After a series of discussions with my immediate boss, we have agreed that I will retire either end of March or end of June 2013. Previously, I had been thinking about either end of 2012 or early 2013 but have been more or less persuaded that early 2013 makes more sense for a variety of reasons which I will not go in to here.
This means that I will be earning and saving for an additional 3-6 months. I was already going to be in a position where I would have too much cash at the commencement of my retirement and now I will have even more. Leaving more cash in a bank account than is needed to ride out potential periods of poor investment returns is a bad idea in an inflationary environment. So, what to do with the additional money? I could, of course, simply add to the portfolio or knock a hole in one of the mortgages, but where is the fun in that? Besides, the mortgages are only costing us 1% pa and I expect zirp to be with us for some time.
I have already decided to allocate some to physical gold. I am also considering a few other options: more wine (prices for first growths have fallen in recent times), old maps (prices have gone up a lot), stamps (ditto), rare books (ditto) and art (ditto). With the possible exception of gold, I can't really regard any of these as proper investments - not only is my knowledge limited but their markets are neither transparent nor efficient and suffer from asymmetric information issues. There is also a storage issue for some of them. That said, I would expect whatever I buy to provide both an element of interest and act as a possible long term store of wealth.
I have considered increasing my support of some charities but feel more comfortable delaying that until I am more settled into the retirement and have got past the initial sensation of no longer having a pay cheque coming in each month.