Every new year I reflect on the last year and write about some of the highlights and low-lights. Continuing that tradition, this post is all about what interesting things have happened in my life in the year gone by. When the year 2021 began, I was hopeful and optimistic because year 2020 has been a particularly bad year on many fronts especially the impact of COVID-19. Unfortunately 2021 was even worse. We saw the first wave of COVID-19 in 2020 and I thought that was bad enough. But in 2021, India was hit by the second wave with a much graver consequences not just in India but all over the world. And yet, here we are looking eye-to-eye at a possible third wave that may hit us even worse.
We don’t need to look much further for proof. If you notice the above graph, US is already reporting more than twice as many cases as at the peak of the 2nd wave. Yet, it does not seem like we are anywhere near the peak of the third wave. The only saving grace could be that the number of deaths may be lower (if we are to trust the reports). We need to wait at least a few more weeks for the death numbers to catch up because there will be a lag between the diagnosis and death. In India the cases have just started, and if we go by US numbers we are in for a big surprise. Remember that these are just reported numbers. The real numbers will be much higher in a country like India where there is a lot of under reporting.
Anyway, enough of COVID news, now lets get back to my year in review. In 2021, I’ve written more than 100 posts again just like in 2020. So that is going well. I also moved my blog from WordPress to Jekyll which took some effort but was a good move in the end. Had four virtual meet-ups with my blog readers and it is always a fun and a great learning experience. I even did something that I never thought I would ever do, which is to teach a financial planning class. I guess there is a first time for everything.
Another interesting thing that happened over the last year was the purchase of a new gaming laptop and the rebirth and my gaming life :). I’ve played more games since I got the laptop than I have ever done in the past 10 years. On average I played at least an hour of PC games everyday along with my daughter (she just watches me play). This also caused my entertainment expenses to go up as I bought digital versions of the games that I used to play with CDs back in the day. By the way, the first campaign of Starcraft 2 (Wings of Liberty) is completely free to play! I bought games on all kinds of platforms including Battle.net, Steam, Epic and Origin.
Talking about expenses, some interesting and unexpected things happened in this space too. While there was a very small unexpected income from the financial planning class that I conducted, I also had to contend with a ton of expenses year round. For starters, there was a lot of unexpected cash outflow in the form of taxes which I never really accounted for when I did my financial planning. The taxes were because Franklin India started selling my investments and paying me out. If I were to manage my money I would not have sold anything that will incur so much tax.
On top of that, there were a bunch of expenses for house repairs, spending on gifts for family and relatives, purchasing a new laptop, solar panel project etc. All of which put some strain on the finances, but at least these were not unexpected expenses :). You will learn more in an up coming post when I do my review on expenses.
I also started a new project last year which is still continuing on into the current year. So perhaps this may be the first year in retirement when I am not planning to start a new project. The solar panel project is super fulfilling. I am making good progress in my Karate and fitness as well.
The stock markets have been ever so kind to the investors and gave fabulous returns for many. Unfortunately I was unable to cash in on this ride up because I was sitting on the sidelines and did not invest much in equities. There were a couple of reasons. One, I always felt that the market was too expensive and I still feel the same about it, yet the stock market made new highs. The other problem was that I was getting very lumpy money thanks to Franklin and I could not get myself to invest directly in equity and I did not want to incur more taxes by selling debt MFs and investing in equity MFs. As a result I missed out on the best bull run in quite some time. But I have absolutely no regrets :).
Finally, I have technically completed 4 years in retirement, but officially it has only been 3.5 years. Some of my blog readers may know that I was mentally and financially retired by end of 2017. The four years in retirement was absolutely fantastic (minus the COVID worries) and I still feel like I am in the honeymoon phase. Have to wait and see how long it lasts. Well, that was 2021 for me in a nutshell!