The Full English Accompaniment – Making your day more environmentally friendly

What’s piqued my interest this week?

As part of our goals for this year MrsShrink and I are trying to live more sustainably. Recently we’ve got a bit stuck for ideas, and a friend recommended we go through our daily routine to look for places where we couple replace things. Here’s part of MrsShrink’s day as an example:

  • Morning shower:
    • shower gel – swap for soap bar
    • plastic loofah – swap to natural loofa
    • venus razor – ceramic or wood with replaceable blades?
    • face wash – home made
    • face exfoliator – home made
  • Brush teeth:
    • electric toothbrush heads – bamboo heads?
    • toothpaste – tabs?
  • Creams/ lotions/ make-up:
    • moisturiser cream
    • lip balm – metal tins
    • deodorant – bars or powders
    • make-up – plastic free
  • Clothes:
    • buy from charity shops
    • natural fibres only
  • Tea & coffee:
    • teabags (contain plastic) – loose leaf instead
    • coffee – buy beans from sustainable source and grind

This method has helped us recognise areas where we can change. Some of the ideas we came up with are probably more expensive, but we’re going to try and implement the cheaper ones. So why not give it a go as another way of budgeting and accounting in your life.

Have a great week,

The Shrink

Other News

Opinion/ blogs:

The kitchen garden:

What I’m reading (affiliate links):

Tombland – C.J. Sansom – I love the Shardlake series, detective novels set in the Tudor period with a crippled lead character. Beautifully written.

Food Of The Gods: The Search for the Original Tree of Knowledge: A Radical History of Plants, Drugs and Human Evolution – Terence McKenna – An ethnobotanist explores humanitys’ fascination with hallucinogenics, and the role of altered states of consciousness on the development of human society.

References

  1. https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/bills/article-6799495/Are-solar-panels-good-investment-feed-tariffs-slashed.html
  2. https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/news/article-6804455/Official-outlook-finances-five-graphs-Spring-Statement.html
  3. http://www.morningstar.co.uk/uk/news/182247/fca-to-clamp-down-on-exit-fees.aspx
  4. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/money/mortgageshome/article-6781531/House-prices-grow-highest-record-February-fall-January.html
  5. https://www.bmj.com/content/364/bmj.l998
  6. https://nypost.com/2019/03/01/archaeologists-uncover-ancient-graffiti-penis/
  7. https://www.mrtakoescapes.com/low-beta-investing-the-anomaly-of-lower-risk-and-greater-returns/
  8. https://www.morningstar.com/articles/919059/understanding-and-navigating-etfs-premiums-and-dis.html
  9. http://diyinvestoruk.blogspot.com/2019/03/foresight-solar-it-new-addition.html
  10. https://www.ukvalueinvestor.com/2019/03/why-centrica-no-longer-meets-my-investment-criteria.html/
  11. https://youngfiguy.com/mrs-yfg-my-top-tips-for-getting-your-partner-on-side/
  12. https://cashflowcop.com/fi-score-test-fist-where-are-you-on-the-journey/
  13. https://gentlemansfamilyfinances.wordpress.com/2019/03/15/saving-ninja-thought-experient5-from-gff/
  14. https://thesavingninja.com/a-close-up-look-at-death/
  15. https://firethe9to5.com/2019/03/15/early-retirement-early-days-what-ive-learned-from-the-first-3-months/
  16. http://quietlysaving.co.uk/2019/03/15/gin-and-win/
  17. https://monevator.com/tax-efficient-saving-for-children-and-grandchildren-with-jisas-and-sipps/
  18. https://www.foxymonkey.com/best-passive-income-investments/
  19. https://indeedably.com/incurable-optimism/
  20. https://ditchthecave.com/shame-poor/
  21. https://www.msziyou.com/tale-of-two-coffee-shops/
  22. http://twothirstygardeners.co.uk/2019/03/how-to-season-wood/
  23. https://sharpenyourspades.com/2019/03/12/peat-free-coco-coir-compost/
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The Full English Accompaniment – Psychometrics, Myers-Briggs and the pseudoscience of personality analysis

What’s piqued my interest this week?

I bloody hate the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, the personality analysis ‘tool’ whose results I keep seeing all over the internet (1). The test beloved of HR departments, taken by 2.5 million people a year, used by 89 of the Fortune 100 (2). It seems to be used as shorthand for various perceived positive characteristics in some quarters, others try to find correlations with the FI movement, while paid-for articles use it to try to guide individuals to their ideal investments (3, 4, 5, 6). I’ve come into contact with it through work, when departments have told me my role in teams through it’s interpretation. Problem is, it’s a load of manure.

Test-retest reliability

The probability that if you resit the same test you will get the same result. Myers-Briggs own website gives figures from 75-90% for this (why the wide confidence interval?) (7). Those figures have been supported by independent research (8, 9). I can’t use a blood test, or any other scientific test, that gets the answer wrong 1/4 of the time on retest in clinical practice. Imagine if I’m checking for an infection, and tell you it’s one thing, only to retest next week and tell you it’s another. So why does it persist in public use? I’ve probably taken the MBTI four times in various setting, with three different results.

Construct validity

Myers-Briggs grew out of Jungian types in the ’40s. Jung’s theories about archetypes, types, synchronicity, the collective unconscious etc, continue to be taught today in psychology, but more as part of a history lesson and a way for people to understand themselves. They’ve been superseded and are considered by most psychologists to be unscientific, with no clear grounding of reproducible evidence (1, 10, 11). So while the Myers-Briggs sorts you into categories, there’s no actual evidence that those categories are based on anything other than theory.

Content validity 

A further flaw is the question methodology, often using black and white variables to identify which category a person falls into. Personality is not black and white. The dichotomous variables used to decide which category you fall into would be expected to result from a bimodal distribution of choices, with most people at either end of the scale. Instead we see a more normal distribution, with clustering around the middle (1, 10, 11). This invalidates the test variables; the reasons behind choices are not dichotomous, but informed by an interplay of your previous experiences, your taught and learnt behaviours and your biological wiring. The chicken crosses the road for multiple reasons, not simply to be on the other side. It’s an over-simplification of a complex construct.

 - Dilbert by Scott Adams

And that’s just for starters. There’s a huge list of criticisms and peer-reviewed rebuttals on Wikipedia (1). Much of the pro-MBTI literature is the product of poor methodology and limited scrutiny. It’s been largely sidelined by the professional community but persists in the mainstream consciousness (12). People want an easy way to understand a complex system, which is probably why HR teams around the world continue to use it, but personality is too complex to be reduced to 16 types. By all means use it as a methodology for personal reflection. Just stop trying to class others.

Have a great week,

The Shrink

Other News

Opinion/ blogs:

The kitchen garden:

What I’m reading (affiliate links):

Tombland – C.J. Sansom – I love the Shardlake series, detective novels set in the Tudor period with a crippled lead character. Beautifully written.

Food Of The Gods: The Search for the Original Tree of Knowledge: A Radical History of Plants, Drugs and Human Evolution – Terence McKenna – An ethnobotanist explores humanitys’ fascination with hallucinogenics, and the role of altered states of consciousness on the development of human society.

References

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Myers–Briggs_Type_Indicator
  2. https://www.psychologytoday.com/gb/blog/give-and-take/201309/goodbye-mbti-the-fad-won-t-die
  3. https://www.huffingtonpost.ca/krysten-merriman/myers-briggs-type_b_9877786.html?guccounter=1&guce_referrer_us=aHR0cHM6Ly93d3cuZ29vZ2xlLmNvbS8&guce_referrer_cs=-03q25v6JqVhVASPJTimXg
  4. https://www.reddit.com/r/financialindependence/comments/4gky1p/myersbriggs_of_fire/
  5. https://www.millennial-revolution.com/build/right-personality-fire/
  6. https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/ask-a-mustachian/intj-folks-has-fire-been-the-answer/
  7. https://www.myersbriggs.org/my-mbti-personality-type/mbti-basics/reliability-and-validity.htm
  8. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/236111463_The_Myers-Briggs_Type_Indicator_Evidence_of_its_validity_reliability_and_normative_characteristics_for_managers_in_an_Australian_context
  9. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0013164402062004004
  10. https://www.psychologytoday.com/gb/blog/cui-bono/201603/are-scores-the-mbti-totally-meaningless
  11. https://www.theguardian.com/science/brain-flapping/2013/mar/19/myers-briggs-test-unscientific
  12. https://bit.ly/2Upya1b
  13. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-47414916
  14. https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/mar/01/us-seeks-greater-access-to-uk-food-markets-after-brexit-trade-deal
  15. https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/mortgageshome/article-6742415/Mortgage-rates-begin-creep-lull-price-rises.html
  16. https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/bills/article-6760015/Bulb-Energy-shames-Big-Six-providers-exploitation-price-cap-cutting-prices.html
  17. https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/cars/article-6756471/Classic-car-experts-reveal-bangers-worth-banking.html
  18. https://moneyweek.com/502897/bond-yields-interest-rates-creeping-higher-why/
  19. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-47452571
  20. https://www.cnbc.com/2019/03/01/msci-to-quadruple-weighting-of-china-a-shares-in-global-benchmarks.html
  21. https://www.theguardian.com/business/nils-pratley-on-finance/2019/feb/28/aston-martin-share-crash-shows-valuing-a-dream-takes-adjusting-to
  22. https://www.theguardian.com/business/nils-pratley-on-finance/2019/mar/05/brexit-wont-bother-the-city-but-everyone-else-should-worry
  23. http://diyinvestoruk.blogspot.com/2019/02/renewables-infrastructure-new-addition.html
  24. http://diyinvestoruk.blogspot.com/2019/03/the-uninhabitable-earth-review.html
  25. https://monevator.com/simple-maths-for-investors/
  26. https://monevator.com/the-gordon-equation-how-to-calculate-expected-returns-for-equities/
  27. https://monevator.com/robot-angels-automated-seed-investing-on-the-seedrs-crowdfunding-platform/
  28. http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2019/02/27/how-to-create-reality/
  29. https://theescapeartist.me/2019/03/05/its-easier-without-children/
  30. https://theescapeartist.me/2019/03/09/financial-independence-is-for-everyone-part-2/
  31. https://cashflowcop.com/my-property-investment-journey-part-1-taking-in-lodgers/
  32. https://cashflowcop.com/fi-checkpoint-where-are-you-on-the-journey/
  33. http://www.frugalwoods.com/2019/02/28/this-month-on-the-homestead-when-your-internet-and-your-truck-conspire-against-you/
  34. https://www.ukvalueinvestor.com/2019/02/bae-systems-dividend-good-value.html/
  35. https://www.ukvalueinvestor.com/2019/03/buy-unilever-wake-up-rich.html/
  36. https://theescapeartist.me/2019/03/01/meet-up-friday-29-march/
  37. https://ditchthecave.com/save-the-world/
  38. https://thefemalemoneydoctor.com/ambitious-life-goals/
  39. https://thesavingninja.com/ew-betting-full-guide/
  40. https://thesavingninja.com/macro-enabled-matched-betting-spreadsheet/
  41. https://thesavingninja.com/bring-on-the-summer-savings-report-8/
  42. http://earlyretirementinuk.blogspot.com/2019/02/january-end-of-month-report.html
  43. https://www.iretiredyoung.net/single-post/2019/03/01/Early-Retirement-Costs—February-2019
  44. https://littlemissfire.com/february-2019-income-and-expenses-report-2019/
  45. https://gentlemansfamilyfinances.wordpress.com/2019/03/05/month-end-accounts-february-2019/
  46. https://gentlemansfamilyfinances.wordpress.com/2019/03/07/pension-payback-prevention/
  47. https://gentlemansfamilyfinances.wordpress.com/2019/03/09/house-price-inflation-friend-or-foe/
  48. https://gentlemansfamilyfinances.wordpress.com/2019/03/10/a-fire-argument-for-the-lisa/
  49. http://quietlysaving.co.uk/2019/03/09/meeting-up-in-manchester/
  50. https://tuppennysfireplace.com/best-frugal-foods-buy-broke/
  51. http://fiukmoney.co.uk/february-19-net-worth-and-monthly-update-7/
  52. https://drfire.co.uk/february-2019-income-expenses/
  53. https://indeedably.com/taxes-are-optional/
  54. https://indeedably.com/puppetry/
  55. https://indeedably.com/filiality/
  56. https://indeedably.com/financial-junk-food/
  57. https://youngfiguy.com/saving-sucks-or-why-you-need-a-savings-habit/
  58. https://youtu.be/BQovQUga0VE
  59. https://lovelygreens.com/pricking-out-tomato-seedlings/

The Full English Accompaniment – Zero-waste is still too eco-warrior

What’s piqued my interest this week?

Life has been pretty hectic over the last few weeks, preventing much blog reading or writing. At the same time we’ve been trying to make changes to our household usage to decrease the amount of plastic we buy, particularly in our general grocery shop. Our veg and meat already comes either unpackaged or wrapped in waxed paper. We’re switching from plastic packets to jars (for re-use) and tins. What do we do about plastic around our pasta, rice or shampoo?

Zero-waste and packaging-free appears to be 2019’s social trend. Small independent shops are being set-up all over the UK, although the trend towards affluent areas is fairly obvious (1, 2). These shops are targeting the on-trend early-adopters. There’s plenty of blogs with advice, and the mainstream media are cottoning on too (3, 4). There’s a concerted post-Blue Planet 2 movement that societal attitudes towards single-use items has to change. Single-use was the 2018 ‘Word of the Year’ according to Collins (5). The EU has ratified a ban on single-use plastics to come into force (provisionally) in two years time (6). Surfers against Sewage is running a Mass Unwrap event in March where people are encouraged to discard excess packaging at the tills (7).

In our efforts to go further we ventured into a few local packaging-free/ zero-waste type shops to try their wares. We weren’t there long. The organic fruit and veg, the storage jars dispensing dried goods and the shampoo bars were all there. The food was cheap, even if the cosmetics were a bit eye-watering. It was the added extras. The plastic tubs the food had been delivered in, which hadn’t been put away yet. The yak wool fleeces knitted by Mongolian orphans (think of the carbon offset for that mileage). The crocheted face cloths at £5 each. The artisan felting. The slight fug of unwashed vegan. It’s all very lovely but I don’t want to be guilt-tripped into buying an unnecessary item. I just want 500g of plain flour put in my jar. Aldi and Lidl hit my shopping requirements on the head. I can get in, pick up, purchase and get out at maximum speed without spending time trying to choose between brands. They’re convenient. I’ll probably go back to one of the zero-waste shops for dried foods, as I haven’t found a good alternative. Until plastic-free independents focus on the convenience, and not just the eco niche, they’ll never be more than a novelty.

Have a great week,

The Shrink

Other News

Opinion/ blogs:

The kitchen garden:

What I’m reading (affiliate links):

Tombland – C.J. Sansom – I love the Shardlake series, detective novels set in the Tudor period with a crippled lead character. Beautifully written.

Food Of The Gods: The Search for the Original Tree of Knowledge: A Radical History of Plants, Drugs and Human Evolution – Terence McKenna – An ethnobotanist explores humanitys’ fascination with hallucinogenics, and the role of altered states of consciousness on the development of human society.

References

  1. https://pebblemag.com/magazine/doing/plastic-free-shopping-13-of-the-uks-best-zero-waste-stores
  2. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-46574402
  3. http://trashisfortossers.com/zero-waste-shopping-how-to-guide/
  4. https://www.countryliving.com/uk/news/a26402200/plastic-free-community-berkshire/
  5. https://www.theguardian.com/books/2018/nov/07/single-use-named-word-of-the-year-2018-environment-collins-dictionary
  6. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-45965605
  7. https://www.countryliving.com/uk/news/a26439517/mass-unwrap-supermarket-plastic-waste/
  8. https://www.gov.uk/government/news/aliens-vertigo-and-a-glasgow-nightclub-included-in-this-years-expenses-and-excuses
  9. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/money/news/article-6712153/amp/I-fix-broken-banks-started-says-tech-geek-Starling-Bank.html
  10. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-47287386
  11. https://www.theguardian.com/business/2019/feb/23/global-economy-slowing-down-what-can-governments-do
  12. https://www.cnbc.com/2019/02/23/full-warren-buffett-annual-hareholder-letter-read-it-here.html
  13. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-berkshire-buffett/buffett-appears-to-fault-trump-laments-deals-dearth-in-berkshire-letter-idUSKCN1QC0NH
  14. https://www.theguardian.com/business/2019/feb/22/just-how-ethical-is-ethical-investment
  15. https://www.theguardian.com/business/2019/feb/21/uk-and-ireland-retailers-warn-of-40-tariffs-on-food-in-no-deal-brexit
  16. https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m00026hb
  17. https://moneyweek.com/502080/a-good-time-to-fix-it-and-forget-your-mortgage/
  18. https://moneyweek.com/502089/buying-stocks-is-easy-selling-them-is-the-difficult-bit/
  19. http://diyinvestoruk.blogspot.com/2019/02/foresight-uk-infrastructure-new-addition.html
  20. https://3652daysblog.wordpress.com/2019/02/20/rental-diy-step-1-find-a-tenant/
  21. https://gentlemansfamilyfinances.wordpress.com/2019/02/20/ready-aim-fire-bye-bye-mary-poppins/
  22. https://theescapeartist.me/2019/02/19/get-rich-without-self-sabotage/
  23. https://littlemissfire.com/january-2019-goals-update-baby-steps/
  24. https://littlemissfire.com/introducing-springmount-gin/
  25. http://www.frugalwoods.com/2019/02/22/port-and-other-january-2019-expenditures/
  26. https://www.ukvalueinvestor.com/2019/02/hsbc-investment-financial-crisis.html/
  27. https://youngfiguy.com/international-bonds/
  28. https://youngfiguy.com/mrs-yfg-my-financial-mistakes/
  29. https://ditchthecave.com/ethical-investing/
  30. https://pursuefire.com/when-markets-wobble-dont-look-down/
  31. https://thefemalemoneydoctor.com/how-to-stay-motivated/
  32. https://thesavingninja.com/how-should-you-distribute-your-wealth/
  33. https://monevator.com/weekend-reading-see-why-you-should-invest-a-lump-sum-now-and-a-scam-alert/
  34. https://indeedably.com/invert-and-win/
  35. https://www.jackwallington.com/my-allotment-plan-for-2019/

The Full English Accompaniment – New Build Property Warranties

What’s piqued my interest this week?

I learnt this week about another peril of buying a new-build home. One of the reasons people buy a new build is for the ‘peace of mind’ of having a home where everything is new, and if something should go wrong, it’s covered by a warranty. Most warranties are structured to provide ‘defects insurance’ to fix problems which emerge up to three years after the builder leaves site, and ‘structural insurance’, which usually covers from years three to ten (1, 2). The mortgage on your new build notes this, and like all other mortgages expects you to get your own home insurance as well (3, 4).

So what happens when the provider of your new build warranty goes bust? This is exactly what has happened with Alpha Insurance, who were declared in default last May (5). The cover continues to be provided, in some form, by the Danish Guarantee Fund, but that doesn’t help those trying to get a mortgage in the interim like one Reddit user (5, 6). The problem is that most lenders expect a valid new build warranty policy on new properties in order to lend. When the policy provider goes bust this can’t be evidenced. Finding a new provider is apparently a bit of a nightmare. Most policies are provided to large building firms via industrial providers (7, 8). If you’re not a building firm insuring an entire plots worth of houses you have to go to a specialist provider, who are more set up for self-build and one-off builds. These firms are more expensive, often require architects drawings, and may be unwilling to insure or warranty a property that’s already built (9, 10). This leaves the owner either unable to find a mortgage or forced to pay a hefty bill for a warranty that covers thing theirs home insurance already protects.

A niche issue perhaps, but when combined with the number of articles in the news lamenting the shoddy build quality of new homes, I’m sworn off buying a new build. Not a month goes by where articles advise on the merits of snagging surveys, and dubious construction practices (11, 12). Others report on owners issues trying to actually sort snags out, and homebuilding firms putting money aside to repair their own errors (13, 14). As always, do your own research and go in with your eyes open.

Have a great week,

The Shrink

Other News

Opinion/ blogs:

The kitchen garden:

What I’m reading (now affiliate links):

Tombland – C.J. Sansom – I love the Shardlake series, detective novels set in the Tudor period with a crippled lead character. Beautifully written.

Food Of The Gods: The Search for the Original Tree of Knowledge: A Radical History of Plants, Drugs and Human Evolution – Terence McKenna – An ethnobotanist explores humanitys’ fascination with hallucinogenics, and the role of altered states of consciousness on the development of human society.

Enchiridion by Epictetus – Bedside reading for a bad day

References:

  1. https://hoa.org.uk/advice/guides-for-homeowners/i-am-buying/new-home-warranties-cover/
  2. https://www.gocompare.com/home-insurance/new-builds/
  3. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/insurance/home/20-home-insurance-traps-and-how-to-avoid-them/
  4. https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/consumer/insurance/insurance/types-of-insurance/buildings-insurance/
  5. https://www.fscs.org.uk/what-we-cover/insurance/alpha-insurance-as-declared-bankrupt/
  6. https://www.reddit.com/r/UKPersonalFinance/comments/apglf3/alpha_insurance_default_cannot_remortgage_savings/
  7. https://www.cml.org.uk/consumers/buying-a-home/new-build/
  8. https://www.pbctoday.co.uk/news/building-control-news/all-you-need-to-know-about-structural-warranty/41840/
  9. https://www.fmbinsurance.co.uk/insurance-products/new-homes-insurance-build-assure/
  10. https://c-r-l.com/what-we-cover/structural-insurance/
  11. https://www.which.co.uk/money/mortgages-and-property/new-build-homes/snagging-surveys-apxu15x04s1j
  12. https://www.theguardian.com/money/2019/feb/02/new-build-homes-why-some-owners-are-left-feeling-the-cold
  13. https://www.ftadviser.com/mortgages/2018/05/10/mortgage-lenders-soothe-fears-over-new-build-issues/
  14. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-46302905
  15. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/feb/10/plummeting-insect-numbers-threaten-collapse-of-nature
  16. https://www.propertywire.com/news/uk/falling-house-prices-means-property-investment-is-less-attractive-new-analysis-suggests/
  17. https://www.theguardian.com/society/2019/feb/11/study-links-heavily-processed-foods-to-risk-of-earlier-death
  18. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-47200688
  19. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-47224913
  20. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/feb/12/electric-cars-already-cheaper-own-run-study
  21. https://www.parliament.uk/business/news/2019/february/royal-assent-tenant-fees-bill-signed-into-law/
  22. https://moneyweek.com/501682/pensions-drawdown-disaster/
  23. https://www.theguardian.com/business/2019/feb/14/renewable-energy-world-power-source-bp
  24. http://www.cityam.com/273176/starling-banks-75m-funding-round-merian-global-investors
  25. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-47251465
  26. https://www.theguardian.com/business/2019/feb/08/risk-of-global-recession-may-be-low-but-we-are-heading-for-slowdown
  27. https://www.theguardian.com/business/2019/feb/14/how-can-we-tax-the-footloose-multinationals
  28. https://www.theguardian.com/business/nils-pratley-on-finance/2019/feb/13/interserve-needs-a-plan-b-given-the-rebellion-over-its-current-plan
  29. https://www.fool.co.uk/investing/2019/02/10/thinking-of-investing-in-these-neil-woodford-ftse-250-stocks-read-this-first/
  30. https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/feb/09/william-keegan-nine-british-financial-crises-since-1967
  31. https://www.ukvalueinvestor.com/2019/02/ftse-100-dividend-valuation-and-forecast-for-2019.html/
  32. https://gentlemansfamilyfinances.wordpress.com/2019/02/13/how-to-put-out-a-fire-use-liquidity/
  33. https://gentlemansfamilyfinances.wordpress.com/2019/02/12/early-redundancy-lessons-from-lifes-veterans/
  34. https://gentlemansfamilyfinances.wordpress.com/2019/02/15/if-i-lost-everything/
  35. https://thesavingninja.com/if-you-lost-everything/
  36. https://youngfiguy.com/wiped-out/
  37. http://quietlysaving.co.uk/2019/02/15/thought-experiment-2/
  38. https://indeedably.com/restart/
  39. http://ditchthecave.com/fear/
  40. https://firevlondon.com/2019/02/15/ive-lost-everything-through-a-cyber-theft/
  41. https://financeyourfire.com/2019/02/15/thought-experiment-wiped-out/
  42. http://eaglesfeartoperch.blogspot.com/2019/02/calculating-portfolio-returns.html
  43. http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2019/02/11/hanging-out/
  44. http://diyinvestoruk.blogspot.com/2019/02/my-global-index-funds-under-spotlight.html
  45. https://simplelivingsomerset.wordpress.com/2019/02/14/dutch-brexit-humour-from-outside-the-nuthouse/
  46. https://monevator.com/weekend-reading-29-quick-rules-about-money/
  47. https://indeedably.com/what-you-keep/
  48. https://lovelygreens.com/growing-tomatoes-from-seed/

The Full English Accompaniment – Are you ignoring the biggest risk?

What’s piqued my interest this week?

I bang on about it a lot, so I’ll make this post short. I’ve spent a lot of my working life treating people who are knocking on death’s door. That’s not just the old and the sick, but also people who have had the worst day of their life. They woke up thinking that day was going to be like any other, and they end up lying in the bed of A&E Resus. A lot of the themes of what they tell me come through that influential book, The Top Five Regrets of the Dying (1). TL:DR, the top five are:

  • I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life expected of me
  • I wish I hadn’t worked so hard
  • I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings
  • I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends
  • I wish I had let myself be happier (2)

Hard lines. Many echo in the motivations for early retirement, as we hope to reconnect with friends, find happiness and express our feelings in new hobbies and activities. At it’s core early retirement allows us to live a life true to our hopes, dreams and interests, and not based upon the expectations of the man.

All this post aims to do is to challenge the weightings mentally applied to the above. The trade-off made between working hard for the future, and enjoying the now. There is a temptation to work twice as hard to reach an early retirement future in half the time. That relies upon the certainty of your future. That certainty is a risk that needs to be thought about and managed, by taking care of yourself. Having a million quid in the bank is useless if you’ve given yourself scurvy by eating nothing but porridge and rice. I’ll end this with two short examples pulled from the Reddit vaults (3, 4):

Have a morbid great week,

The Shrink

Other News

Opinion/ blogs:

The kitchen garden:

What I’m reading (now affiliate links):

Tombland – C.J. Sansom – I love the Shardlake series, detective novels set in the Tudor period with a crippled lead character. Beautifully written.

Food Of The Gods: The Search for the Original Tree of Knowledge: A Radical History of Plants, Drugs and Human Evolution – Terence McKenna – An ethnobotanist explores humanitys’ fascination with hallucinogenics, and the role of altered states of consciousness on the development of human society.

SowHow: A Modern Guide to Grow-Your-Own-Veg – Paul Matson & Lucy Anna Scott – I’ve been reading this in the evenings ahead of the sowing season. Simple, neat and effective in both design and instruction.

Enchiridion by Epictetus – Bedside reading for a bad day

References:

  1. https://amzn.to/2TOczPu
  2. https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2012/feb/01/top-five-regrets-of-the-dying
  3. https://www.reddit.com/r/financialindependence/comments/8vwc8l/consider_that_you_might_never_enjoy_your_nest_egg/
  4. https://www.reddit.com/r/FIREUK/comments/amfmuv/ahso_ive_been_mitigating_the_wrong_risk/
  5. https://www.which.co.uk/news/2019/02/starling-launches-euro-currency-account-could-it-save-your-cash-from-brexit/
  6. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/uk-politics-47164882/what-would-you-do-if-you-were-financially-independent
  7. https://www.theguardian.com/business/2019/feb/07/bank-of-england-holds-interest-rates-cuts-growth-forecast
  8. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-47155145
  9. https://www.theguardian.com/money/2019/feb/07/uk-house-prices-fall-in-january-as-brexit-puts-off-buyers
  10. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-47133564
  11. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-47068401
  12. https://www.physicianonfire.com/fire-movement/
  13. http://diyinvestoruk.blogspot.com/2019/02/a-look-at-green-bonds.html
  14. https://youngfiguy.com/just-because-you-can-doesnt-mean-you-should/
  15. https://www.ukvalueinvestor.com/2019/02/n-brown-dividend-cut.html/
  16. http://eaglesfeartoperch.blogspot.com/2019/02/high-yield-portfolio-whats-in-name.html
  17. https://cashflowcop.com/my-stone-of-life/
  18. https://theescapeartist.me/2019/02/05/work-bitch/
  19. https://www.msziyou.com/net-worth-updates-january-2019/
  20. http://www.retirementinvestingtoday.com/2019/02/managing-retirement-drawdown.html
  21. https://ditchthecave.com/january2019update/
  22. http://www.thefrugalcottage.com/dividend-income-january-2019/
  23. https://firevlondon.com/2019/02/03/january-2019-many-happy-returns/
  24. http://quietlysaving.co.uk/2019/02/02/january-2019-plus-other-updates-2/
  25. https://drfire.co.uk/investment-strategy/
  26. https://indeedably.com/shortcut/
  27. https://monevator.com/low-cost-index-trackers/
  28. https://monevator.com/find-the-best-online-broker/
  29. https://monevator.com/is-capitalism-in-crisis/
  30. https://firethe9to5.com/2019/02/03/its-official-i-fired-the-9-to-5/
  31. https://lovelygreens.com/create-wood-chip-garden-paths/
  32. https://sharpenyourspades.com/2019/02/04/incredible-crops-im-growing-in-2019-vital-seeds/

The Full English Accompaniment – No-deal Brexit will cure obesity

What’s piqued my interest this week?

Bear with me.

Are you ready to starve?

Is basically the sensationalist headline that’s been flying around in various forms in response to our governments arse-covering. Pretty much all the major supermarkets have warned a no-deal Brexit will bring food security issues and provision to UK supermarkets will be… spotty (1, 2, 3, 4, 5). Remember the #courgettecrisis of ’17 caused by crap Spanish weather (6).

The argument from the Brexiteers is that we should grow our own, in some sort of dig-for-victory rose-tinted halcyon view of post-war Britain. Has anyone explained that crops take time to bloody grow? And the reason the UK became so reliant during WW2 on home-grown produce was food scarcity and rationing? They’re not going to be able to magic up the tomatoes for your £1.99 own-brand high-salt high-sugar pepperoni pizza out of Morris the pensioners’ greenhouse in Didcot.

Knock-on effects of no deal Brexit are no more cheap fruit, veg, meat and processing from the continents fields and factories (7). The price of food will rise. We already have it bloody good compared to the rest of the world. The average UK household spends 8% of it’s earnings on food a year. Compare that to the rest of Europe where it’s more like 10-15% (8).

This is thanks in no small part to cheap imports and the competition between the big supermarkets. They’ve squeezed every inch out of overheads as they’ve grown to maximise profits, with vast supply chains that have taken years to develop. Even then their headline figures are minimal. Check out this chart I pinched from Reddit for Tesco, which has their net profit at a shade under 1.5%:

They can’t soak up wholesale food cost rises. It has to go the consumer. The range of food available will decrease to be more seasonal, and the price will go up to reflect the more expensive supply chain. There’s no need for a bloody sugar tax, Brexit will do that for us (9, 10).

So who are going to be affected as food prices go up?

Well the working class, or should I say those in lower socioeconomic classes, who disproportionately voted to leave (11). Because you have to buy cheaper food, and cheaper food is made with more sugar, more salt, more industrially produced refined products to cover up the lack of actual food (12). Poorer people eat less varied diets consisting of more commercially grown produce imported to the UK. Processing means factories means mileage and countries crossed (13). It doesn’t have to be that way; a healthy varied seasonal diet can be cheaper. It just takes thinking about, time and effort (14).

Outcome of post-Brexit scarcity: either people eat more varied seasonal food because they have to, because that’s all that’s available; or they eat less of the high-sugar, high-fat, low-fibre processed shite that is associated with obesity etc, because it’s expensive (15, 16). The sloven stacking microwave burgers into their slack jaw can now only afford two rather than three at once. Both improve public health (17).

So maybe Brexit will solve one of the greatest ongoing public health crises, starve the nation and (by cost reduction) save the NHS. £350 million is a lot of ready meals.

I’m aware of the irony of this rant given the Full English title.

Have a great week,

The Shrink

Other News

Opinion/ blogs:

The kitchen garden:

What I’m reading (now affiliate links):

Tombland – C.J. Sansom – I love the Shardlake series, detective novels set in the Tudor period with a crippled lead character. Beautifully written.

Food Of The Gods: The Search for the Original Tree of Knowledge: A Radical History of Plants, Drugs and Human Evolution – Terence McKenna – An ethnobotanist explores humanitys’ fascination with hallucinogenics, and the role of altered states of consciousness on the development of human society.

Enchiridion by Epictetus – Bedside reading for a bad day

References:

  1. https://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/no-deal-brexit-uk-food-security-risk-sainsburys-asda-waitrose-supermarkets-a8750466.html
  2. https://www.fcrn.org.uk/research-library/food-security-uk-post-brexit-view
  3. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-47028748
  4. https://foodresearch.org.uk/publications/feeding-britain-food-security-after-brexit/
  5. https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/557993/AUK-2015-05oct16.pdf
  6. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-38666752
  7. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-39030755
  8. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-45559594
  9. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-46736124
  10. https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/jack-monroe-talks-sugar-addiction-child-poverty-and-gives-her-views-sugar-tax
  11. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23846088
  12. http://glopan.org/sites/default/files/ForesightReport.pdf
  13. https://www.eta.co.uk/environmental-info/food-miles/
  14. https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/features/healthy-eating-cheap-cost-unhealthy-food-obesity-diabetes-poverty-a8535701.html
  15. https://www.nutrition.org.uk/nutritioninthenews/headlines/ultraprocessedfoods.html
  16. https://www.theguardian.com/science/2018/feb/02/ultra-processed-products-now-half-of-all-uk-family-food-purchases
  17. https://www.bmj.com/content/364/bmj.l296
  18. https://www.theguardian.com/money/shortcuts/2019/jan/28/100-per-cent-mortgage-lloyds-is-it-worth-risk
  19. https://www.autoexpress.co.uk/car-news/105814/uk-firm-launches-public-ev-chargers-embedded-into-kerb
  20. https://www.theguardian.com/business/2019/feb/01/tsb-computer-meltdown-bill-rises-to-330m
  21. https://www.theguardian.com/business/2019/feb/01/decline-in-quality-auditors-face-scrutiny-over-string-of-scandals
  22. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-47085479
  23. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-47086920
  24. https://www.which.co.uk/news/2019/02/new-best-savings-rate-launches-are-instant-access-accounts-looking-up/
  25. https://www.imperial.ac.uk/media/imperial-college/administration-and-support-services/enterprise-office/public/Table-of-Disruptive-Technologies.pdf
  26. https://indeedably.com/i-own/
  27. https://indeedably.com/reentry/
  28. https://thesavingninja.com/minimalism-part-2-clothes-clothes-everywhere/
  29. https://ditchthecave.com/networking/
  30. https://www.msziyou.com/msziyou-turns-one/
  31. https://simplelivingsomerset.wordpress.com/2019/01/29/100-mortgage-backed-by-bomad-ive-seen-this-movie-before-it-didnt-end-well/
  32. https://simplelivingsomerset.wordpress.com/2019/01/31/will-the-last-uk-finance-blogger-please-switch-off-the-lights-on-their-way-to-twitter/
  33. http://thefirestarter.co.uk/should-i-stay-or-should-i-go-plus-introducing-tfs-merch/
  34. http://www.thefrugalcottage.com/january-2019-a-month-in-review/
  35. https://littlemissfire.com/de-clutter-and-reselling-update-2019/
  36. https://littlemissfire.com/our-future-goals-2019-and-beyond/
  37. https://youngfiguy.com/my-investing-journey/
  38. https://monevator.com/who-are-you-kid-ing-understanding-the-ongoing-charge-figure-of-an-investment-trust/
  39. https://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2019/01/28/how-to-slow-down-time-and-live-longer/
  40. https://gentlemansfamilyfinances.wordpress.com/2019/01/29/6-top-tips-for-millennials-to-solve-the-property-puzzle/
  41. https://gentlemansfamilyfinances.wordpress.com/2019/01/31/tax-return-completed/
  42. https://gentlemansfamilyfinances.wordpress.com/2019/02/01/month-end-accounts-january-2019/
  43. https://www.ukvalueinvestor.com/2019/01/risk-of-corporate-debt.html/
  44. https://www.ukvalueinvestor.com/2019/01/investing-in-turnarounds-recovery-stocks-and-corporate-transformations.html/
  45. https://firevlondon.com/2019/01/27/declaration-of-financial-independence/
  46. https://theescapeartist.me/2019/01/26/how-to-have-a-great-day/
  47. http://eaglesfeartoperch.blogspot.com/2019/01/new-high-yield-group-within-sipp.html
  48. http://quietlysaving.co.uk/2019/02/02/january-2019-plus-other-updates-2/
  49. https://www.visualcapitalist.com
  50. https://agentsoffield.com/2019/01/20/new-year-new-challenges/
  51. https://sharpenyourspades.com/2019/01/19/11-must-grow-vegetables-in-2019-allotment-gardeners-reveal-their-favourite-crops/
  52. https://sharpenyourspades.com/2019/01/31/10-highlights-from-the-grow-your-own-blogs-january-2019/
  53. https://www.jackwallington.com/my-allotment-plan-for-2019/

Full English Accompaniment – Is financial independence achievable by anyone?

What’s piqued my interest this week?

The above question appears to be a recurring theme in our little niche of the financial blogging community. High-profile, mainstream public-facing blogs like MMM and the Frugalwoods argue that anyone and everyone can potentially be financially independent and retire early, if they take the right steps (1). It’s great for selling the story and motivating potential readers, but to me it’s selling an impossible dream.

To explain let’s draw up some basic sums. The amount most people can save towards an early retirement can be defined as:

Amount saved = (Defined pension + take-home Earnings) – (Basic living + lifestyle Costs)

A = (D+E) – (B+C)

For the sake of simplicity we’ll ignore tax rebates, dividend payments, inheritance etc. I’m not even going to bother running this on a minimum wage. Instead we’ll start at the UK Living Wage, currently £9.00/hr (2). This is built on the Minimum Income Standard, which calculates the cost of the average basket of goods required for a household to afford an acceptable standard of living (3).

A 23 year old working a 37.5hr week on £9/hr that will see a yearly salary of £17,550. Plug that into a salary calculator, incorporating 8% pension contribution with an 8% employer match. That’s D and E. The Living Wage is based upon a minimum acceptable standard of lifestyle, so we’ll use that figure again for B, with £0 lifestyle inflation cost and we get (4):

A = ((£76.79 X 2)+£1214.81) – (£1214.81+£0)

How does that lifestyle cost compare? Well the average UK 1 bed flat costs £600, but that’s skewed by London’s ridiculous prices (5). Say instead you’re sharing or living in an area with cheaper housing, it’s more likely to be £400/month, this represents ~30% of your earnings and so if a fairly accurate representation given the UK average is 25% of earnings spent on accommodation (6). If you get can by on another £600/month for all other expenses then well done, you can save £215. Add in your generous pension contributions and you’re up to £365/month put aside for the future, or £4,380 annually. Run that number through a rough early retirement calculator and we get that you can retire in 33 years. So that’s early retirement at 56 for a lifetime spent in a one bed flat and minimum acceptable standard of living.

Not realistic? Lets work another example. Example 2:

30 year old earning median UK disposable household income (2017) of £27,300 (7). Same sums, same aggressive pension match, £1715.31 take home. This time our 30 year old has got bored of living in digs, and is instead renting a two bed new build in a LCOL area. £750/month for rent gets you access to homes in 67% of the UK, so compared to Example 1 you’ll pay £350 more/month (8). Your lifestyle has inflated a bit, but not much, just a few beers now and then, a better phone, a decent tv and slightly better food. Say £100/month? So, let’s punch that into our equations and calculators:

A = ((£141.79 X 2)+£1715.31) – (£1214.81+£450)

A = £334

Retire in 44 years

Ouch. That lifestyle inflation has hit hard. Your early retirement age is now 74. So what do you do? Cut back on the house size or go back to shared accommodation? Stop drinking and eat 7p basics noodles? We know that actually, due to the benefits from our taxation system and social support services, a moderate increase in income in the lower quartiles makes little difference to disposable income (available for savings). Lifestyle inflation at this end quickly gobbles up the extra earnings as you are now comfortable, not just-about-managing. Do you make yourself uncomfortable to retire early? That requires a special type of motivation (9, 10, 11).

You have to be a high earner to achieve the % savings rates required for early retirement without living uncomfortably in some way. Ignoring this fact is dreaming. Most people will not achieve early retirement without either lifestyle discomfort or a serious increase in their earning power. That’s FIREs dirty little secret (11). To say otherwise is to sell a dream.

I don’t think this is a bad thing.

Because the world is driven by soundbites and nicely packaged information, easily digestible and understandable. The majority of the FI blogs pitched to the mainstream do just that, make it easily digestible, understandable and relate-able. A cynic would argue it funds their early retirement through a customer-facing monetised website (12). But I’m not that cynic, this is a good thing, more people should be thinking about their money matters. The UK household savings ratio is currently stuck around 4%, and has been for several years (13):

capture

The financial choices required for early retirement are for everyone. 

The’ye just a good idea. Just by thinking about your finances you’re ahead of those ignoring their accounts. To crib my fellow medical colleague, the female money doc (14):

  • Know your numbers
  • Build assets
  • Get out of debt
  • Buffer it
  • Consider extra income streams

Anyone could achieve financial independence, but not everyone can. The effort can only be a good thing. No shame in trying!

Have a great week,

The Shrink

Side Orders

Other News

Opinion/ blogs:

The kitchen garden:

What I’m reading (now affiliate links):

Tombland – C.J. Sansom – I love the Shardlake series, detective novels set in the Tudor period with a crippled lead character. Beautifully written.

Food Of The Gods: The Search for the Original Tree of Knowledge: A Radical History of Plants, Drugs and Human Evolution – Terence McKenna – An ethnobotanist explores humanity’s’ fascination with hallucinogenics, and the role of altered states of consciousness on the development of human society.

Enchiridion by Epictetus – Bedside reading for a bad day

References:

  1. https://www.theguardian.com/money/2018/mar/08/how-to-retire-early-frugal-spending
  2. https://www.livingwage.org.uk/calculation
  3. https://www.lboro.ac.uk/research/crsp/mis/
  4. https://www.thesalarycalculator.co.uk/salary.php
  5. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-46072509
  6. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-44046392
  7. https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/personalandhouseholdfinances/incomeandwealth/bulletins/householddisposableincomeandinequality/financialyearending2017
  8. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-23234033
  9. https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/news/article-4110482/How-rich-Work-income-wealth-sits-UK.html
  10. https://www.financialsamurai.com/the-average-savings-rates-by-income-wealth-class/
  11. http://www.flannelguyroi.com/dirty-little-secret-early-retirement/
  12. https://theoutline.com/post/3840/frugalwoods-frugality-millennials?zd=2&zi=kjpt6k5u
  13. https://tradingeconomics.com/united-kingdom/personal-savings
  14. https://thefemalemoneydoctor.com/reach-financial-freedom/
  15. https://www.marketwatch.com/story/guid/FC86FC66-19DD-11E9-84BA-7B8C470F8CAB
  16. https://www.theguardian.com/money/2019/jan/17/uk-house-prices-fall-at-fastest-rate-in-six-years-on-back-of-brexit-rics
  17. https://www.gov.uk/government/news/uk-house-price-index-for-november-2018
  18. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/money/markets/article-6578873/Renewable-power-provider-Bulb-Energy-slumps-24m-loss-amid-squeeze-small-suppliers.html
  19. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-46900918
  20. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/nils-pratley-on-finance/2019/jan/17/government-isnt-quite-ready-drop-obsession-with-nuclear-greg-clark-business-secretary
  21. https://www.theguardian.com/business/2019/jan/12/subprime-timebomb-back-companies-lighting-the-fuse/
  22. https://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/comment/metro-bank-profit-warning-new-branches-mortgages-challenger-banks-santander-uk-branch-closures-a8742301.html
  23. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/jan/15/immediate-fossil-fuel-phaseout-could-arrest-climate-change-study
  24. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-46865204
  25. https://www.theguardian.com/business/2019/jan/16/marks-spencer-selling-loose-fruit-veg-plastic-waste/
  26. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-46793506
  27. http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20181217-the-best-time-of-year-to-x
  28. https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2019/jan/17/breached-data-largest-collection-ever-seen-email-password-hacking
  29. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-46958560
  30. https://landlords.org.uk/news-campaigns/news/tenant-fees-bill-provisions-come-effect-june-2019
  31. https://www.express.co.uk/life-style/cars/1076669/kia-e-niro-car-of-the-year-electric-vehicle/
  32. https://www.theguardian.com/society/2019/jan/15/junior-doctors-working-past-shift-end-nhs-data-england/
  33. https://monevator.com/weekend-reading-the-house-that-jack-built/
  34. https://monevator.com/venture-capital-investing/
  35. http://www.frugalwoods.com/2019/01/18/this-month-on-the-homestead-burning-brush-and-the-life-and-times-of-firewood/
  36. http://www.frugalwoods.com/2019/01/25/hacked-sodastream-seltzer-reload-and-other-december-2018-expenditures/
  37. https://ournextlife.com/2019/01/14/one-year-adventures/
  38. http://www.retirementinvestingtoday.com/2019/01/2018-in-review-let-decompression.html
  39. https://monevator.com/the-pension-protection-fund-ppf/
  40. https://youngfiguy.com/patisserie-valerie-what-happens-now/
  41. https://youngfiguy.com/mrs-yfg-why-i-stay/
  42. https://youngfiguy.com/podcasts-like-buses/
  43. https://firevlondon.com/2019/01/20/avoiding-tax-in-the-uk/
  44. https://www.msziyou.com/2018-review/
  45. https://www.msziyou.com/2019-goals/
  46. https://ditchthecave.com/prioritisation/
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