Tuesday, January 03, 2012

2012 Moving Forward (provisional)

As with previous years, I will not be making any resolutions for 2012.  Instead, I will follow my practice of using the new year as a convenient time to review various objectives, both in terms of either setting new ones or abandoning old ones and assessing progress.

1. retirement:  my target retirement date has moved around a lot over the last few years.  A year ago, I had intended to retire early this year.  While the numbers still make sense, the losses suffered in 2011 on my equity investments have dented my confidence to the point where I would like to continue working for "just one more year".  I will not be able to make a definitive decision on this until I come off contract early this year and, if I am offered a new contract, I know what the terms will be.  The work/not work decision will affect many of my other objectives for 2012, making this review very much a provisional one (although based on the assumption that I will continue working, although with a cut in income).

2. finances: the main objectives for my finances in 2012 are:
  • maintain a healthy savings rate.  The actual rate will depend on the new terms, but will likely be well below the rates achieved in the last three years
  • end the year with at least 2-3 years worth of expenses in cash/near cash.  I currently sit on 35.5 months worth
  • look to diversify the portfolio.  The loss of the Lyxor ETFs has made this process harder
I will not be making early repayments on the mortgages - all are currently costing less than 1% (new mortgages would probably cost at least 2.25%).  This includes the home mortgage - a subject which I will revisit once I actually retire.

3. home renovation project: whether this gets done in 2012 or 2013 does not matter.  However, we have to be ready to do it when one of our larger rentals becomes vacant.

4. writing: a repeat of last year's objective.  This year I am setting myself the target of reaching at least 200 pages of material (including what I have written already).

5. health and activities:  I will do the HK marathon next month (absent illness or injury) but am undecided about doing the Hong Kong Trailwalker this year.  Diet is something of an issue, especially the excessive consumption of sugar.

6. skill set: I made some progress on the tech front in 2011 and would like to do more in 2012.  Photography is one area I would like to do better at.  I also want to look into self publishing on Kindle or other platforms as an alternative to traditional publishing.

7. preparation for retirement: I am more or less there.  The biggest outstanding item is medical insurance - my firm policy can be extended into retirement at the discretion of the insurer and I will not know whether this will happen until I have actually given notice.  There are a number of lesser items which can all be done while I am serving out my notice period.

There is nothing else that particularly comes to mind, though this will have to remain provisional until my employment situation is sorted out.

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