Lan Luong Sheffield

In loving memory of my big sister I created this site

In loving memory of Lan Luong, Lan Dunstan or Ella Dunstan however you knew her.

Born 8th January 1972 in Hanoi Vietnam, Lan and her family moved to the United Kingdom via Hong Kong in 1980. Her family finally settled in Sheffield in 1983.

Unfortunately on April 27th 2021, she suffered a ruptured brain aneurysm. Her partner discovered her in the morning, they operated that night but the bleeding was too bad and nothing could be done. They switched the machine off on the 30th and Lan survived until May 4th. She was only 49 years old.

Lan leaves behind 3 children and a partner. She will sadly be missed by all that knew her.

You can view her facebook here

Or visit the the wordpress site and leave a permanent message

Getting Solar Panels in Ireland Payback time with Crypto Mining

I recently came across a couple of blog posts about getting solar panels in Ireland. Part 1 one and Part 2 Excellent posts. You can defintely save money and do your bit for global warming.

The main calculation is in part 1

So let’s get to the bottom line savings.

Conservatively we can easily cut our electricity cost in half over a year; this includes the standing change and other levies that we cannot avoid. This is a saving of approx €750 per year, along with saving approx €600 on oil.

We are on track to save €1,350 per year in energy costs.

The system’s total net cost after the grant was €7,500, a 5.5-year repayment timeline. This, to me, is pretty favourable.

After that breakeven point, any reduction in costs is pure savings.

This is a post-tax return too as it’s a saving. Where else can you get an 18% post-tax return? Your pre-tax return is even better. ie, to earn €1350 to spend on electricity, you need to gross, €2500, so your pre-tax payback time is more like 3 years. This depends on your usage and the amount of sun. Kel seems to use a large amount of electricity. Even if you are saving €500 a year it’s still worth doing.

Selling back to the grid

It even gets better. In the summer of 2021, it’s expected the grid will buy back up to 30% of the excess energy you produce. The unit rate will probably be low but as its excess electricity, it’s pure profit. In the UK, you’ll get 5.24p per unit of electricity. To buy electricity in the UK it costs on average 17.2p/ kWh. It’s a similar price to Ireland so I’d assume the grid in Ireland will pay a similar feed-in rate.

Mining Crypto

The alternative to selling it back to the grid is to mine crypto. At the time of writing, it’s still possible to make money mining certain cryptocurrencies on your computer as long as you have a good graphics card. If you go to https://www.sparkpool.com/token/ETH you can calculate how much you can make. Find your hash rate here. It’s heavily dependent on the price of crypto and the electricity costs but if you are getting free/ cheap electricity, you can profit from it.

Where to begin

Definitely read Mrs Smart Money’s blog posts on it. Visit the SEAI website and find an installer.

How to include text from a single source on websites

Sometimes you need to keep a master copy of some text on a website that just updates. For example, if you have a group of terms and conditions across multiple sites then it would be easier to update once rather than on each site.

I needed a solution as Bet365 are always updating their terms and need me to keep them up to date. They provide an auto-updated iframe of the terms in the backend. It works fine in the main body of a post but in the sidebar, it doesn’t show. So I needed to find another way.

I ended up using the code on this site

/* Add shortcode to include external content */
function show_file_func( $atts ) {
extract( shortcode_atts( array(
'file' => ''
), $atts ) );

if ($file!='')
return @file_get_contents($file);
}
add_shortcode( 'show_file', 'show_file_func' );

Add that to functions.php in the theme files. Ideally, you’d have a child theme and put in there.

to use just add this.
[show_file file=”YOUR-URL.com/page.html”]

I actually use a plugin called shortcoder, it allows me to update shortcodes on the site quickly. Very useful for banner management. So I can paste the code into the terms shortcode I have already set up. I was all very simple in the end.

There may well be a plugin that does allow you to reference external text in a more user-friendly way but I couldn’t find it. The RPS include plugin referenced here only works within a site, not externally. Would be handy to have like a CDN for text snippets but I can’t find one either. I use cloudinary.com for some banner management but there appears to be nothing for txt. Maybe because text is so simple, there’s not much demand for a solution.

Sending parcels to the UK from Ireland with a lithium battery in it

Sending parcels to the UK pre Brexit was relatively easy. You just took your parcel to the post office and they’d sent it for you. This is apart from things with lithium-ion batteries inside. This is a nuisance for mobile phones, laptops, and watches. An Post will not accept these.

The workaround pre-Brexit was to use parcel motel, tick the lithium battery box and they’d send by ferry. They have temporarily suspended deliveries to the UK though, so it’s not an option.

If you go to a parcel broker site suck as parcel2go.com, then they won’t accept the parcel if you put its a mobile phone or anything with a lithium battery in it.

So, how do you do it? I ended up going direct to UPS.com and sending via there. You can select has a lithium battery in it and as long as it’s labeled right, they will accept it. It cost me €37.12 for UPS Express Saver to send a mobile phone to the UK. It was supposed to be next day delivery but it got held up in customs.

When you book the parcel, make a note of everything they ask for and make sure it’s attached. It got delayed going out due to incorrect paperwork and got delay again in the UK. It’s just not worth buying anything from the UK with a battery in it anymore due to the hassle of returning it. The exception is from Amazon who will sort out the returns for you.

CPL vs CPA vs Rev Share in affiliate marketing

One of the questions I used to always ponder was what was the best payment plan for affiliates. My experience is mainly in igaming but the same pros and cons apply to all industries.

CPL – Cost Per Lead – you get paid for every lead you send. Quite rare in the casino affiliate industry but I do some affiliates who buy traffic on a CPL basis and sell on a CPA.
CPA – Costs per Acquisition. You get paid for everyone that signs up and does a minimum action, for example, deposits and bets £10.
Rev Share – Revenue Share, is self-explanatory. You get a share of the revenue generated. Calculations vary but you get paid in proportion to the amount of revenue you generate.
Hybrid models – This usually involves a CPA and a revenue share portion. So for a casino, you might get £50 CPA and 20% net revenue. Just depends on the operator, your traffic and how well you can negotiate.

The different models reflect the different risks and values during the conversion process. A lead is cheap but the risk is all on the merchant. I could send someone 1000 leads and if none converted then the merchant out of pocket.

A CPA puts the risk on to the affiliate. If I was on a CPA deal, I could send 1000 leads and if none converted, I wouldn’t get paid. It can be a disincentive for the merchant to try as hard to covert the lead as they don’t have to pay if there is no conversion.

With revenue share, the leads will only make money if they convert and spend money. This puts all the risk on the affiliate. If the traffic or leads don’t convert and perform, then the affiliate gets nothing but if they do, they can get rewarded handsomely. This is my preferred model. Its riskier for me as some merchants will not convert or have a good retention rate but overall it worked for me for over a decade.

There are some downsides to a rev share deal though. You might get offered 35%, but 35% of what? Some people, take an instant 50% off for game fees, then there’s tax, for the gaming industry, that’s 15% POC, bonuses, and customer service fees get taken off too.

For people who buy traffic, CPA can be better for cashflow. It’s certain how much you will get and Google ads can be expensive. I was talking to someone who worked at a big PPC affiliate and he said they only worked on CPA and it was like £500 minimum for a sign up and there was a listing fee. Sounded very lucrative. They did track everything and kept an eye on the revenue per keyword, per position, per operator. If someone wasn’t performing, then they’d get canned.

Hybrid deals try to help with cashflow and balance the risk a bit in favour of the affiliate. You get an amount upfront and then long term revenue share. This works well for a lot of people too.

The major danger of revenue share is that lifetime does not really mean lifetime. If you stop sending traffic, the lifetime revenue share stops. In the good times when everything was growing, operators weren’t bothered but now the industry is maturing, it makes sense to cull affiliates who no longer generate fresh sign ups.

Sky Bet affiliate scheme was the first major one to do this by just closing their affiliate scheme down and since then, lots of others have used terms in the contract to close affiliate accounts. Bet365 are the only ones you can 100% trust. They culled a lot of affiliates but kept them on their revenue share. Their retention is the best in the industry too. Everyone else falls in between the two companies.

For a lot of other industries revenue share is pretty straightforward and the only real option. For example, Curries, might offer 8% revenue share. It’s simple, you take the price, excluding VAT and you get 8% of that sale. For Emirates Airlines, you might get 1% of the basket value.

In summary, you chose your model on how good your traffic is and how much risk you want to take. The better your traffic and the more risk you want to take, the more you will make with a revenue share or CPA. If you just want to buy Facebook or Google traffic, collect emails, and send them on to the merchant to convert, then CPL better.

The GME shares and what should I have done from Ireland

If you were on Reddit at the end of January 2021, all the stories were about Wallstreetbets (WSB) and GME shares. Seems likes every other story was about GME and the hedge funds shorting too much and retail buyes punishing them. Rather than revinventingthe wheel, here’s a short explanation from r/Outoftheloop

Answer: there’s other threads here that go into the technicals but I’ll try and keep it succinct.

GME is GameStop’s stock ticker. They’ve been on a down slide for a while and had been circling the drain with potential bankruptcy. A number of big money management firms have seen this and are taking “short” positions on the stock, betting that the price will go down by a lot.

WSB is many things, perhaps their biggest tendency is to go for YOLO plays – unsustainably risky but makes them filthy rich if they work. With all the press of big money going short on GameStop, a number of them decided to take the opposite stake and be “long” on it (betting the stock price will rise)

Two things have happened that have made the WSB crew looking like geniuses for this play, neither of which they caused (but will take credit for) 1: Ryan Cohen (who formerly ran chewy.com, a very successful e-commerce business) has been tapped as the new CEO and his plans for GameStop seem to be pivoting away from the failing system they had been using, raising faith in the company to right itself.

2: Because of the nature of a short position (borrowing stock and sell them, that you buy back and return when they’re lower) and the volume of big money movers on these short positions means there are more stock borrowed than exist for sale. This supply/demand mismatch is called a “short squeeze” because the short position needs to buy shares to cover the ones they borrowed, but there doesn’t exist enough shares for everyone to buy back what they’re short – which means whoever does own those shares (WSB) can ask almost whatever price they want, hence the megathread, the gain porn, and the bears on suicide watch.

In short, they had a hunch and it paid off, but they didn’t cause it (despite what they’ll tell you.)

So basically a load of retail investors made money from buying GME shares at the expense of Hedge funds and other short sellers. I look forward to reading the book about this and the inevtiable movie about it.

I personally stayed away from it, which with hindsight was a mistake. I could be driving my Lambo now. The question I need to be asking is, if I could go back in time, what would I have done differently. Say for example, I could go back to January 1st and the market would play out exactly the same way as it did, what would I do? I’ve asked this to a few people both in Ireland and the UK and there seems to be a lack of knowledge on the best way to have taken advantage of it.

The simplest way would be to just buy shares directly from Revolut. They allow commission-free share dealing. The simplest for most people but if you knew the stock was going to explode, why not use some leverage?

The users on WSB were a mixture of stock buyers direct and call option buyers. The latter caused something called a gamma squeeze which made the stock rise even more. On the app Robin Hood which they all use, options seem to be easy to buy. Over in Ireland, it’s not as obvious as to where you’d go.

I found a guide on reddit which has been deleted but I managed to get a copy of it. Basically, you can do RobinHood-style options at Tastyworks.

from https://www.removeddit.com/r/UKInvesting/comments/gcig6g/uk_guide_to_us_options_trading/


This is guide to US options trading from the UK, because I’ve seen countless requests of people browsing in /r/ukinvesting/r/options/r/wallstreetbets etc. about this.

First thing’s first – no part of this post is to be taken as financial advice. It is a guide on how to start options trading from the UK. Options/CFD trading is a high-risk activity and most retail traders lose money.

1. CFDs vs. Options

So getting started, options and contracts for difference (CFDs) are both financial derivatives – they derive their values from an underlying security e.g. stock, indices, currency, commodities. Long story short, CFDs are more akin to selling naked options – if a position moves against you far enough, you will be forced out of your position either via a stop-loss or a margin call. With options, you can limit the losses using spreads, which means you don’t need to use margin and you also maintain your position even if it moves hard past your maximum loss (key is that if it comes back into profit, you’ll be back in play)

CFD trading is regulated as gambling is (and due to this is even treated as tax-free on profits), whereas Options Trading is highly regulated as financial instruments because they genuinely have a use beyond speculation – institutions regularly use options to insure their funds and hedge against major risks for example.

2. Brokers

For this reasons above, there is basically no options market in the UK – the only broker at this time is Saxo, and they only do vanilla options on Forex. Everyone else only does CFDs and/or stock (T212, Freetrade, IG, Plus500 etc.). To engage in true options trading, the only choice is to open an international/US brokerage account.

The two that are accessible to UK investors are Interactive Brokers (IB) and TastyWorks. Both are reputable brokers and have strong insurances for cash & securities held with them.

  • IB is quite expensive (£20+ pcm minimum), but is the full bells and whistles international trading platform – you may access European options as well as worldwide markets on stocks/currency/anything you want really. Recommended for high value traders/investors.
  • TastyWorks is the opposite – free accounts, low fees (zero inactivity, free stock trades, low option trading fees), though they charge $45 for cash withdrawals. TastyWorks primarily offer trading on US options and stocks, so anything listed on the American stock exchanges are game, including international companies listed via ADRs (e.g. global UK companies, especially on FTSE100).

3. Opening an account

I will walk through some of the aspects of funding and operating a TastyWorks account from the UK, as this is my recommendation if you’re here looking for a cheap way to get started.

Opening a free account on TastyWorks is easy (form filling within 20-60 mins – you will need a photo of proof of ID and address). It typically takes 1 day for cash accounts and 2-3 days for margin accounts to be ready for funding. My referral link if you feel this guide deserves the effort is: https://start.tastyworks.com/#/login?referralCode=GD9EGGNZYZ. (mods, happy to remove this is this guide is deemed low effort)

The account types are:

  • Cash. Recommended to start because you can always open a margin account easily later. Able to buy long calls/puts and sell covered options. No short stock allowed.
  • Basic (margin). Able to sell naked puts, and trade defined-risk strategies i.e. anything with a known maximum loss before entering the trade. E.g. credit/debit spreads. Note that naked puts carry significant risk – this is equivalent to CFD trading on margin, and you can have your position forcibly closed at unfavourable market rates if you overleverage.
  • The Works (margin): everything above, and able to sell naked calls. Note that naked calls carry HUGE risk – this is equivalent to CFD trading on margin, and you can have your position forcibly closed at unfavourable market rates if you overleverage. The difference in naked calls and naked puts: stock can only go to zero, limiting the (huge) loss on a naked put, whereas a naked call has theoretically unlimited loss since stocks can (theoretically) go to infinity.

4. Funding the Account

Since trading US options is done in USD, the account must be funded in USD. With TastyWorks, the only option for UK traders is to deposit “By Wire”, assuming you do not have a US bank account – full instructions for the “By Wire” method will show up when you are approved to fund your account.

TastyWorks does not accept third party transfers (accounts not in your name), so services such as Revolut and TransferWise (inc. borderless) do not work (not directly at least).

You can either do an international wire from a GBP account directly (expensive, especially for smaller amounts <£1000) or set up a USD currency account and transfer through that. If you have the time, I recommend the USD currency account.

The account of choice is the Barclays USD Foreign Currency account – you need a current account with them to be able to open the USD account. Once the USD account is open, you can transfer into it using Revolut/TransferWise (cheap) and then international (wire) transfer from Barclays account to TastyWorks (free!). Note that the Barclays USD account is still a UK bank account, so you’ll need to use a SWIFT transfer from Revolut/TransferWise to turn your GBP into USD.

To withdraw funds, do the opposite, noting that $45 with be charged by TastyWorks per withdrawal.

That’s it for the guide – happy trading, and if there are any questions, feel free to get in touch and I’ll edit the answers in here. I want this to be a resource because I’ve helped many people get started, and it would be good to have it all in one place!


You can open a Tasty Works account from Ireland and trade options as they do on WSB with Robin Hood. I’ve personally decided against this though. It’s good to leverage when you are winning but can be expensive if you don’t know what you are doing. Plus in Ireland, the taxes are huge.

I personally have opted to open up a spread betting account with IG. Spread betting is tax-free in Ireland and the UK, so there’s an instant saving there if you make money. Imagine making €100,000 and having to pay the government €32,000, a nice problem to have but if you made that via a spread bet, then it’s all tax-free.

With spread betting, you just bet whether a stock will be higher or lower than a price, and the more, right or wrong you get the more you win or lose. So GME was just under $20 a share back on January 1st. For this example, let’s say it was exactly $20. With spread betting, you could bet, say £10 for every 1c the stock moved. So IG, or whatever spread betting company, might set the spread at $1.98 to $2.02. If you thought it would drop, you sell at $1.98. If the stock dropped to $1.90, you would make £80, whereas if it went up to $2.10, you’d lose £120.

This is where it gets interesting. Your maximum upside if you sell, is, £2000, and that’s if GME went bust and the share price dropped to zero. Your maximum downside is theoretically unlimited as GME could go to the moon. With the benefit of hindsight, it did go high so I would have bought at $2.02. When the stock hit $350, if I would have bet £10 per 1c, I would have made £347,980. The downside would have been £10 * 202, so £2020. This is the type of asymmetric trade Keith Gill, AKA Roaring Kitty AKA DeepfuckingValue was talking about before it all took off.

I’ll talk more about spread betting in another post maybe. I’ve got a couple of long positions open on Wetherspoons and Barratts Developments. The cost of the bet is spread (difference between the buy and sell size) times the stake. So in the example above, it would have cost £40 to set up.

If you are in the UK you can buy stocks via an efficient tax wrapper such as an ISA or a SIPP. I actually moved my SIPP dealing account over from Bestinvest to EQi, so I can deal USA shares too.

Will there be another GME? Probably not, seems like it was the perfect storm. There will be other stocks that rise exponentially. I missed out on Apple, AMD, Tesla, and many others which have had a stellar rise. I’m just making sure, that if another GME or similar opportunity arises I am prepared and can jump on.

Just my disclaimer, this is not financial advice. On the top of IGs website, it gives this warning.

Spread bets and CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. 75% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading spread bets and CFDs with this provider. You should consider whether you understand how spread bets and CFDs work, and whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.
High volatility increases the risk of sudden, large or rapid losses.

It’s a lot safer just buying shares but the returns are lower and CGT is due. Options might be better for some, as the risk is just the cost of the option but CGT is payable too.

If you have any better ideas on how to capitalise on the next GME or spotted any errors, leave us a comment below.

Why are small orders under €22 VAT free on Amazon.co.uk?

I was expecting a big negative change when shopping on Amazon.co.uk from Ireland in a negative way. I’ve been using Hagglezon which compares the various Amazon sites across Europe to give you the best price. You have to factor in postage but it can work out cheaper and if UK Amazon was a lot off faff, it made sense to swap to Amazon.de

It does seem everything is more or less the same. You get charged something called import fees deposit which is identical to the old VAT so no difference there. The main difference is you can take advantage of a loophole that allows small packages of a value less than €22 to enter the EU VAT free. This was due to abolished on January 1st but has been extended until the 1st July 2021.

So if you order something for £18 from Amazon.co.uk and you get it delivered to an Irish address, assuming the seller is VAT registered, you will get it for £15. Amazon.co.uk is VAT registered for sure but many third-party sellers are not, so you won’t get the VAT-free price as there was no VAT in the first place.

There are some real bargains to be had at the moment. You can combine this with subscribe and save, so save 15% off your order and then possibly another 20% off due to VAT.

Its a small win but those baby wipes are cheap as chips. Cheaper than even the Aldi. You get through those very quickly with babies so worth stockpiling while they are going cheap. You can also save a bit looking in the Amazon Warehouse. They are returned goods and sometimes only have a few pennies knocked off but still worth it.

You can read more about shopping on Amazon after Brexit on money guide ireland

This €22 loophole also affects Aliexpress, so fill your boots up with all the cheap tat from China before they have to start paying VAT. More info on that here. Got til July too but best off stopping ordering sometime in May as you don’t want to be getting a bill from An Post about some customers for some €2 product.

To blog or not to blog in 2021

Blogging is something many SEO practitioners recommend but don’t do it themselves. There’s a good reason for that, not much new happens in the SEO world and when it does, there are plenty of authority blogs that will cover it.

According to Google trends, blogging peaked just over a decade ago and has declined ever since. This has coincided with the rise of social media. Twitter could be thought of as a microblogging service and Facebook allows people to write posts that once upon a time might have been on a personal blog. Linkedin allows you to blog on there and reach your audience.

What’s the point in blogging if no one reads it? Even SEOs with strong blogs will write a Twitter thread rather than a blog post as Twitter has a ready-made audience.

So am I going to blog? Yes, why? Well, I am a Brit living in Ireland. It’s fairly niche in terms of a topic so I think I can be helpful rather than add to the noise on the internet. Trying to find stuff like what’s the Irish equivalent of an ISA and what you can do instesad has been difficult (there isn’t one BTW). I’ll also blog a bit about SEO and Analytics but there are many more established bloggers in that niche so not as much.

It also helps with the analytics. There more traffic you get, the more there is to analyse, so I can learn from my own sites.

The blogging will be sporadic, probably after I learn something new about how to do something in Ireland which I knew how to do in the UK.

ICO Vat Receipts

All companies that handle external data have to register with the Information Commissioners Office (ICO). This costs £35 a year for most organisations. For large organisations its £500 but most people won’t need to worry about that.

The costs and registration process are pretty reasonable and straightforward. The problem comes when to get a VAT receipt or invoice for the payment. The best way to pay is by direct debit so you never forget. However, you don’t seem to get an invoice or receipt for payment. I contacted them and this is what they said.

As registration is a statutory requirement and there is no VAT included in the cost we are not able to produce invoices.

We hope this clarifies the situation for you but if you wish to discuss this further please contact the Registration helpline on 0303 123 1113.

So they don’t issue them. Hope that saves someone some time when looking for the receipt.

 

This is a legacy post from the old blog.  I restored this as it still got a bit of traffic and does help some people looking for invoices from the ICO.