January has been a typical early retirement month for me i.e. it's flown past! It's funny to think that when I was deciding whether to retire, I worried whether I'd find enough things to do to keep myself busy. That hasn't been a problem.
Maybe living in a tourist town helps. We had two sets of visitors in January, a wonderful way to start the year. We'll have more visitors in February and March too, so more fun and more skiing lies ahead.
I was on my skis eleven times in January, and had two lessons. I'm trying to get the hang of off-piste skiing, which is proving to be significantly harder than I hoped. From my introduction to off-piste skiing lesson, I think I've understood what I'm doing wrong, but don't have much of a clue how to make it right. We need some fresh snow so that I can practice. Talk about first world problems!
I have London Marathon towards the end of April, so training for that is a regular part of my week. The icy footpaths aren't ideal training conditions though but, so far, I've only fallen over once. I don't have a time target for London, provided I feel I've prepared as well as I can and done my best on the day, I'll be happy with that.
On the subject of targets, setting objectives at the start of the year, and checking in on them at the end of each month, really works for me. It gives my days some structure, helps me get things done, and encourages the occasional sense of adventure/foray out of my comfort zone.
Even with visitors, I've done pretty well to keep up with my exercise target. But the targets I most enjoyed this month were calculating my carbon footprint (even if it didn't give me the answer I hoped for) and ticking off a first action from my 50 things to make the world a better place. My task was to write a thank-you note to someone important in my life who's helped me.
Not so much fun, but valuable in a different way, was completing and sending off the forms to make voluntary UK National Insurance (social security) payments. Doing this means I'll get the full UK State Pension when I reach the UK's normal retirement age of 67.
Early retirement costs
For 6 years, I've published and written about our early retirement costs. I'll keep doing so, but it does get more difficult to think of new things to say.
Normally I say that we spend more on groceries than I think we should, and that's true again this month. I also spent money on two ski lessons, one was an introduction to off-piste skiing and the other an avalanche companion rescue course - this latter one was fascinating, but hopefully something that never needs to be put into practice.
Sally has discovered resin craft, and has been producing coasters, ornaments and jewelry. She has quite a production line going - maybe she'll have to open an Etsy store. Currently in progress is the making of a wood and resin serving platter. In our costs, most items in the sport, exercise and outdoor equipment line are mine, and most things in the crafts and hobbies line are Sally's - currently, that means things related to epoxy crafts.
We had the campervan serviced during the month. I thought it was pricey, but then realised it was the first service since we bought it 19 months ago so, in that context, it probably wasn't too bad. We also paid our credit card fees, something that does grate, especially when I read about people travel hacking with credit cards, getting something for nothing. Until I moved to France, I'd never paid for a bank account or credit card in my life. There are some online, zero fee bank account options which I probably should look into. Perhaps that's another thing to add to my targets list...if only I can find the time!