why is the ISA season now, and what’s with the new 15k limit then?

Hooray for an increased ISA allowance of £15,000. Now to be honest, through most of my working life, saving that sort of cash each year wasn’t really on the cards – more pressing forms of savings, in terms of paying off the mortgage, and in later years pension AVCs came to the fore. However, I have to do something with my AVC fund when I get a hold of it, and a few years of £15k allowance gets the job done a little faster. I’m kinda puzzled by the July start – does that mean I have to avoid contributing in April, but I’m sure that’ll get clearer in due course. The increased personal allowance is always welcome.

And it seems that the artificial division ‘twixt cash and share ISAs will be abolished. Which is great – after all I want to hold a single ISA without buggering about shifting my old Cash ISA into my Shares ISA. The cash ISA is only a small rump from back in the day when I was trying to hedge against being ejected from The Firm in short order.  I’ve thought often enough about combining it into by Shares ISA, since I can’t get excited about 1% interest in a 3% inflation world, but an early retiree has to carry a large cash float. Plus there are reasons to worry about holding a lot of cash with a S&S nominee provider.

Why do people use ISAs in such an odd way?

Go on. Try getting one of these in London, or anywhere else, for less than £1. It was easy 30 years ago. That's how well cash holds its value!
Go on. Try getting one of these in London, or anywhere else, for less than £1. It was easy 30 years ago. That’s how well cash holds its value!

Four out of five ISA savers use only cash accounts. WTF is up with that? Cash is the most tedious, evil asset class, with its mendacious promise that it’ll never go down. Well, duh, yes, the number at the end doesn’t go down, but the real value decays like fresh fish. Cash dies at about 4% a year, presumably because they print that much more than the increase in goods and services that the cash is chasing. Particularly in troubled times like the seven lean years we’ve gone through.  They added insult to injury by devaluing the currency making everythign foreign dearer – from shares to iPads, though this seems to be starting to recover of late. In short, as a long-term asset class, cash stinks IMO. As an example of just how much, when I started work you could get a pint of beer in London for less than a pound. You try doing that now. As a rough rule of thumb, the value of cash halves every ten to fifteen years. This is not an asset class you can trust. The shocking volatility of stocks makes them look less trustworthy, but in the long run (>5-10 year mark) they tend to drift up in real terms, if you include dividend income. Whereas I have never known a ten year period where the value of £100 at the end has been anywhere near as much as it was at the start. The interest you’re paid on cash is an attempt to make you feel better about that bad behaviour – and then they bloody well tax you on the compensation for the loss of value due to Government behaviour, just because they can. All a cash ISA does is stop the tax bit, but time and time again I hear people say they prefer cash ISAs because they are risk-averse. Bollocks. It’s just a different kind of risk, a disguised one when the number at the bottom doesn’t fall by the value of each unit does. That’s still risk in my book, and a dishonest underhand one at that.

Savers will be able to shield almost three times as much money from tax without taking the risk of buying shares


Nary a whisper about the risk of it almost guaranteed to be worth less as time goes by unless interest rates exceed inflation, been a long while, that… My pension AVCs, held in cash since I left work, will have decayed in real value by 10%. Now I can’t honestly ask for people to play the violins in the background because I saved 42% tax on that and got a 20% bung from buying in a mix of FTSE100:global stocks in ’09 while the pound was being devalued by 25%, so the ermine is okay with leaving 10%+ on the table. But I do that because I have to, it’s definitely a bad idea to hold that much in cash, so exactly why 80% of ISA savers  electively hold such a rotten depreciating asset beats the hell out of me. The one thing cash gives you is optionality, but in return for the favour it leaks through your fingers over the years. I have never, ever, known any way of saving cash[ref]a historical exception was in the good old days when you could borrow money from a credit card at 0% without any fees, but then any interest you can get on somebody else’s money is a good rate :)[/ref] where I could even match inflation, with the one exception of my NS&I Index-linked savings certificates, which I loaded up on just before they withdrew the blighters.

The other area where it seems my fellow-citizens are mad is what the hell is with this Torschlusspanik about ISAs now? You’ve had eleven flippin’ months to use your ISA allowance! For starters if you are saving cash from earnings, why save it elsewhere and then into an ISA in the last three weeks, though retaining optionality and the fact you can get a better interest rate outside an ISA has something to be said for it. But for an S&S ISA? Okay, so I stiffed myself this year and last by filling up the ISA early in the year so I had to sell some of The Firm to make space for opportunities as they came up – Direct Line last year and Royal Mail this year, so you want to pace yourself. Steady as she goes monthly S&S ISA saving as you earn the money is a match made in heaven for dollar-cost-averaging – particularly if you are investing in something that’s going down the toilet. Emerging markets spring to mind at the moment 🙂 Contrary to popular belief buying when things look bad is often good for your wealth, provided you have the required intestinal fortitude,  here, here, and here 🙂

So, ISA savers of Britain, when you get your grubby mitts on the new 15k allowance, it’s time to slap yourselves around the collective chops with a wet fish, and ask yourselves some searching questions, like

  • why are y’all[ref]okay, four fifths of you all[/ref] saving cash, in a ZIRP environment?
  • why do you leave it to the last minute? Why isn’t the ISA season in April, when you have a year ahead of you and can take advantage of saving the money as you earn it[ref]obviously if you earn £200k+ you can load up your ISA in the first month, but most of us struggle to fill an ISA in a year 🙂 Steady as she goes seems to obvious way to go in that case[/ref],  rather than March? Particularly the 20% that use S&S ISAs – you might as well get, your money working for you six months earlier on average.

There’s n’owt as queer as folk, eh? Are we all such well-trained little consumers that we are suckers for the ‘closing down sale – everything must go‘ pitch rather than actually working out what we want an ISA to do for us? Let’s get our money put to work and gainfully employed sooner rather than later 😉


A Feckless Family Fruitlessly Frittering Financial Future Away

It was news to me that there were people getting more that the £26,000 average household income from benefits, but it appears this is a problem, to be addressed by the Welfare Reform Bill. Which seems to have taken a kicking from some bleeding hearts in the House of Lords. The kicking is taking a kicking in the Commons as I write.

Let’s take a butcher’s hook at one of these offending families, kindly drawn to my attention by Lemondy, who was in the market for a good rant, pleased to oblige 😉

What’s been going on here? It doesn’t start well, we have a blended family of two of Ray’s daughters from a previous relationship and three of his wife Katherine’s kids from her previous relationship. Fair enough, these things happen, looks like there is no contribution from the other people who helped bring these children into the world.

Raymond, a former educational software writer, has been jobless since 2001. His wife Katherine suffers from bipolar disorder with an anxiety disorder and is also unable to work.

Says Ray: “The market for my skills dried up 10 years ago – there’s a total lack of work in my area of expertise.”

There are two problems here. One is that Ray, despite being unemployed for the last ten years, decided to sire a son five years ago. At least it was with his wife. Ray, me old mucker, precisely why did you decide to produce this child when you knew you were unable to support it? Perhaps you ought to take a look at what the NHS has to say about stopping this happening in future…

Don’t get me wrong, I am open to taxpayers supporting families up to three children in some cases. After that I believe family support should be supplied in kind – food stamps, clothing vouchers for named individuals with a photo, and free school meals. Why is that? Because having children when you can’t afford them should seriously screw up your standard of living!

I am happy with supporting normal sized families (that’s up to 3) through the tax and benefits system, though they’ll have to move to cheaper areas. However, larger familes should be actively discouraged if you’re going to do it on the public purse. In the past, when I asked myself whether I could have children, the answer was no, I couldn’t afford it. So I didn’t do it, FFS! What makes Ray and Katherine so damn special that not only do I not get to have the experience. I have to pay for them to do it?

When I was growing up, when parents couldn’t support their children longterm the children were taken into care. There was a lot wrong with that, but there’s a lot wrong with people like me paying for the likes of  Ray and Katherine to have that special experience of having a child of their own blood too. Supporting these children and only the children via food and clothing vouchers would at least screw up the parents’ living standard a bit while protecting the child’s essential needs.

The second thing wrong here is Ray’s assertion

“The market for my skills dried up 10 years ago – there’s a total lack of work in my area of expertise.”

Don’tcha think it might be time to learn something new, then, rather than sitting on your big hairy butt firing out children on the taxpayers’ dime then, Ray? You have sat on your lazy ass for longer than I aim to retire early. For a quarter of your potential working life you have done diddly squat, while Gordon Brown, in addition to saving the world solved child poverty by dropping money from helicopters to people like you. Solving child poverty was a laudable aim, but not if you start creating more of it by making it easier for people like Ray to sit on their Lay-Z-Boy recliners watching Sky TV….

Talking of which, let’s move on to the spending of this feckless bunch of time-wasters

‘There are four children to supply school uniforms – including gym kits – each year. The school trips aren’t days out to Alton Towers – they’re educational trips for several of the courses, like history, geography and media studies, that the school tells us will form an important part of their course. Then there are seven birthdays a year, and seven children to make Christmas happen for each year.’

Whenever anything that looks like frippery is given the adjective ‘educational’ we know we are being rooked. In the 1960s and 70s families sometimes just had to say ‘we can’t afford it’ to school trips. If enough families didn’t sign up, the trip was cancelled. It wasn’t the end of the world. And I’m sorry, but media studies isn’t even worth the time it takes in the school day, and it definitely isn’t worth some of my money to send Ray’s children on school trips for.

As for the seven birthdays and Christmases, well, used to be if you couldn’t afford Christmas you’d make the presents yourself. Ray and Katherine need a spine transplant, so they can say to their kids “we can’t be bothered to go to work to give you that iPod you wanted, so you’ll have to do with this tube of Smarties instead”. Instead they tell their children the lie that the fairness fairy will given them their heart’s desires, propagating the entitlement gene across the generations. Oh and you, dear reader, and I get to pay for it, too…

‘We get the Sky Movies package because we’re stuck in the house all week – otherwise we wouldn’t have any entertainment.’

Bit of a battle for the old remote control, eh? And why are we paying the Digger £780 a year, Ray? Tell you what, since you’re so keen on things ‘educational’ howsabout you haul your lazy ass down to the library and borrow some of those flat things called books, and get your lot to read?

Anybody who has Sky TV should have benefits docked to the same amount. It’s a want, not a need. My TV delivers enough entertainment without Sky, I reused the dish for FreeSat. Want Sky to watch the footy? Get a flippin’ job, Ray!

‘Most of this goes on our eldest son’s bus fares to college and back. For me, if it’s less than five miles, I’ll walk.’

For the first time, I tip my hat to you, sir. That’s the right attitude. Heck, I’d be okay with putting some of the saving from the Sky TV package I’d cancel to get you a reasonable pushbike.

‘My wife and I have mobile phones, and so do all of the teenage children. You try telling teenagers they’re going to have to do without their mobiles and there’ll be hell to pay.’

How about telling them where to get a paper round if they want a mobile? It’s back to spine transplant time for you, Ray, my boy. And why the bloomin’ heck is this costing you over £1500 a year? What part of PAYG and ‘shut yer gob’ do you and yours not understand? I have never paid £1500 a year for mobile phone service. Nor even £200, which is the per head rate, and I don’t plan to start. Ever heard of Skype, since your lot seems to spend most of the time at home?

‘Gas and electricity bills have gone up massively over the last couple of years – two years ago we were paying £20 a week. If they do cut our benefit we are going to have to choose between eating and heating the house properly.’

Even when I was running a video conversion firm with loads of electrical gear I never paid that much for heat and power. Presumably the jumper is not an item of clothing your family is familiar with? Or the clothesline, though I accept that may have limited use in Wales.

‘ Rent £76: This is social housing in Wales, so the rent is hardly massive. If we rented privately in this area, then the cost would be four or five times as much.’

Nicely played, sir. At least it is a different bunch of taxpayers keeping a roof over your head… There’s a lot to be said for diverisfying your income.

Weekly shopping £240, Includes food and household goods, 24 cans of lager, 200 cigarettes and a large
pouch of tobacco:

‘Our biggest expense. We do all our shopping at Tesco or Morrisons in one big go. Mostly we buy the “value” range – tinned meatballs, baked beans etc. On the cigarettes, my wife tried to give up, but she missed one appointment on the course and they threw her off it.’

Looks like tobacco is £65 then. So I can sort your £82.40 weekly saving at one fell swoop. Cut the ciggies right out, drop the Sky TV and the remaining couple of quid can either come off the children’s Christmas and Birthday presents or you can drop a tinnie or two of the lager. They do have Aldi or Lidl in Wales?

There you go, Ray. Fixed that for you, and you’ll have your no doubt lovely wife with you for that much longer because she doesn’t smoke now 🙂

For far too long the goal of reducing child poverty has led us astray.We did not raise our eyes to the monster that we were creating as a byproduct, of increasing the ranks of the undeserving poor.

It’s all very Victorian, but we need to start discriminating again between the deserving and the undeserving poor, because at the current rate of progress we are all going to be poor.

We could start by making access to a higher level of welfare payments contingent on having paid into the system in the last few years, like many European countries. I wouldn’t mind paying toward’s Ray’s brood if he’d been working for the last 10 years and then lost his job in the current downturn. What incenses me is that he had another child while on benefits! We could make child benefit payable in kind, particulary if the child appears more than 9 months after you’ve been claiming!

Something that always puzzles me is how many poor people smoke, or is it that smoking makes you poor. In the end if you can afford it I don’t give a toss if you smoke or not, as long as you don’t do it near me. If you’re on benefits then I do mind. If I were on benefits I would expect to have to drink less!!!

A first step of capping benefits at £26,000 (the average wage) seems like a pretty good start. Bring on the Welfare Reform Bill. £26,000 is a high proportion of my annual wage. Hearing slackers like Ray and his bunch get it for free make me feel like a right mug for working for a living and going without to try and buy myself a few years out of work.

Hearing him whingeing about having to choose between heating and eating when outing the tobacco and the Sky TV would more than bridge the gap makes me want to slap him round the face with a wet fish and insert a bit of steel into his spine, and tell him to man up and sort out his responsibilities rather than moaning about his rights.

Oh and I’ve borrowed the concept of a complainypants from Mr Money Mustache. And tagged the posts about moaning benefit recipients as such. In the end if you get benefits, then that’s nice. Just don’t build a lifestyle on it, OK?

Why do I say that? Look at the words of Bill Gross from PIMCO where he asks where credit goes to die.

Where does credit go when it dies? It goes back to where it came from. It delevers, it slows and inhibits economic growth, and it turns economic theory upside down, ultimately challenging the wisdom of policymakers. We’ll all be making this up as we go along for what may seem like an eternity. A 30-50 year virtuous cycle of credit expansion which has produced outsize paranormal returns for financial assets – bonds, stocks, real estate and commodities alike – is now delevering because of excessive “risk” and the “price” of money at the zero-bound.

We are witnessing the death of abundance and the borning of austerity, for what may be a long, long time.

Your frickin’ benefits are being paid from that abundance. Austerity won’t be paying them in future. Child poverty will reappear. All benefits will fade away. I’d be surprised if I get to draw a State Pension in 16 years’ time, it will probably be means tested and hopefully I will have too much capital, though Bill’s prognosis isn’t so good for that either. That is the trouble with relying on benefits – governments can take them away, just like they did for people that paid into SERPS who took the shaft recently.

So don’t have kids on benefits so that you get more CTC. You’re likely to see that kid go short over the next 18 years unless you get a job. The writing is on the wall, pal, and it’s going to stay up there for a long time.

We are witnessing the death of abundance and the borning of austerity, for what may be a long, long time.

How much do Mr and Mrs Ermine need to live on?

Commenter TNT was intrigued to know what The Number is – how much do Mr and Mrs Ermine need to run their Nest.

We’re anomalous in many ways, so you can’t extrapolate from this a general ‘what does it cost to live in an average paid off three bed semi in Suffolk’. There is a wider and more consensual summary in the post What is your Number. For instance we don’t have any children. That is obviously a big difference from most folks, and from a financial POV it is probably to our advantage. We also, unusually for Westerners, have control of some of the means of production of our everyday needs, in the form of The Oak Tree Low-Carbon Farm. This massively distorts our food bill, most people buy their veg from Tesco, we get most of ours from the ground.

Chris with the squash harvest. There are no Clubcard points on this lot...

We also get firewood, both directly from the farm, from wood that is given us which we have enough land to air dry, and in a year or so from some biomass willow planted nearby. This distorts our heating bill, though not so much as yet. The plan is to nuke that gas usage in winter.

So here it is – the running costs for our household. Two things of note are excluded – I’ve only shown my car. Mrs Ermine’s car is a lot younger than mine so the servicing costs are probably less, and her mileage is probably about the same as mine. Depreciation (original capital cost/years of ownership) is higher. There again we save up for our cars and pay cash, so I could take the line we eat the depreciation upfront in one hit.

The second is some sort of sinking fund for depreciation/house repair, which is somewhere between £500 and £1000 p.a. for an average semi. I have a general emergency fund allocation to that, for instance there’s a flat roof that is past its service life and I have a fund allocated to replace it. Since DIY repairs every couple of years seem to work well I leave well be, knowing that I could replace it at any time should the need arise.

So, given all those caveats and hedges, what gives? What does it cost to run the basics for an Ermine’s nest?

Continue reading “How much do Mr and Mrs Ermine need to live on?”

Bad Moon Rising

It does, indeed seem to be a bad moon rising. The real moon was at its closest to us for a while on the 19th, this was taken at 8:15pm lazily from my front door… it is about 50,000 km closer to us and about 30% brighter than it is at its furthest distance. I’m not blaming it, and it was a remarkable sight, but a lot of bad crap has been happening of late, so the old Creedence Clearwater Revival song kind of fits the mood.

There’s obviously the tragedy in Japan, though all the papers seem to focus on the issues at the nuclear plant the plight of the survivors of the tidal wave seems really dire. More recently, we seem to have got ourselves into yet another oil war. I mean, yes, Gaddafi was reputed to have sponsored the IRA in the 1980s and Reagan was right when he named him mad dog but there are enough other mad dogs around the world that we are happy to leave be. Still puzzles me how the army of an small island nation can fight on three fronts at once, but so be it. I hope we won’t still be engaged there this time next year, and definitely hope not this time a decade hence…

Closer to home it’s coming up to the end of the financial year, and that’s when the portcullis is going to come down on a lot of government spending. The Grauniad has been having a bleeding-hearts fest on this, cue the violins in the background, photo of pained looking young mum with a couple of kids who seems to be losing some sort of childcare, though the article failed to tell her story. Then we have the loss of the NI Music Therapy Trust. WTF is music therapy? And why does it need to be fancy instruments, if it’s about the kids ‘expressing themselves’ then can’t we substitute the percussion instruments with dustbin lids and the like? It was good enough for me as a kid, you know, the tin cans or the more advanced version with bottles filled with varying amounts of water. This is one of those things that is undoubtedly nice if you have the spare money, but we don’t now. Let’s face it, kids playing any sort of musical instruments sounds pretty ropey unless you happen to be the doting parents, so this isn’t about sophistication and tone colour, it’s about them having a good time. As the outgoing Labour Liam Byrne said, “I’m afraid to tell you there’s no money left”. But with a bit of enterprise I’m sure we could find something for the kids to play with and make a racket for an awful lot less money, and no expensive musical instruments to break, either!

Then there was the Budget, and unlike it seems everyone else I see this one as a mean and chiseling sort of job. The tax rises are achieved through underhand methods like fiscal drag and rescaling indexation to the duplicitous Consumer Prices Index that excludes housing costs, for the very good reason that we all know Britons don’t like to spend a lot of money on bricks and mortar so there’s no point in including that. Of course Tories can’t be seen to be raising the headline rate of tax, so they grub about and frig with the tax thresholds, so you get to pay more tax anyway.

Well, Georgie babe me old mucker, I’m not paying any of your stinkin’ 40% tax, even if you bring the threshold down to 25k, as I’ve pushed my costs down well below needing that part of my salary, so I’ll be saving that in AVCs so I get to retire earlier or have more when I do retire. There’s no bloody incentive to work for tax at 42%, because I am shorter of time on this earth than I am of money. After I saved my ISA last year I’ve been building up a war chest for this year, as I could see taxes were going to go up this year.

So I could push my salary below my running costs and claw back even more tax from you this year, George. Nasty nickel-and-diming budgets like this one makes it more worth my while to do that, and indeed the increased personal allowance helps a tad. I wasn’t part of creating the credit crunch and I’m not aiming to get soaked for clearing it up, chum. But what I will be having from you, buddy, is some of those nice National Savings certificates that you cancelled last year. About £10k’s worth, actually, because then I can transfer the contents of my Cash ISA into my shares ISA and get my emergency fund inflation-proofed to real inflation, i.e. RPI, and tax-free too. I always thought it’s so rude to tax me for the paltry returns on cash that don’t even match inflation. Tax the amount over RPI, fair enough, but not the return needed to compensate for the Government’s fiscal mismanagement, that’s plain cheeky.

Monevator and his buddies are greedy tykes wanting RPI plus something in my view 😉 Living in these desperate times financially RPI and tax-free is just fine with me. I don’t ask my cash to make money for me, but what I would like it to do is sit there and stay the same value over the years, and at the moment my 3.2% Cash ISA in gently losing the fight year on year. This is my emergency fund, so it doesn’t have to try and get bigger every year, staying the same is quite okay, and RPI matches my experience of inflation in the UK. For me CPI is away with the fairies, because I don’t buy iFads which are getting cheaper, depressing the CPI.

The Creedence Clearwater Revival track I pinched the title from ain’t bad, either, I think it was the first record I ever got to play.

[iframe http://www.youtube.com/embed/UYnySGM9dQA 480 390]

Cameron Tells Us to Get On Our Bikes, The World Doesn’t Owe Us a Living

Actually he didn’t, any more than Norman Tebbit did all those years ago, but I couldn’t let the truth stand in the way of a good title. It’s pretty much what he meant, anyway. And I like it. He’s put his finger on it

“I think too many people in this country are living under the delusion that a prosperous past guarantees a prosperous future. But it isn’t written anywhere that this country deserves a place at the top table.

It was once said that freedom once won is not won for ever; it’s like an insurance premium – each generation must renew it. Economic prosperity is the same. Just because we’ve had it before doesn’t mean we’ll automatically get it again.”

He’s nailed it. In Britain at the moment too many of us have the viewpoint that somebody else needs to come along and sort out our problems. All of ’em.

And therein lies the rub. There are some pieces of misfortune that afflict people that we should collectively help out with – illness, accident, specific misfortunes. But if we just can’t be bothered to shift ourselves, well sod it. Why should other people help out with our lifestyle choices?

I want to retire 8 years early. I am not asking anybody else to pay for me to do that – essentially I have to both reduce costs and save up to be able to bridge the 8 year gap until my main retirement savings come on stream. Or make money some other way by selling skills. Nobody else is asked to pay for my lifestyle, and nor should they. If I’m so damn precious that I want to stop working then it is up to me to sort myself out so I can do that.

So this article in the Grauniad from a guy earning 43k whingeing about the budget “Am I really a Fat Cat” really hacked me off. The short answer is “yes you bloody well are, mate”

Said individual earns £42k, has two kids 8 and 10, his wife hardly works, receives £1000 in State child benefits,  and he’s struggling if he  loses £545 of child tax credits and pays more in VAT. Struggling, that is, to have TWO holidays a year. I haven’t had one holiday last year. Not because I can’t afford it, but because I want to do something else with the money! Holidays are a luxury, not a right, FFS.

The last priceless whinge was

“Has the government committed an own goal to match Gordon Brown’s 10p tax rate blunder? Only time will tell. The budget was certainly tough, but was it fair? Not from where I’m standing.

One thing I do know, though, is that there will be a lot of very unhappy parents, many of who have already seen their pay frozen, when they realise that they are ones that have suffered by far the most in this budget. Thanks, George.”

Suck it up mate. As pasty-faced Dave said, the world doesn’t owe you a living. The child-free have taken a soaking during Labour’s tenure, and it’s payback time. Twice in my life I have asked myself the child question, and both times I came to the conclusion that I didn’t earn enough to be able to support any putative progeny and maintain a lifestyle that met my needs and wants at the time. So guess what? I didn’t have them! I never factored in child tax credit this or whatever, it was could we manage to raise a child on one salary? If the answer was no, the course of action was obvious.

There are many people that raise two kids on less than £42000. They just have a lower material quality of life. The fact that people keep doing this presumably means that weighed in the round, the joy of having your own kids outweighs the hit it takes on your material wealth. Which is great. As a child-free individual, I don’t even mind subbing schools and all that – in the end this is all to the good and makes our society better. I’d like to see a sponsorship process paid from taxation, for poor bright kids to be able to go to uni without being crippled by debt, to invest in future Britain.

But what I do mind is subbing the individual lifestyle choices of people like Miles Brignall, who has to “ask if a family income of £42,000 really puts you in the ranks of the well-off”

The answer’s yes, mate. It does. If you want to lower costs, get a better quality of life and see your kids more, take a 25k job nearer to home to cut commuting costs and get your wife to work, since the kids are school age. Bingo, no Higher Rate Tax or £3k season tickets to King’s Cross.

The reason London prices are inflated is that there are a lot of rich people there. If you want to swim in the same pool as them and have your salary in the upper 10%, then you have to take the decor too, and some of that is higher-rate tax and expensive commuting.

Pasty-faced Dave hit the nail on the head. It’s time more of us in the UK took responsibility for our lifestyle choices, because the world doesn’t owe us a living.