Year-End Musings: December 2022

Just a quick update for the end of 2022 and the start of 2022. Everything is actually fine, and years of saving mean that the current hardships faced by millions don’t affect us enough to dampen our Christmas spirits!

Mortgage

Maybe no one cares,  but I’m stoked to get my biggest single lifetime debt sorted!

The main news from my point of view is that we got our mortgage renewed for 5 years at an eye-watering 4.45%. That’s a huge leap from before, but it’s still cheap (I think, it’s just that property is a rip-off).

What this means is that for the next 60 months, I have to pay a thousand pounds or so, half of it interest. Success!

Of course, the way that houses are so expensive, budgets tight, and interest rates are high, there is a very good chance of catastrophic collapse in house prices – to levels not seen since…. 2020!

Luckily, we live in a low cost of living area with cheap (dare I say it,.affordable!) property. So I’m not worried.

Family

After a hectic schedule of Xmas parties, the Little Lady and I came down with an infectious virus-like illness. I repeatedly tested negative for COVID, but I guess it was COVID. I’ve never had it and just want to be like everyone else!

The Christmas party season is great, but being sick, not so. Give me a hangover anytime! It is great to spend time with acquaintances who become friends and friends who become good friends. I’ve not had that for a long, long time.

I also got some mad food poisoning this week on the day of the Scottish teachers strike.

We hosted 3 families for a big New Years Eve party a few hours after coming back from our holiday in England.

The Ouse

We had considered taking the train to Newcastle but luckily we drove – the floods and strikes don’t make things easy!

When you’ve got to get to where you’re going!

Newcastle is a great place and we had a great time. It’s the 4th closest city to us (after Edinburgh, Aberdeen & Glasgow – I’m not counting Scotland’s other pretend cities like Inverness – that’s a toon!)

Newcastle has so much to offer. Grainger market was a foodies paradise, the restaurants in the town were fab and the kids loved the Metro!

All this only 3 or 4 hours drive from home! (The west coast M6 alternative puts you in Cumbrian no man’s land in the same time.

Christmas Presents

I don’t like the idea of lying to kids but there’s something very powerful about believing in something and this Santa Claus guy has supernatural powers.

Ok, the postmen can’t deliver to our house more than twice a week, it seems, but one guy can deliver across the whole world in one night?

The Master & Little Lady believe it and aren’t at all bothered by the human slavery and suffering that goes into making the toys (both the fictional elves in Lapland and in China!)

Magnetic fun!

Christmas Dinner

We had chicken this year (that I bought on special back in November and have had in the freezer since) since I didn’t get a last-minute bird at our local (not a) foodbank.

They give away leftover food from shops – so by not buying a bird, I’ll get one for free? It seems like that is a good system. Except a bunch of more eager queuers beat me too the good stuff.

Except all the good food was taken and I lost a glove on the way home. A but of a waste of time all told. But my umbrella came in handy – one of the few times it’s both rainy and not windy!

Christmas Holidays

I was off work from the 23rd until the 9th. That’s nice not to have any work to do after a very busy November and December. In fact, I’ve already earned enough money this company year (Starting in Sept.) to pay for my meagre director’s salary and running costs. Booking 40-hour weeks is rewarding in terms of pay, and it’s nice to be busy, but I need a break! Talking about breaks…

Christmas Travels

We like to travel at Christmas, between Xmas and New Years and again aftercan be very cheap. A few nights in a Holiday Inn Newcastle-upon-Tyne for about £44/night with breakfast included – bargain!

Then back home to host some friends for a few days and then a weekend in Glasgow – staying in the better hotel there. We travelled with another family with kids – it went well overall.

Getting to the point where you can do something like this with friends takes time and investment in the friendship.  I’m glad that we are in this position.

Santa Rally?

When I wrote the draft for this post, I was about £40,000 down on the month. Now Mid-january,  I’m flat. So the stock markets are all over the place.

I’m not really bothered that much by the gyrations. I do check my stocks every couple of days (quick glance) but I don’t make any buy or sell decisions from it.

I invested £3,000 in Highland Winds Energy Co-op in 2015 and got 30% EIS tax rebate, and it pays an annual return. Last month, it paid 8% or £240 (or 11.4% with rebate), which for me is a good return. In fact, my EIS portfolio has been a silent engine. Spread across 4 projects, I have an annual income of around £2,500 which is only set to rise (revenues tied to RPI). I’m glad that I made the investments and I’m happy with the return.

Year Lookahead

We’d love to have gone skiing in January but we decided against it since we can’t rely on the ski-schools for the kids and the kids enjoying it. We don’t have anyone to take the kids for a week, so we’ve stuck at home. Maybe we’ll get up Glenshee someday. Possibly during the week since my work is flexible and the snow is not.

But the Alps have suffered from a lack of snow this year. So maybe all for the best.

Our attention turns to summer – maybe another working from holiday like last year? Except we can’t find anything that looks like good value for money. I don’t want to spend £5k for a small holiday house.

I hope that you had a great 2022 and that 2023 is even better to you!

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! From GFF.

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