The Full English – Saving Money vs Saving Misery

What’s piqued my interest this week?
Hey look, FIRE made the mainstream last week as TEA got interviewed in the The Times (as screengrabbed by Firevlondon), prompting The Guardian to fire some shots and a Daily Mail banshee wail (1, 2, 3). A flurry of activity followed from Monevator Inc and TEA, and wonderment that worst kept best secret was out (4, 5). There was particular derision from the Daily Mail readers…
But collectively we shrugged it off. We were in the know, right? In TEA’s words:

Over the years, I’ve noticed that in life there are 2 types of people: the talkers and the doers.  Talkers talk and doers do.

You don’t get into FI club by talking about FI club.  Nor by arguing on the internet. You get into FI club by working hard, saving hard and investing wisely.   Its a marathon not a sprint and so getting to financial independence is temperamentally suited to people who get their head down and grind out the reps. Talk is cheap and actions speak louder than words. (4)

But amidst the derision in the comments there is a note, a chord, of caution. People wasting their “peak energy years” twiddling their thumbs. As the prize-winning laureate Nickw862003 says in the Mail comments:
“And who the hell, unless you are on a fair bit can save half a salary a year? I mean i done it while saving for a mortgage, but i was living like a hermit to cater for this!” (3)
Do we consider our appearance from the outside? Switch back to /r/UKPersonalFinance or /r/Financialindependence and see people with savings rates of 50-60%, countdown to FI of 4 years, lamenting boredom as they live their frugal lives. They’ve given up the consumerist forms of pleasure, but have not replaced them. At times the Financial Independence community has echoes of the Ancient Greek asceticism, austere minimalism, giving consumerist culture the cynical evil eye (6). In those halcyon days pleasure was derived from the act of abstinence and self-disciple. But we can’t all be Diogenes, living in our ceramic jars, pissing on those that irritate and telling Alexander the Great to bugger off (7).
What’s the point here? Eating basics beans on basics bread in the dark is not a recipe for a happy or healthy life (increasingly found to be interlinked). Ascetism died out in western culture because people are social creatures who seek fulfillment and enjoyment. The FI community helps with the former. The latter requires either moving the goalposts and finding enjoyment in sitting in the dark, or finding cheap interests compatible with the lifestyle. Light a candle, don’t shout in the dark.
Have a great weekend,
The Shrink
N.B. In keeping with the growth of my own gardening hobby, I’ll be adding a little section below once a month keeping an eye on gardening blogs.
Side Orders

Other News

Opinion/ blogs:

The kitchen garden:

What I’m reading:

Smarter Investing by Tim Hale – essential reading

Religio Medici by Sir Thomas Browne – the theological and psychological reflections of a C17th doctor.

Enchiridion by Epictetus – Bedside reading for a bad day

 

References:

  1. https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/modest-earners-find-formula-to-retire-in-their-40s-fbk3p63bk
  2. https://www.theguardian.com/money/shortcuts/2018/sep/17/retire-early-fire-movement-never-work-again
  3. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6175445/How-retire-FORTIES-without-earning-fortune.html
  4. https://theescapeartist.me/2018/09/24/hold-everything-someone-is-wrong-on-the-internet/
  5. http://monevator.com/weekend-reading-fire-and-forget/
  6. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asceticism
  7. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diogenes
  8. https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/news/2018/09/economy-energy–to-honour–fixed-tariff-after-price-hike-blunder/
  9. https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/investing/article-6142957/How-check-performance-robo-adviser.html
  10. https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2018/sep/18/your-fathers-not-your-father-when-dna-tests-reveal-more-than-you-bargained-for
  11. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/money/consumer-affairs/new-blow-landlords-177000-homes-face-new-test/#
  12. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-45561908
  13. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-45520517
  14. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-45634362
  15. https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/mortgageshome/article-6185301/The-20-fastest-growing-areas-new-housing-UK-past-7-years-counted-down.html
  16. https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/saving/article-6207595/How-Goldman-Sachs-banker-American-giant-launches-UK-account-paying-1-5.html
  17. https://theescapeartist.me/2018/09/19/eliminating-fear-with-bio-hacking/
  18. https://www.theguardian.com/business/nils-pratley-on-finance/2018/sep/19/aldi-and-lidl-wont-be-scared-by-tescos-new-discount-jacks
  19. http://thefirestarter.co.uk/liquid-superfood-huel-challenge-its-like-soylent-the-throwdown/
  20. http://thefirestarter.co.uk/august-income-expenses-report-a-bit-of-an-odd-one/
  21. http://monevator.com/its-an-emergency-fund/
  22. https://firevlondon.com/2018/09/24/complexity-costs/
  23. https://firethe9to5.com/2018/09/18/finding-the-fun-in-fire/
  24. https://firethe9to5.com/2018/09/22/the-do-i-have-enough-toolkit/
  25. http://www.msziyou.com/comfortable-being-the-product/
  26. http://diyinvestoruk.blogspot.com/2018/09/turn-back-clock.html
  27. http://diyinvestoruk.blogspot.com/2018/09/city-of-london-final-results.html
  28. http://diyinvestoruk.blogspot.com/2018/09/woodford-patient-capital-new-purchase.html
  29. http://www.realmensow.co.uk/?p=4702
  30. http://twothirstygardeners.co.uk/2018/09/how-do-i-tell-know-when-my-hops-are-ready-to-pick/
  31. https://clairesallotment.com/2018/09/06/harvesting-the-first-of-the-brassicas/
  32. https://urbanvegpatch.blogspot.com/2018/09/in-septembers-sweet-spot.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Investment Strategy Statement – Part 1- Investment Philosophy

Inspired by Firevlondon, Weenie et al and as advised in Smarter Investing, over the course of a few posts I’ll aim to set out my Investment Strategy (1, 2, 3). To an extent I am concerned about the face validity of such a series, as my current investment experience runs to a Fidelity fund up to 2007 and cash savings. I aim to have a strategy in place for commencement of my portfolio, rather than changing my portfolio to fit a later strategy; “if you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else”. As recommended by the textbooks and others I’ll be starting with my investment philosophy, and the rest of my statement will be set out in line with that suggested on Bogleheads (4).

Core philosophy:

“Buy-and-hold, long-term, all-market-index strategies, implemented at rock-bottom cost, are the surest of all routes to the accumulation of wealth” – John C. Bogle

Tenet 1: Diversification

Diversification, as wide as possible, as advised by Modern portfolio theory etc (5, 6, 7). Holdings will be diversified across global markets, ultimately in multiple accounts held with multiple companies. Property, cash accounts and tangible assets (cars, art, books) will further diversify my portfolio.

Tenet 2: Passive-focus

I will accept market returns, and will not change funds based on timing. I won’t rehash the evidence that passive investing is a superior strategy for long term returns (1, 8, 9). I lack the time and luck to ‘beat the market’ with active selection of stocks. In the past I held an active investment which did rather well in the run up to 2008, when I sold pre-crash by sheer blind luck. As my investment timeframe is 20+ years I am not interested in short term gains, so passive will work fine.

N.B. The exception to this rule is where active funds offer access to investments (i.e. unlisted companies) I’m targeting for growth in an experimental corner of my portfolio which I’ll go into in more detail at a later date.

Tenet 3: Reduce costs, taxes and fees

Maximise the % growth by minimising the amount I’m paying out for it. Minimise tax expenses through the use of ISAs and tax-free savings (10, 11).  I’ll use calculators like Monevator’s to select the cheapest platform available for my portfolio mix. (12) I’ll track expenses across all my investment and produce expense ratios.

Tenet 4: Grow and hold

My investment timescale is long, and my ultimate goal is not to use my portfolio for drawdown (discussed in Part 2 – Investment Goals) (13). I continue to earn and am in a (relatively) secure job. Therefore the aim is to accumulate diversified holdings for the long term. Preference for Acc funds and reinvestment. Preference for growth over dividends, for expansion and (in the experimental corner) for disruptive companies. Preference for physical assets, avoiding derivatives, synthetic or other complex financial products; I am beginning to understand these, and while I comprehend the theory I don’t feel comfortable with the additional counterparty risk (14, 15). Physical assets are to be a theme throughout my portfolio.

Tenet 5: Stick to allocation

As fits a diversified passive-focus portfolio my global allocation will mirror world markets, using all world tracker funds and ETFs (16). I’ll review world market data yearly, and set re-balancing targets based on global market cap weightings as the market  moves (16, 17). Since my timescale is long, my employment is (in theory) secure and my pension scheme is (supposedly) generous, I’m happy to take a reasonable amount of risk for my portfolio. Allocation will initially be set at 70% equities, 15% cash, 10% alternative assets, 5% property (18, 19) . Equities are split between a core 80% passive tracker portfolio and a testbed active portfolio (10% active funds, 10% stocks) aimed for growth. Allocations will be reviewed and re-balanced quarterly. Re-balancing will be through purchasing with new income where possible.

In summary:

  • Tenet 1: Diversification across world markets, and through multiple asset classes, held with multiple companies
  • Tenet 2: Predominantly passive focus to portfolio
  • Tenet 3: Reduce fees and maximise tax efficiency through use of ISAs and tax-free savings accounts
  • Tenet 4: Hold and grow investments through re-accumulation and compound investing in simpler financial products
  • Tenet 5: Monitor mix of investments against target allocation quarterly, investing to rebalance

In the next post in this series I cover my goals.

The Shrink

References

  1. https://www.waterstones.com/book/smarter-investing/tim-hale/9780273785378
  2. https://firevlondon.com/my-investment-policy-statement/
  3. http://quietlysaving.co.uk/2017/06/08/investment-strategy-updated/
  4. https://www.bogleheads.org/wiki/Investment_policy_statement
  5. https://seekingalpha.com/article/151352-portfolio-diversification-and-risk-the-basics-of-beta
  6. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Modern_portfolio_theory
  7. https://youngfiguy.com/asset-allocation-and-the-uk-efficient-frontier/
  8. http://monevator.com/category/investing/passive-investing-investing/
  9. http://monevator.com/why-a-total-world-equity-index-tracker-is-the-only-index-fund-you-need/
  10. https://www.gov.uk/apply-tax-free-interest-on-savings
  11. https://youngfiguy.com/pensions-isas-the-basics/
  12. https://www.gov.uk/marriage-allowance
  13. http://monevator.com/commit-to-investing-strategy-for-the-long-term/
  14. http://monevator.com/types-of-investing-risks/
  15. http://www.morningstar.co.uk/uk/news/108970/understanding-the-risks-of-different-etf-structures.aspx/
  16. http://monevator.com/investing-for-beginners-the-global-stock-market/
  17. http://monevator.com/world-stock-markets-data/
  18. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alternative_investment
  19. https://youngfiguy.com/how-i-invest-my-money/

The Full English Accompaniment – Switching energy suppliers

What’s piqued my interest this week?
The Shrink household is currently switching energy suppliers. If you’re here, then you’re probably smart enough to already be doing the same on a regular basis. I’m not going to go into how much you can save, MoneySavingExpert does it much better (1). On moving into casa-del-Shrink we had a number of problems with the existing supplier, particularly surrounding pre-existing debt on the pre-payment meters. We switched to British Gas. Big mistake, as we continued to have problems paying off the previous tenants debts, and found out how bad British Gas complaints procedure is. Cue hours of interminable hold music, patronising ‘we’re listening letters’ and complaints being closed unresolved (2, 3). The actual staff we spoke to were helpful, but appeared constrained by a draconian “computer says no” system. We weren’t the only ones having problems with British Gas this year, who’ve been fined £2.65m for overcharging customers (4). When they put their prices up in August we voted with our feet and left to avoid exit fees (5).
We’ve gone back to Bulb, one of the smaller energy companies outside of the ‘Big Six’ who buy from entirely renewable energy sources and who we’ve had excellent service from before. We considered using the MSE Credit Club, but I get a little tin-foil-hat about giving out my personal info willy-nilly (6). In the same way we avoided Flipper, an app touted on Moneybox which automatically switches you onto your cheapest supplier (7). Sadly we’ve been told we’ll also be having an immediate price rise (8, 9), which takes Bulb out of the MoneySavingExpert’s cheapest list. The government via Ofgen recently implemented a cap on energy prices to protect vulnerable customers (10, 11). But despite this it looks like most peoples energy prices will go up, with suppliers citing increased wholesale prices (12, 13, 14). Time to break out the coal braziers and pile up the logs, we’ve got a long winter ahead!
Have a great week,
The Shrink
Side Orders

Other News

Opinion/ blogs:

What I’m reading:

Smarter Investing by Tim Hale – essential reading

Religio Medici by Sir Thomas Browne – the theological and psychological reflections of a C17th doctor. This is turning out to be real heavy-going so has been ignored a bit.

Enchiridion by Epictetus – Bedside reading for a bad day

 

References:

  1. https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/utilities/you-switch-gas-electricity/
  2. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/bills-and-utilities/gas-electric/british-gas-make-customer-services-listen-complaint/
  3. https://www.thesun.co.uk/money/7154739/british-gas-customers-waiting-38-minutes/
  4. https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/aug/29/british-gas-pays-out-265m-pounds-for-overcharging
  5. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-45111743
  6. https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/cheapenergyclub
  7. https://flipper.community/
  8. https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/news/2018/09/bulb-price-rise/
  9. https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/bills/article-6155853/Bulb-customers-hit-price-hike-energy-providers-raise-prices-time-year.html
  10. https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/aug/20/rise-in-power-bills-expected-despite-government-cap
  11. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/bills-and-utilities/gas-electric/does-ofgems-price-cap-mean-dont-need-switch-energy-supplier/
  12. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-45095030
  13. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-45297336
  14. https://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/sse-energy-price-cap-ofgem-gas-electricity-bills-share-price-profit-warning-a8533856.html
  15. https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/sep/14/archbishop-of-canterbury-to-lead-wonga-rescue-effort-payday-loans
  16. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-45516678
  17. https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/sep/15/low-prices-no-frills-can-tesco-defeat-lidl-and-aldi
  18. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-45371502
  19. https://www.hl.co.uk/investment-services/active-savings?clickid=27kUVE08pSocXyqW5fRnFzyIUkg2h0UQPV2z1s0&iradid=82616&theSource=AFSKI&utm_campaign=AFSKI_IMPR1&ir=1
  20. https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/saving/article-6159671/Barclays-launch-new-fixed-rate-savings-account-aimed-retirees.html
  21. https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/diyinvesting/article-6155463/Dont-invest-cheap-trackers-Hold-mix-active-passive-funds.html
  22. https://theescapeartist.me/2018/09/05/this-is-an-emergency-part-2-dealing-with-time-wasters
  23. https://theescapeartist.me/2018/09/12/live-local-think-global/
  24. https://youngfiguy.com/social-media-is-poison/
  25. http://monevator.com/commercial-property-what-can-we-expect-from-this-asset-class/
  26. http://monevator.com/weekend-reading-download-a-free-e-version-of-ray-dalios-new-big-debt-crisis-survival-handbook/
  27. http://www.msziyou.com/patriarchy-ever-pervasive/
  28. http://www.retirementinvestingtoday.com/2018/09/the-wealthsimple-experiment.html
  29. https://www.ukvalueinvestor.com/2018/09/guide-to-dividend-investing-for-beginners.html/
  30. http://diyinvestoruk.blogspot.com/2018/09/help-to-save-scheme-launched.html
  31. http://diyinvestoruk.blogspot.com/2018/09/uk-v-global-investment-returns.html
  32. http://diyinvestoruk.blogspot.com/2018/09/mid-wynd-full-year-results.html
  33. https://gentlemansfamilyfinances.wordpress.com/2018/09/11/help-to-save/
  34. https://gentlemansfamilyfinances.wordpress.com/2018/09/10/airbnb-and-me-part-1/
  35. https://gentlemansfamilyfinances.wordpress.com/2018/09/11/house-hacking-airbnb-part2/
  36. https://abnormalreturns.com/2018/09/13/you-do-you-passive-investing-edition/
  37. https://quittingteachingblog.wordpress.com/2018/08/21/in-defence-of-private-landlords/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Musing On… Motivation: Are you running from or running to?

What motivates your financial choices?

Reading a variety of FI and finance writers, it has occurred that those who blog are a rag-tag bunch. You have to be a bit different to move away from the credit-to-the-eyeballs herd. The reasons to go down the various financial paths, and then write about it are even more nebulous. A scientific mind led to attempts to discern some patterns among the noise. One such pattern is the writers motivation, and where the drive to save/ live frugally/ be financially independent arises.

Running from

For some, it seems the drive to be frugal is innate, inherited, learnt behaviours from early childhood. LittleMissFire talks about it as leaving the ‘shop floor mentality’, the mindset of a household living week-to-week, month-to-month, without financial planning (1). The crux of her post about the ‘shop floor mentality’ is the drive to better oneself, and leave behind the stress, envy, anguish and heartache of poverty (1). Understanding financial planning and making frugal life choices are just a short psychological hop from FI, and there seems a lot of overlap between frugal living and so-called ‘lean-FI’.

This drive to leave behind an unpleasant situation also appears prevalent on the FI forums I frequent, but here it’s less about a memory or experience of struggling for money, and more miserable working environments. For example (2):

And an example reply (2):

Small talk, alarm clocks, office politics, performance reviews, managers talking about you behind your back, tracking metrics, spreadsheets, deadlines, cubicles, dress code, meetings, daily existential crises, passive aggressiveness, emails with manager cc’d, scrum meetings, being taken advantage of, erosion of self esteem, etc. Etc.

I assume it was among those so miserable in their work that the term “Fuck You Money” arose (3). You’ve built up enough cash to say “Fuck You” to that miserable environment and walk away… but what then? How do you adapt your austere lifestyle out of work, with it’s focus on minimising all outgoings, to your new-found freedom (4):

Running towards

I sort of class myself amongst the running towards school-of-thought. I enjoy my job, to the extent that I am happy to go into work every day to perform it (especially after a slight change into a less front-facing role). I would probably keep doing it to some extent even if I wasn’t paid, because it is my ‘ikagai’ – a Japanese word whose closest translation is ‘the reason for which you get up in the morning’ (5, 6). Despite this I think the world is full of wonder, and I could spend whole other lifetimes doing different things. There are too many things to do and not enough time to experience them all whilst also working to support myself. FI, as The Frugal Cottage puts it, “gives you the option of spending your limited time however you want” (7, 8).

Just enjoying the run

This seems to be the final stage in FI nirvana fulfillment. Some suggest that by it’s nature, being frugal has a sort of contrarian cool (9). An echo of the counter-culture in a rejection of consumerism (10)More hippy than hipster I hope. Some bloggers, like TEA, enjoy the journey to FI and beyond because they developed an enjoyment of “the process of wealth building” (11) TEA writes about learning to enjoy these things by using conditional rewards; a big juicy carrot for the FI stick, training your brain to associate putting the financial graft in for a reward (11). Or writers like FIREvLondon, who enjoy the writing about their process, discussing ideas, commenting on experiences (12). This is a far better path to happiness, where any goal you set or any target you make can bring you fulfillment. Enjoying the process of blogging, the sharing of knowledge and community.

Why does it matter?

Understanding your motivation is inherently tied to your ability to complete the goals you set yourself for financial independence and frugal living. If your goal is off from what you truly want you’ll lack motivation, and if you’re motivated for only a specific purpose you may find yourself unfulfilled and lost when you reach that goal, or unable to reach it altogether. As I’m setting my goals, I’ve been noticing many are around things I’d do after being FI. I risk that there will always be one more goal or target. It’s time to think about my enjoyment of the pursuit, and I would urge others to ask, why do I want FI?

References:

  1. https://littlemissfireblog.wordpress.com/2018/03/24/do-you-have-the-shopfloor-money-mentality/
  2. https://www.reddit.com/r/financialindependence/comments/8ogyp8/people_who_are_trying_to_reach_fi_because_they/
  3. https://theescapeartist.me/2018/07/24/the-art-of-wealth-preservation/
  4. https://www.reddit.com/r/financialindependence/comments/94kmku/first_day_of_retirement_at_40_yo
  5. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/health-fitness/mind/finding-ikigai-japanese-secret-health-happiness/
  6. http://monevator.com/weekend-reading-what-is-your-reason-for-being/
  7. http://www.thefrugalcottage.com/everyone-early-retirement/
  8. http://thefirestarter.co.uk/early-retirement-in-5-years-in-the-uk-is-it-possible/
  9. https://www.psychologytoday.com/gb/blog/the-eclectic-professor/201102/the-psychology-thrift-why-not-frugal-cool
  10. http://thefirestarter.co.uk/about-me/
  11. https://theescapeartist.me/2018/02/13/get-rich-with-the-process/
  12. https://firevlondon.com/about/

 

 

The Full English Accompaniment – On Brexit, social psychology and market timing

What’s piqued my interest this week?
I’ve been reading Tim Hales Smarter Investing over the last couple of weeks, which appears considered essential reading by most FI/ passive investment sources (1). It has prompted me to write down a philosophy and a draft set of goals for my investment plans. One of the cautions is against market timing, because it’s very statistically difficult to be good at it, incorporating not a small amount of luck. Much better to go Bogle, and buy then hold a low cost tracker (2). So far, so sold.
There’s another section of the book which documents how one of the most important, most overlooked parts to a portfolio decision is target country allocation. This is where I’m currently stuck, as Brexit presents a big hit of unknown outcomes, and is turning my market timing milk sour. Oh look, another r/UKPersonalFinance post triggered me (I’ll cut out all the Reddit relevant-only bits)…

Everyone, put on your tin-foil hats and join me on a journey considering a Brexit scenario…

I’ve personally suspected that Brexit is being pushed along despite it outwardly, appearing to be in no-one’s interests perhaps as a textbook example of Naomi Klein’s ‘Disaster Capitalism’ but maybe just as a way for massive money to be made from the lurches in exchange rate and FTSE etc.

So one outcome I suspect is that the pound will stay relatively weak to the EUR/USD etc, keeping the FTSE reasonably high, until we suddenly hit a point where it gets revealed we’ll basically stay in the EU (or EEA), perhaps after a 2nd referendum, so…

If the timeline of this is the next 6 months, how will the politicians and their chums be looking to maximise the person financial benefit to themselves? Assuming a, say, 15% increase in the value of the pound, and 10% drop in the FTSE 100, would they be looking to sell most investments, have cash and then be ready to re-invest after the correction?

What would you do in this scenario if you had this inside information? (3)

This is a little tinfoil hat brigade, although the murmuring the Nigel Farage shorted the value of the £ when he found out the result of Brexit before it was officially released could provide some evidence (4). An ex-investment banker wouldn’t call up his mates still in the industry with privy information would he? The main issue I have with the above is that it appears to go against the political wind and public opinion polls. The Conservatives and Labour are both loath to go back on the stated plan to exit (would be seen as weak?), and YouGov’s last poll in July found that a fraction greater percentage thought Brexit was the wrong decision than didn’t (5). Opinion polls may be a pretty poor judge, but they’re not so bad as to miss half the nation suddenly decided they do want to stay in the EU, after all (6).
Brexit therefore represents a challenge to the efficient market hypothesis (7). Pre-Brexit vote, a commentator in Forbes discussed how the referendum would represent an excellent testbed for efficient markets (8). It truly did, as the unexpected (to the city) voter decision was integrated into share prices in a number of hours. The fact that the referendum result was unexpected and therefore prompted such a dramatic shift in the markets challenges the efficient market hypothesis, and specifically what makes it efficient. The efficiency relies upon the sum of all the traders individual access to information. To bring it round to psychological terms, it is a form of social Gestalt theory, where the individual chaotic pieces of information/ action contributes to a total pattern (9, 10). Market traders were unaware of the depth of feeling in favour of Brexit prior to the vote (those pesky polls again), and were suddenly exposed to it and integrated it into the markets on referendum day.
But why were market traders so unaware? I wonder that the possibility of a Leave vote did not comply with the collective conscience of market traders and ‘the city’ and therefore was not appropriately considered by the markets (11). To go back to Durkheim’s original use of collective consciousness (very separate from Jungian collective unconsciousness), it is the ‘general feeling’ towards a position, experienced and perceived by the individuals in the collective (11). A shared unconscious understanding of social norms. In the city, it was a social norm to be pro-EU. In the general populace, not so much. Therefore the true risk of a Leave vote to the markets was a Rumsfeldian ‘unknown unknown’. To be pro-Leave in London pre-Brexit went against social norms, it didn’t fit with the social reality constructed in that environment, even if it did fit with the social norms and social reality of the wider UK (12).
Which brings me to my market timing and allocation conundrum. The market is efficient when it is integrating information which makes sense within it’s system; IPOs, sales data, quarterly returns etc. It appears less efficient at integrating popular opinion and behaviour. The market is vulnerable to collective psychological effects (herd behaviour etc), and changes in the market are made by people. The people who change the market (traders etc) operate in a different social world (‘social reality’) to the general populace, by nature of their social interactions. Yours is visible in day-to-day life in your twitter or social media sphere, which may differ from general public opinion. The markets will therefore be generally running on the market traders social reality, whilst the rest of us live in a slightly different social reality. Politicians span the divide, but take their lauded mandate from the general populace’s social reality. The difference comes to the fore when the market has to integrate decisions which are made by the wider populace that didn’t fit with it’s reality, e.g. Brexit. The reddit comment quoted above appears to sit well within the market reality bubble; we’ll stay in the EU in the end, it’s all a sideshow. My concern is that the general populace appears fairly relaxed about a ‘No-deal’ Brexit. Knowing that we’re a few short months out of formal Brexit, do I choose allocations based on that worry which insulate against this outcome. Does even thinking about this represent market-timing, and I should just bung my cash ‘somewhere’ and sit it out. Your opinion welcome here…
Have a great week,

 

The Shrink

 

Side Orders

Other News

Opinion/ blogs:

What I’m reading:

Smarter Investing by Tim Hale – essential reading

Religio Medici by Sir Thomas Browne – the theological and psychological reflections of a C17th doctor. This is turning out to be real heavy-going.

Enchiridion by Epictetus – Bedside reading for a bad day

 

References:

  1. https://www.amazon.co.uk/Smarter-Investing-Simpler-Decisions-Financial/dp/0273785370/
  2. https://www.bogleheads.org/wiki/Getting_started
  3. http://www.reddit.com/r/UKPersonalFinance/comments/9cnsqj/the_potential_effect_of_a_massive_shift_in
  4. https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/jun/25/nigel-farage-denies-shorting-value-of-sterling-on-night-of-brexit-vote
  5. https://yougov.co.uk/news/2018/06/23/eu-referendum-two-years/
  6. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41562-018-0330-7
  7. https://www.investopedia.com/terms/e/efficientmarkethypothesis.asp
  8. https://www.forbes.com/sites/timworstall/2016/02/22/brexit-uk-financial-markets-and-the-efficient-markets-hypothesis/#31ab82161667
  9. https://www.britannica.com/science/Gestalt-psychology
  10. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gestalt_psychology
  11. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Collective_consciousness
  12. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_reality
  13. https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/pensions/article-6130445/Will-council-force-sell-house-cover-dads-care-bills.html
  14. https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/cars/article-6138267/A-1979-Lada-Niva-estimated-sell-75-000-goes-just-4K.html
  15. https://www.theguardian.com/money/2018/sep/07/house-prices-rose-at-fastest-rate-in-almost-year-says-halifax-august-north-south
  16. https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/sep/05/thinktank-calls-for-major-overhaul-of-britains-economy
  17. https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/property/article-6106049/A-downstairs-family-bathroom-lowers-property-value-6.html
  18. https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/news/article-6080099/Are-Monzo-Revolut-Starling-Transferwise-safe-bank-with.html
  19. http://monevator.com/10-things-you-can-do-today-to-reset-your-life/
  20. http://monevator.com/weekend-reading-what-is-your-reason-for-being/
  21. http://thefirestarter.co.uk/my-5-years-are-up-how-did-i-do/
  22. http://thefirestarter.co.uk/august-income-expenses-report-a-bit-of-an-odd-one/
  23. https://thefireeng.com/net-worth-update-august-2018/
  24. http://www.msziyou.com/yes-i-am-rich-now/
  25. http://www.msziyou.com/net-worth-updates-august-2018/
  26. http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2018/09/05/what-really-goes-on-at-mmm-headquarters/
  27. http://theirrelevantinvestor.com/2018/09/04/gold-what-is-it-good-for/
  28. https://www.ukvalueinvestor.com/2018/09/sold-senior-plc-after-recent-share-price-gains.html/

The Financial Dashboard – August 2018 – returning to normality

The goals for August were:

  • Rein in spending on the automotive hobby by setting a budget – success
  • Sell five items from my hoard – fail
  • Reduce daily living (groceries and lunch out) and entertainment expenses to budget – fail
  • Use my Starling account to track monthly outgoings – success
  • Repair or purchase a new bike – fail
  • Special goal – rework my net worth and savings graphs to cover results simply

Checking the assets and liabilities:

August 2018 Assets

August 2018 Liabilities

These are taken from my Beast Budget spreadsheet. I’m working on pretty graphs to spice things up. My net worth grew by a paltry £180 (0.9%). My savings rate including my mortgage was 15.09% (not including my DB pension). This is close to my best recorded, and probably my best once all the house purchase/ sale shenanigans are taken into account. I saved £200 in my 5% interest Santander saver and paid off £500 of a credit card. My net worth didn’t grow due to spending around £1.5k from our joint account on building work for our house.

Goals:

Goal achieved: Rein in spending on the automotive hobby by setting a budget

I set myself a pretty stern budget of £300 for my automotive hobby earlier in the year, which I’ve repeatedly failed to meet. I spend £50/month on tax direct debits, and another £120/month on a storage unit which is currently full of engines, tools and furniture from our house move. I managed to only spend £280 this month, £50 on tracking for my daily driver and £60 on fuel. I’ve started to walk to work, and have only filled up the car once because of this. I need to start putting money aside for predictable expenses such as maintenance, rather than taking it on the chin each time.

This goal is a marker of the change in my own mindset, as previously I viewed my £120 storage as a justified expense. It now feels like a waste of £1440 a year which could be better saved. I’ve also been paying others to do work I could do myself, as I lacked the time. My hobby car has been sat for months barely used, waiting on some fettling. I’ve now changed jobs, have some more freedom, and so one of my goals for next month is to get my home garage set up and do a piece of automotive DIY. Reducing my monthly fixed liabilities, and doing more work myself will hopefully make this a more frugal (dare I say profitable one day?) hobby.

Goal failed: Sell five items from my hoard

Items were listed on a specialist forum, then on eBay, with some interest but no sales. I’ll be re-listing and also putting some furniture on Gumtree. Fingers crossed some buyers next month.

Goal failed: Repair or purchase a new bike

The shop I’ve found still hasn’t got the right one for me. Next month.

Goal failed: Reduce daily living and entertainment expenses to budget. 

A further failure. We spent £607 on ‘daily living’ and £160 on entertainment. Almost all of our groceries and going out expenses are now going through our joint account, and not my account. I spent £14 on food out and £20 on sport. What did it all go on? We spent £81 on tickets for a concert in December, £27 at restaurants and £35 on trips out with friends. We had no takeaways! We made some minor house purchases, but most of our costs were on groceries, as we had lots of friends over and bought nice food rather than going out. I’m therefore going to change this goal a bit to: Establish weekly and monthly joint account grocery expenses. I’ve trimmed expenses from my accounts as much as I can, and need to work out where all the rest is going.

Goal achieved: Use my Starling account to track monthly outgoings

Not to sound like a fanboi, but I’m really enjoying using my Starling account. I’ve used it for everyday expenses and outgoing over the last month, and plan to move all payments which aren’t automated onto it. Each month I’ll transfer enough to cover my budgeted expenses, and the rest can automatically transfer to savings.

Budgets:

  • Daily living and entertainment – Under review as above.
  • Transport – budget £300, spent £279, last month £803.
  • Holiday – £100/ /£35.22/ £0 We’re paying lots out at the moment for our honeymoon which will show up next month and make a big dent in our joint account balance. Need to build holiday funds in future.
  • Personal – £50/ £93.32/ £21.53. Upgrading/ updating work clothes and supporting a Youtuber I follow by buying their merch.
  • Loans/ Credit – £200/ £500/ £575. Overpaying a bit.
  • Misc – £50/ £0/ £97.50. No unexpected expenses, big woop!

Goals for next month:

  • Do a piece of automotive DIY
  • Establish weekly and monthly joint account grocery expenses
  • Sell five items from my hoard
  • Repair or purchase a new bike
  • Finish reading Tim Hale’s Smarter Investing

What’s coming this month:

  • Musing on… Motivating factors for financial investments
  • Frugal Motoring – Should I buy a petrol car?
  • A draft investment policy
  • Some sort of post about property renovation
  • Plus the usual Full English Accompaniments and other drivel…

Happy September everyone,

The Shrink

The Full English Accompaniment – Diversification is sustainability stupid

Dear Readers,

A bit of a late Full English Accompaniment this week, as I’m working so typing away at posts in between seeing patients. MrsShrink and I have been for a holiday, a break from IT and a pause for reflection. I’ve finally been reading Tim Hale’s Smarter Investing (1), and this has prompted me to make some changes to my blogging process. One of the key points in the early chapters of the book is to turn down the volume; that most media reports, opinions and news about the market are confusing senseless noise and to make smarter investments you need to tune out the static. In a conscious effort to decrease my own contribution to that noise I’m going to reduce the quantity of my posts, and aim to  maintain a high quality. This means that the Full English will become an as-and-when type affair, for thoughts that aren’t significant enough to warrant a full Musing on… post. I’ll still aggregate other posts I’m reading each time, and other categories will continue at their current frequency. For now…

What’s piqued my interest this week?

Part of our recent holiday was spent in an AirBnB on a rural farm. Coming from a country background I was to be found discussing the owners business strategy and farming approach. Their (relatively) small acreage struggled under intensive farming methods to produce a profitable crop; the soil would need continuous improvement for arable, the setting meant high winds were common with minimal cover and they lacked the scale required to make cattle or similar sustainable. To make ends meet they had diversified. The farm now had a small sheep herd, a deer herd and a small number of hardy cattle. The owners had also converted farm buildings to cottages and flats for AirBnB, and worked a part time job for the local government. For many small farmers this is the only way to survive. Big farms in areas of poor fertility also struggle to find profits, as this fantastic comment piece in the Guardian outlines (2). As consumers, diversification of our food intake is healthier too. In agriculture, just as in finance, diversification brings sustainable profits.
Have a great week,

 

The Shrink

 

Side OrdersOther News

Opinion/ blogs:

What I’m reading:

Smarter Investing by Tim Hale – essential reading

Religio Medici by Sir Thomas Browne – the theological and psychological reflections of a C17th doctor. This is turning out to be real heavy-going.

Enchiridion by Epictetus – Bedside reading for a bad day

 

References:

  1. https://www.amazon.co.uk/Smarter-Investing-Simpler-Decisions-Financial/dp/0273785370/
  2. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/aug/25/veganism-intensively-farmed-meat-dairy-soya-maize
  3. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2018/08/18/interest-rise-leaves-first-time-buyers-facing-extra-mortgage/
  4. https://www.theguardian.com/money/2018/aug/20/no-deal-brexit-personal-finance-what-does-it-mean
  5. https://www.newsweek.com/donald-trump-says-windmills-are-bird-killers-he-tries-revive-coal-industry-1079910
  6. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-45244761
  7. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/aug/23/europe-to-ban-halogen-lightbulbs
  8. https://www.independent.co.uk/environment/scotland-floating-turbine-tidal-power-record-sr2000-scotrenewables-ofgem-a8503221.html
  9. https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/aug/19/governments-care-isa-plan-dismissed-by-sarah-wollaston-tory-health-committee-chair
  10. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-45354846
  11. https://www.fool.co.uk/investing/2018/08/20/a-ftse-100-dividend-stock-that-should-pay-you-for-the-rest-of-your-life/
  12. https://www.physicianonfire.com/early-retirement-doesnt-suck/
  13. http://awealthofcommonsense.com/2018/08/a-short-history-of-emerging-market-corrections-bear-markets/
  14. http://awealthofcommonsense.com/2018/08/buying-emerging-markets-after-a-disaster/
  15. http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/investing/article-6078749/Top-income-investments-trusts-revealed-British-American-tops-table.html
  16. http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/news/article-6092439/Half-Britains-bank-branches-closed-five-years.html
  17. https://theescapeartist.me/2015/03/02/the-aggregation-of-marginal-gains/
  18. https://theescapeartist.me/2018/08/28/to-defeat-your-enemy-you-must-first-know-your-enemy-part-2/
  19. https://www.ukvalueinvestor.com/2018/08/ted-baker-dividend-growth-stock.html/
  20. https://www.ukvalueinvestor.com/2018/08/sage-dividend-growth-stock.html/
  21. https://deliberatelivinguk.wordpress.com/2018/08/29/why-you-should-calculate-imputed-rent/
  22. https://youngfiguy.com/when-cash-was-king/
  23. https://youngfiguy.com/insolvency-and-carillion/
  24. https://youngfiguy.com/was-carillion-like-a-ponzi-scheme/
  25. http://quietlysaving.co.uk/2018/09/02/august-2018-plus-other-updates/
  26. http://monevator.com/weekend-reading-automatic-for-the-people/
  27. https://firevlondon.com/2018/08/20/overdiversity/
  28. https://firevlondon.com/2018/08/13/recalibrating-my-portfolio/