A recap of the last few months and a look at my income and expenses.
It’s kind of funny looking back at my previous posts. At the beginning of March, I wrote “Keep Calm and Carry On.” Rereading it, the main thing that sticks out to me is that the UK had only 50 covid-related deaths at the time. 50! Four months later, that now stands at almost 44,000 at the time of writing. We’ve been through seismic changes during these four months. Mass unemployment, a furlough scheme supporting more than 1 in 4 workers, lockdown and the shuttering of the economy in order to try to contain the virus.
When I wrote my Q1 update, I had only just been told to work from home. I haven’t been into the office since. That’s almost four months working from home. And there’s no obvious end in site. I received an email from HR last week reiterating that we were to continue working from home for the foreseeable future.
And of course, covid-19 isn’t the only thing that happened over the last few months. Black Lives Matter protests erupted after the tragic murder of George Floyd (among others). I didn’t post anything on the blog at the time because, well, I’m just a white guy from the UK. I have no idea what it means to be a victim of racism or prejudice. But I did read and listen to the experiences of those who do. A few articles in particular that resonated:
- Black Americans are twice as likely to be hospitalized from COVID-19
- In life and death, George Floyd’s plight reflected the burden of being black in America
- Get Rich Slowly featured two separate posts. A lesson in economic violence and A candid conversation about race in America.
- Tanja from Our Next Life discussed How the Personal Finance Sphere Upholds Systemic Racism.
- Joe from Retireby40 shared his experience of living in the US as an Asian American. In particular, he shares that, even as an Asian American, and therefore non-white, he has a certain level of privilege over black people in the US. Inequity and Financial Independence
- Trevor Noah with his thoughts on being black in America – George Floyd, Minneapolis Protests, Ahmaud Arbery & Amy Cooper
Ignoring the turmoils in the world at the moment, we had some good news. Before lockdown started, we applied for Ms FIRE’s next UK visa. She was due to have a biometrics appointment, but that was cancelled until some unknown time in the future, due to covid-19 causing a shutdown of all non-essential services. Thankfully some of those services have started to reopen, and we were able to get in quick with one of the first biometrics appointments. And just a few weeks later, we received the good news. She was approved! So, that’s the first step towards her being able to live here with me indefinitely. This visa lasts for 2.5 years, so we’ll be applying again before we know it.
As I said above, I’ve been working from home since mid-March. I am lucky to be so far unaffected by the coronavirus. Secure job, spending more time with my wife, able to isolate without any problems. Easy to take it all for granted.
My investments have recovered – the Vanguard FTSE Global All Cap is now back up to £135.26 per unit, just £6 less than it’s peak of £141.95 prior to lockdown. When you factor in the money that I contributed during this brief downturn, my account is back in the positive. Of course, who knows how long that will last!
This has been my most productive stint on the blog in a long time. I posted eight new articles in Q2. In case you missed any, here they are:
- Double Down, Pivot, or Start Over – where I try to figure out what to do with my life.
- Investing Demystified
- Building Wealth in my 20s: Successes and Failures – things I did (and didn’t do) during my 20s to help set me on the path to wealth.
- Stoicism: Lessons for Financial Independence
- LifeStrategy 100 vs FTSE Global All Cap – FIGHT! – a comparison of two seemingly similar global funds offered by Vanguard.
- The Intelligent Investor – notes on the seminal book by Benjamin Graham.
- Lockdown reflections – reflections at the beginning of lockdown.
- Q1 2020 Report – remember Q1? When 2020 seemed so full of promise?
All this extra time spent on the blog has reminded me once again of the value I get from simply posting my thoughts online, and then interacting with those who either comment on the blog directly or send a message via the contact form.
I count myself extremely fortunate that covid-19 has not had an impact on my income so far. It’s all been pretty steady going.
The misc income in June was an Airbnb refund. Lockdown persists here in the UK, so no summer holiday for us!
|Groceries & Toiletries||£167.34||£206.93||£160.35|
I think this is my cheapest quarter since I was a student. Amazing how much you can save when you are forced to stay indoors for weeks! I actually hope that Q3 is more expensive – this will hopefully mean that lockdown has eased enough that I can travel around and see some friends.
An average of 39%. Much better than Q1. Probably unrealistic to expect to reach this in Q3. Guess it depends how strict this lockdown is in the next few months.
One of my ongoing goals is to read at least one book a month. To help keep myself accountable, I’ve decided to track my progress here in these reports.
Like most people at the moment, I’ve had more spare time than usual, which has meant more reading!
The Secret Commonwealth by Philip Pullman, a sequel to the excellent His Dark Materials trilogy. Enjoyable read, but leaves a lot hanging for the final book, which I hope is out sooner rather than later…
Grayson Perry: Portrait of the Artist as a Young Girl by Grayson Perry and Wendy Jones. We went for a weekend trip to Bath (remember when you could travel?) and ended up seeing a Grayson Perry exhibit. The exhibit itself was good. My wife wanted to pick up this book as a memento, and I gave it a read as it was so short. It was an interesting read – Grayson has obviously lived a very colourful life!
A Little Hatred by Joe Abercrombie. First in a new series, set several decades after the First Law series. I really liked it. If you like Abercrombie, then I don’t need to sell you on this. If you don’t like Abercrombie, then nothing I can say will convince you about this one! And if you have never read Abercrombie, and you like fantasy in the style of Game of Thrones, I would probably suggest starting at the the beginning, with The Blade Itself.
The Bridge to Lucy Dunne by Exurb1a. I can’t remember how I stumbled across this person. Nonetheless, I found myself looking through my ebook collection and I stopped on a collection of short stories by someone known as Exurb1a (no, I don’t know how you pronounce it). A couple of the stories were fantastic. Most were meh.
All Systems Red, Artificial Condition, Rogue Protocol and Exit Strategy, all by Martha Wells. Tor.com runs an “eBook of the month” where they give away an older book, typically to increase interest in a specific author just before they release their next book in a series. As a result, I picked up all four of these novellas for free. They are part of the “Murderbot” series. Don’t let the corny name put you off, these were all very good sci-fi books following an android on it’s adventures through space.
The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham and Jason Zweig. Must read for any budding investors. See my book notes for my information.
How to be a Stoic: Ancient Wisdom for Modern Living by Massimo Pigliucci. An interesting introduction to Stoicism, which prompted me to write a blog post called Stoicism: Lessons for Financial Independence.
Elon Musk: How the Billionaire CEO of SpaceX and Tesla is Shaping Our Future, by Ashlee Vance. I received this courtesy of Tony from onemillionjourney.com. I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect. I usually read fiction, with the occasional non-fiction book (usually finance/investing related). Biographies are not usually my forte. Nonetheless, I gave this a read, and am very glad I did! A very insightful look into a fascinating individual. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a Musk fanboy – in the book, he comes across as rude, brash, unreasonable and demanding at times. But I certainly have a lot of respect for what he is achieving right now. I also recommend checking out Wait But Why’s series on Musk as a companion piece.
Investing Demystified by Lars Kroijer. Very good beginners intro to why you should stick with index investing. Click the link for my book notes.
Well, who can plan anything at the moment? Lockdown is slowly being eased in the UK, but I’m still wary about gathering in large crowds. China already appears to be undergoing a second wave of covid-19, and it seems likely to me that we will be subject to something similar, sooner or later.
Over to you
That’s all for now. I hope, all things considered, you have had a good few months (at least, as good as you might expect in these odd times).
Thanks for reading.