Like almost everybody, April has been spent in Covid-19 lockdown. I use my one hour daily allowance for exercise within 1km of home and go grocery shopping once a fortnight. Hmm, twenty three hours a day at home isn't quite how I envisaged early retirement life.
I'm not complaining though, at least I don't have home schooling to contend with - that seems to be a nightmare for many parents. The other thing in my favour is routine, it continues to be the secret ingredient of my early retirement.
While I'm managing pretty well with lockdown, it has affected both my retirement costs and the targets that I'd set myself for this year.
Early Retirement Costs
It turns out that while being stuck at home isn't the lifestyle I'd choose, it is pretty good for the costs. We still eat, have normal household utility bills and insurance premiums to pay, but that's about it. Discretionary costs such as going out to restaurants and coffee shops were zero in April.
We didn't save it all though. Sally had the nice idea of sending gifts to our children and her sisters to keep lockdown spirits lifted. We are also mindful that people worried about their jobs and income may understandably reduce their charitable donations, so we made some increased contributions this month.
Early Retirement Income
I don't normally talk much about our income but in these Coronavirus times there is more risk to the income that funds our early retirement so I'm keeping a closer eye on it.
We have two potential sources of income, rental properties and low cost ETF investments, but for the past four years we've found the property rental income covers our costs. The ETF's therefore sit untouched, our "just in case" money. That's a nice position to be in. But is the property income still holding up in this Covid-19 economic environment or are we having to dip into our ETF investments?
The good news is that the rental income has so far been completely unaffected - all rental payments in April were made in full and on time. It's possible that the UK Government supported furlough scheme is masking the true situation and problems will arise in the coming months, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed that won't be the case, both for our income and for the livelihoods of our tenants.
Early Retirement 2020 Targets
Coronavirus is messing with my targets, but if that's the worst personal story I have from the pandemic then I have no reason to complain. I'm certainly not going to moan that it's keeping my travel, or trying new restaurants/ having friends over for dinner targets, on the back burner for now.
My exercise target included running London Marathon last weekend which of course didn't happen, and I suspect the rescheduled date of 4 October may also be doubtful. I still ran 21 times (248km) in April during the permitted one hour of daily outdoor exercise. Lockdown also encouraged me to do 25 YouTube HIIT and yoga sessions as well - I've completed this 21 day fitness challenge and I'm now part way through 30 Days of Yoga with Adriene. Despite being seriously unbendy, I'm enjoying it. If you fancy giving the yoga a go...a warning, day 6 is tough!
I'm not proud of my lack of effort to learn French. Now should be the ideal opportunity to study, but I just don't feel like it. Maybe that's the one sign that lockdown is getting to me a bit. I've decided not to beat myself up about it and to refocus on learning once life returns to a more normal situation.
On a more positive note, I've done better with healthy eating, weekly blog posts and keeping contact with distant friends. A couple of months back I'd never heard of Zoom, now it's one our most used apps.
We haven't figured out where we'll live on a permanent basis, but my instinct is we'll stick with France for the next year (although this isn't yet a final decision). Other than our language struggles (understatement of the year!), there is lots that we enjoy, and we haven't come up with a better option. I'm hitting a brick wall trying to get tax advice - nobody that I try to contact ever gets back to us. Do they not need the work? Tax won't necessarily be the deciding factor but it is important that we know what it will cost us.
Lastly, I was about to give up on my volunteering target when something came up that might fit. A start up company has asked me to provide material for their new financial literacy app aimed at Gen Z's. Even though I'll give my time for free, is it "good" volunteering if it's for a company that presumably hopes to make money from the product? I'm going for yes - if something I do can help a start up, good, and if something I do can help even one person become more financially literate or aware, then that's another good. So that's going to be my good deed, even though I have no doubt they'd have preferred to get Mr Money Mustache🤣