Many unhappy returns (plus: my best travel hack)
Sep 09, 2023 5:06 am
This month, I'm:
- Spreading money misery
- Travelling on easy mode
- Meeting YouTube stars
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📉 Many unhappy returns
I jokingly wrote the other day that "The best time to start investing was 20 years ago – the second best time is... well, probably another 10 years from now but hey".
Except... it's not really a joke. Because it does appear that we're shifting from the "everything bubble" to the "everything stagnation" – meaning that returns across any asset class you can name are likely to be worse over the next decade than we've become used to.
And this is a problem, because a vast gap is opening up between what people expect their portfolios to achieve and what experts believe is likely.
For example, research from the wealth manager Schroders shows that people expect to make an annual return of 11.37% over the next five years. Yet according to the same company's 10 year forecasts, we can expect returns of...
Amsterdam? DAMPsterdam more like it, amirite? We spent our summer holiday getting drenched daily – but it was totally worth it...
🌍 Travelling on easy mode
My wife and I travelled pretty much non-stop for eight years – which I've written about at length here – and kept on racking up the stamps in our passports even after having our first child.
But then Covid and the process of having a second child killed our momentum stone dead. The thought of navigating airports, unfamiliar surroundings and new cultures with two children (one of whom will not shut up) was too much to even consider.
Last month though, we eased ourselves back in: the Netherlands (no language/culture barrier), by Eurostar (no airports), returning to somewhere we've spent a good chunk of time before (familiar surroundings).
And it was brilliant.
Something unusual we did – which I'd recommend to anyone – was getting a nanny every afternoon. Everyone I've mentioned this to is taken aback at first, but it worked perfectly: it meant we could fully enjoy our family time knowing we'd be getting a break soon, I had a chance to work on my book, and the kids could get out and experience life with a local.
It's yet another thing we (well, my wife) needed to organise in advance, but was virtually as good as travelling with a full-time nanny at a fraction of the cost.
I'm glad we started on easy mode, because it's given us the confidence and enthusiasm to book more trips. If you have any recommendations for a coastal European city that will have decent weather in late October, let me know!
With Ali Abdaal
🤿 A truly deep dive
Not gonna lie: appearing on Ali Abdaal’s "Deep Dive" podcast was... daunting.
Ali credits me with getting him into property investing (which he glowingly refers to as a "mostly fun" experience), and has bought multiple properties through our company. So meeting him should, in theory, have been easy.
But being grilled by someone with 4 million YouTube subscribers is always going to be intimidating – especially given that I was being filmed from the moment he opened the door, and we ended up recording for 3 hours without a break.
The moment I left, I couldn’t remember a single thing we spoke about. But now it’s been released and I’ve watched it through my fingers, I couldn't be happier with how it came out.
If you want to understand how the global economy is rigged against you (and what to do about it) without putting yourself through reading my book, Ali's smart questions helped make this the perfect summary.
We also covered:
• The biggest mistake people make when it comes to money
• How to manage money as a couple
• Why Ali and I both choose to rent our homes
🔗 Odds and ends
📚 When my wife recommended the podcast If Books Could Kill – a show dedicated to debunking popular nonfiction books – I strongly resisted. I don't like negativity or annoying hosts – and this show has both. But I can't deny that their analysis of the Rich Dad Poor Dad story is hilarious (even though I disagree with many of their points), and if you still have any respect for Malcolm Gladwell it won't survive their takedown of "Outliers"...
⌛️ As you'll know if you have kids, a few pointed "why?" questions will reveal how little you know about the most fundamental things. For me, this is particularly true about the actual physical building blocks of our world – which is why I'm enjoying Material World by Ed Conway so much. The origins of basic substances we take for granted are astonishing – and it's brilliantly written too.
🦴 I went for a DEXA scan the other week – measuring muscle mass, body fat and bone density. If you're starting a new fitness regime, I highly recommend it: it gives you an accurate baseline to track progress against, along with some expert recommendations. If you're in London, Bodyscan (no affiliate) was excellent.
That’s it for now! Feel free to write back and let me know what you've been up to.