Looking back over an “interesting” year

In her Happiness Project book Gretchen Rubin said that the days are long but the years are short, and so it has seemed for this year, a lot happened. There has been much noise and hum in 2022. It has been a collection of unforced errors in leadership, not just in the UK though we punched above our weight in mouth-breathing incompetence. I have a suspicion that we are getting the foothills of peak oil and the decline in living standards one would expect from that – the world is getting a larger place again, it is not so much slowbalisation as degobalisation of many things.

Capitalism hates resilience with a vengeance, driving it out across the board in the name of efficiency, but there is an assumed precondition of low geopolitical and natural volatility. 2022 was not the lifestyle that capitalism ordered in the Goldilocks period.

As a general rule resilience is inversely proportional to complexity and decreases with time. In the 1960s British houses had coal bunkers and didn’t depend on Russian gas (and if they did use gas it was coal gas locally produced). Before we get too dewy-eyed people only heated one room, and an open fire drew a hoolie through the single-glazed sash windows so everywhere else was freezing. People had bronchitis all the time – I haven’t had bronchitis since I was a student 😉 But they had the edge on resilience.

I await with interest if the power cuts happen in the first two weeks of January which seem to be the highest risk. Will our towns fill with zombies when they can’t plug into the social media hive mind with their smartphones. Smartphones are not resilient, and the base stations are good for an hour or so without power. It is of course a logical conclusion that the Internet will always be there despite its overweening complexity, so we don’t need to bother with broadcasting after 2030.  Yet another piece resilience from a distant analogue world gets its marching orders, pah, who needs it…

In Britain the crew that delivered Brexit seems to have problems unleashing the heady promises of Britannia Unchained, with an exceptional rush of blood to the head in October that raised the price of people’s mortgages.

Everybody is grousing about energy prices. I am not sure all this can be laid at Putin’s door. Optimists will say that the solution to high energy prices is high energy prices, and perhaps this will capitalise the Energiewende that should have happened a few years ago.

In some ways that’s true – UK consumers have reduced their power consumption by 10-15%. Mind you, we also have a Warm Spaces network… I’m not saying that in itself is a bad thing, but it’s a symptom of a bad thing.

I investigated power drain in August, when all this was being floated. Being a cynical cost-focused running-dog I observe all the green crap is loaded on electricity, so I ignored space heating entirely and targeted electrical power drain, on the grounds I don’t want to subsidise other people’s insulation any more than I have to. I was able to reduce electricity usage by about a third, which is worth having, and the results are now in, and they are sustainable –

power drain over the year

It wasn’t cost-free – I had to shut down some test equipment, replace the CCTV DVR and ice several static loads and consolidate many others. I have probably saved about £180 due to that activity so far, so I am still short because the capex was more. But unless power costs dramatically less soon I will probably break even over the next year.

I am on the list for a stake in a windfarm to defray electricity usage. This is progressing at a snails pace – strategy not tactics. To take it up I will need to get a smart meter and probably join Octopus. I have many reservations about smart meters, not only can They remotely cut you off with a clickety-clack at a remote NOC, as opposed to sending hairy-arsed grunts out to gain entry and pull the main service fuse, but there is the general surveillance and control aspect of it all, which is a feature of smart anything. Ida Auken’s Welcome to a 2030, I own nothing post of renting everything is a pointer of where that leads. It’s not hard to deduce when you go out from a 30min sample of your power usage, and experience has generally shown that the best way to keep your data secure is not to transmit it to third parties every half hour.

However, smart metering is probably an inherent requirement for power systems with a high proportion of renewables, along with the implied big stick of load shedding, which is terrifically easy to implement using smart meters, both in the we will cut this area off to save the rest, or perhaps encourager les autres as well as the more subtle we will only allocate you x kWh per day. Quite a gift to hostile state hackers, too.

It was precisely to avoid the smart meter that I implemented this solution myself, and efergy does of course send the data over the network, as well as being more ratty than I would like. But you don’t have to say who you are, or rather cleave to the truth in the same way as Boris Johnson does. Data snoopers can infer your district from the GeoIP range but not much closer than that. And efergy can’t cut me off 😉

A smart electricity network that can constructively use renewables with minimum storage will be a remarkable achievement. It will be much more complex that what we had. It will be far more hackable because of the larger attack surface, It will, probably be more efficient. But in no earthly way will it be be more reliable. I expect to see far more outages and also power restrictions, where your smart meter says you can only use x kWh today else we will cut high loads off.

In a world like that I wouldn’t be in too much of a rush to electrify everything. I will hold on to my gas boiler for a long time yet 😉

Markets, schmarkets

This was the year the stock market died, but we Brits didn’t notice because our money died faster than the stock market – 10% off on the start of the year relative to the USD, and a similar amount to gold. So while I can compare January’s iWeb statement with today’s and conclude I am 3% down in marked to market that is actually ~13% down when measured in Real Things of Value Not GBP, like gold or US dollars. Personally I go meh to that, I don’t have steam coming from my ears like American index investors who are looking at this.

Performance of the S&P500 year to date, along with the associated dire headlines

I have been selling gold in the ISA and buying shares through this year, largely VWRL, and rebuying the gold in a GIA. Vanguard tell me in this year’s ISA I have £20366, a whopping 3.25% rate of return. Less, of course 10%, so no cigar. This is from starting to top this up in May once I had cleared out all last year’s Vanguard ISA into HL. Talking of which

When is VWRL not VWRL? When you transfer it to Hargreaves Lansdown in specie

Nobody gets fired for buying VWRL. It’s a boring index stock from a boring index provider. I hold a lot of it, largely on the back of this article. I am not a good little passive index investor, you can see that in my sick purchasing mode on Vanguard which is not regular in any way.

VWRL purchasing this ISA year

I managed to make a minor profit on this in GBP over the year, because I also vary the amount purchased as well as the time of purchase, I buy more if it is lower, so while it looks like I am a rotten shot the weighting helped me, I am very slightly up on VWRL for the year. I had to stop in October because I am all out of ammo, I have spaffed my £20k ISA allowance.

I transferred last year’s load of this this to HL. In specie, because that’s the whole point of accumulating in Vanguard (no transaction fees, but percentage platform fees) and dumping to HL (usurous £12 transaction fees, but a capped cost of carry at £45 if you eschew funds). You don’t currently pay either party to transfer in-specie, which means say to HL transfer my holding of x VWRL into HL from Vanguard as shares.

But you’d like x to turn up as VWRL, no? I was first warmed up to a strange smell when I opened the HL ISA, the cash came through first I think and I decided I wanted to buy VWRL. For some reason I couldn’t do that, computer said no. I could only buy VWRD or VHYL. Indeedably has a whole post about why VHYL is a terrible idea. However, since I was doing this after the meltdown of SMT I figured a value tilt wasn’t so bad, so I did it anyway. Although I haven’t drawn from any ISA yet, when I do I would hate to sell units to get cash.

It was a slight niggle, WTF is with this, how can they not sell me this common as muck ETF? Really? Monevator has many posts by Lars saying pretty much just go buy VWRL regularly and then do something else with your time. VWRL is USD 8.9billion AUM. I don’t know if that’s US Bn or British Billion, but it doesn’t really matter. World + Dog owns this, in spades. HL should have seen that ETF before 😉

I observe my transfer shows up as VWRD, and leave it be. Many freebie listings show the dollar variant of an ETF because there are more American investors than Brits. Time passes I then get this missive from the HL corporation

We’re getting in touch about your holding(s) in the investments listed below. The type of investment(s) you hold are non-GBP and as we only settle investments in GBP we’ve made the decision to no longer offer this type of investment. However, as there is a GBP denominated version of this investment, you will still be able to purchase and hold investments in this security.

What this means for non-GBP investments

You can continue to hold the investment and sell at any time but from 28 October you cannot buy any more units. Any further purchases will need to be made into the equivalent GBP version. We’ve listed your investments below and, on the right, you’ll see the equivalent GBP version of the stock.

Current Investment
Vanguard Funds plc – FTSE All-World UCITS ETF (USD) Distributing
GBP version
Vanguard Funds plc – FTSE All-World UCITS ETF (USD) Distributing – GBP


If you don’t want to hold the non-GBP stock you can sell your holding at any time as normal but if you wish to make further purchases, you’ll need to transfer to another provider. We don’t want to encourage our clients to move investments from our platform, but we understand if this is the right choice for you. If you choose to sell, normal dealing charges apply, and you’ll need to consider any loss or gains you’ve made on the stock since buying it.

And I think to myself WTF is this line you are feeding me? I bought this stock from Vanguard in GBP, quoted in GBP. This is your bad, Mr HL, not mine. Over the years I have bought £75k worth of it in iWeb with nary a hitch. I don’t want to pay £11.95 twice plus the turn to rectify your balls-up. There was a price discrepancy and I considered for a moment whether this would be in my favour enough to be worth the turn but came to the conclusion that Thoreau was right, a man is rich in the number of things he can leave alone.

All I wanted was the same as I bought from Vanguard, what part of in-specie transfer do you not understand, HL? So I send them a secure message along the general lines of sort your shit out, guys, with a screenshot of what Vanguard sell me this as., along with the PDF from Vanguard. In all fairness, HL did rectify it, at no cost to me, though the reason for the balls-up is arcane

Both the VWRL denominated line and the VWRD denominated line have the same ISIN but a different SEDOL. As your transfer came through electronically, it seems the system pulled through the wrong SEDOL.

We have now amended your 107 Vanguard Fund plc shares that was transferred to our management from the VWRD denominated line to the VWRL denominated and you should see the correct line of stock reflected in your HL Stocks & Shares ISA.

Which broadly looks like a mea culpa on their part. I didn’t expect to have grief with a big world tracker ETF. Not only that, but they can’t guarantee it won’t happen again when I rinse, repeat in April, so I have to send them another secure message ‘Oi, VWRL coming your way again, that’s VWRL not VWRD, geddit?’

a year when it was time to pay the dues

All in all a messy year, and very seriously shit for many, sadly. One where a lot of chickens seem to be coming home to roost, and a lot of untruths seems to be revealed. Some charlatans were defenestrated, while channeling the Terminator. We discovered that supply-side economics works terribly well if you don’t need to convince other people to lend you money to do the easy tax-cutting part before the hard cost-cutting part. Unfortunately that wasn’t an option for Liz Truss and everybody’s mortgage went up by the moron premium. She probably still believes she was right. Maniacs always do.

All you FIRE lot are causing fear and loathing due to the increasing exit of over 50s from the workplace. It seems to be confuzzling TPTB. I really don’t understand why the Big Cheeses don’t get it. Hell, the ONS managed to identify this pull-quote

I no longer had any job satisfaction, and felt physically and mentally exhausted, with many stress-related physical manifestations

Well, yes. For the last thirty years, companies have been making the world of work for stressful, more shit and more penny-pinching. Is it really such a surprise that people give this the middle finger at the earliest opportunity? I was that guy, and nothing I have heard about the world of corporate work has told me this has gotten better. Unless you are in the C-suite, in which case you are doing absolutely fine.

Normally we would have regarded this loss of our old gits as a great opportunity for our young pups to move up a rung or two, but that has no meaning in a gig economy. You’re going to have to pay people more or actually invest in your businesses, UK firms, arguably this is a wider issue. Perhaps returning to the time-honoured tradition of actually training people, rather than endlessly whining that you can’t buy your skills requirements off the shelf might be an idea?

There seems to be a hellacious level of long-term sickness in the UK if it is really 2.5M of working age. Perhaps that’s what you get from a laissez-faire approach to the food industry – I walk along whole aisles of supermarkets not recognizing the products as the category ‘food’, particularly along the snacks and family packs of crisps. Its also somewhat to be expected as a large rump of the population gets older. Talking of health

2022 is also probably the year the NHS died. Unsurprisingly it’s the Tories wot dunnit, though an ageing population, Brexit and Covid are accessories to the crime. In their current headless chicken mode there is not enough leadership to plot a route forward. Let us hope it is the European insurance model rather than the pathological American model that is chosen. In the meantime basically don’t get ill. Which is not an entirely peaceable thought – both of my parents had health issues at my age.

Still, look on the bright side. It’s not all bad if people are fighting to get hold of fruit-flavoured water with electrolytes promoted by social media talking heads. I suggest that’s best consumed on New Year’s day after a skinful, with Idiocracy playing. It’s on Amazon Prime.

Here’s to a better 2023. Here’s hoping for less stupid crap and fewer unforced errors. No more Bozza, though my crystal ball says that is probably in our future, a man of the people despite being a lying bastard incapable of complying with his own laws FFS. One last roll of the dice. On the plus side, the American market is a lot better value now. It can, of course, continue to get better value, but at some time the worm will turn. I survived OK on the markets, and have firepower to go. The accumulated value throws off a useful enough amount, though my plans of using the 2k tax-free dividend allowance will need to reduce in ambition next year, I am £1350 of the way there, which will be OTT after April.

In other areas I want to know more about the part of the world I live in. I want to walk more in it. I joined iNaturalist so I can make more sense of what I see here, and not just the birds. I am getting old – I was tickled by this woman’s ambition to walk all the footpaths near her home. Sure, it’s fundamentally pointless in a way, but it’s curiously in the moment.

Happy New Year to y’all!


46 thoughts on “Looking back over an “interesting” year”

  1. Woe that is a monumental cock-up by HL! Good that you got it sorted. I did an ISA transfer to HL from an old L&G ISA. It was OEIC funds but for some reason HL couldn’t hold the same flavour of the fund as L&G themselves held. So they transferred in specie and I was trying to sell the buggers and buy ETFs before the additional monthly OEIC 0.45% fee above my £45 cap kicked in – but it had to go through some sort of conversion process after the transfer that took ages so I was too late. I wonder if it is something similar with Vanguard ETFs, like the fund company themselves have their own internal “version”?

    BTW, I’ve been purchasing VWRL in my HL ISA for some time now with no problems – this one: https://www.hl.co.uk/shares/shares-search-results/v/vanguard-ftse-all-world-ucits-etf-usd-dist

    I actually have more of VHYL to compensate for a pension fund I have which is the pension company version of a global tracker which therefore had a big USA tilt to it. That fund has done a lot worse than my VHYL holding this year! I need to get out of that pension and fund though, the charges….

    Good luck for 2023!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for the read, Ermine. You have a duplicate link by the way…

    “Still, look on the bright side. It’s not all bad if people are fighting to get hold of fruit-flavoured water with electrolytes promoted by social media talking heads. I suggest that’s best consumed on New Year’s day after a skinful, with Idiocracy playing. It’s on Amazon Prime.”

    The ‘fruit-flavoured water’ link is a repeat of the ONS one that precedes it. Guess I’ll never know the joys of the advert I’m missing 🙂

    Happy New Year!


  3. Glad you got your ISA problem sorted.

    2022 was a year to forget for me, especially in any way related to my health. I am still not 100% right yet, but still heading in that direction, so I am looking to the future in 2023.

    I bought a new lens for my camera in the Black Friday sales and hope to get out and about with it. Perhaps even a foreign holiday, for the first time since lock-down/2019.

    I can’t remember if I updated you with my own energy consumption figures, with the new and efficient fridge and freezer. Over the same 3 month period as last year my electricity consumption has dropped from 5.5KwH/day to 3 KwH/day. Which is quite some saving and very worthwhile. Like you, I will hang on to my gas boiler, for central heating for as long as I can.

    If you really was to finesse the last subtle saving out of your ISA, you should hold VWRP with HL. That is the accumulation version of VWRL. That way there will be no charges for re-investing your dividends, assuming that is what you do. (Never buy it outside of an ISA/SIPP, to avoid a horrendous CGT calculation.)

    I always sell £20K outside my ISA and buy back in my ISA within a first few days of the new tax year. That will be hard this coming tax year due to the reduction in the CGT allowance and maybe impossible the one after that.

    Anyway, I wish you and Mrs Ermine (and you other readers) a Very Happy New Year!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. If the NHS finally kicks the bucket perhaps the country will finally be able to move on to something sustainable. Ideally more like the Australian system but a European model would also be fine. Just as long as we recalibrate our expectations downward. We’re not as rich as Australia or most of Northern West Europe anymore so we can’t expect our health system to be as good. We need to think more southern Europe. A good start would be to take the damn NHS off the pedestal some like to put it on.

    As a corollary to that: how many of those lean-FIRE types would stay retired if they were paying a few grand a year in medical insurance (and probably a lot more later in life)? How many could stay retired if they also had to pay school fees for their kids? It’s not completely clear to me that some have actually paid enough tax into the system in their careers (20-30 years say) to fund what they want to take back out over the next 40-50 years. A wakeup call might be in order since, frankly, I’m not sure I (or many like me) can be arsed to fund their retirement anymore.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Not thinking about healthcare costs definitely makes FIREing easier. I (FIRE-ee) have wondered about living in US – I wouldn’t due to healthcare costs.
      An affordable private insurance system, as in some EU countries, could have been factored into my FIRE planning, but obviously if that system was to be brought in now, then I’d need to check if the costs could be met.

      No kids BTW, so I *probably* have paid more in my 22 years of working than I’ll take out of the system (not including claiming SP, which doesn’t factor in my FIRE plan but would be nice to have.)

      Liked by 1 person

    2. I have the feeling that inflation will do for lean-fire quicker than any resolution to the NHS conundrum will be found.

      While you can buy health insurance in the UK is seems a weird proposition that bails in the case of something where you really need it. And seems to have a principal-agent problem in that there’s an incentive to do something is some middling ailments to show value. If it were like the ancient Chinese doctors paid when you weren’t sick that perverse incentive wouldn’t be there


      1. There is a big wide world out there. Inflation in Asia is generally lower than in Europe. For example you can easily rent a decent flat in Chiang Mai, Thailand for 250GBP a month and utility bills are nothing. A rental scooter is 3GBP a day, a good meal not much more.

        I travel a lot and everywhere I go I bump into people who have left the UK for cheaper, balmier climates. This is where many of those missing early retired people have gone and not only retirees but many younger people too.

        Healthcare is the problem over the longer term. Initially affordable but once you are very old and frail I think there will come a point where retirees without ample funds will have to return to the NHS (such as it might be then).


      2. (Reply to Tim below)

        Fair point. For anyone of a certain age who isn’t ideologically bound to the sunlit wonders of Brexitland (or by family or financial constraints), moving somewhere cheap and sunny has a lot going for it.

        I looked at moving to Thailand about ten years ago when in the wake of a rather messy divorce I found myself a) banished to Australia and b) having to exist on rather small amounts of money. Websites then suggested you could live very well in Thailand for around AUD 10k pa. I was quite interested – I know Thailand fairly well and like the country & people. It doesn’t sound as though it has become much more expensive, although there are other options in Asia which might cost still less. An evening paseo conversational chum who is Dutch is shortly moving to Vietnam.

        One thing I didn’t check out was health insurance, although aware of the need to have some. Given the state of the collapsing NHS, I’m not sure it would be worth returning for in a few years time!


  5. “we don’t need to bother with broadcasting after 2030. Yet another piece resilience from a distant analogue world gets its marching orders”

    Every time I walk past a decommissioned old-style red telephone kiosk, a similar reflection crosses my mind. The network was there, why not spend a few tens of millions a year to maintain it ‘just in case’ rather than dismantle it, flog the boxes off for peanuts as novelty garden ornaments, and possibly have to rebuild it all at enormous cost in the future (I acknowledge this to be unlikely) – why the rush?

    Similarly the 1/3 of the rail network that was dug up / knocked down in the ’60s and the land also flogged off. A huge and expensive mistake. The cost of the small amounts of new / reinstated track since have been very big.

    In the corner of Australia where I’m spending the winter, there was a lot of forestry until 30 or 40 years ago, and an extensive rail network to bring the chopped down trees to various ports. Also used in some places for passenger traffic. When the forestry ended, the rail lines were left in place and there they still are, ready for future use if needed.

    Why tf wasn’t (say) a 50 year moratorium put in place in the UK, funds for minimal network maintenance guaranteed; we’d now have a ripe-n-ready low-carbon transport network in place.

    Depressing levels of unjoined-up thinking and short-termism have been endemic across the board in the UK for decades, and just look at the result…


    Liked by 1 person

    1. With you on the rail network – Oz has more land and fewer people, of course, but even if they just retained the wayleaves it would have been a decent move, even if they retained the space as footpaths/cycle paths but with te right to revert to rail reserved..

      Not so sure in the case of the analogue phone network – radio (as mobile phone TRX) is probably a better way of doing that and needs less maintenance IMO.

      Although I could see the argument to get out of broadcast TV the case for keeping radio broadcasting is much stronger – uses less bandwidth, in parts of the spectrum less useful or mobile/data/whatever. Receivers are often battery powered. And it has the ability to bridge large distances without relying on relay stations, which has value in giving resilience against large IT or power network failures.

      Which of course will never happen so that’s all right then.


      1. Interesting take on an alternative to the old phone copper network. I’m not really an electronic hardware kind of person, so can’t really comment. The occasional box still survives, although often now used as a book exchange / defibrillator home, etc, and walking in often relatively remote parts of the UK, sometimes devoid of mobile signal, I do think that the distribution, if not the physical actuality of the network, of working phone boxes in these kind of places would have been useful to retain. Oz has solar-powered satellite boxes in the remote outback, where you can still make a call for 20c or so, but then if you break down out there, you are going to need to make that call…

        But I also confess to an almost Proustian intensity of nostalgia for the old red phone kiosks as well; Button A and Button B, pushing heavy copper pennies into the slot, reverse charge calls, the stuffy atmosphere almost always redolent of old urine… and they were plentiful and usually located in handy spots, and even added to the aesthetics of the landscape with that dash of brilliant red- one of the few ways for us early 70s yoof to call girlfriends without the heavy parental presence in the background hobbling your romantic expression. Ah me…

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I agree totally with you that radio broadcasting should be retained for resilience in emergency situations. I would add, though, that this should be the VHF/FM network – or even the MF/LF/AM network – rather than DAB. A battery-operated FM/AM portable receiver will last for many hours. The same can’t be said for battery-operated DAB receivers. But, of course, youngsters don’t own radios. Sigh.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Firstly, happy New Year!

    > I have been selling gold in the ISA and buying shares through this year, largely VWRL, and rebuying the gold in a GIA.

    OOI: have your made as many gold purchases (in your GIA) as VWRL purchases in your ISA and do you intend to keep your gold (in your GIA) for the long run; especially in light of Hunt’s upcoming CGT/dividend tax changes?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. > have your made as many gold purchases (in your GIA) as VWRL purchases in your ISA

      No. Firstly because all that is in iWeb – I have been using Vanguard ISA this last couple of years consolidating with my old Charles Stanley ISA, shunted annually into HL. This isn’t anywhere near the iWeb ISA total, but gives me some 1+1 resilience against iWeb going bad. A lot of my gold is from before 2016, so yes, I gained from forestalling that specific stupidity although I didn’t expect it to happen, but I could have achieved a similar goal buying it outside the ISA. And it bed-blocks productive assets and income capability in the ISA. While I don’t need that at the moment, I can see that tax-free income will be at a premium in future. So I want to get my ducks in a row. The original HYP has become too diluted by passive index stuff with a meagre yield. I can’t carry that AU deadweight in the ISA any more.

      Secondly because I pay 2x£5 + spread on the turn, so I do it maybe three times a year. I came to the conclusion gold was deadweight in my ISA, particularly after Jezza’s reduction of the tax-free dividend allowance. I use Invesco SGLP for gold ETF/C, but Ishares SGLN is available, so I can defuse CGT over time while staying in the asset class, for the cost of the turn and the spread switching between those (other gold ETFs are available). I buy the etf in the GIA on the same day as selling the etf in the iWeb ISA. Obvs I have to have cash available enough to do that. I thus protect my exposure to the asset class.

      Vanguard’s ISA is unusual in that if you accept a few hours latency you can buy without transaction fees. So it’s great for scattershot itty bitty amounts, and makes it subjectively easier to buy into a falling market. I put new money into Vanguard, and then transfer the ISA out to HL after the new ISA year starts. Only after the transfer is completed do I start putting the new year’s money into Vanguard, and I only put it in as I buy to keep %AUM fees down at Vanguard.

      So although I have only been able to buy Vanguard stocks for the last couple of years in their ISA selling gold in the iWeb ISA means I have also been able to buy stocks in the iWeb ISA, effectively from the ancient sunlight when the GBP hasn’t been subjected to repeated hits of the moron tax.

      Happy New Year – may today’s improved valuations serve us in years to come. Rather than an endless sideways drag like the dotcom bust runout…


      1. Thanks.
        Think I’ve got it, that is: you coordinate your AU sells & buys to try and minimise any “time out of market” effect and retain your overall balance at iWeb (GIA plus ISA), albeit the ISA balance goes down and the GIA balance goes up. “New” ISA money goes initially to v/g to buy VWRL (using an entirely different approach/schedule) and the resulting VWRL balance then gets transferred [in specie] to HL.

        However, I am slightly puzzled by your para that starts: “So although ….”

        Presumably, as long as you can generate sufficient “new” ISA money each year the plan will continue as is. If/when you are no longer able to generate sufficient “new” ISA money each year I suppose you will empty the GIA into the ISA, assuming ISA’s still exist.
        Is that about right?


      2. > albeit the ISA balance goes down and the GIA balance goes up.

        No, I am using slightly harder than that. I am running down some of the strategic cash reserve which was 3+ years of total expenses. Because: I have income now – my DB pension. And to some extent income from my GIA – the non-gold part. The iWeb ISA doesn’t go down. The gold balance goes down in the ISA, but my balance of productive assets goes up commensurably. Of course there’s nothing to say the balance of the ISA can’t go down, but not because of the sold gold.

        So as well as buying gold in the GIA I am loading my Vanguard ISA, with a mix. Mainly VWRL but some VMID and some VFEM. I also bought VGLS20 which is as close to bonds as I could get, after the foray into Trussonomics. That was pure speculation, and not even a win. I do not need bonds. I have a DB pension…

        The ISA income will be there to defend against the erosion of the DB pension due to inflation. I could afford ZX48’s EU style health insurance from that, though I am dead in the water on a US basis.

        > If/when you are no longer able to generate sufficient “new” ISA money each year I suppose you will empty the GIA into the ISA, assuming ISA’s still exist.

        That’s about it. I had expected to reach that point a couple of years ago, but some of shorting Covid gave me a leg up. And since I can live off my DB pension holding the high levels of cash that defended me against being a forced seller of stocks is irrational in a high-inflation environment. Sure, it may go titsup in another down-leg of the world/US market. But it will definitely be worth 10% less in a year and 20% less in three. Given the Americans are crying in their beer about the awful performance of the SPX this year I’d rather take that in the hope of better times to come than continue to pay the moron tax on the cash.


      3. Thanks; I thought there had to be more to it, ie running down your cash.
        OOI, is your “marked to market” indicator that has dropped 3% just the iWeb ISA balance (ie not the overall iWeb balance) today vs last January?


      4. > is your “marked to market” indicator that has dropped 3% just the iWeb ISA balance

        Yep, just the ISA. They show the two accounts quite separately. I haven’t added or taken away from that, because I am still in Vanguard this year


  7. VWRL getting confused with VWRD – that’s my bane at work! (Not HL)

    The reason for the confusion is that the suits sometimes want to see them as the same security, and other times don’t. So depending on the data source you use for an operation, and especially when reflecting a listing agnostic position in a listing conscious system, mistakes are inevitable. As you can imagine, the mess only gets bigger when a security is triple listed, and when different settlement timelines are involved…

    The solution is simple – forbid inputs in listing agnostic systems, have them be read-only. As IT, we keep on dreaming. The second solution – always match by SEDOL, which is listing conscious – fails because SEDOLs are issued slower than ISINs for non-UK listed securities, and letting customers trade a security on IPO day is (understandably) a high priority.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the explanation – I am glad that there is some rationale behind the cock-up. And the reason they hinted I may run into this grief again in April 😦


  8. “I have been selling gold in the ISA and buying shares through this year, largely VWRL, and rebuying the gold in a GIA.” Gold in a GIA, exposed to the planned reduction in CGT allowance? Very courageous, Minister.

    Sovereigns and Britannias are CGT-free.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. > Gold in a GIA, exposed to the planned reduction in CGT allowance?

      I know. I am planning to use the swapping between ETFs to keep that under control. But I do take the point.

      > Sovereigns and Britannias are CGT-free

      I am warming to the physical barbarous relic, not quite there yet.


  9. Interesting, 2023 I also reckon will be the year that most people realise that ‘free-ish’ medical care has been quietly withdrawn from the vast majority, in that it may be your right on paper, but if you can’t get to the district hospital in the next city or a reachable dentist who takes on NHS patients, then you don’t have access, so then it doesn’t exist.

    What with still existing state services deteriorating fast too, like education, the lower rungs of the FI/RE ladder are indeed being knocked out, making it only a currently viable dream for the lackey class earning 6-figure salaries servicing the wants of the <1% (ring-pieces) who rule us all.

    The question of the year is: How do the excluded take it?


  10. On the work front, if you want to keep people in work, you need to either make work less shit or ensure that people can’t afford to quit. So I’m expecting more tinkering with occupational pensions in the near future to move the latter forward, since the former seems ideologically toxic to the current lot in power.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Years ago when there was consultation on smart meters someone suggested along these lines:

    Except for changing supplier and moving house, smart meter readings should be limited to one every [some time] (e.g. a week). If there is another request for a reading before the next one is due the meter should replay the last reading and say what time it was taken.

    That makes the meter reveal a lot less about who is home at what times.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I did initially think that this would preclude the whole smart grid thing, but there really wouldn’t be a problem in one-way signalling to your SM the spot price of power, say at 30min intervals, and it locally aggregating usage and then returning the aggregated result every week. You would get to know when not to use your dryer, take appropriate action, they would benefit from the demand management but without the privacy issue.

      A little bit like people shouldn’t post holiday snaps on Facebook while on holiday, but it’s not so bad posting them after they have come back 😉

      But in all fairness back in the day when I have developed things on usage data, there’s always the temptation to collect all the things just in case it turns out useful later on. We lost the Big Data fight when we all rushed out to buy smartphones in the 2010s, so it’s coming our way regardless. At least under some circumstances (solar, the Octopus trial smart meters can now benefit the users, although I suspect this advantage for some will become a liability for all in a universal SM environment.


  12. Money is numero uno when you have retired, and I have only just found out why I am not getting a full State Pension and what I need to do to rectify that (well my Account found out anyway). If you are not getting a full State Pension and you think you should be getting one – then you can get in touch with the DWP and ask for a full breakdown of your particular situation. Now apparently I need to cough up just over £900 to get the full State Pension, and as I will make more than that back if I survive another year – then it is a total no-brainer decision. If you find yourself in a similar position – act fast – as I don’t believe they will let you sort this out after March 2023.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Absolutely, and I believe you have to do it before you reach SP age, normally, though maybe the six years back purchase can be done afterwards.

      In between retiring early and reaching SP age, the best bang for the buck are Class II contributions for those earning a little while self-employed – you don’t even need to actually earn anything to be SE, and early retirees may have investment income outside of an ISA so they may have to do self-assessment in which case declaring as self-employed isn’t much more admin.

      However, if you don’t fill a self-assessment form and CBA with the extra admin which is onerous, then you can pay voluntary Class III NI contributions to make up the rate. The downside of saving the self-employment/Self assessment palaver is that the rate is five times higher. The extra SP bought is still a steal, the discount is 90% on buying an inflation-linked annuity of equivalent value on the open market.

      Congratulations on picking it up in time, and indeed on well over 12 years of freedom from the Man, and flexibility in adapting to changing outside conditions. Bravo!


    2. Everyone would be well advised to get annual state pension forecasts for at least 10 years before reaching state pension age. These should highlight any opportunity to make up shortfalls in NI contribution record. Tracking the forecast over these final years should also help provide confidence that the amount has been calculated correctly – or otherwise.


  13. IIRC, the “wrinkle” hereabouts is due to the introduction of the new state pension, which provided for: “You have until 5 April 2023 to pay voluntary contributions to make up for gaps between tax years April 2006 and April 2016 if you’re eligible.” The minimum number of qualifying years for some new state pension (introduced in 2016) being ten years.
    Ordinarily, you can only go back up to six years from today.
    See e.g. https://www.gov.uk/voluntary-national-insurance-contributions/deadlines


    1. That page also seems to indicate that you can pay class 3 even if you have reached SP age – I had understood you need to get this done before reaching SPA. It’s not clear if the six-year limit also applies in that case, although the 5 April 2023 exemption implies the six year limit otherwise holds.


      1. I am not sure what the precise rules are hereabouts, but would recommend a call to what is known as the Future Pension Centre, see: https://www.gov.uk/future-pension-centre.
        Based on my recent call, you may have to wait up to an hour for an answer, but once I got somebody they seemed both knowledgeable and aware of the complexity of the state pension system!


  14. It’s not well known that examination invigilators can pay voluntary class II contributions. It’s a straightforward job in a good school and there is a lot of it about as much was done by retired teachers who have not all come back after the pandemic.

    You do not have to register as self-employed and you do not have to fill in a tax return. Call 0300 200 3500 to let them know you are invigilating and want to pay voluntary Class II.

    You may find that the person you speak to says you can’t do this. They are incorrect, but you may have to argue your case. Invigilators are explicitly mentioned on the gov website.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. As regards adding national insurance qualifying years to maximise your state pension, don’t forget if you look after children, and the parent pays NI contributions, you can get extra years for free. My wife and I look after our grandchildren quite frequently and this has allowed my wife to claim 5 qualifying years. Even if you don’t look after any kids all year, you can get a partial year and pay for the rest.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This Torygraph article seems to imply the parents also have to be claiming child benefit, as I read it.

      Grandparents can earn the tax credit if the parent or carer of the child claims child benefit, and can therefore sign over the National Insurance credit to another family member when they go out to work.

      So useful, but perhaps more complex than immediately meets the eye. The ‘sign over’ looks like it might have weird dependencies.


      1. Actually it is not complicated. Provided the parent who claims child benefit also works and pays national insurance, then the family carer can also claim national insurance credits for looking after the child. The logic here is that if the parent claimed child benefit, but did not work, they would still get national insurance credits. So this ‘spare’ credit is transfered to the family carer, provided they do not work and are under state pension age. Claiming involves filling in a 4 page form once per year.

        Anyone who has FIRE’d and has grandchildren with working parents can benefit, as my wife does.


  16. Thank you very much Monsieur Ermine for the HL catch. We got that message too and I thought I had forgotten to never buy anything not in GBP. We did same as you – transferred VWRL from Vanguard. We sent a message to HL saying ‘oi, you buggered it up for us, mate. sort it’ (I paraphrase), it is now sorted. Muchas gracias.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Beware that if you do it again, as I will do in the new tax year, it is likely to happen again, for the same reason. So keep the secure message and the response 😉


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