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What caught my eye this week.

Seekers after financial freedom like us don’t posture about the car we drive or plonk our new handbag or iPhone down in the middle of the table when we meet our friends.

But you do still see one-upmanship in this community:

  • “Call this a bear market? I don’t even look at my portfolio unless at least one major High Street bank has gone bust.”
  • “Call 15% a savings rate? That’s more like a rounding error compared to what I sock away by living in my tent in the Rhonda valley.”
  • “You call shopping at Oxfam frugal? I get Oxfam to donate its clothes to me!”

Okay, I exaggerate. But it’s with fondness. And only a bit.

To be fair, very few of us throw our net worth around without a few humble disclaimers.

Which is confounding, because I bet most of us would love to know more about how other people are getting on.

Not in a monetary game of phallic wonga-waving, you understand. More to put their words into context. And to get a better sense of our own progress on the journey.

Years ago, I used to spend many hours a day on investing forums. And it would drive me mad when a poster would reveal they’d bought this or that controversial stock, to the admiration – or the condemnation – of the peanut gallery.

You can have an opinion of the odds of a particular investment working out, of course.

Yet most posters were happy to ascribe bravery, stupidity, foolishness, heroism, and the like to the action, too.

Very rarely did we know what the investment represented to the person in question. They could be a multi-millionaire investing beer money, or a student investing their entire loan. Which matters.

Because unless you know somebody’s full financial picture – and the magnitude of the investment – you can’t say much about the dangers or prudence of their actions.

It’s similar in online Financial Independence circles.

Somebody will say, for instance, that they can get buy on £18,000 a year.

They’ll be labelled delusional by people who don’t know how old they are, where in the country they live, whether they own their own home, whether they have dependents, and so on.

The flip-side is equally true, too. £50,000 a year doesn’t go half as far in London as in Hull.

ISA-sizer

So I’m sure many readers will be very glad to read through the latest ISA statistics to be published by HMRC.

If you’re anything like me you’ll immediately compare yourself to your cohort and ask yourself some serious questions about your life pat yourself on the back.

Maybe it hasn’t all been for nothing!

Only time will tell. But certainly it’s interesting to see how much others are saving, or how your total pot compares to others your age or earning the same as you.

And hey presto…

Average annual ISA subscription:

Pot size by age:

(Click to enlarge)

Pot size by income cohort:

(Click to enlarge)

Want more? You can download the full report from HMRC’s website as a PDF.

I hope you find what you’re looking for!

From Monevator

How much will you lose if bond prices fall? (And what if they rise?) – Monevator

Lars Kroijer on…avoiding Covid-19 losers, ultra-low interest rates, and dividend cuts [Videos]Monevator

From the archive-ator: Am I saving enough for retirement? – Monevator

News

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

The pound is becoming an emerging market currency, says BoA analyst [Search result]FT

NS&I reveals savers cost it £887m last year, as borrowing costs were so low – ThisIsMoney

What’s gotten into the price of cheese? – New York Times

Tech unlocks the door to retail investor fundraising [Search result]FT

The latest house price predictions for the UK from Savills begin with a 7.5% fall in 2020 – ThisIsMoney

Wirecard collapses, owing $5.8 billion – SMH

‘The atmosphere was ugly’: Bournemouth aghast at beach chaos – Guardian

A top-heavy stock market is nothing new – The Evidence-based Investor

Products and services

Yorkshire Building Society relaunches 90% mortgages for first-time buyers – Guardian

Invest in Ripple’s new wind farm, get electricity cheap/free [Do research the risks]Ripple Energy

FCA permanently bans mini-bond ads – Which?

Sign-up to Freetrade via my link and we can both get a free share worth between £3 and £200 – Freetrade

Revealed: The most in-demand seaside towns for home buyers – Which?

Bungalows for sale [Gallery]Guardian

Comment and opinion

When your money makes more money than you do – Banker on FIRE

Main Street, Wall Street, and all the other places – Klement on Investing

Understanding the ‘Spock Market’ – MSN Money

Investing legend Burton Malkiel on day-trading millennials and the end of the 60/40 portfolio – CNBC

How would investors react if we finally got some inflation? – A Wealth of Common Sense

More: Worried about inflation? Don’t change a thing – Bloomberg via Yahoo Finance

VAT has always been a stealth tax – it’s about time we cut it – Guardian

Bonds have lost their superpower status, driving funds into alternative assets – CFA Institute

[Brings new meaning to side hustle] The man who runs his wife’s OnlyFans account – Guardian

Mr Money Mustache talks retiring earlier and punching Covid-19 in the face – The Motley Fool

Deuce [Happy birthday!]Indeedably

Naughty corner: Active antics

Even if you don’t like it, you have to accept the Fed is a player – The Reformed Broker

How to find quality companies producing consistent and sustainable growth – UK Value Investor

Always worth reading Cullen Roche’s take on the market – Pragmatic Capitalism

European Opportunities Trust: whacked by Wirecard – IT Investor

The performance of hedge fund performance fees [Research paper]SSRN (h/t Abnormal Returns)

Coronavirus corner

From nose to toe, the Covid-19 virus attacks like no other ‘respiratory’ infection – Stat News

Dexamethasone and the Recovery Trial’s high-speed science – Wired

Coronavirus death rates falling in hospitals – BBC News

Weddings of up to 30 people will be allowed from early July, but restrictions are still in place – Which?

A brief look at viral seasonal dynamics [Video, cherry picking?] – Ivor Cummins via YouTube

“I hereby declare this pandemic over!”The Escape Artist

Why the hell did lockdown have to end? [Song, video, funny]YouTube

Kindle book bargains

Willful Blindness: Why We Ignore The Obvious by Margaret Heffernan – £0.99 on Kindle

Escape To The Farmhouse by Jo Thomas – £0.99 on Kindle

Why We Work by Barry Schwartz – £0.99 on Kindle

The Anti-Procrastination Mindset by Harry Heijligers – £0.99 on Kindle

Off our beat

Tim Harford: The risk of harm and the greater good [Search result]FT

Why it’s so damn hot in the Arctic right now – Vox

Tea, biscuits, and empire: The long con of Britishness – Longreads

US woman sparks trans-Atlantic tea war with hostile brew – Guardian

You’re showering too much – The Atlantic

And finally…

“Investing isn’t about beating others at their game. It’s about controlling yourself at your own game.”
– Ben Graham, The Intelligent Investor

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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”.

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