Monday, 31 January 2011

One day at a time

My favourite month is almost on us - February. I will be 39 next month and am beginning to get excited about the big 40 in 2012. I have 3 major life goals I want to have achieved by then (though may cheat and give myself till January 2013!) -
First draft of my novel completed
Degree completed
Be earning £40,000 a year.

I've made very little progress towards Fallen Warriors in January. I'm aware each day that goes by, I could be adding to my word count. Not a good feeling. I'm giving myself three full days to work on the plot this month.

I am making daily progress towards my degree. I've the following plan for the next four weeks. Our kids are off school for four days in February so will need to plan some activities to keep them amused. I've also a list of half a dozen DIY jobs that need doing fairly urgently on top of this... Still, this month will be all about life writing - biography and autobiography. Which is which again... May give me some ideas to blog about.

Ch 1-Starting out
Ch 2-A preface
Ch 3-Finding a form - writing a narrative
Fallen Warriors
Ch 4-Using memory
Ch 5-Versions of a life
Ch 6-Life characters
Fallen Warriors
Kids holiday
Kids holiday
Kids holiday
Kids holiday
TMA 04
TMA 04
TMA 04
TMA 04
TMA 04
TMA 04
Fallen Warriors

As far as earning £40,000 a year goes, it will be easier to tackle once I have my degree. That is what I keep telling myself anyway. I'm also not entirely sure I need to hit that target exactly, little bit more would be very nice, little bit less would still be far more than I was earning when I set the goal.

I'm also planning to begin a project to develop a room booking system for the community centre my church runs. I will update you on progress towards this, I'm hoping it will look good on the old CV.

Saturday, 29 January 2011

Optimistic pessimist

Goal 34: To finish and complete my degree

Well, I almost met my goal of finishing my third assignment by 28 January 2011. I managed to write 39 lines of poetry including a 36 line poem on Day trading. I always feel awkward blogging about anything I've completed writing as, once I've finished it, I start wondering if I can publish it and so am reluctant to share it!

I've still to write a commentary but should manage that on Monday and then onto the next section - life writing. Aiming to complete the assignment for that by February 25th.

And what does that have to do with optimisim or pessimism? Nothing! However, on a different topic (Goal 3: To save enough to be able to retire), I have watched my investment in AAZ lose 25% of it's value this last couple of weeks. One of those situations that remind me that I have no way of telling which way the market is going. Hindsight advises me I could have sold when it went down 10 percent and bought back in now to get an extra bundle of shares. Except, the times I have recently tried to do the same thing, I got burned when the price reversed direction.

I used to call myself an optimistic pessimist. A kind of believe for the best, plan for the worst kind of thing. I've never liked being labelled and anyway, would swing from one extreme to the other as a kid. I still do find myself teetering between periods of being low and then feeling there is nothing I can't do.

This affects my investing as well. I am still holding my shares, in AAZ, for the next year. But am now wondering if I need to set a stop order to sell if it goes down further. I'll let you know what I do.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Short term gain, long term loss

Goal 3: To save enough to be able to retire

One of my biggest mistakes over the last year has been caused by greed. I have been fairly successful with some of my investments and at present am showing a 100% return overall. But, I have tried to squeeze more out of my investments by speculating that a share price would fall, then selling. Followed by speculating it would rise and buying back in.

More often than not, I have been spooked by the share price going in the opposite direction and ended up losing a fair amount of the gains I had made.

I have not tried to calculate what my returns would have been had I stuck to my original purchases, it may not even be possible since - where would I draw the line? But, if I had traded less, I could have been 150% up right now.

It has been my intention to build up a big enough pot that I can invest in a range of different shares and leave the money in for a longer period. I'm now able to start doing this and need to develop more patience with my decisions.

I have decided to invest 80% of my holdings equally in two companies: Anglo Asian Mining (AIM:AAZ) and Caza Oil & Gas (AIM:CAZA). Both are high risk companies currently trading on London's AIM market.

Anglo Asian Mining is a gold mine in Azerbaijan. They produced 67,000 ozs of gold last year and expectation is this will increase to 75-80,000 oz in 2011. I do have concerns over a profit sharing agreement with the government which does not appear to include tax deductions. I am waiting on their full year accounts to get a better idea of likely future profitability.

Caza Oil & Gas are exploring for oil and gas, strangely enough, in the US. They are currently producing a small amount and have big hopes for some ongoing drills.

It is my expectation these shares will go up by 50% in 2011. I am hoping for more but I think fifty percent is realistic. I need at least 40% since until I start working again, I am not able to save and need to both save and get a return to achieve my pension goal. (It is maybe worth mentioning that my pot includes savings for our children's future needs and they have done rather well out of me this year;)

The rest of the money is in an even higher risk share: Sound Oil PLC (AIM:SOU). This is one of those - "Why did I do this?" kind of investments that I have made in the past which may just provide a return but may equally hover between despair and calamity.

A quote from an episode of Silent Witness (BBC TV) resonated with me recently: "Gambling addicts tend to be optimists, they think every decision will pay off." I sense that I need to be far more wary of my instinct and far less quick to try and make a quick buck. So, I am going to use this blog for one of the reasons I started it, to keep myself accountable. I will advise you of every trade I make for the rest of 2011 and the reasons for doing so.

Saturday, 8 January 2011

New Year - new goals

A happy 2011 to one and all!

Did anyone set any goals or resolutions for themselves this year?

I've been holding off from making too many plans. Best laid of mice and men and all that. I had aimed to be one or even two assignments ahead by now on my course. I've had enough time. But, I have had to learn the hard way about the editing process.

I finally finished my story last week just before due date. This was after two and a half major rewrites (I gave up during the second as I realised I was going to way exceed my word limit again!) and many minor ones.

Since I'm still not working, I've agreed a much tighter work schedule which, all being well, should see me complete the course by the end of March.

I am also planning to spend an hour on my novel Monday through Thursday and all day Friday with the aim of writing 400 words a day. If I can achieve this, I will have my original goal for 100,000 words by the end of June.

Over Christmas my father in law said he was planning to climb Ben Nevis in July. My ears perked up. That's one of my goals, that is! I signed on immediately and we will hopefully be starting some training in the next couple of months.