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Armitage Shanks

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About Armitage Shanks

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  1. Armitage Shanks

    Tories admit that the housing market is broken

    Like most of the trougher politicians, Sajid Javid has vested interests and should not be in a position of authority where housing is concerned. He is a former Director of SA Capital (Sajid is the S in SA) and his brother Atif remains a Director (Atif is the A). Atif was my landlord a few years ago and remains balls-deep in the BTL game. He runs Intire Limited (formerly SA Lettings) which is registered at the same address as SA Capital. Here's the website. Is it any wonder Sajid Javid says "Seeking to prioritise one form of ownership over another was “a false choice”, he said. “The reality is we need more homes, whether to rent or buy.”"? It's in his family's interest that Landlordism remains a viable enterprise. Communities Secretary, my ar$e...
  2. Armitage Shanks

    I've gone and written that book

    You're right about the private school thing being a separate debate. I was 'fortunate' enough to attend private school which inevitably skews my perspective. The non-fee paying schools near me are underwhelming and adequate. Having toured them, it saddens me to think that my children might reach adulthood having never known anything 'better'. The schools feel like what they are - cogs in a much larger, under-resourced 'production line' which is intended to mass produce the drones who will keep the economy of the country viable and keep the elite in the lifestyle to which they have become accustomed. Private school, I think, broadens horizons by helping children to realise that the elite are not intrinsically different or better - they're merely fortunate and privileged. I certainly don't subscribe to the idea that more expensive equals better but private schools (including the school I attended and the local schools that I've toured) tend to have better facilities, better pupil:teacher ratios and more enriching clubs/trips/activities. None of that, in an of itself, necessarily gets you any closer to happiness, contentment and fulfilment but neither does it preclude you from becoming a fireman or a carer or whatever it is that really makes you tick. What it does *potentially* do, however, is open the door to opportunities that you otherwise might not be exposed to. It's then down to me as a parent to work hard to make sure that my children don't get caught up in the rat race as an end in itself but, rather, that they pursue the things that bring them fulfilment, whatever those things may be. Like you, I don't measure my contribution in units of work, per se, but I do feel a moral sense of needing to contribute at least as much to society as I take out. To my mind, that's the social contract; I am able to support myself and my family, therefore I should. My responsibility feels greater for the fact that I chose to add extra humans with their own demands on society and the additional drain on resources that they bring. For the purpose of my own conscience, I measure my contribution in terms of the value that I perceive of the outputs that I deliver. I consider myself a rational, critical, free-thinker and my conscience is clear - I am confident that I put in at least as much as I (and my dependents) take out. To me, this is the essence of why BTL is such an ugly scourge on our society - it's inter-generational economic discrimination on a mass scale. It's one generation taking out disproportionately more than it puts in while another generation has no choice but to do the inverse to balance the books. All the while, the bankster elite skim off the cream while the masses naively swallow what the mass media tells them, and blame immigrants for the ills of our society instead of the 1% who could comfortably fund our failing public services and not even notice the dent in their wealth.
  3. There is no article. Shower thoughts is a subreddit for pithy, one-liner observations. In this case, the poster is drawing a parallel between being a millennial trying to buy a home in real life and how it's analogous to being nobbled at a game of Monopoly before you even get started. To me, it represents how inter-generational resentment at the housing cartel in the West is becoming a mainstream sentiment. This resentment is going to grow and grow. Not sure what image you're finding a bit much!
  4. https://www.reddit.com/r/Showerthoughts/comments/5k924z/being_a_millennial_is_like_joining_a_game_of/ Some rather dry, witty gallows humour, I thought...
  5. Armitage Shanks

    I've gone and written that book

    You're right - your journey has made you 'richer' in other, more unconventional, ways. You're happy with how things are panning out, which is more than can be said for many who 'own' their own homes (actually just own lots of debt in many cases) and are following the path that the MSM and conventional 'wisdom' would otherwise have you follow. Are you happy because of how things panned out or because you're the kind of person who is predisposed to achieving a desired outcome and would, accordingly, reach a satisfying conclusion anyway? I guess there's no way of knowing but you're happy with the quality of life that you are working to achieve, which is something few people can probably honestly say. As a very meritworthy measure of success, you've done better than most! I think the problem with my other half is that she, and it's probably true for me to some extent too, would be reluctant to forfeit the prospect of ever being able to splurge on something extravagant at some point in the future which doesn't fit in with the calculated withdrawal rate. A completely made-up example but, suppose one of our kids decides to get married in New Zealand, we could be forced to miss out, blow our budget (and accept the consequences, whatever they may be) or find a way to generate extra cash after being 'on the bench' for years. I'm sure it's a result of our consumerist culture and social conditioning but accepting we'd be living off, say, £20k/annum until the end of our days somehow feels uninspiring and a little like 'giving up'. I'm sure the reality is that once you start living that life, you quickly come to accept your lot and not feel constrained by it, but it feels like quite a big leap of faith to get there. We could probably do it but the prospect of sending our kids to private school (we're unsure whether we're going to do that or not yet) goes away and the prospect of supporting them financially through University goes away (I begrudge them having to take on a honking debt for the sake of an education). It'll be interesting to read your post-retirement blogs. More than the way the finances work out (like I said, that aspect of your journey is all fairly self-explanatory, albeit unconventional), I'm interested in how the transition from hardcore rat-racer to having 70 hours per week extra for yourself your family works. Will you miss the chase? Will you feel as though you're no longer 'pulling your weight' and contributing to society? Will you struggle for motivation now that you've reached the target you've been aggressively pursuing for almost a decade? Will you feel a need to set yourself another target of some kind? Will you feel constrained when sticking to your withdrawal rate becomes a daily reality rather than something you are working towards? What surprises you about the actuality of FIRE versus the prospect of FIRE? The psychological aspect of your journey really interests me. I'm not really doing the same thing as you. My wife has stayed at home for the last decade and our youngest is 6 so we don't anticipate her returning to the workforce any time soon - not a particularly compatible existence with maximising income! I've been on a similar trajectory to you from an income perspective, working hard and proving my worth before moving to reap the reward (rather than trying to get more at the same place, which rarely seems to happen, sadly). I also thoroughly enjoy my work, and find it stimulating and rewarding, so feel no urge to retire. I guess I'd find something else to fill my time with but I've spent 20 years getting reasonably good at what I do - compared to starting something new, it probably gives me the greatest prospect of deriving a sense of achievement and fulfillment. The idea of seeing out my days as a rubbish golfer or learning to bake does nothing for me, and I'm not sure I'm young enough (early 40s) to start something new and get good enough at it that it gives me fulfillment - and to what end if I do? To earn money from it (whatever 'it' is)? I enjoy doing a job that I'm better-than-average at. I could volunteer for a charity but, while very 'worthy', I'd get no satisfaction of having fulfilled any potential I may have. I'd be going through the motions doing something out of a sense of moral duty rather than contributing to society efficiently by doing something I'm reasonably good at. I'd have to fill my time doing something and I think, psychologically, I'd need it to be something I'm reasonably good at so that I don't feel as though I've failed to fulfil my potential. I'm also not saving anywhere near as aggressively as you, although I do the easy stuff such as buying supermarket own brand stuff where the difference in quality is indiscernible, buying meal deals for lunch instead of expensive individual items, driving frugally, changing energy and insurance and utility suppliers regularly. Where I'm truly terrible is investing. I say investing - we don't have any investments, per se. We just have money in ISAs and bank accounts. We currently rent and have enough savings that we could buy the house we live in outright for cash (we won't, it's a bit of a shithole which our crooked slumlord spends as little on as he can get away with) but we could probably be sitting on half as much money again with the effect of compound interest, if only I'd known where to start a decade ago. My savings effectively account for 100% of my wealth (if you count the piffling interest I've received as savings rather than investment). I'm hoping your book might be the first step for me to investing my savings sensibly and beneficially. The other problem for me and my wife is that the more we save, the more we could potentially afford. We could buy a modest 3-bed semi for cash and be done with it but we could 'afford' something that brings us fulfillment. My issue is that I refuse to buy as I don't perceive value. I'm also highly principled (belligerently so) and abhor the prospect of buying a house at a disgustingly-inflated price and, in doing so, condoning the 'market value' and becoming part of the problem. I hate the fact that, compared to a typical boomer, my children will have to fund much of their own education, will struggle to be able to afford a family, won't be entitled to a final salary pension, will probably receive no consequential state pension, will likely have to fund much of their healthcare and will likely be working well into their seventies, without me making it even harder for them by participating in a corrupt market that keeps a home out of their financial reach. Successive governments have effectively introduced a youth apartheid in this country in the last 2 decades, and it knots my stomach to think that I might exacerbate the problem in a very small way by participating in a market that is engineered to discriminate against the young. If I could opt out completely and not fund my slumlord's mortgage too then that would be even better but I need a home for my family and emigration isn't a viable option for us for a couple of reasons. I guess, for now, I just need to keep maximising my earnings, keep my spending moderate and hope the crash happens, and happens soon - both because it'll give young people a brighter future and because it'll allow me to reap the benefit of saving to buy something I want (and something befitting of my efforts) rather than borrowing and becoming a slave to debt in order to keep up with the Joneses.
  6. Armitage Shanks

    I've gone and written that book

    I've reached 55% on my Kindle - it's interesting stuff (and I don't mean this as a criticism) but, so far, there's nothing that isn't really common sense. Earn more. Spend less. If you want a pay rise, you need to move jobs frequently. What's great is that you've actually gone out there and done it, ruthlessly, aggressively and passionately - we all pretty much 'get' the theory but we're all too caught up in our lives to be bold enough to 'game' the system. Essentially, you're escaping the rat race early by racing as fast as you can until you reach the point where you can bail out. On a more philosophical note, it saddens me that what you've done (we're similar ages) is what we, as people of our generation, were advised to do by parents, teachers and society in general - if you want something, save up and buy it rather than borrow. With the benefit of hindsight, that was the worst advice we could have been given - if I'd borrowed and borrowed and leveraged up to my eyeballs until 2003 I'd be absolutely laughing now. I didn't, and as a consequence I'm playing the rat race and I have a wife who resents that I've prevented us buying our own home since we jumped off the 'ladder' <barf> to spend a year travelling a decade ago. What I've not yet read in your book (I don't know if you cover it later - it's probably not the point of the book) is how you bring your family along for the ride in the sense of getting them to 'buy in' to your philosophy. I guess kids just fall into line but the approach that you advocate and have pursued is soooo alien to most people (including my wife) that I don't know how to begin to engineer her into thinking that what you've done is viable or fulfilling. Maybe you didn't have that problem and were preaching to the converted with your other half, but this isn't a journey that anyone in a family can embark on alone so strategies for persuading family might be a useful inclusion if more people, at some point in the future, are to be able to cite your book as the catalyst that allowed them to follow the path you've laid out. I agree with the comments about darning socks, too. Part of me likes my creature comforts and the 'bloat' of consumerist life (Twinings tea, nice holidays for family (skiing, Center Parcs, Disney, Glamping etc.) annual panto, annual music festival) but I can conceive compromising on most of those things in fairly obvious and straightforward ways however I feel like you compromise your message with the sock darning thing - it's not something I can conceive I'd ever do, given the price of socks. Your description of how you went from 2 cars to zero (before going back to 1) is much more accessible and feels doable. The latte thing is also much more palatable. I'm genuinely trying to be constructive and not be mean with my comments here, by the way - what you've done is brilliant and is 2 fingers up to the system. Also, you've done it and I haven't so, frankly, I've no right to try to tell you what to say! You've refused to be one of the sheeple - if enough people were to do the same as you, the world would be a very different place and the banksters who control the money supply while contributing nothing of value would settle at the point in the food chain where they really belong. Congratulations on your book and, more importantly, your nearing achievement. I'm looking forward to reading the rest over the next day or 2. Do you intend to continue blogging from the Med with your reflections on whether, with hindsight, you think that you 'did the right thing'? You've played the rat race so hard to achieve FI that going cold turkey will inevitably affect you and your family in ways that you hadn't foreseen. Also, I'm interested to know, would you consider that you'll be truly retired if you continue to pursue your investment hobby (perhaps it doesn't really matter)?
  7. http://archive.is/b5qj3#selection-141.0-141.55 Corresponding reddit commentary here: https://www.reddit.com/r/dataisbeautiful/comments/5dt39y/millennial_home_ownership_shrinks_as_student_debt/
  8. http://www.calgaryherald.com/vancouver+slaps+year+empty+homes+about/12372683/story.html
  9. https://www.reddit.com/r/news/comments/54vpsx/chinese_billionaire_warns_that_real_estate_is_the/ I think the masses are really starting to get it now - the replies and discussions make for interesting reading...
  10. Armitage Shanks

    Truefact...

    https://twitter.com/JulianDutton1/status/777930441345163264
  11. Armitage Shanks

    20% Discount To The Under-40S. Unintended Consequences?

    The true test of whether a 20% discount is truly being applied will be when a wily prospective buyer sends in their over-40 parents to agree a price for a house, only to then reveal that they were actually negotiating on behalf of their under-40 offspring and demand the 20% discount be applied. Is it trading standards who ensure that, say, sofa stores are 'honestly' applying discounts? If so, and I think I already know the answer to this, I wonder if they'll be policing the discounts on houses in the same way?
  12. Armitage Shanks

    20% Discount To The Under-40S. Unintended Consequences?

    I share your cynicism - nothing the establishment ever does is done for the greater good but I'm not so sure they've thought this through properly. Regardless of the sinister intention of those behind the policy, is it possible they have misjudged how it will play out in practice? Is it also possible we're so weary from seeing taxpayer-sponsored props that we're overlooking how this might play out? My simple mind, with no economics knowledge or training, is struggling to deduce the process by which this policy will make prices climb. What this effectively does is create 3 'tiers' of house. New build to under 40s, new build to over 40s (which will *theoretically* cost 20% more) and other. Other will largely be private sells and the prospective vendors will need to decide if they're competing with builders for the under 40s market or competing with them for the over 40s market. This will affect their asking price. Pitch the price lower to compete for the under 40s and what will happen is that a prospective buyer aged over 40 won't go for the overpriced new build, they'll go for the lower priced 'other', meaning builders will be left sitting on unsold houses. This in turn will drive the prices down, and so on. I'm probably wrong but it feels to me like creating artificial tiers within a market sets peculiar competitive conditions which could induce a race to the bottom. Please tell me I might be right!
  13. Maybe I'm seeing this too simplistically but, contrary to adding more hot air to the bubble as people are suggesting, might this measure have the opposite effect of dragging prices down as prospective vendors find themselves having to drop prices to compete with the builder 2 miles down the road who can (theoretically) offer a taxpayer-subsidised 20% discount on a new-build?
  14. Armitage Shanks

    20% Off Your First Home -- Merged Threads

    Is anyone expecting a formal legal challenge to this on grounds of age discrimination?
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