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Weekend reading: Financial Independence against the odds

What caught my eye this week.

Most of us moan now and then about life sneaking some booby-traps across our path to financial independence.

But few of us will face the hurdles overcome by The Humble Penny’s [1] Ken Okoroafor and his family.

In a must-read guest post over at The Escape Artist [2] this week, Ken relates how:

For a very long time, life in the UK felt like living in a prison. This is because we had a visa issue technicality on arrival in the UK. This meant we had no right to the NHS, no right to apply for jobs, no right to benefits etc. Basically no rights to anything till we heard back from the powers that be on what our future would be.

Months of waiting turned into years.

So how did we make money to buy food and survive? The only path available was to get creative and go underground.

A job at Pret would have been fantastic. However, that wasn’t an option. We needed to go lower – informal jobs cleaning factories, plate washing.

Do check out Ken’s full story [2] to financial independence.

I’ve always been inspired by recent immigrants. In the main, statistics show they work hard, contribute more than they take out, and they are more entrepreneurial, too.

As I wrote back in 2007 [3]:

Mostly those who’ve taken the plunge and come to the UK don’t say, “We are very lucky to come here and scrounge from you stupid, lazy rich British.”

They say, “You British are very lucky to live here, to be able to make such money.”

They’re on a mission – the kind that happens when you decide to reinvent your life and choose your own path.

One of the many dismaying aspects of the Brexit [4] referendum centered on immigration.

When the saner elements of the Leave campaign realized they couldn’t solely target EU migrants as a drain on the state – because such migrants contributed more than they put in – they shifted the argument to claim they were taking our jobs and driving down wages. Again with scant-to-no evidence.

One of the best retorts I ever read came in a comment [5] from a Monevator reader:

The difference between “the poor Northener” and the “the poor immigrant” is that the poor Northeners can catch a train to visit their families on their days off, that they don’t have to learn a new language, and that they will have it even easier to find a job.

But because they don’t want to use their right for free movement (not even within their home country, FFS!), they decide to take that same right from other people.


London is a challenge for everybody who comes here, no matter where you are from.

I see 19-year-old girls who are still babies in their head leaving their family and their nice sunny beaches in Spain or Italy to come here and work 50-hour-weeks for £7.20 per hour and getting told off by their managers for being late for their 5a.m. shift, which happened because they don’t know what “this bus is on diversion” means.

They are afraid to lose their jobs for minor mistakes, because how shall they pay their rent…actually, how shall they pay their rent?

They don’t have a bank account and to open a bank account you need a proof of address and they don’t have a proof of address because flatsharers seldom have their name on utility bills, and their NINO appointment is only due in four weeks.

They are tired all the time, because they spend too much time commuting, and running errands or shopping for groceries takes five times as long in London as in any of their home towns.

When I say that my main reason for being here is that I love to be here, they look at me as if told them that I love to swim naked in the Thames every morning. I could go on forever.

The struggle is real, as they say. At least it is for those who take it on.

For others, easier to find a scapegoat.

Note: I’m publishing early this week. If I’ve missed anything good, please do feel free to pop it into the links below. Also, if people do want to debate immigration please do so respectfully. I’ll be moderating hard anything I personally deem racist or inflammatory. There are other places for that.

From Monevator

The Slow and Steady Passive Portfolio Update: Q3 2018 – Monevator [6]

From the archive-ator: Valuing the market by P/E ratio – Monevator [7]


Note: Some links are Google search results – in PC/desktop view you can click to read the piece without being a paid subscriber. Try privacy/incognito mode to avoid cookies. Consider subscribing if you read them a lot!1 [8]

Potential conflict of interest remains as rules tightened on financial salary transfers – Money Observer [9]

World markets rattled by US inflation concerns – Guardian [10]

London house prices fall again as stamp duty and Brexit fears bite… – Guardian [11]

…and luxury homes face new hit, as UK plans extra tax on foreign buyers – Bloomberg [12]

…while new tube map shows flat affordability for every London station – Metro [13]


(Click to enlarge)

How a few model portfolios have performed in the medium-term past [US but relevant]Wealth Management [15]

Products and services

Santander launches robo-adviser for first-time investors – CityWire [16]

New mobile bank N26 from Germany to launch current accounts in Britain – CNBC [17]

Childcare Vouchers replaced by Tax-Free Childcare scheme – Your Money [18]

Ratesetter will pay you £100 [and me a cash bonus] if you invest £1,000 for a year – Ratesetter [19]

Mortgage rates for potential first-time buyers continue to fall – ThisIsMoney [20]

Prenups are losing their stigma in the US – Business Insider [21]

The best value used car is apparently the super-fancy Mercedes E-Class – ThisIsMoney [22]

Comment and opinion

My best investment: Low returns, high value – The Vanguard blog [23]

Try a modern spin on a classic idea with the Pinwheel Portfolio – Portfolio Charts [24]

Rick Ferri interviews Vanguard’s founder Jack Bogle [Podcast]Rick Ferri [25]

What if stocks don’t crash for a long time? – A Wealth of Common Sense [26]

Make sure you’re not over-exposed before a [US] bear market comes – MarketWatch [27]

Budget busting – The Humble Dollar [28]

Are investment returns from cannabis stocks just a pipe dream? [Search result]FT [29]

So much for the bond bubble – Morningstar [30]

What happens after (in retrospect) stock market peaks – The Irrelevant Investor [31]

Good health and fitness gives you optionality in retirement – Random Roger [32]

Win or lose, every [trader] gets what they want out of the market – The Macro Tourist [33]

Are you a UK start-up looking for funding? Here’s a guide to the UK’s top seed funds – Medium [34]


Paris set to triumph as Europe’s post-Brexit trading hub – FT via CNBC [35]

Forget Brexit, we’re heading for BRINO [Brexit In Name Only. Search result]FT [36]

Brilliant lampoon of the Tory’s miserable Brexit-addled conference – Guardian [37]

The ‘opportunity’ created by Brexit [Graphic] – Seb Dance MEP via Twitter [38]

EU negotiators see Brexit deal “very close” – sources – Reuters [39]

Kindle book bargains

Way of the Wolf: Straight line selling: Master the art of persuasion, influence, and success by Jordan Belfort – £0.99 on Kindle [40]

The Templars: The Rise and Fall of God’s Holy Warriors by Dan Jones – £0.99 on Kindle [41]

The Slave Trade: History of the Atlantic Slave Trade, 1440-1870 by Hugh Thomas – £0.99 on Kindle [42]

You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life by Jen Sincero – £0.99 on Kindle [43]

Off our beat

The war on sensible things continues, with Shetland no longer to be put in a box on maps – BBC [44]

Hungry like a wolf [Video] – via Twitter [45]

And finally…

“And when the golden handshake finally came, there you were at your leaving party one day, and the next you’d fallen off the proverbial cliff and on to the sofa, slippers at the ready. Easing into retirement by gradually reducing your hours was virtually unheard of.”
– Celia Dodd, Not Fade Away: How to Thrive in Retirement [46]

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  1. Note some articles can only be accessed through the search results if you’re using PC/desktop view (from mobile/tablet view they bring up the firewall/subscription page). To circumvent, switch your mobile browser to use the desktop view. On Chrome for Android: press the menu button followed by “Request Desktop Site”. [ [51]]