How often do I start my early retirement cost posts with "we spent a lot this month"? I think it's a lot, and it's one more now...because we spent a lot this month.
There were four culprits:
Most expensive, 25% of our spend, was on four flights to Finland. We've booked a trip to see the Northern Lights. It's not until next January, but we've paid for the flights already - categorised in Holiday/Travel for Sally and me and in gifts for the kid's flights.
Second most expensive at 17% of this month's spend was a late bill for hot water that relates to 2019. Hopefully there isn't a similar surprise for 2020 usage waiting for us!
Our two home experiment costs us money, this month the bills on the second home were about 7% of our total spend. That's just the tip of the iceberg though, because the bigger financial impact is foregoing the rental income that we previously received on this property. I want to see if we can rent it on Airbnb when we're not using it - that would feel less wasteful.
And finally, coming in at at just under 6% of total spend, I bought myself a new waterproof shell jacket. Going uphill on skis is hot work and my normal insulated ski jacket isn't best suited to it, so a lighter version was required.
Outside of those excuses🤣, we didn't spend too much. Our grocery bill is still more than most other blogs I read, but at least it was less in February than it has been for a while. And of course, there are still no going out costs, although we did grab a takeaway coffee and a piece of cake one day...woohoo!
Compared to our spending, a friend sent me a message telling me he and his wife had spent £2,068 (€2,337 or $2,812) in total for January and February, so just under a third of our costs. I'm guessing he isn't running two houses (probably sensible!) and hasn't booked four flights to Finland etc. But I think the message I must remember is that although it can be interesting and useful to compare ourselves to others, we mustn't feel that we should be doing the same. So long as our costs are affordable for us and spent conscientiously, then it's OK if we're different. As my Mum used to tell me, it would be boring if we all did the same.
Early retirement targets update
Almost as often as I say that we spent a lot this month, I also say that my early retirement target tracker works wonders to keep me focused on the things I want to do. Booking our Northern Lights trip is on my tracker and I was determined to get that done by the end of the month so I could colour it in green. Job done✔ I've made the bookings and we're looking forward to our first ever trip north of the Arctic Circle next winter.
The tracker also helps me achieve my exercise goals, in fact I beat it in February doing 24 activities in 28 days. I'm giving myself a pat on the back, I don't often clock more that 313km (195 miles) of running in a month. I must admit that my feet are a bit sore now though. The ski touring also counts as exercise, and comes with some cool views too.
Although it's nice to see the boxes that are coloured green, it's good to look at where I'm not hitting my targets, to think of what I'll do about it. Some won't be tackled until later in the year, but there are others that I could be working on now. I got the Northern Lights trip booked because I made a conscious decision to focus on it in February - in March I'm challenging myself to come to a decision on my campervan plan and to also make a start on making a video. The test will be a month from now, when I write the next costs and targets post and find out how I've got on.
One last thing
Last November I completed a retirement interview for ESI Money's blog. If you fancy having a look at his questions and my answers, you can find the interview here.