Recollections of 2012

Significant Year
2012 turned out to be significant for me. I decided on an early retirement. After twenty-five years of full-time work and six years of part-time work, I wanted to devote more time on personal pursuits and developments. Out of thirty-one years, twenty years were spent in Temasek Polytechnic, my last employer.

Since September, I do not have to keep to a schedule. There is no pressure to rush through a task. Sundays are no longer days I have to worry about lesson preparation and to be ready for the week ahead.

2012 was also the year I could decide on whether to opt for CPF Life or to stay on the existing Minimum Sum Scheme. I learned more about various CPF rules and in the process planned how to utilise my CPF funds according to my circumstances.

Change in Food Diet
At the start of the year, my family had decided to stop taking meat such as chicken, duck, and pork. We felt that we could do without eating them. There is no craving and our choice is now limited to vegetarian meal and fish items. Now, we just walk pass cha siew stall, chicken rice stall, wanton mee stall without giving them a second look.

Volunteering at Bright Vision Hospital
I expanded my volunteer involvement at the step-down care hospital. Besides assisting in once-a-month hair-cutting sessions for patients, I joined my wife in befriending activities of the hospital. We chatted with palliative patients in this weekly event. We offered them a listening ear and to keep their minds off their conditions. It was not so difficult as I had worried initially. At times, we ran some errands for some patients who requested food items.

Travel of the year
I spent five days in Myanmar from 21 to 26 November. Places visited include Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon, Kyaiktiyo Pagoda (also known as the Golden Rock Pagoda) located on top of Mt. Kyaiktiyo, Aung San Bogyoke Market. The last day was spent in Zayyar Siri Asoka Monastery in Bago where we distributed stationery items to about six hundred children and some are orphans staying in nearby villages. This trip was both memorable and meaningful.

Living Investment – Blog posts
Living Investment is a blog I started in 2006 after leaving my full-time job. I had written 793 posts with average daily readership of 84. Total number of views of my blog for year to-date was 30,200 (as at 24 Dec). From now on, I will write less frequently and instead spend time collating my past blog posts into meaningful themes.

Reducing expenses
Now that I do not receive a salary, I focused on finding ways to reduce some recurring expenses. Because of my retired status in several professional bodies, namely CPA Australia, ICPAS, CIMA (UK) and Singapore Computer Society, my yearly membership fees were reduced significantly.

I had also decided to terminate my membership with Temasek Club, a club which I was a member for twenty two years. Since I had not been using this club, it did not make sense to pay monthly subscription fees.

This year was better than last year. We made gains on our investments (from loss in 2011). However overall returns on investments was just 2.66% for the year. The best returns came from Singapore equity (10.3%). However, overall return of 2.66% cannot beat inflation rate. The only consolation is that our income statement is positive.

Market value of total investment portfolio was just above costs (+0.15%) on an overall basis (at 19 Dec). Over the year, we re-balanced our investments to reduce risks. Investment classes include equity, bonds, currency linked investment, endowment funds and fixed deposits.

Bookkeeping for Momshoo
I spent time doing up the accounts for Momshoo, a business set up since 2009 by my family. I bought an accounting package – MYOB – and now keep accounts using this package.

Only four months into retirement, how do I feel? It was fulfilling time. I was quite occupied with activities. I kept busy with family and personal matters. Because it is early days, I am not sure how it will be like as years roll by. Let’s see.

During this time, I embarked on activities that I would not ordinarily do in the past. I knitted, I sew and I attended classes on Conversational Malay.

My life as a professional person dissipated on the day I left employment. There is less need to connect with people at a professional level. I used to exchange calling cards and more namecards means that I am networking more. This year, I started to throw away these cards because firstly I could not recall how I knew these people and secondly there won’t be any need to meet in the future.

On a final note, I reminded myself again to live with imperfections. Things may not always go your way. I will try to let things be and let imperfections go. Live with it, bad or good, and be less disturbed and have more equanimity in my heart.

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