiction, as I realised there is no winning in the infinite game of gambling.  

Financial Update

Assets

Premium Bonds: £4,000.00 (up £850.00 from last update).

Stocks and Shares ISA: £15,510.23 (down £741.07 from last update).

Fuck It Fund: £550.00 (no change from last update).

Residential Property Value: £194,909.00 (no change from last update).

Buy-to-Let Property Value: £125,775.00 (no change from last update).

Total Assets: £340,744.23 (up £108.93 from last update).

Debts

Credit Card: £1,757.52 (down £707.05 from last update).

Residential Mortgage: £141,383.76 (no change from last update). 

Buy-to-Let Mortgage: £93,049.67 (no change from last update). 

Total Debts: £236,190.95 (down £707.05 from last update).

Total Wealth Figure: £104,553.28 (up £815.98 from last update). 

Investment Income in 2021: £0.00 (target £5,000).

I received the £1,700 I was owed and used half of it to pay down my credit card, whilst investing the other half in my Premium Bonds.  There have been a few expenses that have cropped up in recent weeks but I am confident that the card will be paid off in full within a few months.  I am thinking of closing down the card as I am getting increasingly frustrated with the service offered by the card provider.  They have ceased offering account servicing through a website and it all has to be done through the app, which works fine some of the time.  It is when it does not work that problems arise.  This is just part of what has annoyed me, as they have also lost documents we sent in to support a claim for chargeback after we were messed about by a retailer.  It was only for £30, so hardly a life changing amount but it is still annoying.  

The stock market has been the source of some fascinating news in the last week with Gamestop shares being the subject of a lot of interest.  I have not followed the story obsessively, but I have been keeping an eye on it.  The short version, if you pardon the pun, is that some massive hedge funds had shorted Gamestop shares.  This means that if Gamestop shares were to drop in value, the funds would make money.  However, should the shares go up in value the funds would lose money. 

This is how Gamestop shares have performed during the last month:

This was a story that had passed me by despite my being active on Reddit.  There is a community there which targets the big money investors who like to short stocks.  There is something unethical about shorting stocks, especially when you are also in a position to affect the perceived value of a company.  It would be a little bit, but not exactly like, a football manager putting a series of bets on his own team to lose.  It does not mean he will necessarily manipulate the situation to that end, but there is enough potential conflict of interest for it to be a concern.  Putting this another way, if you are a market commentator you can often have an impact on the perceived value of a stock just by talking it up or down on your blog, or newspaper column.  If you also have a holding or interest in that stock, you are using your position to influence that stock and make money.  

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Anyway, back to Gamestop.  Several Redditors saw that some hedge funds had large short positions against Gamestop shares and decided to buy as many units as possible.  This led to a surge in the stock, and the more it surged, the more people bought it.  It became a self-reinforcing cycle.  The hedge funds stand to lose billions of dollars.  

On the face of it, it is a funny story.  My concern is for the amateur investors who get caught up in the frenzy and buy the stock just as it is peaking.  Gamestop shares are not worth what they are currently trading at.  People buying the shares now could very easily lose most of their cash.  The hedge funds will, for the most part, be ok.  The sophisticated investors who bought these shares will have sold them before they peaked.  The people they sold the shares to are the ones who got caught up in the hype and will stand to lose a lot of money as the stock comes crashing down.  

As I have said many, many times, always do your research before investing or else you are simply gambling.  I have not personally completed due diligence on this stock, but the company is a physical business selling video games in shopping malls and city centres.  These types of businesses are only going to struggle as gaming moves online.  Even if Gamestop evolves into a successful business, I have not seen a single credible commentator argue that their shares are worth $400. 

BTL Update

We have an application going through for a tenant who has paid a holding deposit.  We are just waiting on the final checks and references, so hopefully we will have a tenancy signed by the next part of this blog.  In light of the strange situation we find ourselves in with Covid, we have had to reduce the rent we are asking for.  Initially we had marketed the property at £675.  We knew this was going to be an ask, and so we were not too surprised at having to drop it to £635.  However, we have now had to reduce it to £595.  The latest reduction was a difficult decision to come to, but we have had a few potential tenants fall through and whilst the property is empty it is costing us money.  

Supporting Mortgage Advisor on FIRE and Buy Me A Coffee

If you like my content, please consider supporting my writing.  I spend several hours each week writing this blog and make it freely available to all readers.  I do not hide my content behind a paywall.  However, maintaining a website incurs costs.  If you can afford a small donation, it would be gratefully accepted.  Click on the Buy Me A Coffee image, or use the donate buttons on this site.

Gaining readers is the hardest thing for any blogger to achieve.  I enjoy writing this each week and if you are enjoying this content, please take a moment to share it on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Reddit, Whatsapp or any other social media.  Shares are the ultimate sign of success for any blogger.  If you have any feedback, comments or questions whether positive or negative, please leave a comment below.  If you would like to make a donation to support the running costs of this blog, please use the donation button on the home page.

My Instagram is @david_scothern and my Twitter is @advisoronfire. You can also email me at mortgageadvisoronfire@gmail.com.

Also, please check out my cat’s Instagram @sweep_the_kelham_island_cat

Finally, have a look at Darren Scothern’s blog at darrenscothern.com.

Part 65

Hello and welcome back to Mortgage Advisor on F.I.R.E.  This week I will discuss the inauguration of President Joe Biden, highlight a UK based artist and provide a further update on my BTL.  First, the Quote of the Week:

Quote of the Week

The man is clearly an idiot, and now the circus has left the White House some semblance of normalcy should reign in the United States.  It feels as though, since 2016, the world has just gone batshit crazy.  We have had Trump in the US, Brexit in the UK and Covid-19, not to mention the storming of the Capitol and the proposed invasion of Area 51.  All you can do, when you look back, is shrug your shoulders and sigh, “covfefe”. 

The covfefe thing is brilliant, and something I missed the first time around. For those who do not know, a few years ago, Trump tweeted, “despite the negative press covfefe.” We have actually been very lucky with the last twelve years of US Presidents because they have all been the subject of quality memes.

The vaccine roll out seems to have stalled and there are reports that supplies earmarked for Yorkshire, where I live, have been rerouted to the south.  I cannot say I am surprised; it often feels as though the south views the north as some untamed wilderness full of uneducated peasants.  The map I have taken from Reddit and posted below illustrates how many view the UK.

If I was in charge of rolling out the vaccine, I would prioritise those working in healthcare first.  We need the front line workers to be protected.  Once complete, I would then look at vaccinating those working in essential areas such as supermarkets, public transport and teachers.  I would then turn my attention to the vulnerable; the elderly and those with significant underlying medical conditions.  Arguments can be made for all sorts of variations for rolling out the vaccine, and there is merit for several of the alternatives.  This is just my opinion coming from a perspective of zero expertise.  

Weekly Update

It would be impossible to go through this week without mentioning the Bernie Sanders meme that has gone viral.  I love memes almost as much as I love coffee, and this meme has really made me laugh.

I have completed my first full week back at work, on reduced hours as I continue to get back into the routine of employment.  According to some rough calculations, I have approximately 187 days to work in 2021.  Yes, I will be ticking these off day by day.

I do not want you to get the wrong idea; my employer has been fantastic in their support during my absence.  My line manager especially has been amazing and has made my return to work as painless as possible.  This has been a huge help in facilitating my return.  

Laura Slade

I mentioned last week that it was my girlfriend’s birthday and one of her presents was a painting I commissioned from Laura Slade, an artist based in the UK.  The painting was of our cat, Sweep.  Below are some pictures of the painting, and the photos it was based on.  Laura was friendly and prompt in her replies.  It was a pleasure dealing with her, and I would happily order more art from her in the future.  You can reach her on Instagram here.

I am delighted with the finished painting, as is my girlfriend.  Sweep is such an important part of our life, and we both love him very much.  He is old now, but there is still so much love in him for us.  He loves to sit in our lap and purr, occasionally bumping heads with us.  He is the best.  

Across the pond it was a relief that the inauguration went ahead without any disturbance.  I felt bad for President Biden that he did not get the full, normal experience, that any incoming President would expect.  I am sure that he will be a stabilising influence on the US and will hopefully repair much of the damage Trump did to the image of the country around the world.  From a personal point of view, I am hoping for more quality memes now that Biden is the President and not just the VP to Obama.  

Please show your support for this blog and buy me a coffee. Click on the image to be taken to my supporter page.

2021 Goals – to be achieved by 31/12/2021

1 – Reduce weight to 92.8kg.

2 – Finish 104 new books.

3 – Complete RO3 for my DipFA.

4 – Complete RO4 for my DipFA.

5 – Complete RO5 for my DipFA.

6 – Complete RO6 for my DipFA.

I have been making some progress towards losing weight.  I started the year at 119.9kg but I have reduced that to 116.6kg.  It is still a long way to go to get to a healthy weight.  I need to try and remain focused on slow, steady progress.  The last few years have been awful for my health, and part of my mental health struggles have been down to my weight.  It was only a few years ago that I was under 95kg and exercising regularly.  I can do it, but I need to realise on an emotional level that it is going to take time. 

Looking at my goal to complete 104 new books in 2021, I am on track so far.  I have finished four books and you can see my readings lists here.

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Financial Update

Assets

Premium Bonds: £3,150.00 (up £500.00 from last update).

Stocks and Shares ISA: £16,251.30 (down £540.34 from last update).

Fuck It Fund: £550.00 (up £125.00 from last update).

Residential Property Value: £194,909.00 (no change from last update).

Buy-to-Let Property Value: £125,775.00 (no change from last update).

Total Assets: £340,635.30 (up £84.66 from last update).

Debts

Credit Card: £2,464.57 (up £236.93 from last update).

Residential Mortgage: £141,383.76 (no change from last update). 

Buy-to-Let Mortgage: £93,049.67 (no change from last update). 

Total Debts: £236,898.00 (up £236.93 from last update).

Total Wealth Figure: £103,737.30 (down £152.27 from last update). 

Investment Income in 2021: £0.00 (target £5,000).

The stock market continues to tumble with three of the last four weeks seeing a drop in the value of my investments.  I was hoping the market would be steadily recovering by now, but the surge in Covid cases has brought the nation back into lockdown.  I suspect we will not see any major improvements in the market until the majority of the population is vaccinated and life returns to normal. 

I have not yet received the funds to pay back towards my credit card but I am hoping to have that money in time for it to reflect in next week’s figures.  

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BTL Update

I wrote last week about a potential tenant who would be paying six months up front.  Unfortunately she was unable to find a guarantor, and so I declined her application.  Even if she paid six months up front, there is still the uncertainty about her ability to pay the rent from that point on.  I was told the woman was unemployed with bad credit and had two kids.  I hope she finds somewhere to live, but as a business decision it just did not make sense. 

We have had several other viewings in the past few days, but I have not had feedback yet.  There has been an issue with the electricity supply which has been frustrating to resolve.  The previous owners had a prepayment meter and there was residual credit left on it.  That credit has now expired, which means when people are viewing the property in the late afternoon or evening, there is no light for them to see what the property actually looks like.  

I have never had to deal with a prepayment meter before, so this was a learning curve, but I have managed to get the account transferred to my name.  I just need to get back to the property for the electric key so I can top up the supply.  

It is frustrating that we do not yet have a tenant, but these are strange times.  Whilst the property is empty we are having to pay the mortgage, council tax and utilities.  Despite all this, it is still a good investment for the long term with the property value already having risen slightly.  

Supporting Mortgage Advisor on FIRE and Buy Me A Coffee

If you like my content, please consider supporting my writing.  I spend several hours each week writing this blog and make it freely available to all readers.  I do not hide my content behind a paywall.  However, maintaining a website incurs costs.  If you can afford a small donation, it would be gratefully accepted.  Click on the Buy Me A Coffee image, or use the donate buttons on this site.

Gaining readers is the hardest thing for any blogger to achieve.  I enjoy writing this each week and if you are enjoying this content, please take a moment to share it on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Reddit, Whatsapp or any other social media.  Shares are the ultimate sign of success for any blogger.  If you have any feedback, comments or questions whether positive or negative, please leave a comment below.  If you would like to make a donation to support the running costs of this blog, please use the donation button on the home page.

Please show your support for this blog and buy me a coffee. Click on the image to be taken to my supporter page.

My Instagram is @david_scothern and my Twitter is @advisoronfire. You can also email me at mortgageadvisoronfire@gmail.com.

Also, please check out my cat’s Instagram @sweep_the_kelham_island_cat

Finally, have a look at Darren Scothern’s blog at darrenscothern.com.

Part 64

Hello and welcome back to Mortgage Advisor on F.I.R.E.  This week I discuss what having rights means, before looking at my return to work.  Also, the usual financial update and some interesting developments on my buy-to-let.  First, the Quote of the Week:

Quote of the Week

There is a lot of talk about rights at the moment, in terms of wearing masks, vaccinations and free speech.  The frustrating thing for me is that when hysterical people start raging about their rights, they are normally not considering the rights of the other party. 

In the past week, Donald Trump has been banned from several social media platforms.  Some commentators have criticised this as a move to curb free speech.  I have two arguments to counter this assertion.  The first argument is that the social media platforms are private companies, and they have the right to choose who can be a member.  They have the right to set standards for the content posted and the way in which their services are used.  If a member is violating those standards, then that company can ban them.  The second argument I have follows on from the first.  Freedom of speech does not give someone the right to free speech without consequence.  In addition to free speech, people have a right not to be the subject of slander.  This is why we cannot make false claims about another person; we have free speech, but the other person has rights to protect them.  

In a similar vein, it seems like not a day goes by without someone complaining that they were ejected from a business for not wearing a mask.  There are a few things to unpack here, and it is an emotive topic.  In most cases, if you have a medical condition that means you cannot wear a mask, then I do not believe you are well enough to be outside mixing with other people.  Note; I am not talking about people who would prefer not to wear a mask due to a medical condition, but people who legitimately cannot wear a mask without risking their physical health.  I suspect that when most people claim they cannot wear a mask, it is a preference rather than a necessity.  I am not saying those people cannot have that preference; they can, no matter how stupid I think it is.  What they must understand, however, is that a private business can refuse entry to whomever they want.  Also, other customers have a right to not be put in unnecessary danger, and if you do not wear a mask out of a preference, then you have no grounds to disagree with someone who has a preference not to be in your presence.  

Sometimes you have to fight stupid with stupid.

A somewhat trickier issue arises when people do not feel like they can wear a mask because of mental illness.  I understand why some people cannot wear a mask due to PTSD, or anxiety, or related issues such as autism.  Accommodations do have to be made for people in this situation.  I do not think there is an easy answer here, but a potential solution is special shopping times for this vulnerable section of society as well as priority over home delivery slots.  There is a need to balance the rights of the individual who cannot wear a mask due to mental health, and those who are wearing masks.  As a society, we are generally so wrapped up in maintaining our own, often skewed, perception of our rights without consideration to the rights of others.  

The last week has seen many countries stepping up their vaccination programs.  As expected, there is a vocal minority of people stating that they will not accept the vaccine.  As stupid as I think that view is, and let us be clear, it is really fucking stupid, I will acknowledge that people have a right to choose what vaccines they receive.  As with the other examples I have discussed, there is a need to balance the rights of the individual with the rights of the people they interact with.  Just as the individual has the right to choose not to be vaccinated, so do other people have the right not to be forced to associate with that person.  This could result in a type of “vaccine passport” where only those with valid proof of having been vaccinated are allowed to enter shops, restaurants, bars, and even to cross national borders.  

The point I am making with the above examples is that we all have rights, but those rights only extend to the point they do not conflict with the rights of other people.

Weekly Update

I returned to work this week for the first time in four months.  When I say “returned to work”, what I mean is I turned on the other laptop in my spare bedroom.  Still, it was a momentous occasion.  I am fortunate to have a great group of people with whom I work, and they stepped up to the plate admirably to cover for my absence. 

I am on a phased return to help adjust back into a routine of work.  My mental health has been awful for these past few months and without this time off, I dread to think what sort of condition I would be in now.  I needed that time more than I can express in words.  I have received several messages of support in the past week, as well as many people asking me if I am ok.  The answer is still, “no”, but with the clarification that I am better than I was.  I think it will be a long time before I am ok, and I do not know if I will ever truly be ok working in this type of role.  That is not to say there is anything wrong with the role.  The issue is with my own mental health.  Since my problems started in May last year, I have changed.  I no longer have the same type or scale of mental resilience I once had.  I think it was a case of extreme mental and emotional burnout.  I may recover that, in time.  I may not.  I do know that for my own well-being, I need a change.  I suppose it is a good thing I started this journey towards FIRE when I did.  

2021 Goals – to be achieved by 31/12/2021

1 – Reduce weight to 92.8kg.

2 – Finish 104 new books.

3 – Complete RO3 for my DipFA.

4 – Complete RO4 for my DipFA.

5 – Complete RO5 for my DipFA.

6 – Complete RO6 for my DipFA.

I have had another week of weight loss, which keeps me on track for my first 2021 goal. I have completed three books so far with the last book being Barack Obama’s excellent A Promised Land. Although I do not follow US politics all that closely, I always thought Obama came across as thoughtful and dignified. His book was fascinating and surprising in equal measure. One thing I did not expect was how complementary Obama was about his predecessor, George Bush. During the transition from one administration to another, President Bush was accommodating and supportive to the incoming Obama. It changed my perception of Bush, as well as serving to highlight just how undignified Trump is.

Financial Update

Premium Bonds: £2,650 (no change from last update).

Stocks and Shares ISA: £16,791.64 (down £306.34 from last update).

Fuck It Fund: £425.00 (no change from last update).

Residential Property Value: £194,909.00 (up £7,355.00 from last update).

Buy-to-Let Property Value: £125,775.00 (up £1,275.00 from last update).

Total Assets: £340,550.64 (up £8,323.66 from last update).

Credit Card: £2,227.64 (up £1,773.34 from last update).

Residential Mortgage: £141,383.76 (no change from last update). 

Buy-to-Let Mortgage: £93,049.67 (no change from last update). 

Total Debts: £236,661.07 (up £1,773.34 from last update).

Total Wealth Figure: £103,889.57 (up £6,550.32 from last update). 

Investment Income in 2021: £0.00 (target £5,000).

Another great week of growth, although much of that growth is abstract as it relates to the estimated value of my two properties.  I take the valuations from what my lender has recorded on their index.  Property valuations are not an exact science, and the lender’s valuation is probably not going to match up with a sale valuation.  However, seeing as though it is the lender’s valuation that is used when calculating how much money we can release from the mortgage via a further advance, it is nice to see those figures increasing.  

My credit card balance has increased massively.  This is due to a number of things, such as having a girlfriend who is not a UK national and is applying for citizenship.  The application fee for this is crazy.  As my girlfriend has a smaller credit limit than I, it made sense for me to pay for it and she will pay me back for it in a few weeks.  I could have left the balance out, but that goes against my preference for transparency.  In addition to that fee for applying for citizenship, it was my girlfriend’s birthday recently and I bought her a couple of gifts both on my behalf, and her family’s.  Due to Brexit it is difficult for them to send items across Europe, so it made more sense for me to buy the items and for them to send me the money.  In short, the credit card balance will be paid off in the coming weeks.  

BTL Update

Last week I mentioned that a family was applying to move into the property.  They have withdrawn their application, but another applicant has come forward.  My agent informed me that the applicant does not have a great credit report, but is willing to pay six months upfront and have a guarantor.  I have decided to proceed so long as the guarantor passes a credit check.  Having six months rent paid upfront will be a huge positive as it allows us to invest that money ahead of time.  However, I am not getting too carried away as the applicant could decide to move elsewhere.

We have had to reduce our desired rent on the property to attract more interest.  We initially marketed the property at the upper end of what we thought we could achieve.  However, due to a limited amount of interest and after discussions with the agent, we decided to drop the requested rent by £40.00 per month.  It is a strange time with the UK in the middle of a third national lockdown, but there will still be people who need to move home.  Hopefully we can secure a tenant sooner rather than later.

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Finally, have a look at Darren Scothern’s blog at darrenscothern.com.