Monthly Finances - November 2022
It's starting to feel a lot like Christmas!
Life, Health & Early Retirement - 31 Months Since Retirement
It was another steady month for the finances in November but it definitely won't last as Mrs H has managed to get me to succumb to renovating the ground floor of the house including a kitchen upgrade so it's fortunate that November was also pretty busy on the hustling front!
It was a bit of a weird month really as Mrs H was away in the UK for a lot of it, primarily for side-gig stuff but also she took the chance to spend some time with our granddaughter who is five going on twenty-five. Although she proudly proclaims that she'll only be grown up when she's fifty-ten which I'm absolutely fine with!
So that meant that me and Winston the wonder puppy enjoyed almost 2 weeks of bro time and did a lot of pupping around, sleeping, going to the park and eating bones (well, I had the meat and he had the bones). We also got to catch up on all of our uber-masculine TV shows that are banned when Mrs h is in the vicinity e.g. Gold Rush, Moonshiners and Top Gear. I am now officially up to date on all three shows so if anyone needs any gold mining, alcohol making or a car reviewed, I'm fully qualified.
Other than that I spent most of my month on my own side-hustle as well as working with my newly "FIRE'd" friend on getting something off the ground together. Lines have been cast but as yet no bites but Rome wasn't built in a day. On my own gigs, I've managed to close all projects except one which is nearing completion so I'm planning to fully switch off over the Christmas break and try and keep away from all work related activity from the 23rd December right through to hopefully around the 9th January. That does however mean I'll be working full time on renovating the house as we plan to do most of the work ourselves to save money. Mrs H is painting & decorating and I'm electrician, plumbing and joinery. The one area we've decided to get some help in is plastering (although we've learned that in South Africa the term "plastering" means more like external rendering and internal seems to be just termed "skimming", every day is a school day) as although Mrs H actually did a course a few years back to leaner to plaster, there's a lot to do and our ceiling is probably too big of a job for the two of us.
On the health side, if you read last weeks blog you'll know I'm taking action on a couple of things. Let me just say thank you to everyone who reached out with support. The positivity I received and words of encouragement genuinely helps. I've learned three odd things in the last week, the first is that there are more mental health doctors in a 5km radius of my house than in the rest of Cape Town so it would appear I live in the right place. The second is that even thought there's loads of psychotherapists in the area, you can't get an appointment with one for love nor money. Seriously, I've now contacted six different Psychiatrists and four can't see me full stop as they have waiting lists on waiting lists and the other two don't have an opening until after march next year! Thirdly, I've learned that a Psychiatrist, Psychotherapist and Psychologists are all different things whereas I thought there was only one kind of "shrink". So the search continues but just starting to talk about it has helped and I keep reminding myself I've clearly had this issue for decades so it's not like I got suddenly ill or anything, nothing has actually changed other than I'm taking action, or trying to. So if by chance I do have any readers who's job title starts with Psycho (With the exception of Psychopath) live in Cape Town and can help a brother out, do let me know. Also, if anyone is looking for a highly profitable side-gig with unlimited opportunity, re-training as a therapist would be a good option!
The final big event of November was the catastrophic downfall of FTX which now looks like it will officially be the biggest destruction of wealth event in history. Unfortunately I had all of my Cryptocurrency stored on FTX which now looks like any chance of recovery is highly unlikely as the former CEO and founder Sam Bankman-Fried (which is a weirdly fitting name for the guy that lost around $10,000,000,000 in 24 hours) has been arrested and charged with wire-fraud which will ultimately mean that as it's a criminal act as opposed to a bankruptcy, we can say sayonara to our crypto. That little event will cost me somewhere around R500,000 / $30,000 / £25,000 of our hard earned savings. In a twisted way, I was lucky that crypto prices were down as at peak, my crypto was worth almost double that and I'd paid the tax on it at the end of the last financial year so hopefully I will have the opportunity to claim some of it as a loss against tax but that is for the accountant to figure out. The big issue will be that until the receivers actually liquidate FTX (which could take years) you technically haven't lost your money as the business still exists so you/'re pretty much stuck in limbo. It's a mess and signposts largely the end to my crypto career, which is a shame as I still believe that over the long term, my bots were going to provide a solid income. The irony is that in the end it wasn't crypto that lost me money, it was the second biggest crypto "bank" in the world who had their name all over the TV, formula 1 cars, US basketball stadiums. It just shows that without any regulation, crypto is still very much the wicky wicky wild wild west (In the words of the actor, rapper and part time UFC fighter Will Smith).
Our Net Worth: R18,764,539 / $1,072,259 / £872,769
Previous Month: R18,245,739 / $1,013,652 / £912,287
Change: +2.8% (Previous Month +0.9%)
A pretty good month on the net worth side of things with a R500,000 improvement which is the equivalent of over 6 months living expenses so I really can't complain even though I had to mark my crypto profits down as a wipe-out. The stock market is starting to show real signs of recovery now even though it's still oscillating around it's low point. I honestly believe that if the inflation rate starts to come back under control which seems to be the consensus and we don't uncover even more bad economic news, I think the worst has been built into share prices and we're going to see a slow but meaningful recovery in 2023 which I'm hoping given the investments I've made over the last few months of basically all my hustling profit, I'm well placed to recover my 2022 losses fairly quickly. However, things rarely go to plan in my world so I won't hold my breath but as I always say, if there's a steak and a beer in the fridge, everything's OK right now (unless you're a Tee-Total Vegan).
It's the time of year when I update my exchange rates for calculating my offshore investments and due to the strengthening pound and the weakening dollar, you'll notice our net worth in sterling has dropped. That's just a function of the math and is probably a more realistic reflection as the dollar was getting close to parity with the pound there for a little while. Ultimately I spend in Rand so that's the important number for the short to medium term.
I do have to say, I'm pretty worried about the local economy even though I'm not massively exposed to it from an investment point of view. The loadshedding (rolling electricity blackouts) have reached epic proportions with the whole of South Africa being off grid for an average of 8 hours per day. As an example, tomorrow (Sunday) we will have no power from midnight until 4:30am and then no power from 10:00am to 12:30pm and then no power from 4:00pm to 8:30pm. That is a massive 11.5 hours without power in a 24 hour period. And guess what the South African government are doing about it? Zipadee dooodaa. They are partying at their annual conference amidst ongoing accusations of mass corruption. And guess what else? members of parliament not only are exempt from loadshedding, they don't even have to pay for their electricity.
Its a pretty dire situation.
We are very lucky that we could afford to install solar power and backup battery storage, but there are millions in SA who can't and the Cape Town municipality warned this morning that the loadshedding is going to result in loss of water supply at some point so Christmas is likely going to be without power or water in 30c+ weather for most South Africans. Luckily South Africans are a hardy bunch so most will replace water with wine or beer and power with fire and it will still be a festive party!
Monthly Investment Return: +R250,424 / $14,310 / £11,647
Investment Return Percentage: +1.4% (+2.0% Last Month)
Annualised Investment Return: +5.4% ( +5.3% Last Month )
Investment returns mainly came from two areas. Low Cost Index tracking ETFs and Solar which is right where I want them to come from.
I continued my simplification plan and started to sell off my high risk single share or Thematic ETFs stocks and plough the proceeds back into the old faithful index trackers like the S&P 500 & MCSI World ETFs. The Thematic ETF experiment last year was an unmitigated disaster as when the crash happened, tech stocks and emerging market stocks all got pounded and that's where most of the themes were. I bought the full suite of ARK Investment ETFs which range from autonomous driving, to 3D printing, to Healthcare tech and Genomics. All hugely interesting to me as a qualified geek but as investments in a tight market? Bloody awful. Some of them are down as much as 60% so I can't even sell them as the loss is greater than the risk of holding onto them but I can promise you as soon as they show a bit of recovery, they're getting "Foxtrot Oscared"!
From a solar standpoint, almost all of my projects are now live and functioning so the rental payments are getting to be material and whilst I haven't been reinvesting the rent because the stock market feels cheap, I think that will change in 2023 and I'll start putting more of my hustling profits into Solar.
In terms of hustling profits, I made a plan to put R1m / $60k / £50k into the stock market from my consulting in 2023 and I'm pretty close now. As of today there is R886,000 / $52,000 / $44,000 in the company share dealing account which should get to the magic number by the time my clients pay their December invoices in January. That's a big part of the investing strategy moving forward as all of that investment went in between August and now so hopefully, if I'm right that this is the bottom of the market, there should be some good upside moving forward. I've also bought some decent dividend stocks to try and offset my business expenses. The whole plan there is to hold the value of R1m which will then function as the company cashflow emergency fund and any profit above thy level will be skimmed off monthly and invested into Solar for the long term.
Budget & Spending
This months expenses: R72,257 / $4,129 / £3,361
Budget : R75,000 / $4,687 / £3,750
I only noticed after I had posted last month that I had accidentally dropped the expenses section form my monthly update for the last couple of months so apologies to anyone who missed it.
Spending in November was pretty standard which was good considering Mrs H was travelling for a couple of weeks and we had a few presents to buy for the little one. There were no real standout areas of spending other than a bit extra on car repairs as my camper van is starting to be problematic so Mrs h and I have discussed that it's probably time to update the cars as they're starting to be unreliable and costing more than they should. That means I'm going to have a whopper expense in the next couple of months in cars and renovations but that is the whole reason I side-hustle. For those who haven't followed our journey for long, it's pretty simple. We have enough saved to just about live off our savings but there's not really anything budgeted for cars, holidays, renovating etc. so the side hustling is effectively money that we didn't plan to have so is kind of all upside to fund those kind of things. I'm not going to be able to consult forever (which is where the money is) so we need to make sure we save the hustle profits to cover those things off. So I think if I can get two replacement cars and do all the house renovations for R1m / $60k / £50k and we can not incur those expenses again for 4 years, that would give me time to hustle for the next R1m / $60k / £50k!
November was a month of completion. My 3 big consulting projects of 2022 pretty much came to an end in a successful outcome. Which is great for my reputation and ego, but less great for the future bank balance.
But I am pretty glad to have a break as although it will get some pretty small violins playing, even having an hour meeting in the diary in a day kind of messes up your retirement activity. For example, you can't really plan to go out very far, if I'm out in the garden or wood working, I have to take extra time to go get cleaned up before the meeting and worst of all, you just keep having to check the time so you don't miss the meeting. One of the best parts by far in early retirement is not having to look at your watch, set an alarm or be mindful that you have to do something at a certain time. That alone is extremely good for the soul!
I thought I'd do a bit proper update next month or even as s separate post on my business and the work and finances in 2022 as it really feels like I've got a handle on my side-hustling now and have built a profitable business that is fully part-time requiring around 2 days per week but pays me a similar salary to what I got when I was working a 40-60 hour week in corporate. Clearly I have to do every role from CEO to floor sweeper but I've never been one for job descriptions and being the only decision maker is perfect for my approach to business. Quick, decisive and action orientated. If you would like me to provide some details on how the business works and how the finances work, feel free to drop a comment below and I'll pull something together.
The one big piece of news on the hustle front is that I've signed a lease on an office. in fact it's a bit more than an office, it's a set of offices with a massive warehouse attached! I'm sharing with my newly FIREd colleague so we wanted somewhere we could incubate ideas and the warehouse bit means I can work on my ideas to provide some income once the consulting dries up.
It's a really big commitment and we spent a long time debating if we actually needed space and if it was just a waste of money so what we decided in the end was we would rent a place on a 1 year lease and pay the rent up front so that we have a fixed amount committed and if it does turn out to be a stupid idea, we could hand back the keys after a year and go back to hiding out in my little office that has been converted from a bedroom at home.
And how much does an office with warehouse cost these days? The answer to that is right around R200,000 / $12,000 / £10,000 a year. So with 50% of that sitting on my side, it works out to be right around R8,500 / $500 / £425 per month which is not a small amount but in reality that's also not a fortune to cover if I get one or two hustles off the ground as a result. Plus it's obviously a business expense so some of it is offset against tax as a cost. Maybe I'm trying to convince myself but it's done now and we move in on the 1st February so that is now the official date that "Hustle Plan B" begins in earnest with a renewed focus on non-consulting hustle creation!
Picking A Winning Stock 2022
At the end of the third quarter, lets do a quick check in on the 2022 investing competition
Coinbase, time of death, 12th December 2022 11:43 - I'm calling it, Mr H picked not only the worst stock pick for the 2nd Annual Tribal Fi stock pick competition, but possibly the worst stock pick in history!
With three months to go and sitting at an 81% loss it's time to face facts It's not going to have a late rally and not only have I let you , my readers down, I've let myself down! But it's not all about me as we have a couple of battles in full swing with lawrenceinvesting and Shane Perrier still battling it out for the coveted 2nd podium position with Ross.miller09 looking like he might not be ready to accept his 4th position fate as he's making up ground but still needs a bit of wind assistance to catch up before the end of February.
Down with me in the lower ranks, Charlie had a rough month with Sasol and Nvidia failed to really show up again so Jo & Charlie are shoulder to shoulder to stay away from my wooden spoon inducing position. I think you're both safe there but its all to play for for 5th position.
Stuffyuncle whilst clearly having it in the bag for the year has seen some of the shine come off Alliance Resource Partners as it's retreated a little and seems to have plateaued. That said, a close to 50% return on the year is nothing to be sniffed at.
Being able to post a profit after a total pie in the face moment from Crypto gives me some confidence that the plan is working but it is without doubt still propped up by my side gigs so more effort is required to simplify and solidify our investments for the future.
Some exciting times ahead having committed to a Tribal Fi HQ for the next year to try and generate some semi passive income streams doing something more interesting than consulting should present a new challenge.
And finally planning to blow 5% of our net worth on car and home upgrades feels instinctively wrong as a FIRE advocate but if there as a time to do it, it's now while I can generate that level of income to offset it using my side-hustles.
And then Christmas is coming and the goose is getting fat so time to relax and enjoy some downtime with friends and family.
As my December update will only come out in January, I'd like to thank everyone who read my ramblings in 2022. As much as I enjoy doing it, if you took one idea or inspiration from one of my posts and implemented it (and hopefully it did good not bad!) then its all worth it. Have a wonderful break everybody and I hope you'll tune in again next year as I think 2023 is going to be an active year of discovery for Me, Mrs H and Winston the wonder puppy.
Until next time, keep living.