Monday, March 09, 2015

Traits of Happy Retirees

This post about the 18 traits of happy retirees on the excellent Bogleheads forum caught my attention. We hit most of the 18 items on the list:

1. our pre-retirement household income was above the USD97K threshold for happiness. Given the cost of living in Hong Kong and that we have two school-age children, a high income was pretty much essential to saving enough for early retirement; PASS

2. our post-retirement household income is above the USD82K threshold for happiness. See1  above; PASS

3. our liquid net worth (cash, marketable securities, commodities) is well above the USD500K threshold. See 1 above; PASS

4. do we have a well defined understanding of our purpose in life? Once I get past raising children and feeding the cat, I'm not sure about this one. I have plenty of things to do (current and proposed) but am not sure if they amount to a "purpose"; FAIL

5. I have the 3.5 core pursuits - writing/reading, studying, exercise, family, charity & professional. I am also very goal orientated which helps; PASS

6. home value is miles above the USD300K threshold - which is hardly surprising given Hong Kong property prices; PASS

7. we do have a mortgage and there is about 6.5 years to go on it. Given current interest rates, it makes more sense not to pay it off early (which we could do); PASS

8. we are married; PASS

9. we have two children. I assume this and 8 above are representative of a more generic "family" trait; PASS

10. we have multiple sources of income; PASS

11. we spend much more than 5 hours per year planning for retirement; PASS

12. our spending level is well above the USD53K per annum threshold. See 1 above; PASS

13. we live in a city; PASS

14. we eat fast food occasionally. Hong Kong being Hong Kong, I'm not sure what counts as fast food here but, on the whole, we have pretty average dietary habits; PASS

15. we don't own a car; PASS

16. we tend to shop at middle range stores; PASS

17. we usually take 2-3 vacations a year; PASS

18. both myself and Mrs Traineeinvestor graduated from university. PASS

Of course, all this is based on a survey and is no more than a smorgasbord of average responses. The two most obvious things missing from the list are (1) health and (2) environment - which is very surprising. My own take is that a happy retirement is best founded on:

A. solid family relationships
B. financial security - not necessarily affluence but enough to avoid sleepless nights worrying about putting food on the table in 20-30 years time
C. engagement - just keeping socially, mentally and physically active. Just being curious about things is a good place to be
D. health - something we take for granted until we don't have it

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Financial Review - February, 2015

February was another good solid month for my investments.

Net worth increased.  Asian equities appreciated slightly slightly offset be a small fall in commodities and FX movements were slightly favourable. Expenses were high as I expensed half the cost of renovating a flat.

Here are the details:

1. my Hong Kong/China equity portfolio increased . There were no transactions this month;

2. my AU/NZ equities appreciated. There were no transactions this month;

3.my equity ETFs appreciated (India, Vietnam, Hong Kong and China) in line with the local markets. There were no new purchases;

4. my commodities fell slightly. Silver is my only position;

5. all tenants are paying on time. One property is vacant and is currently undergoing renovation;

6. currency movements were positive with gains in the NZD and the AUD being flat;

7. my position in bonds remains small;

8. expenses were high due to expensing half of the renovation costs of a vacant rental flat and university fees being paid;

9.there were no transfers to Mrs Traineeinvestor this month.

My cash position fell. I currently hold 34.1 months of expenses in HKD cash or equivalents. February is the lowest month of the year as far as cash inflows are concerned.

For February, my net worth increased by 1.21%. The year to date increase is 1.61%.

Financial Review - January, 2015

January was a good solid month for my investments.

Net worth appreciated.  Equities appreciated across the board as did commodities while adverse FX movements materially reduced the local currency gains. Expenses were low.

Here are the details:

1. my Hong Kong/China equity portfolio rose in line with the local market . There were no transactions this month;

2. my AU/NZ equities appreciated. There were no transactions this month;

3.my equity ETFs appreciated (India, Vietnam, Hong Kong and China) in line with the local markets. There were no new purchases;

4. my commodities rose slightly. Silver is my only position;

5. the properties are no longer a full occupancy and all tenants are paying on time. One property became vacant just before Chinese New Year in 2015. The vacant property requires a complete renovation and this will start next week;

6. currency movements were negative with falls in the NZD and the AUD;

7. my position in bonds remains small;

8. expenses were low;

9.there were no transfers to Mrs Traineeinvestor this month.

My cash position increased slightly. I currently hold 35.8 months of expenses in HKD cash or equivalents.

For October, my net worth rose by 0.53%. The year to date increase is 0.53%.