I think it's the book, Rich Dad, Poor Dad, that advocates paying yourself first in order to save money. Transfer the money you want to save out of your current/checking account the moment you get paid, and you'll manage to live on the amount that's left. It's a good idea, and something that I've told my kids about.
If I'd read Rich Dad, Poor Dad twenty years ago, I would have followed that advice. Instead, my technique was to diligently record our spend. Before home computers, I'd hand-write each transaction in a book. Later, it was in a spreadsheet. I did try using an app, but went back to the spreadsheet - it's more effort, but it makes the process feel more deliberate and the spend more real to me.
Although five years of early retirement give me confidence that we have enough money to fund our lifestyle, I still record our spend and check that I'm happy with it at the end of each month. I'm happy that, in February, I treated myself to some new ski trousers and a backpack, which I'm sure I'll use for years to come. We also bought a heater for the campervan. I think it's a good decision, but it was expensive, so the jury is still out on that one. Maybe we should have saved money by buying one and fitting it ourselves, perhaps even gone for a cheap Chinese imitation, but I'm not good at that stuff so we got it done professionally - I suspect a good idea! Our other big spend was on travel, we've booked two trips to the UK, a short trip in April for our son's graduation ceremony and a longer trip in May. Car rentals are ridiculous prices these days!
Our grocery bill returned to higher levels, but I'm hoping that's temporary because we had visitors. We'll see if it drops in March. We're now getting our main monthly shop in a lower cost store (Lidl). It does seem cheaper, but there are downsides: it's more than a half hour drive away; they don't stock everything we want; and it's next to a sports shop so whatever we save on groceries, I seem to spend on sports stuff😂
Early Retirement Targets
I wonder how many people set themselves targets, actually write them down, and then review progress each month. Maybe quite a few do the first part, not so many write their targets down, and I bet almost none do a monthly review. I really enjoy the process of all three parts, the target setting, writing them down, and the regular reviews - it helps me get things done, both chores and the nice things too.
I have proof that it really works. Looking at my targets table this morning for this post, it got me thinking about my medical/health check target that's morphed into an idea of travelling to Asia to get the health check, flights and possibly some accommodation for the same cost of the health check alone in the "West". In other words, we get the health check and a free, or at least much cheaper holiday thrown in. So, today I've been chatting with a friend who lives in the Philippines. By this afternoon, this target is closer to happening.
Also today, I've booked a first aid course. It's not happening until May, but I've paid, so I'm committed. Again, I did this becasue I wrote the idea down and made a note to review my targets. This stuff really works!
What else happened in February? We had a few visitors so were busy having fun with them. I injured my calf, so had to take a couple of weeks off running - I've left that target green though as I still did four exercise days a week and I shouldn't penalise myself for being sensible and not running while injured.
And lastly, with the markets dipping a little, I invested some of the cash that I've previously been too scared to invest. To be honest, with Russia making war in Ukraine, I'm not sure how the markets haven't dropped more, but then, I rarely understand the markets. It also feels morally questionable to make an investment at this time, as if I'm trying to take advantage from an awful situation. I wrestled with this before making the investment, but decided that standing aside didn't really achieve anything, so went ahead. The more important question is how this conflict can be stopped, in fact, how conflict can also be stopped in places elsewhere in the world which currently (and shockingly) are no longer deemed newsworthy. I'm not religious, but I will say my own type of prayer this evening. These things put everything else into perspective.