A round up of interesting or cool stuff I’ve read.
One Year On
One year ago, Boris Johnson announced the first UK lockdown.
The week before that, I started working from home.
Two weeks before that, a conference, due to run at the end of March, that I had booked to attend in December, was emailing attendees telling them not to come in person, but to instead attend via something called Zoom.
I’d never even heard of Zoom back then, now I can’t get away from it!
And just a week or two before that, I started noticing articles reporting that the coronavirus, initially just yet another disease that pops up from time to time and then disappears before you know it, was starting to spread around the world.
It’s crazy to think about the impact this has had on our lives in the year since.
From a purely personal point of view, all manner of plans were thrown out the window.
Our wedding reception, a visit from some US family, various trips to see friends across the country, concerts, honeymoon… All cancelled. I can now count on one hand the number of times I have seen family or friends in person over the past year.
Despite these first-world problems, we’re actually lucky enough to have not been too negatively affected by Covid. My job continued as normal, and the contract was even extended for a few months. And all those cancelled plans meant that we saved more money than we expected.
We even find ourselves in what looks to be a good position in 2021. Ms FIRE has started a new job, which is perfect, as my current contract is due to finish soon. This means I can continue with my plan to retrain, without having to rely entirely on our emergency fund. Instead, we can split things roughly 50:50.
The UK is doing pretty well with its vaccination rollout. Apparently half the adult population has had at least one of the two vaccinations required. The Government has a roadmap in place for lifting the lockdown restrictions. Although, some of the plan is somewhat ambitious – “Stage 4 (no earlier than 21st June), nightclubs will be allowed to reopen.” I’ll be surprised if that remains unchanged!
It’s been quite some year. I’m hopeful that the UK continues to open up again, allowing everyone to have a more “normal” summer. I’m wary of getting my hopes up too high though, until most of the country has been vaccinated. Nonetheless, there is light at the end of the tunnel!
Interesting links that caught my eye this week:
- The Atlantic – Here’s 10,000 Hours. Don’t Spend It All in One Place.
“To be sure, fixating on a single activity might be a decent formula for maximum output. But the story of Charles Ives—along with a good deal of scientific evidence—shows that hyper-specialization is not the best strategy for our well-being. We can find greater happiness by instead cultivating a variety of serious interests and activities.”
- Financial Times – Technology has turned back the clock on productivity (search engine result)
I can relate to this so much. If I want to get some serious work done, I know I have to close my email. Otherwise that annoying notification sound will jar me out of whatever I was doing before. I’m just glad that my colleagues/managers aren’t big on Slack, otherwise I’d never get anything done.
- Financial Mechanic – Budgeting for a Massive Life Change – I’m Moving to Amsterdam!
This is super cool, and I’m a little jealous. There’s nothing like a move abroad to really throw everything in the air and give you a chance to experience a completely new way of living.
“The frugal choices I’ve made in the past allowed me to take big risks like this one. Because I focused on saving in my early earning years, I now have the freedom to take a massive cut in earnings and move abroad. By working hard, I set myself up to be able to land international job offers. There is power in that. “
- The Squirreler – March Challenge: Planning for decumulation
Another great entry into the Sovereign Quest March Challenge.
- Living a FI – The 2021 Early-Retirement Update
Living a FI was a blogger well before my time. Despite declaring FIRE in 2015, I still see people linking back to his old posts. This very rarely happens, so should give some idea of the regard his blog is held in! This latest update describes the ups and downs of the half-decade since he stopped blogging, and is well worth a read. It’s very rare to have such a detailed update post-FIRE. Although not everything has been smooth sailing, it’s evidence that the pursuit of FI is worthwhile and gives a lot of flexibility.
- A Wealth of Common Sense – Inflation Matters More For the Stock Market Than Interest Rates
An interesting look at how rising inflation has affected past stock market returns.
- Indeedably – Myopic
Another excellent post from Indeedably:
“Financial Independence is merely a milestone on our journey, not the ultimate destination. We celebrate. Quietly pat ourselves on the back for an achievement nobody else can see. Then look forward and ask ourselves “what’s next?”.”
- Fire Your Own Way – You don’t need a side hustle to reach Financial Independence
Side hustles can be a great way to diversify income and skills, or act as a stepping stone to a new career. However, the amount of effort required to make that side hustle profitable has to be weighed up against your own career – could all that effort instead be put towards your current career, possibly leading to a greater financial reward?
- Meaningful Money – The Dangers of Financial Influencers with George Agan
Enjoyed this interview with George Agan (Principles Personal Finance, link below). Not only covers the topic in the title, but also had a useful discussion on entering the financial planning profession.
- Principles Personal Finance – When should you send your keeper up for corners?
Draws an interesting parallel between football managers ‘playing it safe’ and active fund managers hugging an index.
- The Evidence Based Investor – Money is only one aspect of retirement planning, part 1 and part 2
Chapter one of Your Complete Guide to a Successful and Secure Retirement by Kevin Grogan and Larry Swedroe. I think much of this first chapter (and, presumably, the rest of the book?) can be applied to those much younger than the target audience as well.
- Monevator – What can investors do in the face of low returns?
Experts are once again predicting low returns for equities over the next decade. The Investor presents a variety of steps that investors could consider. The overarching theme is to “focus on what you can control.” Don’t rely on excessive returns. Instead, save more! You won’t mind if returns do turn out to be mediocre. And, if the experts are wrong, well, you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
- Strong Money Australia – Investing vs Speculating (and How to Tell the Difference)
“If you’re buying an asset which produces no income, simply in the hopes that it will go up in price, you’re playing the popularity game – speculating. If you’re buying an asset based on its fundamentals – the earnings or income it produces now and into the future – you’re investing.”
- Sign up to Trading212 via this link and we both receive a free share.
- Sovereign Quest – A new personal finance curation site launched by Indeedably. Check out the March Challenge.
Thanks for reading. Hope you’re all having a great week!