Month-End: July 2022

After a 6 week or so hiatus and a 4 week (working) holiday I’m finally getting round to looking at my numbers for July and overall it’s a picture of managed decline for the rest of my life – but after hitting 40, that’s the reality.

First of all, the working from holiday turned out to be a raging success. It was really amazing to fully settle into a 4 week holiday and spend the free time doing some amazing things, whilst still getting (some) work done.

For those who are not avid readers, we booked a ferry trip and 4 weeks in a holiday cottage near the coast between Amsterdam and the Hague – the Dutch Riviera if you like. We were 10 minutes cycle from the beach, 5 minutes to a charming town and it was just a great place to spend time with the kids.

Holidays are one thing, but after only a few days I became acutely aware that the quality of life in Holland is much higher than the UK – the infrastructure is much better, newer and functional. For cycling with the kids, we dispensed of our helmets after a few days because cycling isn’t just for daredevils and for suicidal people like in the UK. There was such a sense of Ordung where we were (and everywhere we went) that you don’t get in the UK. Two simple examples:

  • People were kind, polite, friendly
  • Obesity was a lot less common than Scotland
  • It was tidier with a lot less litter than the UK
  • Infrastructure & houses were far superior and I didn’t see a single tree growing out of a chimney (unlike the UK)

It really made me wonder why I’m here, why we are here and why we’d raise our kids in Scotland.

That’s a story for another day though. But it does make me wonder if the UK is in a permanent state of decline – and it’s best to get off the ship before it sinks?

Accommodation

Holidays aren’t cheap. But we picked up a great deal. Our house would have rented in high season for about £900 – about the same price as a static caravan in Rhyl. But here’s the difference – we had an actual house with spacious kitchen, bedrooms, living room, decking, gardens and all that stuff. I think that we could live there quite easily full time. The location was peaceful and tranquil with lots of trees, green spaces, it felt safe for the kids and was beside a freshwater loch, had two playgrounds and a killer restaurant on site.

A Netherlands holiday park

Compare that to what you might get for the same price in a typical UK holiday park. Which of the two photos looks like where you’d like to spend your time?

A UK holiday park

Vasectomy

Other news is that I’m getting a vasectomy at the end of the month. Which is nice since I’ve been on the waiting list for over 2 years. It is a sort of non-essential operation but I wanted it. It will remove the risk of having more kids and I’m ok with that. But I am a bit scared or apprehensive about the operation. If it was like ripping off a plaster, I’d be fine but it’ll take most of the day and I have to be fully awake for all of it. Fingers crossed it’ll be all ok!

The Numbers

It turns of that going on holiday is a massively expensive hobby. And 4 weeks of eating out, travel, entertainment and all the rest all add up. I’ve lost of lust for frugality it seems and I’d rather spend money on having a good quality of life. So we spent a lot on museums, attractions, travel, eating out and entertainment – primarily for the Master and Little Lady and it was money well spent.

But it was a lot of money and at £5,821 for the month – it was a lot. That doesn’t include the accommodation and ferry which was paid upfront. But for a month of unforgettable memories – it was a bargain.

Income

I worked a lot in June and got paid in July – I even got a good few hours done in July which will be paid in August too. Working from holiday just about broke even (when added to the Lady’s salary).

Assets

Thanks to a resurgent stock market, our investments leapt up to bring our net worth to a new high water mark after the dip in June.

Investments

I made an investment in a company called Thrive Renewables over the summer in the region of 0.5% of net worth. They’ve been on my radar for some time and I bought some shares. It seems like in the face of relentless bad news on the climate change front, investing in renewable energy is a no-brainer. They are raising money at the moment via Triodos Bank Crowdfunding for further investments if you are interested.

On a side note, I received £30 cashback from a cashback website for some loft insulation that I bought and installed earlier this year (and never got around to write about). The funny thing is that I had to pay £40 in VAT on the insulation because the government have decided that you should have to pay extra if you want to insulate your house to save money. Back in May, I estimated that the (net) £210 invested would save me possibly 5% on heating or 1,000 kWh a year. Given the state of the price cap and gas prices, gas might end up costing me 10p/kWh in a few weeks. In which case it’s a £100 a year saving or a 47% return on investment.

Lofty aspirations

The huge increase in gas/elec bills will be hurting everyone. I’ve taken steps to reduce our consumption, we generate more power through our investments than we consume (so high prices = good) and we have saved money to allow for a temporary increase in costs. That’s the sort of thing that sensible, responsible adults should be doing.

Of course, government policy rewards some behaviours and at the cost of billions, we’ll all get some money towards our bills – money that could have been invested years ago to better insulate us from scenarios like the one we are facing. The cost of inaction now is much greater than doing the right thing at the right time.

CPI = bad, HPI = good?

And on the topic of consumer price inflation – which might hit double figures for a year or two. If the cost of living jumps by 10% that’s bad but what if the cost of UK shelter jumped by 10% in a year and that UK shelter costs 10 times your after-tax salary, that puts inflation for those who don’t already own at 50% a year.

The young and assetless have been thoroughly fleeced over the last 30 years. Maybe this dose of inflation might make people rethink the desirability of large draughty detached homes, with more bedrooms than occupants, totally reliant on motorised transportation for survival.

My experience of a month in the Netherlands is that the UK has taken many, many wrong turns in the past and if I can’t join them I might as well be better than your average whinging pom (and there’s just non-stop moaning on Radio 4 and every news outlet about how terrible life is).

Hopefully that puts things into perspective a little?

The Master is back at school come next week. We’ve got a few days at the Edinburgh Fringe booked. I am having nightmares about getting castrated and our Ukrainian guests are doing just fine.

Thanks, GFF

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