The Financial Dashboard – March 2021

The goals for March were:

  • Update online investment tracker and calculate rebalancing required
  • Make a few hours each week to enjoy hobbies without pressure
  • ?Modified paleo

Checking the assets and liabilities:

March Assets and Liabilities

These are taken, as always, from my Beast Budget spreadsheet. March has been a long and busy month, days getting longer and lighter. Lots of DIY in the house and gardening, sowing the seeds for the summer. Looking forward to things opening up, going to the gym, getting in the pub with friends. I saved just under 25% of my salary, a slightly disappointing result, however my net worth continued it’s 2.5%/month climb. New investment money went into my Freetrade account, and where it has gone in a mixture of active positions which I’ll cover in my quarterly investment update.

If you fancy a free share, sign up to Freetrade with this link (I also get one).

Goals:

Goal passed: Update online investment tracker and calculate rebalancing required

I’m terrible at keeping my tracker up to date (now done), and I really need to get into the habit of updating it when I do my budget spreadsheet. Recently I’ve been selling some positions, and it’s shown that my current tracker is not built to handle such active antics. Probably a goal for next month.

Goal passed: Make a few hours each week to enjoy hobbies without pressure

This was a really simple and nice thing to do for myself. I’ve got a lot more done on projects and hobbies, and felt more relaxed without the internal cognitive pressure and subsequent procrastination. Fewer goals and more downtime.

Goal failed: ?Modified paleo

A bit of an odd goal. A few years ago I went paleo for a couple of months, but having dug into the evidence base wasn’t convinced by the literature or the theory. I also tried 5:2, where the evidence of the benefits of fasting on hormone response (particularly insulin and the steroid-aldosterone pathways) and cell senescence is much more solid. That stalled when I struggled with brain fog and general hanger – it was a serious challenge on night shifts! Over the past few months I’ve been reading a variety of books about nutrition, particularly ‘The Warrior Diet’ (reasonable concept, shit scientific background and execution) and stuff on 16/8 fasting. I’ve changed some of my diet, but need to take this a bit further.

Budgets:

  • Groceries – Budget £200, spent £274.70, last month £187.75 – Not really groceries, just lots of stuff from the middle of Lidl/Aldi
  • Entertainment – Budget £100, spent £127.98, last month £117.88 – Since the new COVID changes in Wales we’ve been doing lots of garden/park coffees and takeaways (fish and chips FTW) with friends. Whoops!
  • Transport – Budget £250, spent £294.80, last month £123 – Given this includes a full years insurance I’m pretty happy with a slight overspend
  • Holiday – £150, spent £0, last month £0
  • Personal – £100/ £54.62/ £210.55
  • Loans/ Credit – £50/ £200/ £250
  • Misc – £50/ £325.34/ £65 – Bits for the house
  • Fees – £300 /£103.62/ £144

In the garden:

Finishing digging over soil, and first outdoor peas gone in (potentially a bit early given the recent snow). Raked over the lawn and re-sown. Mulched flower beds. Greenhouse glass cleaned, and it’s now packed with germinating seeds.

Goals for next month:

  • Simplify and improve flexibility of online investment tracker
  • 16/8 fasting
  • Set up new ISA
  • Final repainting and touches to downstairs rooms

Happy April everyone!

The Shrink

The Financial Dashboard – February 2021

The goals for February were:

  • Make a few hours each week to enjoy hobbies without pressure
  • Test intermittent fasting
  • Organise remortgage

Checking the assets and liabilities:

February’s Assets and Liabilities

These are taken, as always, from my Beast Budget spreadsheet. February started pretty miserable, the cold weather and lockdown leaving me in a proper funk, little motivation to do anything. Reading blogs like Weenie’s, it sounds like I wasn’t the only one (1). I’m not one to spend my way out of a malaise, so it was actually a pretty frugal month. I saved over 40% of my salary, and I’ve been making some overpayments on my credit card plan from overtime money. New investment money went into my Freetrade account, where it’s sat while I work out where it needs to go based on my rebalancing act/plan.

If you fancy a free share, sign up to Freetrade with this link (I also get one).

Goals:

Goal passed: Make a few hours each week to enjoy hobbies without pressure

This is something I would recommend for everyone. I’m a very goal driven person, and I motivate myself by setting goals and internal deadlines. This can lead me to get stressed over my ‘made up’ deadlines for doing essentially irrelevant things; repainting a wall, repotting daffodils. By making a few hours a week to just do things if/ when I feel like it, a lot of things which felt like chores I now enjoy again. It’s theoretically a ‘mindful’ process, focusing on the moment rather than wider requirements and activities, but mindfulness has definitely got overblown.

Goal passed: Test intermittent fasting

This wasn’t particularly to lose weight, but because I’ve been reading lots about cell senescence recently, and the cardiovascular and glucose-metabolism benefits of periods of fasting. I tried this month, and it definitely doesn’t work for me. In the past I’ve tried 5:2 fasting on a friends recommendation, but found I get indescribably hangry, and lose all ability to concentrate. This time I tried a 16 hour fast four days a week, going 8pm to 12 noon. I didn’t get hangry, but I did lose all productivity. I also found I was ravenous by noon, and tended to eat twice what I would normally for lunch/dinner. I don’t think this is a good thing for me; it seems to suggest I’m highly dependent on dietary intake to maintain my blood sugar for functioning, but in the absence of a couple of weeks off to fast without productivity consequences I’m a bit stuck. I went through a period of eating a diet which could best be described as ‘modified paleo’ a few years back, so I might go back to that drawing board and do some further reading.

Goal passed: Organise remortgage

For various administrative reasons we have been on a split pot mortgage since we moved into our current property. This meant two different interest rates, fixed for two different periods, with different charges. One came out of it’s fixed rate offer last year, and the other (the larger) is due to revert to standard tracker rate in June. It’s therefore time to change. We had a look through the usual price comparison sites, and then spoke to a specialist financial advice company for medical types, who put us on to their broker. Who were London & Country (2). Who seem to be the people pretty much everyone use. Either way, we’re moving from the combo of 4.09% (small pot)/ 1.68% (big pot) to a combined 1.65% mortgage, fixed for five years, which will start from the day our old deal ends (fingers crossed). Wholly satisfactory result.

Budgets:

  • Groceries – Budget £200, spent £187.75, last month £181.70
  • Entertainment – Budget £100, spent £117.88, last month £100
  • Transport – Budget £250, spent £123, last month £123 – remarkable consistency given it’s mostly odd eBay parts
  • Holiday – £150, spent £0, last month £0
  • Personal – £100/ £210.55/ £78 – Gifts for friends
  • Loans/ Credit – £50/ £250/ £255
  • Misc – £50/ £65/ £96
  • Fees – £300 /£144/ £302

In the garden:

Continued tidying ahead of spring, but also started to germinate my first lettuces and other early crops. The bluebells and daffodils are starting to come up, and everything feels a little bit more alive.

Goals for next month:

  • Update online investment tracker and calculate rebalancing required
  • Make a few hours each week to enjoy hobbies without pressure
  • ?Modified paleo

Happy March everyone!

The Shrink

References:

  1. https://quietlysaving.co.uk/2021/03/02/february-2021-plus-other-updates/#more-5951#
  2. https://www.landc.co.uk/

The Financial Dashboard – January 2021

The goals for January were:

  • Cut down on takeaway spend
  • Make plan for clearing credit card debt
  • Exercise five days/ week
  • Revisit emergency fund allocation

Checking the assets and liabilities:

January’s Assets and Liabilities

These are taken, as always, from my Beast Budget spreadsheet. Wales continues in lockdown (six weeks and counting), so there’s no frivolous spending on dining out or trips away. I managed to save just under 30% of my salary, as much went to recoup some ‘float’ funds which were spent over Christmas (I don’t count this as saving). I’ve opened a new regular savings account, but for this month my money went to paydown my 0% interest credit card. New investment money in the Freetrade S&S ISA went to increase previous holdings.

If you fancy a free share, sign up to Freetrade with this link (I also get one).

Goals:

Goal passed: Cut down on takeaway spend

Bit of a simple one this, and passed easily, partly by ordering cheaper takeaway (swap that indian for a fish and chips), and partly by reducing the number. We’ve had a lot of vouchers come through from JustEat and Deliveroo, but that is a very slippery slope.

Goal passed: Make a plan for clearing credit card debt

As of the end of January my credit card debt stands at £3,431. This was one transaction – buying new windows for our house – and is on a 0% interest card with 20 months interest free left to run. With this in mind I’ve decided to pay it down over minimum twelve months. I will pay £100 a month direct into the account, and a further £250 into a Principality Thank You savings account (1). This is an online regular savings account available to NHS staff in South Wales with a 1.40% interest rate. I’ll stooze the interest rate, and at the end of the year pay off the credit card (2). I’m also working a fair bit of overtime here and there, so that will go direct into the credit card (currently about £100-300/month after tax).

Goal passed: Exercise five days/ week

I’ve now got a routine where I exercise before work every day, and I feel fresher and healthier for it. It also makes weekend lie-ins a proper treat.

Goal passed: Revisit emergency fund allocation

I last looked at how my cash savings and emergency funds were flowing back in November 2019. Since then I’ve moved my accounts around, the savings landscape has changed (3% interest rate on my old Monmouthshire account!) and I’m close to hitting my emergency fund goal. With that in mind, I’ve redrawn my cash flow and how I’m going to structure my emergency funds.

Cash flow. Amazing what you can do in Powerpoint.

This gives a rough idea of where my money flows. I use two main bank accounts to distribute my expenses and provide a predictable and trackable flow. Bills and investments are paid first. I use ‘pots’ for predictable future expenses; saving cash for things like MOT and car servicing, professional bills etc. I also run a £500 float ‘pot’ in my secondary account, which acts like an overdraft of just-in-case money each month. Beyond that my emergency funds are split into instant access, <24 hours to receipt and 3-5 days to receipt accounts (i.e. the money arriving in my main bank account). I ultimately want to have a division of £500 float, £5,500 <24 hours, £6,000 three-five days. From where I’m currently sat I’ll need a further £1,500 premium bonds and £1,300 in cash savings accounts. A goal for this year as part of my annual plan.

Budgets:

  • Groceries – Budget £200, spent £181.70, last month £331.35 – Back on track
  • Entertainment – Budget £100, spent £100, last month £70
  • Transport – Budget £250, spent £123, last month £455.11
  • Holiday – £150, spent £0, last month £0
  • Personal – £100/ £78/ £359
  • Loans/ Credit – £50/ £255/ £89
  • Misc – £50/ £96/ £50
  • Fees – £300 /£302/ £304

In the garden:

Working over raised beds with new compost (and removing a lot of general rubbish) where they got thrown together with anything I could get my hands on previously. General mooching.

Goals for next month:

  • Make a few hours each week to enjoy hobbies without pressure
  • Test intermittent fasting
  • Organise remortgage

Happy February everyone!

The Shrink

References:

  1. https://www.principality.co.uk/savings-accounts/everyday-savings-accounts/thank-you-online-saver
  2. https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/credit-cards/stooze-cash-credit-cards/

The Financial Dashboard – December 2020

The goals for December were:

  • Clear the garage and store the project car
  • Read a book three evenings a week
  • Cut down on takeaway spend

Checking the assets and liabilities:

These are taken, as always, from my Beast Budget spreadsheet. December was predictably expensive. Here in Wales we’ve been under full lockdown since before Christmas. I appear to have made up for my inability to go out or visit friends in purchasing gifts and wine. Despite this I managed a 26% savings rate, with a paltry 1.12% increase in my net worth. This month also sees me top my all time max net worth, previously set in September prior to lots of DIY spending. My Monmouthshire regular saver has now matured, and instead I’ll probably direct that cash to pay off the new 0% credit card. I chose to pay for new windows on a 0% card rather than raiding emergency savings so it would preserve my buffer. New investment money in the Freetrade S&S ISA went to increase previous holdings.

If you fancy a free share, sign up to Freetrade with this link (I also get one).

Goals:

Goal passed: Clear the garage and store the project car

We had been using the garage as a dumping ground for materials and waste while we continued renovations. With the house work done the state of the garage was making my skin crawl. This was compounded by a call from a family member to evacuate a 6ft by 6ft by 4ft family heirloom for storage. Clearing the garage took the full week between Christmas and New Year, and two trips to the dump (thank God they were open). I get anxious that the garage-queen project car will dissolve at the sight of road salt, so now she’s safely tucked up with the trickle-charger hooked up, surrounded by properly sorted tools. Bliss.

Goal passed: Read a book thee evenings a week

Continued to read Dan Jones’ The Plantagenets, which is taking a while given it’s an absolute monster of a book. I’ve really enjoyed making this wind-down time in the evening, and feel better for it. Need to include more positive goals like this.

Goal failed: Cut down on takeaway spend

Not a chance. Welsh national lockdown prompted us into another round of takeaways ‘as a treat’. There’s not much else to do to mark the passing of the weeks or have as a little treat. Will have to keep attacking this.

Budgets:

  • Groceries – Budget £200, spent £331.35, last month £218.11 – Christmas exuberance
  • Entertainment – Budget £100, spent £70, last month £74.50 
  • Transport – Budget £250, spent £455.11, last month £470.33 – Van hire to rescue the heirloom
  • Holiday – £150, spent £0, last month £0
  • Personal – £100/ £359.05/ £108.46 – Presents, presents for everyone!
  • Loans/ Credit – £50/ £89/ £98
  • Misc – £50/ £47/ £442.05
  • Fees – £300 /£303.99/ £131.98 – A GMC Christmas present

In the garden:

Built a new log shed! And generally turning over the soil and tidying. Put up bird netting to separate the wild birds from our fowl. Planning for the spring.

Goals for next month:

  • Cut down on takeaway spend
  • Make plan for clearing credit card debt
  • Exercise five days/ week
  • Revisit emergency fund allocation

Happy January everyone!

The Shrink

The Financial Dashboard – November 2020

The goals for November were:

  • Fix the bits on the cars I’ve already bought parts for
  • Sell five things
  • Read a book thee evenings a week
  • Cut down on takeaway spend

Checking the assets and liabilities:

These are taken, as always, from my Beast Budget spreadsheet. A bit of ship steadying after the wobbles since the change of employer. My salary appears to have stabilised, and most of our home improvements are now done and paid for (or on a 0% credit card). I managed a 30% savings rate, with a 2.47% increase in my net worth. My previously smooth curve on my net worth graph has had a jagged section, but I’m back to all time highs. The usual cash regular savers were topped up, although my 3% regular saver with the Monmouthshire is due to end next month, and new money in the Freetrade S&S ISA went to increase previous holdings.

If you fancy a free share, sign up to Freetrade with this link (I also get one).

Goals:

Goal passed: Fix the bits on the cars I’ve already bought parts for

Success, I actually got round to doing these things in time for the MOT. The old daily will continue to soldier on, as it flew through with only a couple of minor points, and I’ve worked out I’ve done 1,500 miles in the six months since the job change. I’m rewarding it by ordering yet more parts (which hopefully won’t sit in the garage for months). Next goal is to get the garage cleared for the project car to return to hibernation.

Goal failed: Sell five things

I’m giving up on this for the time being, as all I’m doing at the moment is monthly dump runs.

Goal passed: Read a book thee evenings a week

I’ve been reading Dan Jones’ The Plantagenets, which is a bit of a beast and not my usual fare; I don’t generally read non-fiction unless it’s for a purpose. It’s interesting stuff, and making the time in the evenings has been relaxing. I want to keep this up, so I’m going to roll this goal over.

Goal failed(ish): Cut down on takeaway spend

We got into a bad habit in October of ordering takeaway every time we saw friends. Prior to the event we would usually go out for food once a week with various people. With that off the table we’re using takeaway instead, and actually I should just make the food. In September we spent about £180 on takeaway(!), and this has came down a bit to £130 for October, but it’s still superfluous spending, and the further £80 we spent in November is too much.

Budgets:

  • Groceries – Budget £200, spent £218.11, last month £216.97
  • Entertainment – Budget £100, spent £74.50, last month £65 
  • Transport – Budget £250, spent £470.33, last month £129.54 – MOT time!
  • Holiday – £150, spent £0, last month £17.63
  • Personal – £100/ £2108.46/ £280.50
  • Loans/ Credit – £50/ £98/ £43.70
  • Misc – £50/ £442.02/ £705.75 – The sooner these end the better
  • Fees – £300 /£131.98/ £629.75

In the garden:

Just ticking over now. Planning to dig over the raised beds and add compost over the Christmas break.

Goals for next month:

  • Clear the garage and store the project car
  • Read a book three evenings a week
  • Cut down on takeaway spend

Happy December everyone!

The Shrink

The Financial Dashboard – October 2020

The goals for October were:

  • Fix the bits on the cars I’ve already bought parts for – I’m terrible at buying parts and then never fitting them
  • Sell five things
  • Read a book thee evenings a week

Checking the assets and liabilities:

These are taken, as always, from my Beast Budget spreadsheet. This was a tough month. My employer has finally remembered they overpaid me, and took the overpayment off this month’s salary. I’m going to dip into the money I set aside when I was overpaid to cover me for the month. We also had a large number of expenses relating to the renovations, some unexpected, which led us to dip into our emergency fund. Given all this my savings rate for this month was -18.14%. There’s more renovation costs to come, and some health issues might require a private medical expense, so it’s going to be a lean couple of months. The usual cash regular savers were topped up, and new money in the Freetrade S&S ISA went to increase previous holdings.

If you fancy a free share, sign up to Freetrade with this link (I also get one).

Goals:

Goal failed: Fix the bits on the cars I’ve already bought parts for

Goal failed: Sell five things

Goal failed: Read a book thee evenings a week

These were all write-offs. I’ve been doing a 90-hour work week, with renovation work on top. Roll on next month.

Budgets:

  • Groceries – Budget £200, spent £216.97, last month £181.42
  • Entertainment – Budget £100, spent £65, last month £97.16 – Still spending too much on takeaways, easy to do when the house is full of dust and chaos.
  • Transport – Budget £250, spent £129.54, last month £147.72
  • Holiday – £150, spent £17.63, last month £118.99 
  • Personal – £100/ £280.50/ £87.26
  • Loans/ Credit – £50/ £43.70/ £50
  • Misc – £50/ £705.75/ £604.72 – Further renovation costs
  • Fees – £300 /£629.75/ £268.60

In the garden:

Shut everything down for the winter, harvesting off the last of the squashes. I’ve got chinese cabbage, kale and winter lettuces on the go in the greenhouse.

Goals for next month:

  • Fix the bits on the cars I’ve already bought parts for – I’m terrible at buying parts and then never fitting them
  • Sell five things
  • Read a book thee evenings a week
  • Cut down on takeaway spend

Happy November everyone!

The Shrink

The Financial Dashboard – September 2020

The goals for September were:

  • Fix the bits on the cars I’ve already bought parts for – I’m terrible at buying parts and then never fitting them
  • Exercise four times a week
  • Sell five things

Checking the assets and liabilities:

These are taken, as always, from my Beast Budget spreadsheet. My pay appears to have levelled out, but yet to be asked to pay back the previous excess. After a couple of months of falling net worth as we spent on house renovations (new windows, some structural stuff, remodelling two rooms), my net worth increased by 5.23%. This was entirely due to an increase in the (paper) valuation of my home, which I take from Zoopla/ Nationwide data. My savings rate for this month was 21.93%, not too shabby considering the spending. The usual cash regular savers were topped up, and new money in the Freetrade S&S ISA went to increase previous holdings.

If you fancy a free share, sign up to Freetrade with this link (I also get one).

Goals:

Goal failed: Fix the bits on the cars I’ve already bought parts for

I continue to collect car parts, but work life has been busy and home renovations take up the majority of my spare time. Hopefully next month this will happen.

Goal achieved: Exercise four times a week

Regular exercise continues to have a huge impact on my general wellbeing. I’ve tried to get four sessions a week in exactly, but life is too unpredictable, so only an average has been possible. Now I’m in the habit hopefully it remains.

Goal failed: Sell five things

Again, too caught up in other things, but I did at least give some items away. Once renovation work is finished I should able to have a proper clear out.

Budgets:

  • Groceries – Budget £200, spent £181.42, last month £175.55
  • Entertainment – Budget £100, spent £97.16, last month £84.95 – Mainly takeaways and eating out with friends whilst we still could
  • Transport – Budget £250, spent £147.72, last month £144.72 – Minimal travel these days
  • Holiday – £150, spent £118.99, last month £78.44 – A little holiday
  • Personal – £100/ £87.26/ £123.76
  • Loans/ Credit – £50/ £50/ £50 – Repayments begin
  • Misc – £50/ £604.72/ £70.25
  • Fees – £300 /£268.60/ £129.97– Another month, another pound of flesh to work

In the garden:

Left to run wild. Marrows the size of your thigh. Time to get the scythe and spade out.

Goals for next month:

  • Fix the bits on the cars I’ve already bought parts for – I’m terrible at buying parts and then never fitting them
  • Sell five things
  • Read a book thee evenings a week

Happy October everyone!

The Shrink

The Financial Dashboard – August 2020

The goals for August were:

  • Read three books
  • Exercise four times a week
  • Sell five things

Checking the assets and liabilities:

These are taken, as always, from my Beast Budget spreadsheet. I was overpaid this month, so I’ve put the excess aside to wait for it to be requested back. This led to an ‘artificial’ savings rate of 50.76%. I think it should be closer to 20% with my new salary. My net worth fell slightly again, by -2.61%, as we put a load of our house renovation work on 0% finance. The usual cash regular savers were topped up, but I’ve now moved money out of my old Nationwide account and into premium bonds. New money in my Freetrade S&S ISA went to open in Vanguard’s FTSE All World.

If you fancy a free share, sign up to Freetrade with this link (I also get one).

Goals:

Goal achieved: Read three books

Completed The Intelligent Investor (finally) and then read two fiction novels which have been sat at my bedside for many months. Now alternating between Dan Jones’ book about the Plantagenets, and Aldous Huxley’s The Doors of Perception. Eclectic.

Goal achieved: Exercise four times a week

I achieved this on average, and feel better for it. Exercise has a huge effect on my mental health. I’m going to keep it on for next month to continue the momentum.

Goal failed: Sell five things

Too caught up in doing other things, I’ve actually acquired more stuff. I spent a weekend helping my father clear out some of his storage, and in doing so found some items I thought I’d already sold. Happily they should actually be worth something, so I’ll try to sell them this month.

Budgets:

  • Groceries – Budget £200, spent £175.55, last month £227.54
  • Entertainment – Budget £100, spent £84.95, last month £36.50 – Eating out to help out
  • Transport – Budget £250, spent £144.72, last month £279.02 – With the dramatic reduction in commute I’m cutting my petrol budget
  • Holiday – £150, spent £78.44, last month £0 – Long weekend away seeing friends
  • Personal – £100/ £123.76/ £91.66
  • Loans/ Credit – £50/ £50/ £0
  • Misc – £50/ £70.25/ £741.96
  • Fees – £300 /£129.97/ £370.91– Indemnity for work

In the garden:

Massive cut back, harvest of potatoes and tomatoes. Not much left now. Once the house work is done the next job will be further garden changes; new patio and planters.

Goals for next month:

  • Fix the bits on the cars I’ve already bought parts for – I’m terrible at buying parts and then never fitting them
  • Exercise four times a week
  • Sell five things

Happy September everyone, where has this year gone!

The Shrink

The Financial Dashboard – July 2020

The goals for June were:

  • Tidy the loft and begin to clear
  • Read three books
  • Audit regular spending ahead of job change
  • Track building work spending accurately

Checking the assets and liabilities:

July AssetsJuly Liabilities

These are taken, as always, from my Beast Budget spreadsheet. My savings rate according to my spreadsheet this month is -26.33%. This balances last months 86.9%, and is down to some payments coming out of my account late. My net worth fell slightly (-2.3%) which probably represents all the spending we’ve been doing on builders, plumbers and electricians. My usual cash regular savers were topped up, but our joint First Direct account has now finished. We’re going to use that money for DIY, topping up the emergency account, and ultimately start paying down our mortgage. New money in my Freetrade S&S ISA went to open a small position in Unilever (before it jumped about 8%) and DS Smith.

If you fancy a free share, sign up to Freetrade with this link (I also get one).

Goals:

Goal failed: Tidy the loft and begin to clear

Actually got round to this one, and have found a lot of books and items I will never use again. These will go on Gumtree, Music Magpie (or similar), or be given to charity shops. De-clutter time.

Goal failed: Read three books

I am still reading The Intelligent Investor. Close to the end now, and rewarding myself with some fiction. Should be done this month.

Goal achieved: Audit regular spending ahead of job change

My change of role is actually reducing my pay slightly. With that in mind I’ve followed Martin Lewis of MoneySavingExpert’s advice, and audited my direct debits and standing orders. I was previously paying £100/month on gym memberships (a couple for different purposes). With lockdown many of these were temporarily frozen, and it’s given me time to assess what I wanted and what I was using. I’ve simplified my membership down to a single one for £65, which I’m hoping will be enough to motivate me to do more.

One of the benefits of my new job is a shorter commute, so I’ve reduced my monthly fuel budget. I’ve been putting money aside for holidays, and that has gradually been accumulating, so I’m going to hold off adding to that for now. I’m not completely sure what my new salary will be, so if further pruning needs to happen it will come at the end of the month.

Goal achieved: Track building work spending accurately

I have kept a google sheet for this, and input all our spending. As with any grand design, there’s been a fair creep in budget.

Budgets

  • Groceries – Budget £200, spent £227.54, last month £237.31 – We’re continuing to spend lots on groceries as we host rather than eat out
  • Entertainment – Budget £100, spent £36.50, last month £56.50
  • Transport – Budget £460, spent £279.02, last month £432.65
  • Holiday – £150, spent £0, last month £0
  • Personal – £100/ £91.66/ £137.18 – Random tat
  • Loans/ Credit – £0/ £0/ £0
  • Misc – £50/ £741.96/ £724.15 – Building supplies, and the builder
  • Fees – £300 /£370.91/ £347.17– GMC/ Royal College

In the garden:

Everything has sort of been left to grow wild while we focus all spare hours on DIY. The pumpkin patch is now the pumpkin third, engulfing all in it’s spread. Sunflowers are just ending their thing, but are doing a good job of acting as climbing support for french beans. To top it off we have loads of lettuces, and the first of our tomatoes.

Goals for next month:

  • Read three books
  • Exercise four times a week
  • Sell five things

Happy August everyone, where has this year gone!

The Shrink

The Full English – The Working From Home Collapse

A big theme among the associated press/ copywriters this week has been working from home. Indeedably provided us with a fab view take on what’s going on, and what it’s like to be in That There London (as opposed to us provincial capitals) (1). When lockdown first kicked off and people moved to working from home I believed it was a flash in the pan. As a species we’re primed to dislike change, especially as we get older and higher up the ranks. It would be a few months, and then we’d all be back. But the longer this ‘new normal’ goes on, the more I think that we’re seeing a transformative change.

Neither I or MrsShrink have worked from home. It’s difficult to work from home as a Doctor. You can’t perform a physical examination. As a psychiatrist, I can’t assess the subtle interpersonal behaviours which form part of our reviews. The NHS, notoriously slow in it’s monolithic tech, won’t allow most IT solutions for security reasons. MrsShrink meanwhile, off in manufacturing, is managed by gammon-types with grey suits, grey hair and grey skin. They struggle to understand the role IT plays in their zombie company on a good day, never mind working from home. Reminds me of the Japanese IT Security Minister who had never used a computer and didn’t understand the concept of flash drives (2).

My view is therefore coloured by my experience. For most professional office jobs the story is different, and the narrative coming out of press offices says so. Google and Natwest have both told staff to stay home until next year (3, 4). Barclays are a bit more old-fashioned, but have still said a return to office will take time (5). BoJo & Co of course want everyone back in the offices, because a large proportion of our economy is structured upon those offices and the surrounding service infrastructure (6). They don’t want that to change. But people do. Commuting is miserable, and working from home means less spent on the commute and more time with family (7). For the top brass it’s an opportunity to flex/ impress with your home environment (8).

The Agrarian Revolutions, Inclosures Act and Industrial Revolution all saw massive shifts in the way people lived and worked. We’ve gone from serfdom, through shifting to villages and working on manorial lands, to living in cities/ towns working in factories/mines. The last century has seen industrial production offshored, and those productive factories replaced by service factories. Transport infrastructure has improved, but we still travel to hubs of work. Is that about to change, and if so, what’s the fallout?

For companies it offers the opportunity to lay off layers of staff and automate (9). For the worker it cuts the commute to a crawl, enables greater family time, saving cash, and geoarbitage. As an NHS worker we geoarbitaged early. I get paid the same wherever I am in the UK, so why live somewhere with a high cost of living. Now more people get that opportunity.

The fallout? House prices outside of the South East skyrocketing, as people move to lower cost of living, less polluted, less commuted areas. Commercial property? I wouldn’t touch REITs right now. If all those offices close what will the buildings become? And then there’s town and city centres. Most high streets were already hearing the grim reaper’s call. Will they transform, shorn of their officeworkers into shopping and nightlife centres. Or is this the final call? That service infrastructure left empty, sandwich artists placed on Universal Basic Income. If we’re about to see wholesale change in our working lives it’s worth thinking about what will happen to what is left behind.

Have a great week,

The Shrink

News:

Opinion/ Blogs:

References:

  1. https://indeedably.com/ghost-town/
  2. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/nov/15/japan-cyber-security-ministernever-used-computer-yoshitaka-sakurada
  3. https://www.wsj.com/articles/google-to-keep-employees-home-until-summer-2021-amid-coronavirus-pandemic-11595854201
  4. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-53484767
  5. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-53579428
  6. https://www.theguardian.com/business/2020/jul/31/coronavirus-companies-defy-boris-johnsons-planned-return-to-work
  7. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-53580656
  8. https://news.efinancialcareers.com/uk-en/3004187/bankers-lifestyles-pandemic
  9. https://www.cnbc.com/2020/07/29/lots-of-companies-are-saying-they-have-operating-leverage-thats-just-code-for-firing-people.html
  10. https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/mortgageshome/article-8560157/Now-City-watchdog-tells-banks-reject-loans-took-break.html
  11. https://www.businessinsider.com/bernie-sanders-calls-elon-musk-a-hypocrite-over-stimulus-tweet-2020-7?r=US&IR=T
  12. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/jul/28/worlds-largest-nuclear-fusion-project-under-assembly-in-france
  13. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-53563601
  14. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/2020/07/30/monzos-losses-rise-114m-banking-app-warns-slowing-growth/
  15. https://www.forbes.com/sites/vineerbhansali/2020/07/29/what-locust-swarms-tell-us-about-robinhood-kodak-and-covid-mania-in-the-stock-market/
  16. https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/comment/article-8552729/Five-key-areas-capital-gains-tax-reform-impact.html
  17. http://thefirestarter.co.uk/3-months-in-thoughts-doubts-panic-perspective/
  18. https://gentlemansfamilyfinances.wordpress.com/2020/07/31/vcts-for-financial-independence-part-3-making-it-work-for-you/
  19. https://simplelivingsomerset.wordpress.com/2020/07/29/holidays-in-the-sun-are-not-a-human-right-people/
  20. http://quietlysaving.co.uk/2020/08/01/july-2020-plus-other-updates/
  21. https://firevlondon.com/2020/08/02/july-2020-shambles-and-zombies/
  22. https://moneygrower.co.uk/july-stock-purchase-a-polarised-market/
  23. https://www.onemillionjourney.com/income-expenses-savings-july-2020-1869-saved/
  24. https://earlyretirementinuk.blogspot.com/2020/08/end-of-month-report-1st-of-august.html
  25. http://www.cantswingacat.co.uk/2020/07/30/july-income-report/
  26. https://pathtolife2.com/2020/07/30/financial-independence-update-july-2020/
  27. https://averagemoneymanagement.wordpress.com/2020/07/31/freetrade-diary-7-july/
  28. http://fiukmoney.co.uk/july-20-net-worth-and-monthly-update-23-569001-36-89-fi/
  29. https://monevator.com/freetrade-how-to-build-your-portfolio/
  30. https://monevator.com/the-agony-of-alpha/
  31. http://diyinvestoruk.blogspot.com/2020/07/tesla-new-addition.html
  32. https://www.itinvestor.co.uk/2020/07/smithson-closes-in-on-2-billion/
  33. https://bankeronfire.com/not-fade-away