Monthly Finances - June 2022
Could it be that the tide is turning, or is it just the lull before the storm?
Life, Health & Early Retirement - 26 Months Since Retirement
Hello once again from a freezing cold Southern Hemisphere, which when I say freezing, I mean like 16c which after being here from the UK for 8 years, now feels seriously cold as opposed to previously when it would trigger the donning of flip flops and shorts!
Luckily the 21st June signalled the shortest day here and the beginning of the journey back to the halcyon days of sun, wine and scenery in Cape Town. Its weird, when it's 40c in February I long for the cold days of June and when it's June, I long for the sun beating down on me. It must be true that the human mind can't remember pain!
Talking of pain.....
June was a fairly lively month spent mostly side hustling to offset the ongoing economic downturn, which dare I say it, looks to be either calming down or taking a break. Losses continue to reduce month on month and my offshore portfolio, which is my investing benchmark, seems to be bobbing up and down around the same value for the last few weeks.
Health wise, we're both pretty good and have been hitting the exercise in the gym and walking Winston the wonder puppy with some assertiveness. I did manage to pick up a bit of a stomach bug which knocked me out for a few days and I had the joy of an injection into my eyeball (yes, it's actually as weird as it sounds) in the ongoing investigation into my wonky vision but apart form that, Mrs H & I can't complain.
Who'd listen anyway!
On the retirement front it's been a nice few weeks, we've been continuing to fix up the house ready for sale and whilst we're still debating what our plan is, the to-do list is definitely getting shorter. It'll probably make for another post but our original plan of selling up and moving into rented property may be affected by the pending housing market crash that I can see looming and unless we sell it quickly. We may end up being forced to stay where we are for a bit longer.
Between that and the pup being in rude health, our international travel plans have taken a slight back burner so Mrs H & I decided we're going to see a bit more of South Africa and try out a bit of camping.
Now if you're reading this from the UK or somewhere with a similar climate, you're probably groaning at the thought of camping as it portrays pictures of sitting in a tent freezing cold whilst the wind whistles through and forces it to rain sideways. Well, I can tell you that camping in Africa and specifically South Africa for us, is a very different affair and is definitely a more enjoyable and adventurous (as well as warmer) pursuit. As luck would have it, the people carrier I bought a couple of years ago can double as a camper van so we are currently in the process of kitting ourselves out to test out if the "Van life" might be for us, at least for the odd weekend.
The jury is somewhat out and I guess it will all boil down to if it's possible to get a decent night's sleep without being eaten alive by insects and actually preferring the great outdoors to being at home. We're both looking forward to it so that is the focus right now to get out into the wilds of Africa by the time the decent weather shows up in a month or two. More on that after our maiden voyage!
Our Net Worth: R17,157,643, $1,143,843, £857,882
Previous Month: R17,347,275 / $1,156,485 / £867,364
Change: -1.1% (Previous Month -3.5%)
Considering the vomit inducing losses of the past few months, June feels like a reprieve. It's still a significant hit on the net worth but it does feel like we're near the bottom. Although if you read the financial news, which I try not to, the consensus seems to be that we haven't seen the worst yet.
I also need to remember that the net worth measurement includes side-hustling so losses are reduced somewhat by clients paying their invoices but as I only ramped up my efforts recently, the full benefit hasn't been seen yet. Overall though, I've still got just about 20 years of runway before we're broke so there's no need to be making any snap decisions quite yet.
I do now believe we're in one of the best buying opportunities in the last 10 years though so I'm doing my best to accumulate stocks and shares in quality companies while they're on sale so I predict I'll balance out the losses fairly quickly as we return to growth. I also think that while we're probably a couple of years away from being out of the current mess, when we do, history would indicate we'll go back into several years of recovery, which means upside, so my plan is to plant seeds now and reap the harvest later.
I think though that my biggest learning so far out of this situation is that firstly it was obvious that after covid, the global economy would be shot, so I should have done a bit more to prepare, and that moving forward, I should be more aware when things are going great and take profit form my riskier investments and store it in my safe havens and alternative investments which are less affected by economic factors.
However, hindsight is 20/20 as they say and every day is a school day so I prefer to take value from the learnings of this early retirement journey and be better every time. This won't be the last stock market flop in my life time and there's no way of knowing when it will happen so all you can do is try and make sure you're protected best you can but that your also positioned for the good times.
Living Expenses: R75,622 / £5,041 / £3,781
Budget: R75,000/ $5,000 / £3,750
It's been 4 months now since I increased the budget to R75k per month and we've been consistently there or thereabouts which is great but it does feel like it's getting harder and I think that's just because the price of everything is through the roof.
Increasing the budget further is definitely not an option right now so we're going to have to continue to avoid lifestyle creep and make savings wherever we can. Mrs H is really good and watches her unplanned spending really well but we do still have the occasional debate along the lines of "Well if we're both retired early and we have a million dollars in the bank, why can't I buy x, y or z?". My answer is of course that "It is because we don't waste money on X, Y or Z that we were able to retire so early". Fortunately there's not much of an argument you can make to that!
I am in the middle of figuring out if we should add more solar panels and batteries to the house as the load shedding (Rolling blackouts) is getting really bad here and for most of June were at stage 6 which means we have no electricity for as much as 9.5 hours each day ( I know, ridiculous right?). It has no sign of getting any better in the next few years and I can guarantee we'll see annual increases in the cost of electricity in excess of 10% so a bit of extra investment now to take us completely off-grid would probably pay for itself in 2 to 3 years by my calculations. That will cost around R100,000 / $6,500 / £5,000 on top of the spend we already made a few years ago of R300,000 / $20,000 / £15,000 so it's definitely not small change and especially if we sell the house as we won't get that back but the reality is that during long periods of load shedding, we actually spend more on electricity as everything is constantly rebooting or recharging so there is a genuine logic to remove that issue. of course it's also pretty nice not to have to sit in the dark every evening as were we live it seems to fall that the long 4.5 hour spell with no electricity often falls at 18:00 - 22:30 which is about the worst time of the day not to have any power.
Other than that, we're just trying not to do unnecessary trips in the car as fuel continues to rise. We're even actively discussing going down to one car at some point as it's starting to feel like an unnecessary luxury to have two as they mostly sit in the drive.
Monthly Investment Return: -R59,589/ -$3,973 / £2,979
Investment Return Percentage: -0.3% (-2.8% Last Month)
Annualised Investment Return: +4.5% ( +4.8% Last Month )
June feels like a fairly "normal" down month like I'm used to instead of a massive loss. Its still a loss equivalent to a month's living expenses almost but anything less than 1% is what I consider to be just a tough month rather than a disaster.
I've continued to invest the company profits and the rental income we receive from our solar panel hustle into the stock market as well as continuing to dollar cost average the shares I've already bought and I've also decided to move some more money into crypto but only into the top 10 tokens with a view to holding them over the long term.
As I mentioned earlier, I've been working on my plan to take profits and I've set myself a series of limits to the amount of stock, crypto, funds, unit trusts and any other investments that are linked to the economy so that I know when to take profit (when it eventually arrives) and I'm going to move all of my profits into solar for the long term and cattle and farming in the short term.
Regular readers will remember I was a big advocate early on of cattle and farming as alternative investments as they pay healthy returns and whilst they're not risk-free, the risk is much less linked to the economy so they tend not to move in the same pattern as equities. Solar investments lock your money up for 20 years but with cattle and farming, you choose as little as 5 months and as long as 12 years with lots of options in between. I actually almost completely got out of cattle because it felt a bit boring whilst everything was shooting upwards, I now fully understand that boring can be a very good thing during a downturn and can also provide much needed liquidity to invest when bargains present themselves, so they are coming back with gusto as a strategic part of my portfolio.
It's definitely busy in the hustle arena and I'm currently working for 3 clients simultaneously but fortunately still less than my self imposed targets of 2 days per week.
Unlike previously though where that would get me a bit overwhelmed and make me fell like I was a wage slave again, I'm actually really enjoying it now that I have purposely stopped getting involved in all activities which are speculative or non-value adding for me. Put another way, if I'm not getting paid for it, I'm not doing it. Its so easy to end up in meeting and chatting to people that has no value and I'm one of the worst for not saying no. I have been tougher though and I can now see the amount of wasted time I was spending and now working for three clients is entirely manageable. The company coffers are filling up and I'm actively re-investing profits for the future so hustling is going great right now.
A good friend of mine is also in the process of commencing a life of early retirement so we're going to do some hustling together. I've talked a lot about my next move and that is to do something I enjoy first and make money second. This should be the opportunity to do that and I have already discussed with him that it needs to be as far away from the industry I spent the last 30 years involved in as possible so whilst we haven't quite figured it out yet, there are ideas being kicked around. we plan to have something in the works before the year is out so there is a fair bit of admin to do to get ourselves in shape which I'm currently working on.
More about that as we figure it out.
Picking A Winning Stock 2022
Talking of stock picking, it continues to be an open(ish) race on our 2022 competition:
With the exception of my abject failure and Stuffyuncle's continued prowess, it's all happening in the stock pick challenge.
Ross has made it back into profit with Alibaba and Jo has taken a bit of a beating on Nvidia. Amazingly Lawrence has managed to get back to a perfect zero which based on the rest of us, manages to give him a podium place as we get closer to the midway point which will be based on August's results.
I do still believe that a lot could happen before the title gets claimed at the end of February 2023 but my blind faith in my own capability has given way to me accepting I may not win again this year!
As a group we're showing a 13.5% loss YTD which considering the state of the nation, doesn't actually feel too shabby. The big question is if that turnaround comes before it's too late.
Time will tell.
Some green shoots of recovery to our financial future seem to be on the way and it definitely feels like we're a bit more in control and galvanised from what is probably another couple of years of tough times ahead.
We're still having a lot of fun though and wouldn't reverse our decision to retire for all the tea in China.