An Ermine finds himself working but not worth training

I have spent the last three years running the other way whenever anything associated with the dreaded W word came up, blanked the ranks of recruiters (they thin out fast enough after six months), turned down the odd design and build and done the odd one pro bono rather than face the grisly issue of self-assessment. But eventually my luck ran out and I was offered just enough to be worth registering for SA, particularly as I am short one year of NI for 35 years to get a full State Pension 😉

That’s working as a minimum-wage contractor, rather than as HRT paying consulting engineer that is, sic transit gloria mundi, eh? At least it’s only about three days a month. I did some scientific work and electronics for a bunch of guys, so I have to lose about five grand of income somewhere – my SIPP looks like a great place to start. Paradoxically, I would be daft to claim the cost of my microscope and chartered engineer subscriptions to reduce my income as real self-employed workers do, because washing as much income as possible through the SIPP nicely returns me the 20% VAT I paid on the microscope in the form of an income tax refund on tax I don’t pay. It’s a strange old world indeed, working below the tax threshold.

I’m a deeply lazy bastard, and after 30 years of it I don’t need to sell my time for money. I didn’t even have Jim’s transitory ennui, three years out of the workplace has taught me the world is plenty interesting enough to keep me occupied. Unlike Jim, my exit from the workplace was a rout, not a controlled exit, I was therefore saved from that sort of angst. You just don’t mourn the scenery of the long road trip if you got to crawl from the wreckage fifty miles from journey’s end 😉

However, recently I failed to step back quickly enough after a fellow doing the books for an enterprise dropped out hastily, and I ended up with  running the books, and doing in the corporation tax and companies house annual return, so I will continue to earn some wedge for that and some on and off scientific analysis and engineering. I followed TFS’s step by step guide how to register and fill in your self-assessment tax form It’s early days yet, and I have the suspicion that I really should have started here since I am not an employee. It appears I have a year to get this right, and he’s dead right, it is not straightforward. [ref]I owe TFS a beer, because I have managed to complete this now without gnashing of teeth[/ref].

work... I calim no originality here, it's more system integration/applications than design
one example work in the form of a remote temperature sensor… I claim no design creativity here because this is a COTS product, my role is more system integration/applications than design

You can’t motivate the financially independent with money

I did this to help out rather than to be able to buy a Cornucopia of Crappy Christmas Consumer Shit 😉  On the other hand I am not a Zen being of true light and ultimate detachment. I have a problem with working for free[ref]The Guardian asserts this is a specific problem with my generation and gender, though I don’t observe this particularly in the local environment, grey hair predominates in charity/volunteer roles, and I note the younger generation may be forced into unpaid work to broaden their CVs, which may distort the survey[/ref] in a role where people have been previously paid for it, and also particularly where there is something that needs to happen by particular times. However, I’m not that sure that the money will change my lifestyle.

a different aspect fo the activity called work
a different aspect of the activity called work

Being a lazy toad the first thing I did was make a PERL script to munge the downloaded online bank statements[ref]the modern way is to use a third-party service like Yodlee, give them your bank login details so they can log in to your bank and transfer this data, which is how Sage One does it. As soon as I read that I decided these were not people I am prepared to do business with, because doing that instantly gives the bank carte blanche to repudiate any losses you incur due to fraudulent activity even if unconnected. No thank you sir. Not. Going. There.[/ref] into something I can import into Quicken, because life is far too damn short to key hundreds of transactions on minimum wage. I set them up way back when with Quicken, because I understood it. The dude who quit in haste was setting things up with Sage One Accounts and running parallel, but I shut that down because Sage One will nickel and dime us for add-on this and add-on that to get the management reporting of product lines and cost of goods sold that Quicken already does. Sage One will make the figures add up and track VAT but it won’t help you answer the question “are we spending more on making product X than we get selling it” which is a pretty fundamental thing people want to know if they’re running a business.

It was the classification and categorisation of Quicken that help me understand and bring order to my own personal finances. While I wouldn’t go as far a the Rhino and consider myself Ermine Enterprises PLC tracing where the money went, using the principles I learned running that multimedia company taught me to chase the waste. Before, I had simply used Quicken in order to make sure Micawber was satisfied and get the numbers to add up. Spending less than you earn is 80% of the win of personal finance – do that over a working life and some of it will stick to the sides.

By the time they’d finished upgrading Sage to be as useful as Quicken it would be cheaper to pay an bookkeeper to reconcile the bills from the time-honoured shoebox. And anyway. the Ermine Does. Not. Do. Cloud. I just don’t get it how people entrust key functions like that to cloud, but then I’ve seen dodgy sorts hold my data to ransom. You spend a lot of effort putting transactions into an accounting system, and cloud providers own the keys to your effort. When they say pay more or else, you get to pay more. Of course they all offer a low cost trial period, I believe this is the same way street drug dealers work to raise their customer base 😉

The strangeness of inverse taxation

I’m not doing this for the wedge, though it will enable me to pump up my SIPP contribution this year to more than the £3600 my non-earning self has been putting in, which will mean I get an extra 20% payrise from the taxman simply by washing this through the SIPP. I will stay below the personal allowance and am a mustelid of sufficiently grizzled fur as to be able to use flexible drawdown. Once you earn more than the personal allowance then that’s a waste of time in a money roundabout [ref]until you reach the HRT threshold[/ref], but an Ermine is far too idle to put in enough work to earn the personal allowance.

Now I’ve managed to get through my working life without ever having filled in a tax return because I was a PAYE wage slave and I can’t say the prospect thrills me – I’ve turned down odd jobs in the past because I couldn’t face that. But the win on SIPP and State pension shifts the needle on the dial enough to make this worth doing, at least for one tax year, where I will put my entire gross pay into the SIPP, although it will only cost me 80% of my gross pay. It’s only going to be about 5k, but it’ll work hard for me, and I get to spend the remaining 1k on beer and crisps… It’s interesting to observe that last year the Consolidated Dividends dept of my ISA almost worked as hard as I will this year 😉

There’s something deeply futile about working post FI

What’s the bloody point? I’m still of that opinion – I have to take this wedge and lose it in a SIPP, purely to game the system and win the £1000 I can’t be arsed to juggle 20 bank accounts for. One of the things I learned in the seven lean years[ref]I know, it’s six, but I will only start to draw this in the next tax year[/ref] from 2009 is what enough looks like. I’m not currently there yet, but once this SIPP starts paying out on average £15k[ref]when I toss in the PCLS spread out over five years, assuming it isn’t recruited to save my sorry ass from a market swoon[/ref], then there’s no point in earning more from then. No consumer shit is worth spending more time in an office, and above all else, I don’t like working for free, particularly for the taxman. End of – so as soon as I draw my main pension I need to cease earning any income from work ‘cos it’ll all be taxable.

OTOH if I don’t manage to work out how to transfer this SIPP I might consider working enough to stall drawing my main pension for another year or two, then take an actuarial hit and invest the AVC tax-free PCLS. One of the other things I learned in those seven lean years is stay flexible, nothing ever turns out as planned.

National Insurance deliberations

The other place this is useful for me is that I only have 34 years of NI contributions. I need 35 for a full State Pension, should such a mythical beast still exist in 12 years. A lot of those years are contracted out, but 10 aren’t. I need one more year, and it so happens that buying NI contributions as a self-employed ‘striver’ is much cheaper (£2.80 × 52 weeks ≅ £146 p.a.) than buying Class 3 voluntary contributions as a gentleman of leisure (£14.10× 52 weeks ≅ £733 p.a) , because the Government fetishises earned income over rentier income, the Calvinist devils. Investing £146 to get a potential 2.5% uplift in State Pension sounds like a punt worth taking to me. The Government is going to have to sort its shit out with this ‘working is good for you’ prejudice if robots really do start to drive jobs out of the economy.

There are, however, other subtle issues which  I don’t really understand. To be honest, anybody with a fair amount of DB pension should basically appreciate their good fortune and maybe not carp like this about losing out, because you’re losing out something you wouldn’t have got had the change not been made, and FFS there are a whole load of problems to do with pension saving you just don’t have compared to everyone else. But yes, if you contort yourself in knots you might make a case that under some circumstance you lose out. The issue is described in more detail here, but boils down to

The old basic SP without add-on SERPS etc was £116pw if you got the full whack, and you should not lose out by the move to the new system, even if as a teacher you were contracted out of the State Pension earning related bits. That sets a lower floor, assuming you have 3o years of contributions up to next tax year, but it’s not inflation-linked. Your DB pension provider has to compensate for the loss of SP up to some arbitrary inflation linking – about 3%, and historically the compensation over that has been the inflation-linking of the old SP. But that nominal £116 is frozen at the change, and the contracted out years are held against you.

The new SP is £151. Even if I hadn’t been contracted out, because I am a year short I’d lose £151÷35×0.8 (0.8 because I’d be 100% taxed on any extra, reducing the loss) or £3.45 p.w. which is £180 p.a. That will be sorted, but I will still lose (151-116)×24(contracted out years)÷35×0.8=£19.2 p.w. which is nearly £1000 p.a. for being contracted out, and the effective value of that deduction will increase with inflation.

I therefore have the opportunity to add 80p a week to my State Pension (£41.60 p.a) for each year of NI I pay after April 2016. It’s not actually clear to me whether this year (where I would not be contracted out) counts for contracted in years under the old system, where it would punch higher than the new system (due to 1/30th rather than 1/35th). If it won’t then I will choose not to pay it this year from the small profits threshold regulations. Although £42 a year isn’t much, I may choose to consider myself working for some small amount and electively invest £150 NI a year for the next five years as I have a reasonable chance of living for three years beyond 67 (after which I’d have my money back) and after that I’d be in extra time.

The ONS is right. An Ermine’s human capital is shot – it’s not worth training older guys…

The ONS have officially declared older workers a waste of space. I will wear my badge with pride 🙂 It was that Monevator fellow that stated young people are already rich, and the ONS is right behind him

Doomed, i tell ya, doomed...
Employed human capital by age group, 2014

Figure 4 shows that the stock of human capital is disproportionately concentrated in younger workers. For example, 41.4% of the working age population are aged between 16 and 35 but this group embodies 66.1% of the human capital stock, showing that being relatively young and having more years of paid employment remaining more than offsets the effect of having higher earnings whilst being relatively old.

Arguably a 21-year-old Ermine leaving Imperial College in the teeth of Thatcher’s first recession carried the potential of all the putative earnings of an Ermine all the way up to retirement in 2012. Since a pension is deferred pay it’s hard to know where to allocate the next 25-30 years of pension ‘earnings’, after all I have to live that long to get it. As for the dividend income from my ISA which is effectively my DC pension, presumably the ONS looks at investing returns with the same dim view as Osborne looks at leveraged Buy to Let – as a tax on the otherwise productive activity of the economy.

I was looking at improving my competence at this bookkeeping lark. 20 years of running Quicken and about 10 years of running a multimedia limited company on the side taught me the basics of doing this, and although I used to submit VAT returns on paper the online version asks the same things and numbers the boxes the same as over ten years ago.

So I take a butcher’s hook a the AAT. Now the Ermine is an individualistic and solo learner, I am happy to read books and try and take the AAT test which is a modest investment of the odd hundred pounds. But it appears that you can’t self learn all of it and have to involve a training organisation, and all of a sudden the costs skyrocket. I want the learning but I don’t want to pay the training fees, and now that ONS chart makes sense. There’s no point in investing in training an Ermine because there’s no decent return in it compared to the school leaver. I’d have to set up in business and start doing other people’s books and that sounds far too much like work to me.

The other thing is the pace of the CBT e-learning is terribly slow. I was totally unaware that businesses could transfer the risks of customer invoices to banks, and it appears in two ways – either debt factoring or invoice discounting. With one you get the customers to pay a third party, who advances you a lump of the invoice as they chase the customers, with the other you get a credit line which is a certain percentage of your outstanding sales invoices. The e-learning takes five minutes to play-act out what I’ve just described in two lines. I really hate the trend towards video for instruction nowadays – it forces a dreary pace on things, you can’t speed up or slow down with bits you get or don’t get, and unlike reading you have to grind along at the pace of the slowest learner. Likewise for the solvency sketch, it’s pretty ‘king obvious that you run out of money if you have to pay people faster than you get paid. I believe I would have jumped to that even as a callow late 1970s school-leaver.

Much of this training seems targeted at school leavers who have little idea of what a business does. I am okay on that, it is the peculiar conventions of bookkeeping and accountancy I am unfamiliar with. I can make the numbers add up, identify if things are costing more to make than they earn from analysing the classifications and the flows of money in Quicken. I can fill in the VAT returns and the annual accounts, again from understanding the flows of money.

But I find the specialised lingo counter-intuitive – take this for example. WTF is an increase in assets the same sort of thing (a debit entry) as an increase in expense? If I buy a load of shares my bank balance goes down, yes, but I have something of value to show for it. Whereas if my expenses increase, my bank balance goes down but it just gets to piss me off. This really isn’t the same thing at all.

However, I solved the problem for the princely sum of £0 with this Open University book on accounting free on Kindle. Apparently years ago in the 1600s the Italians decided assets increasing were classed as debits, and we’ve been stuck with this bizarre convention ever since. Which explains why I kept on failing those AAT tests 😉

You do not need expensive classroom training for many things. Sometimes an enquiring mind and having learned how to learn will do, so the ONS can take their human capital and stick it where the sun doesn’t shine as far as this human capital deadbeat is concerned.


27 thoughts on “An Ermine finds himself working but not worth training”

  1. I feel your pain on the slow pace of learning and being forced to involve a training provider. Why should I pay someone else, when I know how to study? And I can do so at a pace that suits me, as an individual? There is no benefit to me to be held back to the pace of the slowest learner… And contrary to the belief that the training provider will still make money when I quit out of annoyance, they will receive a barrage of bad reviews and my spreading the word around of their ridiculous practices… and we all know that bad news spreads more and spreads quicker than good news.


  2. The way I learned it was Asset/expenditure = debit, income/liability = credit.

    Odd to get your head round but it was all rote learning for me anyway (which I’m good at luckily).

    I did AAT as a youngster and feel your pain over fees / slow tuition. My employer paid however (which I’m very grateful for), but I remember colleagues failing the incredibly tedious exams and being stunned that they couldn’t GET IT, but as I say I’m the king of rote learning 🙂



  3. @There’s Value I’m in the lucky position of being able to say sod it to the training provider, because I don’t need the tick in the box ,which is perhaps another article on the difference between working post FI and pre-FI. If there’s ticks needed in boxes I’m outta there.

    I thought this slow-paced learning stuff was peculiarly an issue with The Firm’s compliance training in my last years, but the disease seems to have spread!

    @Dom I never learned that formally – once that OU book showed me there was this strange convention I was okay with it. Some fields of knowledge just have these things from years ago – after all an electric current is a flow of electrons that come from the negative terminal and it would have been nice if that coin toss had gone the other way years ago. So it is with the historical convention on assets it appears. Everybody just needs to agree on it, and as a noob I wasn’t in on the secret until that OU book. The price was right on that!


  4. I love the sentiments behind your paragraph on there being something “deeply futile about working after FI”. Unfortunately, as you have pointed out, as a born again Calvinist (or one that never actually died) I can’t quite buy it. There is a dignity in labour. Or something. I just can’t quite put my finger on it yet.


    1. hehe – I have the opposite problem, because I don’t particularly believe (or feel) there’s a dignity in labour. So there are thoughts spinning in the back of my mind on ‘exactly how did I end up here’. Okay some of it was to forestall a minor car crash, because one shouldn’t stand idly by if the skills to steer the path are there. Some of the scientific stuff is interesting of itself and needs some capex to pursue, so why not get paid for it. But there’s still some element of feeling dazed and confused, because I learned what Enough looked like across the lean years, and it’s difficult to qualify what the point of more than Enough is…

      One of the bizarre consequences of having more time as a retiree is that you fall over serendipitous small opportunities. I’ve turned down quite a few of those because I didn’t want the aggro of self-assessment, but these damned small opportunities just kept on coming.


  5. If your bank account goes overdrawn the figures have “Dr” after them on your statement because it’s written from the bank’s point of view and they now have an asset (the money you owe them). When you’re “in credit” it’s again from their point of view as they have a liability (they owe you money).


    1. Interesting and maybe this is why the convention arose historically. can sort of see that in the case of a bank. Perhaps indeed my view has been distorted because I’ve always seen DR as bad and to be avoided!

      But if I buy a piece of capital plant like a CNC machine or an oscilloscope, it sort of breaks down, although such assets should make me more productive/able to take on jobs I couldn’t do.


  6. I see no particular dignity in labour either, not in the context of The Firm anyway. Commiserations for the “W” word.

    The Ermine said…

    “…particularly as I am short one year of NI for 35 years to get a full State Pension 😉”

    I thought us DB’ers were getting nothing even close to the full state pension due to not having paid full NI? 1/35 for every year of paying full NI, and a minimum of 10 of those to qualify for anything at all?


    1. I think the 10 years of NI is ten years of paying to get any SP, I don’t think they have to be contracted in, else there’s going to be a lot of snarling from people who haven’t had the time to build up 10 contracted in years from the announcement of the changes (2014 ISTR, two years before implementation)

      I actually have 11 years contracted in from the time I worked in London for a small firm and then the BBC, I relinquished my four years BBC FS pension because it came in a three year and a one year bit (I had a year out to do an MSc so it was technically two periods of employment). In theory if I were self employed for another six years (this year and the five next ones) at a low level I could get that up to 17.

      Even if you are fully FS contracted out I think the hit is the one I computed from

      (151-116)×24(contracted out years)÷35×0.8=£19.2 p.w. which is nearly £1000 p.a.

      though the loss would be upscaled to £1456 p.a. Probably not as bad as that as you’ve not been contracted out since March 31 2009, presumably three of my 11 years were 2009 to 2012, but you’ve accumulated another three years since


  7. I did it a bit of what you might call Engineering Economics in my time and never found the least use for accounting conventions. In contrast, some of the lingo of economists is logical, simple, and useful.


  8. @ermine and @SHMD – doesn’t at least part of the “dignity of labour” come from doing something worth doing which makes you feel pleased you were part of it and proud of what you did it? Which has been a characteristic of my working live until pretty recently. Once it stops being that admittedly the situation changes.


    1. I’m not so sure. For the great majority of my working life I probably had what you described, but I never saw it as something that gave me a sense of worth. Yes, the money enabled me to do other stuff in life and it was often an interesting intellectual challenge and at times good to flick the switch and see something happen or fish a faint signal from the noise. But somewhere I’m missing the gene that gives the extra fillip of self-worth from it all. As a retiree that’s good, but perhaps I missed out on something from work. It’s only looking back on it that I see that I’m probably an outlier in not having this, and it indicates the dislocation due to automation and globalisation may be much harder to resolve than Keynes’ Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren (roughly the Millennial generation) postulated.


  9. “Of course they all offer a low cost trial period …”

    Hmm, I used to like the saying “there’s no such thing as a ‘loss leader’ – just a loss” but these days I begin to wonder if that hasn’t been almost completely overturned whilst we weren’t paying attention. The headlong rush into ‘cloud’ this and ‘smartphone’ that looks worryingly ill-advised to me, but what do I know, only having worked in systems integration and network security in the past (but thankfully no longer), ho-hum …

    “… give them your bank login details so they can log in to your bank and transfer this data …”

    Holy s**t ! Does anyone seriously consider that as a sensible solution ?!
    From what I’ve understood of your description of the project, a simple package like Quicken sounds perfectly adequate. Hell, I was using an even older version myself when I was still working and it did everything I required of it. “More complexity, more cost, more ‘features’ no-one uses” is the way of the world now, and less reliability too if anyone’s interested …

    Perl 🙂 Isn’t Perl the most wonderful flexible language ? I still can’t believe how easily it allows you to structure data, knock scripts and utilities together, and how damn fast it is considering it’s not compiled too. ‘Been using it for years 🙂

    “I’d have to set up in business and start doing other people’s books and that sounds far too much like work to me.”

    Hehe, I had to laugh here because that scene from “The Good Life” just leapt into my mind at this point – the one where someone wants to sell Tom’s newly created pottery in London “at Chelsea prices” and it means getting the phone reconnected, limited company, accountant, etc, etc … “normal sane people again” (?) … “urgh !” (Series 2, Episode 7: “Going to Pot” in case you’re wondering 🙂 )


    1. Lots of people seem to think giving Yodlee your bank details is sensible 😉 Moneydashboard which is a cloud version of Quicken as described by TFS also uses Yodlee.

      There really does seem to be a generational divide in who feels happy with cloud, and I’m on the wrong side of that divide. There’s a world of difference between using the bank’s systems as intended, transferring the text file, doing the Practical Extraction and Reporting Language munging on my system and stuffing this into Quicken, and giving Yodlee the details the bank explicitly says “do not give to anyone else or we will hold you responsible for any and all losses”. It’s fair enough with Moneydashboard, you don’t expect consumers to know any different, but I was flabbergasted when I saw Sage One advocate this route to a professional customer base! There was a barney on accountingweb about that, ‘twixt the young whippersnappers who thought it was all fine and the old gits who were having palpitations at the thought of handing the keys to the castle to Yodlee.

      That Good Life skit sums up a lot about working post FI – just because you can doesn’t always mean you should.


  10. I also failed to mind the gap a few weeks ago and temporarily invited the four horseman of Work (Vassal, Panicus, Insomnis and Anxietas) back to wreak havoc in my family and mental life. FML how easy is it to fall back into a toxic relationship ?
    On the plus side I have managed to hit times of creative flow and engage with really bright people again, both of which are lacking post FIRE for me. Clearly there must be better ways than to achieve this!
    I’m looking forward to my re-retirement in a few days/ weeks and have been converted to the ermine doctrine of going medieval on your job and ploughing salt into your Linkedin account.

    BTW enjoying the geekiness of your side projects. You might like to try R/ R studio for hacking statements and the like about, it’s like the bastard child of perl and excel (in a good way).


  11. After I retired I spent a couple of years as a volunteer at a small local coffee roaster in Almonte. I helped in production and technical affairs. They were selling fair trade coffee which benefited the farmers in Colombia and Nicaragua instead of Kraft foods so I didn’t mind.
    The company grew and prospered, they punted the old volunteers and brought in a bunch of young people at minimum wage. Hence I learned my lesson.
    I have some marketable skills in IT and networking but no “papers” to prove it (and I don’t feel the need to prove anything at my age.)
    The local seniors I help out are poorer than I am so I would be embarrassed to take their cash. I get the odd bottle of wine so I’ll take that. No income tax to pay there.


  12. Ha ha Ermine, you are showing your age with your attitude towards cloud accounting! I’m clearly on the other side of this debate, but perhaps that’s the generation gap with me being 33 (although I have plenty of clients that are older than you that have embraced cloud accounting).

    I understand your concerns about the basic ownership issue and potentially being held to ransom on pricing, but the time savings from the software are precisely why there is less and less work for bookkeepers nowadays! Monthly fees (even if they were doubled or tripled, which seems very unlikely) are far cheaper than paying a bookkeeper for that work.

    I would be seriously reconsidering the idea of doing training as a bookkeeper – the pool of work is shrinking, and the work that’s left usually utilises cloud software anyway!


    1. I was only thinking of doing this to be competent – I have absolutely zero desire to go into business doing this!

      However, I do find Sage’s incitement to directly contravene the Ts and Cs of the banks dreadful. Sage charge enough and are big enough to be able to go to the banks and strike a deal to get read-only APIs for their bank feeds, going in through the front door rather than sneaking round the back and rooting in the bins using Yodlee, exposing their customers to the risk of banks repudiating responsibility for fraud.


  13. Yeah, Yodlee does seem a bit iffy when you think about it, but the big banks still “support” Yodlee feeds (some of the smaller banks don’t support them yet, but it’s mainly due to under-investment in this area), which to me implies that they have probably updated their systems somewhat (and checked out the tecnicalities). We have software providers in Australia using Yodlee feeds and the other way (“the front door as you put it”) and our authorities seem accepting of both.


  14. Mmm…the movement to cloud. It is becoming common for companies to move to the cloud as they offload the ‘support’ and ‘maintenance’ to others so they don’t need to retain IT staff to do the job for them. They don’t need to pay for a continued hardware refresh and the pain of application upgrade every so many years, they just pay a monthly fee to get the cloud provider to sort it out instead, spreading the costs, easing budget approvals and annual spends. They don’t need the data centre or the DR facilities. They just get paper guarantees that they are secure – which they then wave at security teams when a breach is uncovered.
    Bottom-line costs v. security. The risk analysis favours the cloud!

    Accountants and bookkeepers are on the way out as they are seen as admin tasks that can be automated. The professionalism of work is being eroded as the automation snowball rolls through the career structures.


  15. Ermine, I know that you weren’t going to take the AAT qualification in order to start a new career (heaven forbid) but did you ever consider your local FE college for the training? Shouldn’t be as expensive as those “professional” trainers.

    Years ago I did my accountancy training with one of these high-cost outfits because my employer paid, so I had a misguided middle class snootiness about FE colleges. This was knocked out of me in summer 2015 when my eldest son got chucked out of his A-level course because he didn’t achieve high enough AS results. The local FE college welcomed him with open arms, as his AS results were really not that bad (he hadn’t actually failed anything). So forgive an old mum for being evangelical about FE colleges as he is applying for University to do the same course he probably would have done anyway and he has learned how to work hard at something that interests him. I know that there are too many graduates and I know that they have to borrow too much but I’m (very, very) old-fashioned and still adhere to the view that an education is the one asset that can never be taken away from you. And there are fewer jobs with decent training for young people, anyway. If only he wanted to be a plumber….

    By the way, there is a reason why all assets being debits/debtors. Possibly apart from cash (which the bank account or the BoE owes you) those wily Italians knew that all assets bought outright will depreciate: a CNC machine (whatever that is) or a company van may last 10 years and then you are likely to have to buy a new one. The depreciation charges allocate, say, a tenth of that capital cost to business costs each year and this is a warning to shareholders looking at the balance sheet. Once depreciation nearly equals original cost, you are looking at having to stump up more capital to replace your assets. Sorry to be an accounting bore but I couldn’t resist it! Love your rants.


  16. Hi ermine,

    Good to see you are keeping yourself busy 🙂

    Also very glad to find someone found my SA registration post useful… That took me nearly as long to write the damn thing as actually do the process itself! They’ll probably change it all next year and make the post useless as well.

    Anyway a beer seems more than fair compensation, at least I won’t have to declare it as income that way 😉

    Cheers and have a great Christmas, hope you don’t get too much tat!



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