July 2020: shambles and zombies

Lockdown continued to dominate the news in the last month.

Poor old Australia seems not to have escaped Covid so lightly after all. Victoria, at the time of writing, is bearing the brunt of it. With a population of just over 6m, i.e. about the same as Scotland, they now have 11k cases, with 116 deaths to date. Their new daily cases figure of almost 400 amounts to, by my calculations, around 60 per million – which would put Victoria in the worst quartile in Europe.

New daily cases in Europe, Tue 28 July. Source: The Times

BoJo would like us to think of these increases as presaging the ‘second wave’. His government is now adjusting the settings almost daily, across several dimensions. One moment, in Oldham a lockdown is applied; the next moment, people across the North West can’t meet others indoors. One moment, masks are now (finally) compulsory in shops; the next moment masks are now required in all indoor public spaces. Meanwhile across the country nobody can now get married, whereas as of yesterday they could.

One government policy, one shop, one day – two ministers.

This leaves everybody having no idea any more.

BBC Radio 4 Today program, as transcribed by FT Alphaville
Continue reading “July 2020: shambles and zombies”

What has lockdown done to my finances?

Rainy Sunday mornings are perfect times to do household admin. In my case household admin centres on my personal finances. This gave me an opportunity to examine what has happened to my income and expenditure during lockdown.

Lockdown in England began on March 23rd, just at the end of Q1. Normality, by which I mean pubs/restaurants, resumed to a large extent on July 4th – just at the start of Q3. This makes Q2 a good period to examine what happened as a result of lockdown.

Income: down 32%

This simplified analysis just looks at cashflows entering/exiting my accounts. This is net of taxes (unlike my annual review which considers gross income and treats taxes as an expense).

 

Inflows, net of tax, Q2 last year vs Q2 under lockdown

The graph above shows what’s happened to my inflows. Dividends fell by ‘only’ 15%. Rent halved. And my earnt income dropped by 30%.

However, to interpret the graph we need some context. In Q2 last year, I moved my Previous Home from ‘rental property’ (with tenants) into ‘for sale’ (empty). So it gave me some rent in the quarter, but not a full amount. I finally sold it in February this year, and moved the proceeds almost immediately into the stock market (at the market’s record highs, sigh). This makes rent and dividends somewhat interchangable across these time periods.

Continue reading “What has lockdown done to my finances?”

How much should you save?

A common question, especially for ‘normal’ people in their rare moments where they ever think about saving, pensions, or their financial planning, is ‘how much should I save’? It is a key question. Unfortunately, a lot of the typical answers you’ll hear/read are misguided or even wrong. Instead, I think anybody asking this question must be told three things.

For example, I was riled recently by something that the (normally sensible) Wealth Dad posted on Twitter:

Wrong-headed advice for many people

I don’t mean to pick on the Wealth Dad because he is far from alone. A quick Google search of ‘how much should I save rules of thumb’ yields the following:

The 50/15/5 rule of thumb
Bankrate’s rule of thumb: save at least 10% of your income towards your retirement

It’s not surprising that investment firms like Fidelity advocate fairly chunky savings rates. But it isn’t just them.

Continue reading “How much should you save?”