Wealth update – 31/10/2020

Wall saga

Our building now has both a new wall and a gate (although the lock is not yet working). We have actually noticed that the wall does its job – we saw a junky a week ago “hanging out” in front of the building next door, not ours. Yay! We’re both feeling much safer now.

With the second nationwide lockdown looming, I am more worried about the increase in crime and anti-social behaviour than a Covid-19 infection here in Holloway. In my view, the wall and gate in front of our building are very valuable additions.

Gas supply saga

I think I’m now able to switch my gas supply over to a cheaper provider and have requested the transfer. I’m glad to see some light at the end of this tunnel.

British citizenship saga

We (me and my girlfriend) have now paid £1,330 + bits each to apply for British citizenship and will need to meet with a bureaucrat next week on Friday to scan our passports I guess. I’m not too sure what that appointment is about other than scanning our passports… but it’s something we need to appear for in-person and need to bring along all of our paperwork. We almost booked this appointment at a cost of £90 per pop only to then find out that if we book one a few weeks later it will be completely free. What a massive government money grab!

An emergency

I had to use my emergency cash this month as I developed a toothache and had to see a dentist. It was a stressful task to find a dentist on short notice (I don’t have a dentist in the UK) and I was lucky to get an appointment for a Saturday. It felt good to know that I will be absolutely OK paying for the treatment out of pocket if I had to because I had £5,750 in emergency cash. I expected to have an expensive trip to the dentist but felt calm about it as I had the funds available. Luckily, my dental issue (dental abscess on the gum) was quite mild and I only needed some antibiotics – the whole thing only cost me about £60-£70 (including the antibiotics).

The piece of mind from having some cash set aside for emergencies is an amazing thing and I would recommend it to everybody. I managed to convince my girlfriend to do the same and now she’s joined the club and has £5K set aside for this (£2K in Premium Bonds and £3K in a pot with Monzo).

Counting my beans

OK. Numbers! My wealth has gone down this month again as we saw the worst week since March 2020 in equity markets. My net worth as at 31/10/2020 was £117,552 – a decrease of £10,730 or 8.4% from last month. This includes a £1,600 ISA top-up and £292 pension top-up and £50 into Premium Bonds.

My second EIS investment – Morpher – went tits up as well. I invested £500 a few years ago and got £150 (30%) back in tax relief. The rest i.e. £350 is now eligible for loss relief when I do my tax return… so I should get a further £70 (20% x £350) back from the taxman.

I have one EIS holding left. Time will tell if it’s another flop. 🙁

Working from home – claim tax relief from the government

Both I and my girlfriend are eligible to claim some money back from the taxman. From HMRC:

You may be able to claim tax relief for additional household costs if you have to work at home on a regular basis, either for all or part of the week. This includes if you have to work from home because of coronavirus (COVID-19).

You cannot claim tax relief if you choose to work from home.

Additional costs include things like heating, metered water bills, home contents insurance, business calls or a new broadband connection. They do not include costs that would stay the same whether you were working at home or in an office, such as mortgage interest, rent or council tax.

You can either claim tax relief on:

  • £6 a week from 6 April 2020 (for previous tax years the rate is £4 a week) – you will not need to keep evidence of your extra costs
  • the exact amount of extra costs you’ve incurred above the weekly amount – you’ll need evidence such as receipts, bills or contracts

You’ll get tax relief based on the rate at which you pay tax. For example, if you pay the 20% basic rate of tax and claim tax relief on £6 a week you would get £1.20 per week in tax relief (20% of £6).”

The way it works assuming you won’t bother with getting any receipts/evidence etc: if you claim it, your personal allowance is increased by £6 x 52 weeks = £312. This means that the highest £312 of your earnings are now taxed at 0% instead of the current 20%/40%/45% – depending on how much you earn. Thus you save £62.40/£124.80/£140.40 depending on which tax bracket you’re in.

It is very easy to apply for this – it takes 2-3 minutes. However, if you fill in annual self-assessments, then you have to apply for this on your self-assessment tax return and need to wait for the current tax year to end before you can claim it. So, please make a note to include this on your tax return for 2020/21.

Until next time!

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!