Next week, Sally flies to the UK where she'll have to quarantine for 14 days. Covid continues to be a pain in butt, although us having to deal with quarantine, lockdowns (thankfully not at the moment) or lack of travel opportunities is nothing compared to those facing job or financial worries.
What's amazed me is how quickly the year is still passing, although without having anything significant to show for it. Most days, my phone shows me some photo memories - this day last year we were cycling the Route des Grandes Alpes, two years ago it was Hong Kong as part of our four months travelling in Asia and Australia. I'm super happy that retiring early has given me these memories - I could easily have spent that time stuck in the job instead!
So, if you're thinking of early retirement, could this Covid year be a prompt to make the leap? We might think we can always do things next year instead, but this Covid year reminds us that this isn't always the case.
Anyway, back to August, we managed to do a few things, a quick trip to the UK and even a road trip to Berlin. We spent some money, but at least it was because we were doing things.
Early retirement costs
Because it feels like we're spending less this year, I figured it would be fun (yep, how sad does that sound?!) to compare against this time last year and see if the feeling of spending less is matched by reality.
The answer is yes, we are spending less. Overall, our costs for the first 8 months of 2020 are 76% of the costs for the same period in 2019. Living costs (groceries, utility bills etc) are almost identical, as is gifting, but pretty much everywhere else we've spent less. Less on car costs, travel, restaurants and coffee shops. It's not really a surprise, we're spending less on the areas that have been impacted by the lockdowns and travel restrictions that we've seen this year.
As I was in a making charts mood, here's another one looking at where we spend our money. Give or take, the pie chart shows that 50% of our spending (the 3 slices of pie on the left) lean towards needs and the other 50% on the right hand side of the pie are more discretionary items. I'm happy with that, half of what we spend is doing things that we want and choose to do. I guess that's also why we're not the lowest cost early retirees that you'll find on the web.
This also tells me that I can relax knowing that we could always cut our costs if we ever needed to. I don't envisage this will be necessary, but I'm the kind of person who likes to know that there's a plan B available just in case
Back to the present, August's grocery costs jumped as our son is staying with us and I've been testing some specialist vegan products. My verdict so far is that some are quite tasty while some others definitely won't return to my shopping basket. I'm enjoying the learning experience though. One thing I've noticed is producers/supermarkets are happy to charge a premium price to take advantage of ethical shoppers who are less price sensitive in order to shop in line with their values. I'm not convinced that the producers/supermarkets are taking a moral high-ground by doing this.
We took a trip to the UK to deal with some house issues and then also made five day visit to Berlin. It's my third visit to the city and I've enjoyed it each time, it's definitely worth putting on a list of cities to visit. I also got to spend time with my friend and get in a few cycles and a run with him too. The latter might not be everyone's idea of fun, but it suits me🏃♂️🚴♀️
That seems to be more than enough talk about costs, so I'll stop typing and just add the August cost table now.
Early retirement targets
The biggest news on my targets is that the rescheduled London Marathon is now cancelled - disappointing but not unexpected. It brings my marathon ambitions for this year to an end, although I'm far from where I'd need to be to run a fast marathon anyway. While understanding the cancellation, I don't like how it's been done. I earned my place on the start line by achieving a qualifying time which came with a promise of a guaranteed entry. So far so good. With the 2020 event cancelled, I assumed my entry would simply role forward to 2021. Wrong! Instead, I get a less good entry in the Mass Start for the 2023 event. I guess it's impossible for the organisers to please everyone, but they definitely haven't pleased me. OK, rant over, and back to smiling😀
Other than learning French, aka not learning French, or those that Coronavirus have made unviable, none of my targets are a complete fail. But there isn't really anything in my targets that I'm excited about at the moment, and I feel there should be. I wonder if I need to update my targets, but what to in the current circumstances isn't so clear.
What is approaching is setting up a part time home in the UK where we've decided to spend Autumn and Spring, so that should soon keep me busy. However, there should be something more exciting than that, or maybe I simply need to accept that this year is a dud, be happy to get through the Coronavirus year unscathed and keep my fingers crossed for a more normal year in 2021? What do you think?