The Full English Accompaniment – Are regular savings accounts dead in the water?

What’s piqued my interest this week?

After last weeks relative quiet from FIRE bloggers (if not the BoE), this week the Side Orders section has a bountiful glut. Many of the topics I considered covering this week have been covered by others including Monevator’s weekend reading post around the bull market (1), linked to the irrelevant investor’s post on the same topic (2), and Monevator’s post covering Fidelity’s US market 0% fee tracking fund (3).

Monevator mentioned the focus of this post in his weekend reading only in passing; that outgoing Monetary Policy Committee member Ian McCafferty predicted interest rates will stay below 5% for the next 20 years, and wages will increase by 4% (4). I take all opinions with a pinch of salt, especially when they concern future predictions. We’ll assume that this is a man with a finger on the nation’s economic pulse, and leave aside how he’s actually made this prediction, which could just be a big fat whopping guess. What this ‘prediction’ does is stick a massive pin in the savings account whoopee cushion.

This week has also seen the fallout of the BoE base rate rise. Whilst 28% of mortgage rates have risen, only one in ten banks have increased the interest rates on their savings accounts (5). The biggest boost came from smaller building societies, particularly Beverley and Monmouthshire Building Society (5). Moneysavingexpert’s page of best easy access savings accounts is currently also topped by building societies, Coventry Building Society and Birmingham Midshires, offering 1.4% variable and 1.35% variable respectively (6). Fixing for one-year with Atom or Investec with get you 2.05%, steadily increasing out to 2.68% for five years fixed with Charter Savings Bank (6). These barely beat inflation. If interest rates are unlikely to rise to historic norms in the next 10 years, the pressure comes on to invest either in equities or other vehicles, from P2P or fine wine.

The rise of high interest current accounts also threatens mainstream savings accounts. Nationwide and TSB are both offering 5% interest on their current accounts (up to £2.5k and £1.5k respectively), while Tesco Bank offers 3% (up to £3k) (7). The Bank Account Savings website allows you to calculate your best rate of return for minimum moving about, and combined with switching cash offers and perks, can kick savings accounts into touch (8). There will always remain an argument for larger cash sums to be held for liquidity (using the £85k FSCS guarantee). But for now high street savings aren’t competitive for returns and don’t beat inflation.

Have a great week,

The Shrink

 

Side Orders

Other News:

Opinion/ blogs:

What I’m reading:

An exam textbook

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

Enchiridion by Epictetus – Bedside reading for a bad day

 

References:

  1. http://monevator.com/weekend-reading-are-we-there-yet/
  2. http://theirrelevantinvestor.com/2018/08/05/the-longest-bull-market-of-all-time/
  3. http://monevator.com/average-active-funds-have-no-answer-to-their-weightless-index-tracking-rivals/
  4. https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/aug/09/interest-rates-will-stay-low-for-20-years-bank-of-england-expert
  5. http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/saving/article-6046445/Disappointing-news-savers-warned-not-benefit-rate-rise.html
  6. https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/savings/savings-accounts-best-interest/
  7. https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/banking/compare-best-bank-accounts/
  8. https://www.bankaccountsavings.co.uk/calculator
  9. https://www.moneyobserver.com/news/charles-stanley-hikes-fees-investors
  10. https://www.cnbc.com/2018/08/01/fidelity-one-ups-vanguard-first-company-to-offer-no-fee-index-fund.html
  11. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-45113283
  12. http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/news/article-6039729/Royal-Mint-says-millions-old-1-coins-languishing-homes-British-households.html
  13. https://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/work-and-pensions-committee/news-parliament-2017/pension-costs-17-19/
  14. https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/aug/10/british-manufacturing-in-recession-despite-faster-uk-gdp-growth
  15. https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/aug/10/house-of-fraser-calls-in-administrators-as-rescue-talks-fail
  16. https://transform.iema.net/article/thousands-uk-churches-switch-renewables
  17. https://transform.iema.net/article/insurance-firms-failing-report-climate-change-risks
  18. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-45113867
  19. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-45119606
  20. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-45113862
  21. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-45118393
  22. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-45084144
  23. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-45097046
  24. https://www.businessinsider.com/lego-go-eco-friendly-with-blocks-made-from-sugarcane-2018-8/?r=AU&IR=T
  25. https://www.ukvalueinvestor.com/2018/08/how-to-manage-a-portfolio-of-shares.html/
  26. https://youngfiguy.com/pension-costs-and-transparency-inquiry
  27. https://youngfiguy.com/mrs-yfg-our-ideal-life
  28. https://youngfiguy.com/deciding-drawdown-and-annuities
  29. https://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2018/07/25/the-twenty-dollar-swim/
  30. http://fiukmoney.co.uk/july-18-net-worth-and-monthly-update/
  31. https://deliberatelivinguk.wordpress.com/2018/08/06/july-2018-review/
  32. https://3652daysblog.wordpress.com/2018/08/03/first-rule-of-fi-club/
  33. https://theescapeartist.me/2018/08/06/your-part-in-the-revolution-is-to-pay-it-forward/
  34. https://theescapeartist.me/2018/07/31/the-inestimable-advantages-of-child-labour/
  35. http://awealthofcommonsense.com/2018/08/the-layers-of-the-brain/
  36. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-45112072
  37. http://thecannycontractor.com/crowdinvesting-become-an-angel-investor-with-minimum-outlay/
  38. http://thecannycontractor.com/passive-income-quarter-2-2018/
  39. http://thecannycontractor.com/dating-and-fire-your-love-or-your-life/
  40. https://thefemalemoneydoctor.com/warren-buffett/
  41. https://tuppennysfireplace.com/cut-your-budget-expert-tips/
  42. https://tuppennysfireplace.com/benefits-of-having-an-allotment/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Musing on… Long-term care costs and financial savings

This post has been mulled over for a long time, trying to discern and distil a direction. It began (as these trains of thought often do) with an idle r/financialindependence post. If you’re not familiar with that, it’s a subreddit for FI-types, predominantly populated by Yanks (Reddit being a sort of forum-cum-meta-aggregator of internet waffle). In this post a group of our ex-colonial cousins were discussing long-term costs (1):

So far, so not our problem. The UK may have significantly higher tax rates (ignoring ISAs etc), but it pays for (in theory) the NHS and social care, the cradle-to-grave support system for when times are bad. The NHS and social care system are what makes FIRE and any sort of fuck-you to working possible in the UK. Check out the video and post TEA and Rhik Samadder did on the matter (2).

National, personal cover

As we celebrate the NHS’ 70th birthday, it’s worth reflecting on where this all came from. Before the birth of the NHS all doctors services were private in the UK. If you needed something, you went to your local doctor, hoped they had been trained adequately, paid your money, got your treatment, hoped it worked. There were no guidelines. There was no standardisation. This worked fine for the wealthy, who could afford the best, but for the poor would die from an inability to pay the doctor. You can find plenty of stories from that time, but if you read one, I recommend the recollections of the wonderful Harry Leslie Smith (3). He remembers a doctors visit costing half-a-weeks wages, which they sadly did not have (3). This private price has scaled with inflation. A 15 minute private GP consultation will set you back £70 (4). As a profession we remain a rare commodity, and on an open market our hourly rate is such. The NHS affords the government a position of power and collective contractual employment which, despite press vilification, means we still come relatively cheap.

In the days before the NHS, workers would club together to pay for ‘self-help’ organisations, to provide medical care for one another. Beginning in the late 1800s, the Tredegar Workmen’s Medical Aid Society was one such successful organisation (5):

By the 1920s, the society employed the services of five doctors, one surgeon, two pharmacists, a physiotherapist, a dentist, and a district nurse. For an extra sum each week, members could also benefit from hospital treatment.

During the inter-war depression, the society continued to provide services to unemployed people, even though they could no longer afford to pay a subscription. By the mid-1940s, the society was providing medical care for 22,800 of the town’s 24,000 inhabitants.

Aneurin Bevan, who was born in Tredegar, took the Workmen’s Medical Aid Society as his inspiration for the NHS, saying: “All I am doing is extending to the entire population of Britain the benefits we had in Tredegar for a generation or more. We are going to ‘Tredegarise’ you.” (5)

The fragmentation of the NHS, gradual privatisation and reduction in care available deserves a separate post. For now, with a sense of perspective, we can look across the pond and be smug about our NHS (6). Cradle to grave cover, in our most frail years, maternity and care home. Isn’t it marvellous. Except… have you ever been in an NHS care home? And how much do you think that care home costs?

Who wants to live forever?

Time and again bloggers discuss their financial plans, how they’re 50 now, and they see themselves having 30 more good years. They fall into a common trap, recent research shows 8/10 of those over 50 underestimate their life expectancy (7). Most people guess they’ll live to 82-ish, whereas the data says more like 88 for men, and 90 for women*. We have got much better at keeping people alive for longer. Those aren’t necessarily going to be good years though, and so people trot out those bleak jokes; “oh just roll me off a cliff at 80”; “I’ll just head off to Switzerland”; “I’ll just pop my clogs then”. Except those are all to varying degrees illegal/ unethical. We doctors can’t just settle you off in a dignified way when you decide you’re not much use or aren’t enjoying things anymore. How do you decide when that is? Death is so very final. As a culture we have developed a fear of discussing or even considering our own mortality.

(*N.B. You can’t actually use ONS life expectancy at birth figures for this. Infancy through to teenage years (and early adulthood for young men) still have higher mortality. Once you pass your mid-20s your life expectancy actually statistically increases to accommodate for this.)

So for our friends the FIRE-savers, that’s an extra half decade of savings to account for. Suddenly retiring at 55 with a 4% SWR estimating a 30 year retirement isn’t quite enough (8). Life expectancy has increased in the 20 years since the Trinity study was published (9). A 45 year-old sitting down now and estimating for a 4% withdrawal starting at age 55 may well have a good 40 years ahead of them. It’s not just the %withdrawal that’s a variable in this calculation, it’s the duration too. For some really interesting drawdown calculations, check out RIT’s recent post (10).

The final splurge

How much do you think your living costs will be too? The common practice appears to be to take roughly your current living expenses, and times that out for the number of years you need. Some people estimate less, as they figure their homes will be paid off. An interesting piece of research by investment firm Schroders casts doubt on that. It found that savers underestimated their living costs in retirement by 15% (11). Only half of people surveyed had enough to live on comfortably (11).

Coming back to people facing their own mortality, and a decline into frailty, did you include the care home fees in that cost? The answer to the previous question is that the average care home price per year in the UK is £29,270 for a residential home, £39,300 for a nursing home (12). That’s average too, as with everything the South is more expensive, and we all like to imagine ourselves in our twilight years in a beautiful peaceful home, and not being roughly manhandled by someone on minimum-wage with no dignity or care, before being hauled up on a CQC newspaper expose (13). If you want to see what it’s like in your area, the UK Care Guide has a number cruncher and area analysis (14). You can decide to stay in your own home, but there the costs can mount up too. 24 hour care can be more than £150,000/year (13). And again for perspective, your life expectancy from a diagnosis of dementia in your 60s – 6.7 years, in your 90s – 1.9 years (15).

Where’s my cradle to grave?

Too right, where’s the NHS and social care system in all of this? Broke, that’s where. Historically there were jobs that provided care and nursing homes for their retired workers as part of their payment plan (although I can’t imagine anything worse). Now the burden falls on the social care system. The boomer population is ageing, and everyone is living longer. Social care reform remains a political football as no side wants to try to tell people that their lifetime of NI contributions and tax wasn’t enough to pay for their care (16). The “squeezed middle” baby boomers (le sigh) are already paying up to £10k a year to look after their ageing parents, and this will only get worse (17).

To try and at least partially cover care home fees, the central and local Govs have created an Orwellian masterpiece of committees with opaque criteria to make decisions about who gets support and who doesn’t. It’s called NHS Continuing Healthcare when the NHS is involved, i.e. if there is ‘sufficient medical need’ (17). If you can’t qualify for that you get means tested by the local social care trust/ provider (18). AgeUK make a fair stab at explaining it on their website (19). I’ve seen people die before any decision on who will pay has been reached.

http_com.ft.imagepublish.upp-prod-eu.s3.amazonaws

The final stretch of this little essay is about the means testing that social care can use. It’s not actually free at point of care. The system used is fairly complicated in it’s own right, but the Money Advice Service has a good page breaking it down (18). Your income and capital are assessed. If you live alone, and in certain other circumstances, your home will be counted as part of your capital (18). The local authority can and will sell your home to pay for the fees, even if you don’t want them to (20. 21).

If the local authority deems you have deliberately disposed of assets, for example by gifting your child your home, to avoid paying means tested fees, it can claim them back. This quietly introduced piece of legislation is called Deprivation of Assets (22). The rules have subsequently got much tighter around gifting any asset; housing, jewellery, money, objects (23). As always, do your own research.

We can’t take it with us

To summarise, as a culture we fear death and avoid considering our own mortality or old age due to the association. This is a shame, as people are more active in their old age and living longer than ever before. We underestimate the costs and expenditure we will have in retirement. Old age will cost more than we collectively think. The last few years cost A LOT MORE. Don’t ignore your final years, embrace those calculations, and spend them in luxury if you can.

Have a morbid time!

The Shrink

References

  1. https://www.reddit.com/r/financialindependence/comments/8fyu65/do_longterm_care_costs_factor_into_your_fire_plans/
  2. https://www.millennial-revolution.com/freedom/early-retire-uk/
  3. https://www.newstatesman.com/politics/2014/10/hunger-filth-fear-and-death-remembering-life-nhs
  4. https://www.bupa.co.uk/health/bupa-on-demand/gp-services
  5. https://www.theguardian.com/healthcare-network/2018/may/22/south-wales-town-forged-nhs-points-future-tredegar
  6. https://www.reddit.com/r/financialindependence/comments/8zx7iq/health_insurance_as_a_barrier_to_fire_in_the_usa/
  7. https://www.ftadviser.com/pensions/2017/11/28/most-over-50s-underestimate-life-expectancy/
  8. https://www.madfientist.com/safe-withdrawal-rate/
  9. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trinity_study
  10. http://www.retirementinvestingtoday.com/2018/07/sobering-retirement-income-drawdown.html
  11. https://www.moneywise.co.uk/news/2018-07-03/savers-vastly-underestimate-the-cost-retirement
  12. https://www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk/en/articles/care-home-or-home-care
  13. https://bit.ly/2OiBuIN
  14. https://ukcareguide.co.uk/care-home-costs/
  15. https://www.bmj.com/content/341/bmj.c3584
  16. https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/nhs-social-care-uk-reform-aneurin-bevan-health-poverty-andy-burnham-a8429571.html
  17. https://www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk/en/articles/are-you-eligible-for-nhs-continuing-care-funding
  18. https://www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk/en/articles/means-tests-for-help-with-care-costs-how-they-work
  19. https://www.ageuk.org.uk/information-advice/care/paying-for-care/paying-for-a-care-home/
  20. https://www.ft.com/content/34c336e8-3e5c-11e8-b7e0-52972418fec4
  21. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/personalfinance/insurance/longtermcare/11441163/Why-you-WILL-have-to-sell-your-home-to-pay-for-care.html
  22. https://www.ageuk.org.uk/information-advice/care/paying-for-care/paying-for-a-care-home/deprivation-of-assets/
  23. https://www.which.co.uk/elderly-care/financing-care/gifting-assets-and-property/343063-what-are-the-rules-for-gifting-assets

The Full English Accompaniment – Beginner’s guides to investing

What’s piqued my interest this week?

Over the last few weeks, in the breaks between sanding, painting, filling, sawing, strimming and all the other fun that comes with a new house, I’ve been reading lots of basic investment guides. Not the ‘you should invest here’ type, but general overviews of the mechanisms. Tim Hale’s Smarter Investing is of course in my reading pile (second, behind an exam textbook), but blogs and videos are excellent for five minute tea (or beer) stops.

My attempts at being more frugal, and aiming for some sort of FI life, started by lurking on the UKpersonalfinance subreddit. A long forgotten post pointed me to Monevator. The Investing for beginners guides there got me started (1). I was pointed to the MoneyMustache, and Weenie’s Quietly Saving. DiyInvestorUK and UK Value Investor have taught me more in depth about passive and active options.

Monevator’s weekend reading this week highlights a millenial-focussed investing and financial advice series from the FT (2,3). A more cynical person than I would say that millenials are more finance savvy out of necessity rather than choice.

Lately I’ve been really enjoying The Plain Bagel, a YouTube series by a young guy called Richard Coffin (4). As he’s based in Canada, a lot of the tax-reducing products discussed are Canadian or American, however it’s great for the basics. His ‘fundamental series’ consists of 13 <10 minute videos covering investment mechanisms, vehicles and psychology. Here’s a little sample:

Hopefully he gets support to keep producing great videos.

Have a great weekend,

The Shrink

Side Orders

News:

Opinion/ Blogs:

What I’m reading:

Eric by Terry Pratchett – light relief

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

Enchiridion by Epictetus – Bedside reading for a bad day

References:

  1. http://monevator.com/investing-for-beginners-why-do-we-invest/
  2. http://monevator.com/weekend-reading-thrifty-business
  3. https://bit.ly/2m07LHQ
  4. https://youtu.be/I81xqr8HzBE
  5. https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/jun/25/countrywide-property-sales-uk-estate-agency-profit
  6. https://www.moneywise.co.uk/news/2018-07-03/savings-update-rates-the-rise
  7. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2018/07/04/savings-crisis-uk-households-8bn-red
  8. https://www.moneywise.co.uk/news/2018-07-06/japanese-knotweed-ruling-could-lead-to-more-claims
  9. http://diyinvestoruk.blogspot.com/2018/06/brexit-vote-revisited.html
  10. https://www.moneywise.co.uk/news/2018-06-25/buy-to-let-the-elephant-the-room-the-housing-crisis
  11. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/jun/27/gestation-crates-farming-cheap-bacon-how-shops-and-shoppers-let-down-our-pigs
  12. http://www.schroders.com/en/uk/the-value-perspective/blog/all-blogs/five-famous-market-gaffes/
  13. https://www.wealthsimple.com/en-gb/magazine/money-diary-hector-bellerin
  14. http://aswathdamodaran.blogspot.com/2018/06/twists-and-turns-in-tesla-story-boring.html
  15. https://www.ukvalueinvestor.com/2018/06/uk-shares-uk-property-better-value.html/
  16. http://monevator.com/does-the-passive-label-put-people-off-index-funds/
  17. https://www.fool.co.uk/investing/2018/06/23/why-there-could-be-huge-opportunity-to-build-an-income-stream-with-ftse-250-dividend-stocks/
  18. https://simplelivingsomerset.wordpress.com/2018/06/22/the-concept-of-financial-freedom-is-an-unattainable-chimera/
  19. https://www.mirror.co.uk/money/money-saving-expert-martin-lewis-12766455.amp