Wealth update – 30/09/2020

The wall in front of our building has been built but it has no gate. Therefore, the anti-social behaviour continues to plague our Holloway home. Oh well… at least the rainy weather keeps the hobos away for now.

My gas meter is now being updated on the National Grid database (could take up to two weeks I was told)… and following that, I will be able to switch to a cheaper provider. It’s ridiculous how long this is taking and no wonder why people don’t bother switching.

Our security deposit compensation claim has found a quick end as well (I can’t share any details about this, sorry.)

We have a new expense on the horizon as both I and my girlfriend will be applying for British citizenship in the coming weeks. The application fee is £1,330 per person. It seems to be a good investment as this will give us more security here in the UK and enable us to continue working & living in the UK and EU.

OK. Let’s talk about numbers now. My wealth has gone down this month as we saw a drop in equity markets. My net worth as at 30/9/2020 was £128,282 – a decrease of £11,646 or 8.3% from last month (this includes £1,600 ISA top-up and £292 pension top-up and £50 into Premium Bonds – so the investments actually dropped by £13,588).

Until next time!

Wealth update – 31/08/2020

Life has improved somewhat and our landlord sent us an email about the upcoming works on the building to improve security. In short… they will build a wall! Following that they will add a security door, with an actual working lock and maybe even CCTV. This should all help keep the homeless, the druggies and the anti-social elements of Holloway far-far away from my doorstep.

My gas meter saga is still ongoing. The current and new gas providers have failed to register the correct gas meter even though I have called, emailed and sent pictures of the different gas meters. On a positive note, I successfully moved my electricity supply to a cheaper provider and closed the old account – so I’m halfway done with my switch.

Another saga was started in August. This is to do with the security deposit compensation claim, which I wrote about in my previous post.

My EIS valuations stayed the same and cash is now back where it should be as I got my deposit back from the old flat. All of my investment accounts have had a huge positive month. My net worth increased by £30,082 in August (this includes £1,600 ISA top-up and £292 pension top-up and £50 into Premium Bonds). This represents an increase of 27% from last month. My net worth as at 31/8/2020 was £139,928. (I saw my net worth reach above £150,000 in the first few days in September but that’s now dipped lower as I write this on 7th Sept 2020.)

I don’t expect to have this kind of monthly investment growth often and fully expect things to moderate in the coming months.

In summary, I’m very pleased with August as my portfolio achieved the biggest monthly monetary gain I have achieved so far in my life.

Taking my ex-landlord to court

Find out how to make thousands of pounds by sending one email from this article. Yes, it’s that easy, as long as you rent from a negligent landlord (which most of us probably do!). I will share my experience and this will help add thousands or maybe even tens of thousands into your wallet and therefore get you closer to that FIRE goal!

There’s no need to learn a new skill, no long hours of number crunching and effort required. Simply check if your landlord has broken the law, if yes, then email them about it.

OK, I will dial down the sensationalism now.

I have found out that the security deposit for our previous flat was not protected within 30 days of us paying the deposit. This is breaking the security deposit protection laws and by law, a court must order the landlord to pay us 1x – 3x of the original deposit. We have sent “a letter before action” (actually an email to that effect), which was based on a template from Shelter to our landlord and gave them 3 weeks to respond. This letter is to start the process of negotiating a resolution outside of a courtroom. If we can’t agree on a resolution, then we go to court.

They waited until the very last working day of that 3 week period to respond to say that, yes they failed to protect the deposit in time etc and offered to pay us 1x the deposit amount. Quite good, if you ask me, for simply sending one email…

Their response had several factual mistakes in it, which I won’t share here, but there is no way we will accept the first offer. It looks to be a low-ball figure and clearly an attempt to get rid of us cheaply. The fact is the court would award 1x anyway as a minimum – why would I not go to court (other than the hassle of it).

For the record, we were renting from a very large faceless corporate landlord, who obviously knows the law but fails to have the necessary processes in place to avoid this type of thing. I have done lots of research and have discovered several other landlord failures of which one, on a successful claim, would have resulted in Rental Repayment Orders (as it sounds – they would repay us the rent we paid them). This is because they unlawfully let the property for a few months at the beginning of our tenancy (even though it was not safe to do so). However, that ship has sailed due to the 12-month window you have to claim for Rental Repayment Orders.

In short, they have failed to follow the law on a bunch of stuff, seem to be careless and reckless. In addition, during our second year of renting with them, we had lots of problems due to works/repairs. Back then I felt quite powerless as they simply got to walk all over us and do whatever they wanted – our complaints meant nothing and they were quick to hide behind the terms and conditions of our rental agreement. I’m quite glad to take them to court now!

The other thing I’m looking forward to is the actual court experience. I’ve never taken anybody to court and in short, the whole idea is a bit scary. However, I think it will be a very valuable experience. It can also end up lucrative if we get a good payout.

I will post updates as this progresses.

PS: I have discovered that our new i.e. current landlord has also failed to protect our deposit in time. I am not surprised at all… based on the previous issues we have had with the property.

Is gold a buy right now?

Gold is going up like there’s no tomorrow. All-time highs and all. Silver has exploded recently as well. Is this a buying opportunity?

I………………… really have no idea. Anybody who tells you otherwise is a liar and probably trying to sell you something.

Gold is seen as a store of value and as a safe-haven during times of economic difficulty. Things aren’t looking that great out there with rising unemployment and closure of businesses. Naturally, people flock to the shiny metal.

Gold itself doesn’t produce an income (no dividends) and doesn’t have many industrial uses. I know Warren Buffet isn’t that fond of the stuff either.

Have a look at longtermtrends.net where they compare US stocks and gold and silver over many decades. The charts will show that over the long term stocks have been a significantly better investment than gold.

I’m sure you have noticed there’s been plenty of positive news about a Covid-19 vaccine, which could improve the economic outlook. Stocks are doing really well and many tech stocks are at all-time highs (check out the Nasdaq 100). Or is it inflation that’s pushing stock prices up? Inflation doesn’t only increase your grocery bill… it can manifest in mysterious ways. 🙂

These days we have more alternatives to gold as well. Crypto looks very promising to me.

Gold is having a good run this year. However, nothing in the world of finance stays the same for long. It’s important to have an investment strategy and even more important to follow it. Don’t marry your positions!

Good luck!

Wealth update – 31/07/2020

We have now been living in our new home in Holloway for two weeks. Aaaaand… we hate it. Holloway is a dump and should really be called Hoboway because of all the homeless people who gather around the corner from where we live. They have also been to the forefront of our building to urinate and to bless us with some of that anti-social behaviour we have previously only heard about from TV news reports. Life in Covent Garden was much better.

In addition, we had no warm water for a full week because the boiler was broken. They actually rented us a flat with a broken boiler. Not a good start. We haven’t even had an apology from the letting agents or landlord. Who rents a property out with a broken boiler and doesn’t let you know about it? I suspect more stuff like this is to come…

We can move out in eight months from the start of the lease i.e. we can serve our two-month notice after the first six months. We feel that we are very likely to leave as soon as possible.

It also surprises me that all – not even exaggerating – of our utility bills are going up. Our water bill is increasing from £20 pcm to £36 pcm (Thames Water estimate as we don’t have a water meter), electricity is almost doubling (again based on an estimate), gas is more expensive, internet is now £29 pcm (was £20, we had to change providers), council tax was £77 pcm in Covent Garden (Westminster) and is now £125 pcm (Islington). Covent Garden was much better!

It’s also a bit of a mess to get the bills sorted. For example, the gas meter on the old gas bill was the one for our neighbour. Obviously, I don’t want to be paying for the gas somebody else uses up whilst racking up some kind of debt on the correct meter. The issue is still ongoing as it seems people who work at electricity companies struggle with sorting little things like this.

We are still waiting to get our security deposit back from our old flat. It’s been exactly three weeks since our old tenancy ended. My understanding is that they [legally] have 10 calendar days to return the deposit from the end of the tenancy. A week after the end of our tenancy we were told that they will not make any deductions and will refund the security deposit in full and it will take 3-5 working days. Of course, we didn’t get anything. We chased and were told it hasn’t been paid yet but were never given a reason for the delay. We’re still waiting.

My cash levels took a bit of a dive due to the moving expenses and the security deposit on the new place. This should even out once we get the security deposit back from the Covent Garden flat.

My EIS valuations stayed the same, cash went down but all investments went up. My net worth increased by £9,733 this month (this includes £1,600 ISA top-up and £292 pension top-up and £50 into Premium Bonds). My net worth is now £109,846.

We also had some really good news. My girlfriend applied for and got a big promotion at work. She is now earning more than me. Her future is golden! I’m very proud of her.

On a slightly different note… I recently found out about effective altruism [Peter Singer: The why and how of effective altruism]. The idea is to support charities which do most good with the donations they receive. It turns out that the most efficient ones (i.e. charities which help the most people per £ donated) are the ones which help deworm Africans from parasites and fight neglected tropical diseases.

I’ve been donating £12 pcm to a charity which fights homelessness in the UK. This isn’t a cause I’m particularly drawn to… so I decided to switch it to a much more efficient one. I also decided to increase my donations to £15 pcm (also matched by my employer) to benefit The End Fund. Apparently it costs about 50p per person to cover a year’s worth of medicine to treat neglected tropical diseases. I’d rather save/help 60 people each month than pay for a few meals for the homeless in the UK.

In summary, it was a mixed month – some good, some bad. I’m glad my net worth improved and that my girlfriend is now in a significantly better financial position than she used to be.