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Early retirement costs & targets - August 2023

Updated: Sep 9, 2023

I'm writing my August early retirement update while enjoying the late summer weather. For those of us living in more temperate or continental climates, it strikes me that spring or the beginning of summer is an ideal time to start a new phase of life and find an early retirement rhythm - the nicer weather is good for both inside and outside activities and by the time the grey and cold of autumn or winter arrives, we'll be well into our early retirement stride.


Early retirement targets

Perhaps this same logic is helping my targets this year, with the good weather aiding my enthusiasm for getting things done. In any event, I'm happy with the prevalence of green and amber and the absense of "need to do better" red on my target tracker. Even for the targets that aren't yet green, I'm making an effort, the flip side of which is that it's therefore my lack of ability that's holding me back - I'm definitely talking about learning French here! But, at least I'm trying.

Early retirement goal and target setting
Early retirement targets - August 2023

Setting targets, and tracking them too, continues to work well for me as part of my early retirement routine. With just four months of the year left, I'm thinking about what I want to focus on, and whether I can turn some of the amber targets to green before the year is out. On my radar for the coming months are:

  • Keep doing my French lessons, and be a bit better at watching French television.

  • Spend at least 6 more nights in the campervan.

  • Think a little more about the volunteering abroad idea which is surely a good thing to do, and would be a new adventure for Sally and me.

A target I've enjoyed this year is trying to incorporate into my daily life some little tips, tricks and good deeds to make the world a better place. The idea came from my sister. The aim is that, for very little effort, we can make a difference - that little things done often really can make the world a better place. Because of this target, some of the things I've been a little more deliberate on this year have been:

  • Take time to learn about a different culture.

  • List ten things I'm grateful for.

  • Go a whole day (trying to do this most of the time) without interruping anyone while they're speaking.

  • Donate to a food bank.

  • Pick up litter.

  • Think of five ways to make my daily routine more eco-friendly.

  • Help a small business by writing a review for good service received.

  • Call a friend who's having a tough time.

  • Write a thank-you note to someone important in my life.

Clearly, my small efforts are a drop in the ocean compared to some of the injustice, inequality and damage in our world. But, it's a start, and I hope they may help a little. Of course, it was possible to do these things during my career phase, and I hope that I did at least a little, but I undoubtedly have additional time and mind-space to do a little more now. When I was planning my early retirement, trying to come up with a list of activities that would keep me busy, this type of thing never crossed my mind. It's something that I've since realised, that I didn't need a long list of early retirement activities, I just needed enough to get me started. After that, other unplanned activities naturally arise that take up a little time here and a bit more time there. Boredom and not having enought to do have certainly never been an issue.

Early retirement costs

As I said in a previous post, I'm running out of things to say on our costs. While I'll look at them every month, perhaps once a quarter is sufficiently frequent to post about them.

How much does early retirement cost
Early retirement costs - August 2023

The big cost this month was a "catch up" hot water and heating bill related to last year. We pay an estimated amount throughout the year and, some months later, get an additional bill or refund for "actual" usage compared to the estimate. We receive a significant additional bill, although that's only half the story. Our apartment complex has centralised hot water and heating, which probably looks more efficient on paper than it is in practice. Our apartment is our home, while the other four are vacation apartments and are mostly empty. Each day, enough hot water is heated assuming all of the apartments are occupied, which they generally aren't, so most of that hot water cools and is therefore waste. Because, most days, our meter is the only one that moves, we get charged for heating enough water for five apartments, not just the amount we use. So, there are two problems. One is that we get an unnecessarily big bill, and the second is that the atmosphere gets an unnecessarily big dose of carbon dioxide. Not too many things annoy me these days, but this is one of them.


On the plus side, at least we're not normally paying Swiss prices. Sally and I recently did a cycle tour around Lake Geneva, during which we had two nights at Ibis hotels, one night in Geneva and another in Lausanne. I view Ibis as being towards the budget end of the hotel market, so to pay an average of of £155/€176/$191 a night feels kind of pricey, particularly when breakfast is extra. On the plus side, it was a fun tour and we didn't get our bikes stolen on this trip!


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Guest
Sep 09, 2023

I think posting monthly on the costs is worth doing, even if there's nothing of comment. Although people's circumstances differ, I find the coverage of "the everyday" in the numbers motivating, for the ongoing saving for my own retirement.

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That's good feedback, thanks.

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Guest
Sep 08, 2023

Love those tips on the ways you are trying to make the world a better place. I'm going to try and implement a few of those myself. As you say, every little bit of effort helps. With regards to the cycling around Lake Geneva, is there an actual bike path or did you share the road with vehicles? What was your average daily distance? It looks like a cycle tour we would enjoy doing.

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Replying to

I'm glad my sister suggested the idea to me, I think it's a good thing to do and I find it quite rewarding too.

As to the bike ride, I believe the route around the lake is about 177km. We started from our home which made it 244km as we had the extra bit from Morzine to the lake and back. We did it in a relaxed way over 4 days of 78km, 65km, 66km and 35km. For the tour of the lake bit, we went clockwise starting at Thonon-les-Bains and I would say from there the route was good, mostly on cycle tracks or designated cycle lanes until after Montreux. A bit past Montreux, we were on small country…

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