A slightly late mid year review.
So far, 2011 has been something of a mixed bag as far as the objectives set at the beginning of the year are concerned. Going through them in order:
1. my savings rate has been excellent. Because of the irregular nature of some of my expenses, I can't give an accurate estimate of my YTD savings rate, I think I am on track to have an annual savings rate in excess of 50% again.
2. asset allocation is moving in the right direction. I currently hold more cash than I did at the beginning of the year and am more or less at the lower end of my 24-36 months of living expenses target.
3. I have maintained my predominant exposure to risk assets. Real estate continues to do well - rents have risen more than enough to cover the increased expenses (mostly due to increased government taxes) and, while equities have been disappointing, they have not been disastrous. The worst mistake I made was not selling my silver when it spiked to USD49 per oz.
4. I have made no decision on my home mortgage. Current thinking is that I will most likely repay it even though this seems like a sub-optimal decision.
5. I have tracked expenses closely. They keep rising even though I do not feel that we are being extravagant. Some of the increase is due to our children's education. Most of the rest is very real and very noticeable inflation.
6. I have not done the medical.
7. I have made some progress on upgrading my awful tech skills. There is still a lot of work to be done in this area. The big challenge will come when I replace my current laptop (which needs to be done soon).
8. The home renovation project remains in limbo. It needs to be done, but keeps getting deferred. From a monetary perspective, the longer it gets delayed the better.
9. I have signed up for the HK Trailwalker this year. So far, no sign of a recurrence of the injury problems which have plagued me for the last few years. Given that my weight has crept up a few kilograms since February, this is a positive development.
10. I have rewritten about 60 pages of the fantasy novel. This doesn't really add anything to the total amount of product, but it is still progress of a sort.
11. I have done nothing towards shifting the focus of my social network.
In terms of other developments, although I remain in track to hit my number and retire in early 2012, the last few months of negative returns on my equity investments has put a dent in my confidence and I am seriously considering extending my working career for another year. What happens when I come off contract at year end will also be relevant to this decision.
I've spent some time looking into university courses. While language issues make some of them impractical, there are still plenty of reasonable options to consider. The large gap between my likely retirement date in early 2012 and the start of most semesters in Q4 2012 is unfortunate but will give me an opportunity to focus on some of my other activities.
We continue to foster kittens for the SPCA. Although our own cat is unhappy with the intruders, it's a rewarding, if slight messy, experience.
We took one family holiday in the first half of the year and mrs traineeinvestor and I took a short trip to New York without the children. We have two short family holidays planned for the second half of the year.