The Full English – The Sam Vimes Boots Theory

What am I buggering on about this week?

I’m really enjoying my Starling bank accounts features, so it was good to read an article in The Verge this week about the touted move by Monzo into the US (1). Much of The Verge article is fawning which is unsurprising given the readership overlap between The Verge and the challenger banks. However the US market is ripe for the taking, struggling to even move to chip and pin payments or any sort of account switching service (2). A good time to be invested in one of them.

One of the features I’m really enjoying is the ‘goals’ or ‘spaces’ feature of my Starling account. After keeping my accounts last year I’ve been able to set accurate budgets, and the spaces allows me to put money aside without it ‘appearing’ in my balance. This has meant I can build up money for professional expenses, without having to dip into my credit card. I’m also, for the first time ever, putting money aside each month for clothes and holidays, meaning I don’t try to find the cash as and when I need it to replace holey shoes.

Putting money aside every month for predictable expenses, alongside having an emergency fund, is a cornerstone of good financial stability. The Boots Theory of Socioeconomic Unfairness is a great way of explaining why. If you’ve not heard of the theory, it’s taken from the late great Terry Pratchett’s Men at Arms (3, 4)Captain Samuel Vimes thought process goes that “the reason that the rich were so rich… was because they managed to spend less money”. An example:

“Take boots, for example. He earned thirty-eight dollars a month plus allowances. A really good pair of leather boots cost fifty dollars. But an affordable pair of boots, which were sort of OK for a season or two and then leaked like hell when the cardboard gave out, cost about ten dollars. Those were the kind of boots Vimes always bought, and wore until the soles were so thin that he could tell where he was in Ankh-Morpork on a foggy night by the feel of the cobbles.

But the thing was that good boots lasted for years and years. A man who could afford fifty dollars had a pair of boots that’d still be keeping his feet dry in ten years’ time, while the poor man who could only afford cheap boots would have spent a hundred dollars on boots in the same time and would still have wet feet.”

A good theory is often one that is obvious once it’s pointed out. This is one of them. I’ve fallen into this trap so many times. I’ve continued to live like a student, buying cheap clothes when my current threads wear out. I’m now trying to buy better quality (when it’s on sale of course), with the intention things will last longer. The Barbour jacket and flat cap isn’t far away.

Have a great week,

The Shrink

Other News

Opinion/ blogs:

The kitchen garden:

What I’m reading (affiliate links):

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.theverge.com/2019/6/13/18663036/monzo-starling-mobile-banks-uk-report
  2. https://www.cnet.com/news/apple-card-beware-monzo-is-bringing-its-bank-of-the-future-to-the-us/
  3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sam_Vimes
  4. https://moneywise.com/a/boots-theory-of-socioeconomic-unfairness
  5. https://citywire.co.uk/investment-trust-insider/news/what-is-board-of-flagship-woodford-patient-capital-doing/a1237314
  6. https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/markets/article-7121795/Backlash-hits-UKs-largest-investment-platform-Hargreaves-Lansdown-investors-flee.html
  7. https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/mortgageshome/article-7124605/Majority-UK-homeowners-expect-house-prices-grow-despite-property-market-slowdown.html
  8. https://www.timeout.com/london/news/this-new-website-will-help-you-find-your-nearest-zero-waste-shop-and-save-the-planet-060619
  9. https://www.theguardian.com/business/2019/jun/12/worlds-biggest-sovereign-wealth-fund-to-ditch-fossil-fuels
  10. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-47643456
  11. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/jun/13/mild-but-windy-winter-was-greenest-ever-for-uk-energy-use
  12. https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/climate-change-breakdown-arctic-frost-thawing-canada-environment-a8959056.html
  13. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7139695/British-pensioners-run-money-10-YEARS-die-senior-economists-warn.html
  14. https://www.evidenceinvestor.com/neil-woodford-a-lesson-in-humility/
  15. http://aswathdamodaran.blogspot.com/2019/06/teslas-travails-curfew-for-corporate.html
  16. https://monevator.com/trust-life-assurance/
  17. https://theescapeartist.me/2019/06/12/whos-the-bitch-in-this-relationship/
  18. http://www.retirementinvestingtoday.com/2019/06/back-to-powerful-fi.html
  19. https://earlyretirementnow.com/2019/06/12/my-thoughts-on-small-cap-and-value-stocks/
  20. https://youngfiguy.com/mrs-yfg-what-i-wish-i-knew/
  21. https://cashflowcop.com/introvert-make-extra-money-working-from-home/
  22. http://quietlysaving.co.uk/2019/06/14/half-a-century/
  23. http://thefirestarter.co.uk/perfection-is-the-enemy-of-happiness/
  24. https://ditchthecave.com/unpopular-opinions/
  25. https://drfire.co.uk/unpopular-opinion/
  26. https://indeedably.com/against-the-tide/
  27. https://awaytoless.com/thought-experiment-6-miss-way/
  28. https://asimplelifewithsam.com/2019/06/14/saving-ninja-thought-experiment-6/
  29. https://thesavingninja.com/unpopular-opinion/
  30. https://www.msziyou.com/dating-and-fi/
  31. https://pursuefire.com/monthly-net-worth-report-12-may/
  32. https://www.iretiredyoung.net/single-post/2019/06/14/Early-Retirement—our-net-worth-investing-journey-1
  33. https://www.jackwallington.com/allotment-month-43-priorities-supports-and-progress/
  34. https://agentsoffield.com/2019/06/09/i-love-big-butts/
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The Full English Accompaniment – Blogroll and some updates

What’s piqued my interest this week?

A bit of an odd Full English this week, as I’ll round up and catch up a few things.

Blogroll

First off, I don’t keep a proper Blogroll on my site. I posted a condensed list last year, but some have come, some have gone, so here follows a list of those I check at least monthly and I include when composing the Full English. I generally favour posts of ‘substance’, tending to shy away from SEO optimised material. I also only tend to share UK blogs, though I read others. The blogs can be split into broad categories, but with lots of crossover between them:

Information, guides, advice and motivation:

Personal experience and progress:

  • Firevlondon – full fat investing from a high net worth blogger
  • The Frugalwoods – the homesteading FIRE dream from the US
  • Quietly Saving – Weenie has been documenting her progress for 5 years, providing motivation for many a FIRE convert
  • The Fire Starter – Has also been going many years and has lots of links to resources as well as blogging his financial journey
  • Ditch the Cave – The Caveman is a professional in his 40s and has been saving for some time, but only started blogging this year, following his progress and thoughts
  • Dr Fire – Another blog started in the last year, interesting to me because of the shared academic background
  • FI UK Money – Fu Mon Chu is in his 40s and tracking his FI journey
  • The Saving Ninja – Blogs his own financial progress, but also lots of advice and the author of the popular ‘Thought Experiment’ series
  • Ms Zi You – Has been going about as long as I have, and alongside blogging about feminism and travel, runs the UK FI Podcast
  • Little Miss Fire – Blogging her progress, recently moved from their wordpress across to a dedicated site. No updates in a couple of months so may have dropped off the radar now
  • A Way to Less – New to the scene, professionals in their 20-30s documenting their progress
  • The Frugal Cottage – More frugal finance than FI blog
  • Gentlemans Family Finances – GFF blogs their progress but also tips on his process
  • The Finance Zombie – Has been tracking his saving and goals for many years
  • Where eagles fear to perch – The eagle does a bit on investment and a bit on gardening
  • Finance Your Fire – Offers his own experiences but also links to charts and lots of info
  • Early Retirement Guy – Periodically updating with his progress
  • Financially Free by 40 – Huw achieved FI at 34. His blogs been quiet for about a year, but I believe he’s still about on forums and at events
  • Pursue Fire – Dan at Pursue Fire has been going for about a year, blogging his monthly net worth and his matched betting
  • The Canny Contractor – Information on P2P, tools for contracting and quarterly income reports
  • The Obvious Investor – Blogs his growth and P2P portfolios
  • The English Investor – Quarterly reviews, company looks and general opinions pieces about the market
  • I Retired Young – David retired three years ago, and offers expenses and drawdown numbers as well as experiences from the other side
  • A simple life with Sam – thoughts, tips, habits and monthly spending reports

Finance and philosophical opinions:

  • Simple Living in Somerset – Opinions and sass from the learned Ermine
  • Indeedably – To be honest, Indeedably does a bit of everything, tracking his progress, offering charts and financial info, but I mainly follow for the philosophical reflections
  • FIREthe9to5 – Has left the working life behind now, but still gives their thoughts
  • Sexhealthmoneydeath – Lots of thoughts and reflections here, but no updates since last August means they may too have retired

Gardening:

  • Life at no 27 – Annabelle blogs about her allotment experiences and sharing the wellbeing benefits with others
  • Real Men Sow – Jono at Real Men Sow blogs about growing your own veg, and kept a financial track of money saved. Sadly no updates since last autumn
  • Lovely Greens – Tanya blogs about gardening frugally, sustainably and organically
  • Two Thirsty Gardeners – Gardening tips, along with homebrew, booze and restaurant reviews
  • Jack Wallington – An RHS qualified gardener, sometimes heard on GQT on R4, who blogs about his own allotment and garden
  • Sharpen Your Spades – Richard at Sharpen Your Spades posts tips, advice and experiences
  • Paul’s Patch – Paul blogs about growing in his small patch
  • Agents of Field – Period growing updates and advice from Sophie and Ade, who can also been seen in various media spots

I’ve probably missed some, so I may well come back and add more in the future!

Updates

Have a great week,

The Shrink

Other News

Opinion/ blogs:

The kitchen garden:

What I’m reading (affiliate links):

The Right Way to Keep Chickens – Virginia Shirt – Another guide to our new pets.

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.mrmoneymustache.com/
  2. https://monevator.com/
  3. https://www.ukvalueinvestor.com/
  4. https://theescapeartist.me/
  5. http://www.retirementinvestingtoday.com/
  6. https://earlyretirementnow.com/
  7. https://youngfiguy.com/
  8. https://3652daysblog.wordpress.com/
  9. https://cashflowcop.com/
  10. https://tuppennysfireplace.com/
  11. https://firevlondon.com/
  12. http://www.frugalwoods.com/
  13. http://quietlysaving.co.uk/
  14. http://thefirestarter.co.uk/
  15. https://ditchthecave.com/
  16. https://drfire.co.uk/
  17. http://fiukmoney.co.uk/
  18. https://thesavingninja.com/
  19. http://www.msziyou.com/
  20. https://littlemissfire.com/
  21. https://awaytoless.com/
  22. http://www.thefrugalcottage.com
  23. https://gentlemansfamilyfinances.wordpress.com/
  24. http://www.thefinancezombie.com/
  25. http://eaglesfeartoperch.blogspot.com/
  26. https://financeyourfire.com/
  27. http://www.earlyretirementguy.com/
  28. http://financiallyfreeby40.com/
  29. https://pursuefire.com/
  30. http://thecannycontractor.com/
  31. https://obviousinvestor.com/
  32. https://theenglishinvestor.com/
  33. https://www.iretiredyoung.net/
  34. https://asimplelifewithsam.com/
  35. https://simplelivingsomerset.wordpress.com/
  36. https://indeedably.com/
  37. https://firethe9to5.com/
  38. https://sexhealthmoneydeath.com/
  39. https://lifeatno27.com/blog/
  40. http://www.realmensow.co.uk/
  41. https://lovelygreens.com/blog/
  42. http://twothirstygardeners.co.uk/
  43. https://www.jackwallington.com/
  44. https://sharpenyourspades.com/
  45. https://paulnelson90.wordpress.com/
  46. https://agentsoffield.com
  47. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-47852589
  48. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/apr/21/the-zero-waste-revolution-how-a-new-wave-of-shops-could-end-excess-packaging
  49. https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/news/article-6952181/Save-planet-cash-20-little-changes-2-500-extra-year.html
  50. https://twitter.com/HBP_Surgery_CHS/status/1117720690759753730?s=09
  51. https://www.moneyobserver.com/news/nhs-doctors-to-reduce-working-hours-unless-lifetime-allowance-changed
  52. https://monevator.com/weekend-reading-capital-gains-tax-receipts-are-soaring-a-good-bad-problem/
  53. https://inews.co.uk/news/business/britain-entering-golden-age-inheritance-baby-boomers-leave-assets/
  54. https://www.theguardian.com/money/2019/apr/20/an-isa-with-824-fixed-interest-a-year-is-that-simply-too-good-to-be-true
  55. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-48015613
  56. https://www.msn.com/en-gb/news/uknews/half-of-england-is-owned-by-less-than-1percent-of-the-population/ar-BBW2oP3?ocid=spartanntp
  57. https://www.theguardian.com/business/2019/apr/17/house-prices-rise-at-slowest-for-six-years-as-brexit-drags-on-growth
  58. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-47969528
  59. https://www.express.co.uk/life-style/life/1118865/state-pension-uk-how-much-is-state-pension-forecast-2019/
  60. The bull market continues because of the Fed
  61. https://www.which.co.uk/news/2019/04/interest-only-mortgage-crisis-how-can-older-borrowers-repay-their-loan/
  62. https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/playing-with-fire-the-london-premiere-tickets-60671084848
  63. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-47956891
  64. https://www.theguardian.com/money/2019/apr/19/so-what-are-the-chances-of-getting-300-off-mastercard
  65. https://www.theguardian.com/business/2019/apr/23/us-stock-market-boom-us-china-brexit
  66. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/apr/16/why-went-viral-after-talking-about-evicted-sky-news
  67. https://www.theguardian.com/education/2019/apr/16/teacher-live-back-van-personal-story-anonymous
  68. https://simplelivingsomerset.wordpress.com/2019/04/16/in-praise-of-the-flexible-isa/
  69. http://diyinvestoruk.blogspot.com/2019/04/orsted-new-addition.html
  70. https://gentlemansfamilyfinances.wordpress.com/2019/04/16/what-i-learnt-from-my-dads-early-retirement-aged-60-part-1/
  71. https://gentlemansfamilyfinances.wordpress.com/2019/04/24/sweet-nectar-money-saving-with-amex-updated/
  72. https://gentlemansfamilyfinances.wordpress.com/2019/04/23/im-a-millionaire-but-dont-look-it-part-1/
  73. https://thesavingninja.com/a-weird-month-savings-report-9/
  74. https://asimplelifewithsam.com/2019/04/02/march-spending/
  75. https://monevator.com/how-to-improve-your-sustainable-withdrawal-rate/
  76. http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2019/04/11/the-real-benefit-of-being-rich/
  77. https://ditchthecave.com/paying-tax-personal-polemic/
  78. https://ditchthecave.com/money-buy-happiness/
  79. http://fiukmoney.co.uk/hey-kids-whos-for-wallyworld-this-year/
  80. https://thesavingninja.com/how-to-increase-your-savings-rate/
  81. http://thefirestarter.co.uk/the-egg-hunt-is-just-as-enjoyable-as-the-chocolate/
  82. https://indeedably.com/exposed/
  83. http://eaglesfeartoperch.blogspot.com/2019/04/living-with-paroxysmal-atrial.html
  84. https://cashflowcop.com/financial-independence-score-directory/
  85. https://www.iretiredyoung.net/single-post/2019/03/29/Some-small-and-random-things-I-like-about-my-early-retirement
  86. https://www.themiddlesizedgarden.co.uk/how-to-create-an-easy-sustainable-garden/
  87. https://lovelygreens.com/building-raised-garden-beds/
  88. https://lovelygreens.com/how-to-divide-grocery-store-basil-into-healthy-individual-plants/
  89. http://twothirstygardeners.co.uk/2019/04/growing-spuds-in-a-massive-sack-maris-piper-vine-rituals/
  90. https://paulnelson90.wordpress.com/2019/04/27/over-wintering-abundance/

The Full English Accompaniment – Watch the population slump, and then the economy

What’s piqued my interest this week?

In the allocations section of my Investment Strategy Statement I mentioned that I favour emerging markets (a generalisation) because of changing demographics. Events of the past few weeks have prompted me to flesh my thought process out. I have a hunch/ theory/ feeling in my waters that long term stock market movements correlate to changing demographics (so far so normal), particularly the ratio of 20-40 year olds to other demographics. This has long been muted, but is difficult to prove, partially (I think) because it depends on where and how you define the demographics and stock market changes, and how you look at dependants (1). It should be noted by the passive investor because if you invest in a national index now you want to be sure that that same index is going to keep going up.

The Japan Problem

Japan is the canary in the coalmine. People have been noting for some time the relationship between Japan’s relatively stagnant growth and its ageing population. This has improved somewhat under Shinzo Abe, averaging around 1% growth over the past decade despite the significant headwind of a falling population. With the highest life expectancy in the world and a fertility rate of 1.4, Japan’s population is getting older, with the expectation the proportion of those >65 will go from 3 in 10 to 4 in 10 in the next 40 years, with the population shrinking by 25% (2, 3). By 2025 it will have an aged dependant per worker ratio of 75% (3).

This is a huge challenge for a social security system, as more people rely on pensions and the healthcare system than the funds that are coming in (4, 5). Public debt increases or the numbers of workers increase, or both.

Europe

The problem I see is the EU isn’t that far behind. There’s a big post-boomer bubble coming, made up of those born 1955-75 (6). Shock! Millenial not slating the boomers.

We’re already starting to see one sign of the problem, as companies struggle under the weight of increasing pension debts. It’s one of the things that’s dragged down BHS, Debenhams, HoF, and look at the ongoing saga with private railway company operators. Stagecoach and Virgin don’t want to be on the hook for the Railways Pension Scheme deficit (7). As the working population reduces and the dependant population grows this chasm in the unfunded public sector pension schemes will yawn wider. Executives are looking down the barrel and running for the hills, to mix metaphors. This is across Europe. Germany and Italy have expanding dependant populations, Bulgaria has a birth rate of 1.5 and has seen its population fall by 2 million in 30 years, Poland is closing schools due to the lack of children (8, 9). Some countries though, like Sweden, are bucking the trend through immigration.

The Global Picture

Look wider and there are notes of caution but also reasons to be cheerful. Globally birthrates are falling, the low levels in the developed world balanced by high birthrates in India, the Philippines and Africa (8). Emerging market populations are growing faster than the developed markets are shrinking, so the population will keep growing, but at a slower rate (9). This is good news for the planet, which can’t sustain the current growth rates indefinitely, but bad news for those who dislike immigration, as migration will be required to maintain labour forces in the developed economies with shrinking populations. Or will it?

Before I move on it’s worth focusing on three more countries: India, the US and China (9, 10, 11).

Things are looking peachy for India, which has an expanding population likely to drive greater growth even as it modernises and develops (although this is not without its issues). The US is in better shape than most of the developed world, with forecasts for a relatively flat or increasing population before you even take migration into account (12). This is one of the reasons, combined with global corporate and technological monopolies, that I don’t believe the NYSE is about to undergo a crash when the boomers call time and cash their retirement cheques. But what happened to China? The single child policy. We’re past its peak, and now China is looking at a reduction in its working age population of 212 million by 2050 (10). 212 million less people working. That’s the current population of Brazil. That’s what state top-down planning gets you.

‘Abenomics’ and ways out

So how do we get out of our slump? Well we could open our borders to a motivated migrant workforce, but that would just be too sensible and easy. Some authors look back to Japan for the way out of this population pickle. Shinzo Abe has sustained growth in the face of a falling population primarily through recruiting more people into work who previously were not, alongside technological productivity developments (13). Japan in many ways is a deeply conservative country. The perceived social norm continues to be men go to work all day, women are home-makers. In 2013 Abe introduced ‘Womenomics’ (there’s a theme here), increasing female participation in the labour force through a number of methods (13, 14). I don’t feel this would necessarily translate to western European cultures, where women working is the norm. I think efforts in our economy to bring those out of the labour market for whatever reason into work, like zero-hours contracts, have been less successful. There’s more people in work, but productivity and earnings aren’t necessarily increasing.

Technology and automation, on the other hand, probably are solutions. Automation enables greater output with fewer workers, and can be applied to manufacturing, construction and some service industries, as it has in Japan (14). It’s not good news for the factory workers and low-skilled employees, which is all the more reason for Universal Basic Income – an argument for another time. There will continue to be some jobs robots will struggle with; caring roles or where intuition is required. As a shrink I’m probably safe. Robots are yet to understand human emotions.

Major caveats

Important flaws in this whole essay:

The stock market isn’t necessarily correlated with population demographics.

There’s lots of arguments and evidence of this. It can basically be boiled down to:

  1. You can’t correlate specific bear markets, like the dotcom bubble, to demographic/ population change points – this is often identification error
  2. External factors and drivers such as politics (e.g. the fall of the Berlin Wall/ communism etc) have unpredictable effects on a) markets and b) demographics
  3. The timescales and effect sizes are such that the end result on the stock market appears negligible (15, 16).

Add in the fact that we have an increasingly interconnected world, with global corporations taking earnings from multi-national operations, and it all gets murky. I don’t think any developed market is about to crash while companies listed on it’s market utilise cheap developing world labour (17). Just also don’t ignore a developing market with increasing capitalisation (18). Which is why I aim to hold more in certain developing markets. But you, as usual, should do your own research.

Have a great week,

The Shrink

Other News

Opinion/ blogs:

The kitchen garden:

What I’m reading (affiliate links):

The Right Way to Keep Chickens – Virginia Shirt – Another guide to our new pets.

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://bit.ly/2UVX1x6
  2. https://www.indexmundi.com/japan/age_structure.html
  3. https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2018/12/japans-economic-outlook-in-five-charts/
  4. https://www.economist.com/the-economist-explains/2018/11/26/the-challenges-of-japans-demography
  5. https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/japan-demographic-lesson-european-growth-by-daniel-gros-2017-11?barrier=accesspaylog
  6. https://www.indexmundi.com/european_union/age_structure.html
  7. https://www.theguardian.com/business/nils-pratley-on-finance/2019/apr/10/unloved-stagecoach-may-have-a-point-on-rail-franchise-pension-risks
  8. https://www.theguardian.com/business/2019/mar/31/birthrate-crisis-require-new-mindset-growth-population-prediction
  9. https://www.businessinsider.com/2-charts-tell-the-global-demographic-story-2015-12?r=US&IR=T
  10. https://www.businessinsider.com/changes-to-working-age-population-around-the-globe-2016-12?r=US&IR=T
  11. https://www.indexmundi.com/united_states/age_structure.html
  12. https://fat-pitch.blogspot.com/2018/05/demographics-growing-prime-working-age.html
  13. https://www.wsj.com/articles/how-aging-japan-defied-demographics-and-turned-around-its-economy-11547222490
  14. https://www.cnbc.com/2018/02/09/what-is-japans-secret-women-and-technology.html
  15. https://medium.com/street-smart/the-demographics-of-stock-market-returns-part-ii-a41a46622198
  16. https://global.vanguard.com/portal/site/institutional/nl/en/articles/research-and-commentary/vanguard-voices/demographics-and-equity-returns-vv
  17. https://www.economist.com/finance-and-economics/2019/03/28/slower-growth-in-ageing-economies-is-not-inevitable
  18. https://www.forbes.com/sites/advisor/2018/08/01/should-long-term-investors-own-more-emerging-market-equities/#3fcebc6854ee
  19. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-47609539
  20. https://www.theguardian.com/business/2019/apr/04/sales-new-cars-fall-uk-consumers-continue-shun-diesel-brexit
  21. https://www.theguardian.com/business/2019/apr/04/us-china-risk-house-price-slump-trigger-recession-imf-lending
  22. https://www.theguardian.com/business/2019/apr/01/was-the-us-stock-market-boom-predictable
  23. https://www.theguardian.com/business/nils-pratley-on-finance/2019/apr/01/fca-supervision-lcf-london-capital-finance-investigated
  24. https://monevator.com/the-slow-and-steady-passive-portfolio-update-q1-2019/
  25. https://monevator.com/what-is-a-sustainable-withdrawal-rate-for-a-world-portfolio/
  26. http://quietlysaving.co.uk/2019/04/01/march-2019-other-updates/
  27. http://quietlysaving.co.uk/2019/04/11/freetrade/
  28. http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2019/04/01/how-i-sold-this-website-for-9-million/
  29. https://gentlemansfamilyfinances.wordpress.com/2019/04/01/month-end-accounts-march-2019/
  30. https://gentlemansfamilyfinances.wordpress.com/2019/04/03/fire-health-the-diabetes-epidemic/
  31. http://diyinvestoruk.blogspot.com/2019/04/trig-share-offer-completed-update.html
  32. https://youngfiguy.com/audit-reform/
  33. https://simplelivingsomerset.wordpress.com/2019/04/09/through-the-brexit-looking-glass/
  34. http://eaglesfeartoperch.blogspot.com/2019/04/financial-planning-2019-annual-review.html
  35. https://www.msziyou.com/net-worth-updates-march-2019/
  36. https://www.msziyou.com/dating-as-a-feminist/
  37. https://indeedably.com/random-acts-of-bastardry/
  38. https://indeedably.com/feels-like-home/
  39. https://indeedably.com/designed-to-fail/
  40. https://www.ukvalueinvestor.com/2019/04/rightmoves-share-good-value-dividends.html/
  41. https://www.ukvalueinvestor.com/2019/04/three-value-traps.html/
  42. https://www.ukvalueinvestor.com/2019/04/three-value-traps.html/
  43. https://tuppennysfireplace.com/how-to-stockpile-food-shortage/
  44. http://twothirstygardeners.co.uk/2019/04/building-a-raised-bed%EF%BB%BF/
  45. https://sharpenyourspades.com/2019/04/13/allotment-gardening-and-the-power-of-to-do-lists/

View at Medium.com

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/

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/
  47. https://ditchthecave.com/marginal-gains/
  48. https://www.ukvalueinvestor.com/2019/01/why-i-sold-glaxo-dividend-yield.html/
  49. https://www.ukvalueinvestor.com/2019/01/thin-profit-margins-bad-investments.html/
  50. https://www.ukvalueinvestor.com/2019/01/capital-employed-growth-instead-of-earnings-growth.html/
  51. http://thefirestarter.co.uk/damp-squib-december-income-expenses-report/
  52. http://thefirestarter.co.uk/2018-review-plus-2019-goals-the-year-of-keeping-calm-and-carrying-on/
  53. https://theescapeartist.me/2019/01/17/what-to-expect-when-youre-expecting/
  54. https://thesavingninja.com/how-to-work-in-the-city-on-a-budget/
  55. http://quietlysaving.co.uk/2019/01/17/changes-afoot/
  56. http://diyinvestoruk.blogspot.com/2019/01/one-million-pageviews-for-blog.html
  57. http://diyinvestoruk.blogspot.com/2019/01/aberforth-smaller-final-results.html
  58. https://gentlemansfamilyfinances.wordpress.com/2019/01/18/geoarbitrage-how-to-survive-in-london-with-less-than-a-million-quid-in-the-bank/
  59. https://littlemissfire.com/side-hustles-report-december-2018/
  60. https://littlemissfire.com/paying-off-the-mortgage-jan-2019/
  61. https://littlemissfire.com/how-to-heat-your-home-for-free-with-a-wood-burner/
  62. https://pursuefire.com/the-power-of-compounding-the-rule-of-72/
  63. https://pursuefire.com/monthly-net-worth-report-7-december/
  64. http://www.thefinancezombie.com/2019/01/prime-your-mind.html
  65. https://indeedably.com/left-behind/
  66. https://lifeatno27.com/2019/01/23/winter-cool-calm-and-collected/
  67. http://twothirstygardeners.co.uk/2019/01/how-to-make-rhubarb-and-ginger-shrub-easy-alcohol-free-cocktail-recipe/

The Full English Accompaniment – A pile of post(s)

What’s piqued my interest this week month?

I’m back. I’ve tried to keep abreast of most blogs, but there’s been so many over the last month I’m sure I’ve missed plenty. Maybe I’ve picked up something you haven’t.
One of the things that happened while I was away was a letter dropped through my door to tell me that from next year, the Welsh Government will begin to have a devolved say on where income tax goes (1). They’ll do this through also setting a proportion of the income tax rate. Practically this will be by cutting 10p across all rates, and then allowing the devolved Welsh parliament to decide their own rate, much like the Scots (2). Aside from providing me with an interesting talking point compared to my saesneg counterparts, this could form the basis for some interesting economic differences.
The current Welsh Gov has promised to “fight austerity” (3). Elections in Wales are consistently won by Labour (surprise, surprise) (4). It wouldn’t surprise me if the devolved government put up local taxes relative to England to fund the local NHS, social, public and teaching services (which is what the identified taxes are supposedly for). As an NHS worker who’s worked in both the England and Wales, I would argue that the Welsh NHS system, never the victim of attempts to privatise or introduce market systems, works better. Years of underfunding means it doesn’t meet targets just like the English NHS. The subtle differences aren’t in the figures. Cleaners, porters and other allied healthcare professionals remain in house rather than subcontracted. There remains a pride held by staff who have often worked in their secure jobs for years. With additional funding it could quickly rise above it’s English counterpart. This would cause disparity in those public services between the regions. I assume in the long run the Gov will be keen to avoid this, to avoid service tourism or bolt-holes. It’s not so great for those of us hoping for a top-rate tax salary somewhere down the line, but worth considering for those looking at early retirement and a change of scenery.
The other interesting element comes in Welsh Gov’s pretty progressive tax ideas (5). It looks likely a vacant land tax will be a priority in the short term. Welsh politicians, away from the decorum and roar of the Houses of Parliament, are pretty in touch with their grass-roots. There’s more of a focus on local development issues, and manufacturing and industry are prioritised, particularly green and tech sectors. See the targeted investments in the North Wales Growth Deal and specific industrial sectors (6, 7, 8). In general I’m a fan of more local taxation controls so I look forward to seeing how this will pan out with more cash in hand.
Have a great weekend, and I’ll leave you with this on Brexit,
The Shrink
Side Orders

Other News

Opinion/ blogs:

The kitchen garden:

I’m off for a lie-down

What I’m reading:

La Belle Sauvage: The Book of Dust Volume One – Philip Pullman – finished, pretty good but not His Dark Materials. Great characters as always. Now onto…

Fools and Mortals – Bernard Cornwell

Religio Medici and Urne-Buriall 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://gov.wales/funding/fiscal-reform/welsh-taxes/income-tax/?lang=en
  2. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-43655803
  3. https://www.publicfinance.co.uk/opinion/2018/11/welsh-government-promises-fight-negative-effects-brexit-and-austerity
  4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Assembly_for_Wales_election,_2016
  5. https://gov.wales/funding/fiscal-reform/welsh-taxes/developing-new-taxes/?lang=en
  6. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-46006697
  7. https://www.gov.uk/government/news/wales-creative-industries-to-benefit-from-major-new-research-investment
  8. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-41189458
  9. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/pensions-retirement/financial-planning/want-early-retirement-ditch-day-job-follow-dreams/
  10. https://bit.ly/2zdJYuJ
  11. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/2018/11/12/challenger-bank-starling-secures-10m-war-chest/
  12. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-46037259
  13. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/property/house-prices/house-price-growth-falls-five-year-low/
  14. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-46233111
  15. https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/nov/12/interserve-shares-dip-to-lowest-in-30-years-amid-finance-concerns
  16. https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/news/article-6342135/No-deal-Brexit-rates-rise-says-Bank-England.html
  17. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-46195282
  18. https://bit.ly/2DLo2eu
  19. https://www.which.co.uk/news/2018/11/does-new-0-99-deal-offer-the-best-mortgage-rate-on-the-market/
  20. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-46294104
  21. https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/nov/20/us-stock-markets-continue-fall-erasing-2018-gains
  22. https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/guides/article-6308745/A-guide-new-digital-world-looking-five-best-known-app-based-banks.html
  23. https://www.theguardian.com/business/nils-pratley-on-finance/2018/nov/01/the-city-should-calm-down-it-could-end-up-becoming-a-rule-taker
  24. https://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2018/11/08/honey-badger-entrepreneur/
  25. https://monevator.com/house-prices-mental-accounting-and-leaky-buckets/
  26. https://monevator.com/navigating-the-brexitshambles/
  27. https://monevator.com/how-to-buy-and-sell-index-tracker-funds/
  28. https://humbledollar.com/2018/10/ignore-the-signs/
  29. https://simplelivingsomerset.wordpress.com/2018/11/22/run-towards-the-light-not-away-from-the-darkness/
  30. http://quietlysaving.co.uk/2018/10/24/dogs-ftse-dogs-q3-2018/
  31. http://quietlysaving.co.uk/2018/10/31/october-2018-plus-other-updates/
  32. http://quietlysaving.co.uk/2018/11/17/mainstream/
  33. https://theescapeartist.me/2018/10/23/get-rich-with-lodgers/
  34. https://theescapeartist.me/2018/11/06/why-would-anyone-write-a-blog/
  35. https://3652daysblog.wordpress.com/2018/10/20/where-is-the-snowball/
  36. https://awealthofcommonsense.com/2018/10/when-stocks-fell-10/
  37. https://awealthofcommonsense.com/2018/11/trends-time-lapses/
  38. https://youngfiguy.com/patisserie-valerie-what-happened/
  39. https://youngfiguy.com/what-is-early-retirement-like/
  40. https://youngfiguy.com/how-i-track-investment-returns/
  41. http://fiukmoney.co.uk/october-18-net-worth-and-monthly-updates-3/
  42. https://drfire.co.uk/the-importance-of-diversification/
  43. https://drfire.co.uk/october-2018-income-expenses/
  44. https://firevlondon.com/2018/11/04/ouch-tober-2018/
  45. http://www.msziyou.com/net-worth-updates-october-2018/
  46. http://www.msziyou.com/as-the-clocks-go-back/
  47. http://www.msziyou.com/balancing-simplicity-and-risk/
  48. https://also.roybahat.com/dear-first-time-angel-investor-c6af249a694b
  49. https://aswathdamodaran.blogspot.com/2018/10/an-october-surprise-making-sense-of.html
  50. http://thefirestarter.co.uk/october-income-expenses-report-stocky-horror-show/
  51. https://littlemissfireblog.wordpress.com/2018/11/17/october-income-and-expenses-report-2018/
  52. https://littlemissfireblog.wordpress.com/2018/11/13/october-side-hustle-report-and-mortgage-over-payments/
  53. https://littlemissfireblog.wordpress.com/2018/11/20/tried-and-tested-can-you-make-money-creating-book-covers/
  54. https://littlemissfireblog.wordpress.com/2018/11/09/your-mental-health-is-more-important-than-your-bank-balance/
  55. https://deliberatelivinguk.wordpress.com/2018/11/09/october-2018-review/
  56. https://deliberatelivinguk.wordpress.com/2018/10/29/the-18-year-property-cycle/
  57. https://www.ukvalueinvestor.com/2018/10/market-corrections.html/
  58. https://www.ukvalueinvestor.com/2018/11/wh-smith-dividend-growth-investors.html/
  59. https://indeedably.com/goals-strategy-and-tactics/
  60. https://indeedably.com/university-fees-are-optional/
  61. https://indeedably.com/demagoguery/
  62. https://indeedably.com/i-own/
  63. https://indeedably.com/how-i-money/
  64. https://sharpenyourspades.com/2018/10/27/easy-home-grown-pickled-shallots/
  65. https://lifeatno27.com/2018/10/31/happy-3rd-birthday/

The Full English – Are we nearly there yet?

What’s piqued my interest this week?
Caution, monster link-fest ahead. 
Well this has been a busy old week in the markets, eh? The FTSE sunk off the back of US losses, due in part to rising Federal Reserve interest rates (fuelling a drop in bond returns, therefore loss in confidence, therefore sell-off), and losses on tech stocks, particularly the FANG lot (1).
Lots of our compatriots have seen a slide… Monevator  FirevLondon, RIT (2, 3). This is all excellent fodder for the press, who have called it everything from a correction, turbulence, to a “global market MELTDOWN, the beginning of the next CRASH” (4, 5). Hyperbole so ballistic SpaceX will be after the patents. And to be fair, lots of people have been voicing that we’re in the late stages of a bull market and we should be expecting a recession imminently. It only takes one person to yell fire to start a stampede.
Look past the press, noise and short-term numbers and see that actually, big down days aren’t that uncommon. The US blogs A Wealth of Common Sense and the Irrelevant Investor both had some excellent posts on this (6, 7, 8). Shamelessly stealing their graphs and tables, this was the 20th -3% day on the S&P 500 since the end of the 2008 bear, however 80% of 3+% down days were in a sell-off/ recession.
What does this tell us? You can’t predict the future, especially looking at just one measure, and if you’re well diversified and holding long term it shouldn’t matter. And will we even see a ‘great crash’? People are jumping on index investing in ever greater numbers, spurred on by pieces like this weekends NYT article (9).  This is supported by the Morningstar Barometer continuing to show passive beating active returns over the past 10 years (10, 11). Ten years of passive investors watching an incoming tide lifting all boats has had people warning of the end of active investing (12). Passive ETFs had grown to an estimated 35% market share by 2017 (13). I couldn’t unearth more recent figures, but it seems reasonable that this will have grown in the last year. Even the great Bogle was warning of danger. But if 35%+ of the market is in trackers which move with the market, what effect will this have on when the market moves? If all the trackers are holding, or at least slow in their re-balancing, theoretically it should create an undercurrent of stability within the market, mitigating investor psychological panic moves. Additionally, for us Brits, Brexit has introduced such a level of uncertainty into the UK economy that perhaps people have been holding off while across the pond they’ve continued to make hay. I bloody love YFG’s post this week on this very topic (14).
It’s also worth remembering many young investors (me, etc) have no experience of big down days and drops. I was doing my best to get horizontal at pound-a-pint student nights during the last recession. Woohoo, cheap beer! And as someone with a lifetime of saving ahead, I should be praying for a recession (15). I’m sitting tight at the moment. In my Q2 goals it was a target, but this was naive. Had I stuck all my money in Wolf Minerals as I planned when I was first starting out, I’d be buggered (16). Instead I’m going to continue building my emergency fund in cash, set a solid plan and keep a finger in the air to see which way the wind is blowing. To mix metaphors, I’m going to get myself fully shipshape before bracing any storm.
If there is a storm. Howdy Callum!
Have a great weekend,
The Shrink
Side Orders

Other News

Opinion/ blogs:

The kitchen garden:

What I’m reading:

Smashed through The Windup Girl in a week, fantastic atmosphere but a bit of a damp squib in the end. On to… La Belle Sauvage: The Book of Dust Volume One – Philip Pullman

Religio Medici and Urne-Buriall 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.theguardian.com/business/2018/oct/11/why-are-stock-markets-falling-and-how-far-will-they-go
  2. http://monevator.com/weekend-reading-looking-down-when-the-tide-goes-out/
  3. http://www.retirementinvestingtoday.com/2018/10/2018-quarter-3-review-readying-for-fire.html
  4. https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/oct/12/ftse-100-falls-to-six-month-low-amid-fears-over-us-interest-rates
  5. https://www.express.co.uk/finance/city/1030145/global-markets-meltdown-equity-financial-crash-why-global-markets-are-down-today
  6. https://awealthofcommonsense.com/2018/10/big-down-days/
  7. https://theirrelevantinvestor.com/2018/10/10/u-g-l-y/
  8. https://theirrelevantinvestor.com/2018/10/09/a-bullish-washout/
  9. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/12/business/index-fund-investors-simpler-approach-may-enrich-returns.html
  10. https://www.fnlondon.com/articles/passive-beat-active-over-the-past-decade-finds-morningstar-20181001
  11. https://www.moneyobserver.com/news/active-funds-have-underperformed-passive-all-two-sectors
  12. https://bit.ly/2CJjgNY
  13. https://www.forbes.com/sites/greatspeculations/2018/09/19/are-we-headed-for-a-passive-index-meltdown/#137fbde4413e
  14. https://youngfiguy.com/brexit-and-finance/
  15. https://awealthofcommonsense.com/2018/10/who-benefits-from-a-market-correction/
  16. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-devon-45812974
  17. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-45854817
  18. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-bristol-45770028
  19. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/oct/10/huge-reduction-in-meat-eating-essential-to-avoid-climate-breakdown
  20. https://on.ft.com/2PrHbnT
  21. https://metro.co.uk/2018/10/11/wh-smith-to-start-closing-stores-as-it-struggles-on-the-high-street-8027099/
  22. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-45822650
  23. https://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/rbs-savings-account-best-interest-rate-goldman-sachs-a8578996.html
  24. https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/oct/11/brexit-uncertainty-taking-toll-property-market-rics-research
  25. https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/oct/11/profits-slide-at-big-six-energy-firms-as-14m-customers-switch
  26. https://www.moneywise.co.uk/news/2018-10-08/chancellor-philip-hammond-planning-to-cut-pension-tax-relief-the-autumn-budget
  27. https://www.theguardian.com/money/2018/oct/13/uk-millennials-costs-eu-pay-rent-transport-grocery-revolut
  28. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-45750384
  29. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-45786690
  30. http://thefirestarter.co.uk/september-income-expenses-report-up-and-running/
  31. https://deliberatelivinguk.wordpress.com/2018/10/05/september-2018-review/
  32. http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2018/10/05/the-fire-movement/
  33. http://monevator.com/preparing-to-take-a-retirement-income/
  34. http://monevator.com/ratesetter-high-interest-offer/
  35. https://youngfiguy.com/financial-independence-and-dieting/
  36. https://thesavingninja.com/what-would-you-do-if-you-got-given-1-million/
  37. http://www.msziyou.com/if-i-won-1m-tomorrow/
  38. http://thefirestarter.co.uk/the-million-pound-question/
  39. https://indeedably.com/million-pound-question/
  40. https://theirrelevantinvestor.com/2018/10/08/built-to-break/
  41. https://awealthofcommonsense.com/2018/10/the-case-for-bonds/
  42. http://diyinvestoruk.blogspot.com/2018/10/climate-changebe-change.html
  43. https://www.morningstar.com/blog/2018/10/01/low-carbon-economy.html
  44. https://indeedably.com/accountability-cant-be-outsourced/
  45. https://theescapeartist.me/2018/10/09/get-rich-with-hobbies/
  46. http://ukfipod.space/004/
  47. https://www.theguardian.com/money/2018/oct/13/because-of-my-upbringing-ive-always-been-careful-with-money
  48. https://www.ukvalueinvestor.com/2018/10/hargreaves-lansdown-dividend-yield.html/
  49. https://www.jackwallington.com/allotment-month-34-happy-herbal-apple-disaster-persistent-prairie/
  50. https://sharpenyourspades.com/2018/10/11/love-garlic-then-you-have-to-grow-your-own/
  51. https://lifeatno27.com/2018/10/01/spuds-gluts-and-deliciousness/