Password Stuff

I was one of those customers whose Tesco bank account was frozen the other weekend due to a ‘sophisticated hack‘.

Fortunately, no funds were removed from my account and I wasn’t really inconvenienced in a big way as it’s not my main current account.

Like many people these days, I conduct most of my personal finance online so I was interested to read this article the other week on password strength and security.

There’s some decent advice on how to create robust passwords and I can’t be the only person here to admit that I can occasionally be quite lax with my passwords.

Anyway, in the article, there’s a ‘how secure is my password‘ link where you can check the strength of your passwords, so I gave it a go with one of my passwords (or rather, something very similar to my actual password) and got this result:

password2Bugger…time to change this password methinks to something a bit more complex and tougher to decipher. And no, this wasn’t my Tesco bank account password – that one, when I tested it, would apparently take 1 Month to crack.

Fortunately, another one of my passwords got this result:

password1

I now need to try to change all my passwords so that I get a similar result!

The tough bit will be remembering them all!

I might have to start using a password manager but how safe are those? I might check out Dashlane, as featured in the article.

Bank Security

The most robust password however probably won’t be of any use if the bank itself is targeted, as in Tesco’s case, although who really knows? Maybe my password which would take a computer a month to crack did stop thieves from nicking money from my account, but equally, it could be that they didn’t get round to my account before Tesco plugged the breach.

This recent article revealed that perhaps other banks’ online security aren’t quite as resilient as they should be against hackers – Tesco isn’t even mentioned!

This is probably a good time to put forward the idea of having an emergency fund with a bank other than your main bank, to cover the event of your account be hacked.

But then, how safe is your emergency fund? That could be hacked too!

Cash under the mattress, anyone?

‘Interesting Times’

Well, it wasn’t quite the result that most of us were expecting but ooh, check out all my stocks surprisingly going up!
keepinvesting

As I mentioned after Brexit, it’s democracy at its best/worst (delete as applicable).

Life goes on but not as we know it – we live in ‘interesting times’.

 

October 2016 Savings, plus other Updates

I was a little distracted last month and this continued to be the case this month. With various social outings, the weeks have just gone by in a haze.

Work has continued to be chaotic and also very weird, as my boss has now been laid off and I have a new boss, someone I had a dotted line report to previously. Whilst I get on with my interim boss, I miss my old boss already!

On a personal front, I actually secured a date the old fashioned way! That is, there wasn’t a Tinder-swipe or online dating profile in sight! I got dancing with someone at my friend’s wedding, we swapped numbers, we went out on a date. Ok, so there was to be no 2nd date (sorry, he had too many young children to support!) but hey, it’s good to see that old-school ways can still work in today’s dating environment! 😉

Anyway, how do things look on the numbers front?

oct16saved

So I managed a savings rate of 40.7%, not quite as good as last month but not bad considering the social events.

My average savings rate continues its downward trend  –  it’s now at 46%.  I accept that it’ll be impossible for me to achieve my end of year target of 50% – even 45% might be a stretch with the festive season coming up. I’ll keep going anyway.

This month’s income was boosted by £50 from rent received and £39.97 from TopCashback*.

I also chucked some more of my matched betting profits into some property crowdfunding via Property Moose*. The website has now introduced a secondary market so it is now possible to sell or buy ‘shares’ if you wish, although of course, if selling, these need to be purchased by other members of Property Moose.

Future Fund 

The falling sterling and buoyant markets continue to be good for my portfolio, which now stands at £86,509, a gain of 4.3% from last month.

Dividends and Other Income

Dividends received this month (which will be reinvested): Continue reading

Whoops!

As recommended by various people, I read “Whoops!: Why Everyone Owes Everyone And No One Can Pay” by John Lanchester this month. As I borrowed it from the library, that’s another step closer to my library book-reading goal!

whoops

I’d say it was probably the most fascinating non-fiction book I’ve read in a long, long time!

It basically describes and explains how the global economy was brought to the edge of destruction in 2008. Ooh, those naughty banks!

Where was I in 2008?

Well, this was the year I sold the house that I owned with my ex and I finally paid off my credit card debts so I was in a good place financially – finally! The proceeds of the sale were left sitting in a high interest bank account (yes, they existed back then!) and I had virtually no investments whatsoever (I say virtually as I discovered years later that I had a small holding in an investment trust!).

Whilst I do remember the global economy collapsing and the hysteria in the news, I didn’t really understand why or how it happened, except that the banks were largely to blame. How so? Something or other to do with ‘sub-prime’ mortgages but to tell you the truth, I wasn’t really that interested at the time.

I also naively didn’t think the financial crash would affect me since I had no investments (that I knew of) that were affected by the plummet in the stock market…until my job became ‘at risk’ and Old Co axed around 120 people in one go and had to be bailed out by Warren Buffet. Those days at work weren’t great…

Years later, I would still feel the aftereffects of the crash, with regulatory overkill forming a huge part of my working life and environment – audits upon audits!

So what’s in the Book?

The book is easy to read as it assumes you know nothing so explains lots of things in a clear, uncomplicated way; things which my eyes probably glossed over when I saw them in newspapers back in 2008.

I also found it pretty scary – scary at how the banks were so powerful that they pretty much made up their own rules and when even those rules didn’t suit them, they just bent them and nobody stopped them.  Regulators were just regulators in name only – they were next to useless against the almighty banks.

People think pay day loans are bad but they’re nothing compared to the mortgages that were handed out almost like candy to people known to have patchy credit history. It wasn’t just the value of the mortgages, it was the sheer number of mortgages that were handed as it was so easy for anyone to get a loan.

For example:

‘Stated income’ loans were where the borrower just stated what their income was and the lender took their word for it…yes, really!

‘Ninja loans’ –  where people who had ‘No Income, No Jobs or Assets’ were able to borrow a pile of money…

It really sounds made up and unbelievable but the scary truth is that this all happened, though not in some corrupt third world country – it happened in the rich western countries and nearly destroyed the global economy.

So, who or what was to blame?

Greed, stupidity, Governments or Banks?

Probably all of the above.

Have lessons been learnt?

Well the book was written six years ago and there’s still the ticking time bomb of Deutsche Bank (still the most dangerous bank in the world?) to name but one.

Only time will tell before the next financial crisis happens due to some new loophole that will get exploited, though of course, actual Brexit and the result of the US elections could cause some disruption.

Anyway, a highly recommended read.