Thursday, September 09, 2010

Some overdue financial house keeping

One of the things which has been on my "to do" list for a long time is cleaning up some very small matters, some of which should have been dealt with a long time ago. I have finally kicked myself into action and begin the process. Here is the list:

1. Auto-pays to implement: I have three properties in Hong Kong where the management fees are not on auto-pay. This means I have to sit down and manually transfer funds or write a cheque each month. My previous attempts to get these three payments on auto-pay failed. One management company acknowledged receipt of the bank instruction but failed to do anything with it - and then had the cheek to send me an overdue notice. For the other two properties, the management company sent me the wrong forms which I have successfully sat on since early this year;

2. Trivial investments to sell #1: I have very small parcels of shares in four companies listed in Australia or New Zealand. Two of the shares were allocations by insurance companies, one was a spin off from another company I held shares in and the fourth is a company which has teetered on the verge of insolvency for a long time (and serves as a hard lesson about the need to cut losses when things start to go wrong). I will sell all of these. For at least one of the shares, this will require reactivation of a dormant account with a local broker;

3. Trivial investments to sell #2: a couple of years ago I made some small investments in commodity ETCs. The amounts are not meaningful. I need to either dispose of these or increase the investment to a meaningful amount. In either case, the account is now dormant and needs to be reactivated;

4. Idle cash #1: I have some cash sitting in a bank account in Australia earning zero. It's not a lot but I will be sending this to a broker for future investment;

5. Idle cash #2: one of the Hong Kong accounts into which my tenants pay rent and I use to pay mortgage balances has built up to a modest sum. Absent any better ideas, at the very least I should make a partial early repayment of one of my mortgages. Around 1% (being the cost of the mortgage) is better than zero and it will either improve cash flow or reduce the term of the mortgage by a meaningful amount.

I have set myself a goal of getting all of these resolved by the end of November. Reactivating the dormant accounts will take the longest.

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