When I started my blog back in 2017, the monthly costs post was one I looked forward to. It was easy, I didn't have to think of a topic to write about, just add up what we'd spent, put it in a table, and write some words that explained something about those costs. Simple.
Now, most times I write this post, it feels like I've written the same thing before, possibly many times over. But that doesn't mean the message about tracking our costs is any less important. In fact, with inflation racing away, and talk of recession ahead, now is when it's even more important that people understand where their money is spent.
This month, tracking and understanding our costs means:
I'm again frustrated by our high grocery spend, because I can't understand it and it doesn't feel like good value for money. I've tried to get a grip of it before, but didn't succeed, perhaps I should try again.
We paid a big "catch up" bill for hot water used in 2021 - this is the water that comes out of our taps and also provides our heating. I suspect this means that our compact 2 bedroom apartment is much more expensive than it should be for hot water and heating. I need to look into this - perhaps the split of the costs between the different apartments is not quite right, or the hot water system isn't being operated efficiently.
I wasted £208/€247/$280 making some unnecessary flight changes - I'd written some dates wrong in my calendar and changed the flights when I didn't need to. Sometimes mistakes get made, but a little more care on my part could have prevented this - the financial equivalent of measure twice, cut once.
On a more positive note, I saved almost £600/€714/$730 on the renewal of a rental property insurance. That's a good win for less than an hour of effort.
I also seemed to buy another pair of running shoes in July. After buying five pairs at the end of last year, I figured I wouldn't buy any more for a long time. It seems I was mistaken!
So, I now have eleven pairs of running shoes, which you may think is a little, or perhaps a lot, excessive. But wait, hear me out...
New Balance 1080 v11 - these are my daily trainer running shoe, but with over 512km in them, they will soon need replacing as the cushioning starts to wear out.
New Balance 1080 v11 - these only have a few weeks of wear left in them, already at over 900km, they've lasted longer than I expected.
Saucony Endorphin Pro 2 - my road race shoe and what I set my half and full marathon PR's in. I've run 130km in them. I need to decide whether these will still be OK for Berlin marathon in September or whether to use them for training.
Saucony Endorphin Speed GTX - I bought these for running in the winter slush, but I've hardly used them. The Goretex makes them too hot for summer, but I'll use them more next winter for runs where I want to push the pace a little - if I enter London marathon, these will come in handy.
Saucony Kinavara 10 - I used to run in this model all the time, but now appreciate a bit more cushioning. I can still use them now and again, but need to be careful to look after my feet.
Nike Air Zoom Pegasus GTX - another shoe bought for the winter slush, which haven't been used much. Again, too hot for summer, but I'll use them more next winter as a daily trainer.
Hoka Bondi 7 - bought to see if I like them, and the answer is not very much, they feel clunky. I've done almost 500km in them and I'll continue to use them now and again for slow recovery runs.
Salomon Speedcross 5 GTX - a Goretex trail shoe with an awesome grip, so great for winter running. Too hot for summer though.
New Balance Hierro 6 - a trail shoe with almost 500km on them, and the tread has nearly worn out. I'll still use them, but only in conditions where I don't need to rely on better grip.
Altra Superior 5 - a trail shoe without much cushioning, something I didn't realise when I bought them. I love the shape of these shoes, they suit my feet, but can only use them for shorter distances.
Saucony Xodus Ultra - new, bought in July because I needed a trail shoe with better grip and the cushioning I need for longer distances.
If you're still reading, wow, that's impressive endurance - my running shoe fetish surely can't be of interest to many people. How I got to own 11 pairs is a bit of a mystery, but overall I will use them all to the end of their useful running life, so it won't be money wasted in the long run (sorry for the awful pun!)
The right number of running shoes for me is probably four. Two pairs of road shoes (a daily trainer and a faster race shoe) and two pairs of trail shoes (a waterproof pair for winter and a pair for the rest of the year).
So, if I have eleven pairs, but believe the right number is four, how come I'm now thinking about buying some more?🤦♂️Well, my daily training shoe is almost worn out, so I need to replace that - I'm kind of OK with that. But, then there's my race shoe...a new version has been launched, with more cushioning. Do I need it? Probably not. Do I want it? Probably yes. Will it help me run faster at Berlin marathon in September? that's a good question. If it makes me believe I can run faster, then maybe I will. I haven't yet hit the buy button, but I do have them in my basket - I suspect August might be an expensive running shoe month! And that's before I think about buying some new trail running poles.
Early retirement targets
As I've banged on about running shoes for far too long, I'll keep the targets section short and just touch on three things.
The first thing is my target to imagine a new adventure for Sally and me. I made a start on this, and summarised some thoughts in a post. At some point, preferably sooner rather than later, Sally and I need to discuss the topic - we're in different countries for three weeks, so maybe that gives us some thinking time ready to chat when we are back under the same roof.
The second thing is my investing cash target. During the first half of the year, I invested just over half of our uninvested cash, and I think that's where I'm going to stop for now. I know that holding cash in inflationary times might not be advisable, and trying to time the market tends not to work, but with talk of recession around the corner, I want to pause for a moment. It's probably the wrong move, my track record of investment choices isn't great, so if you have a view on this, I'll be happy to hear it.
And third, I did another trail race, the Trail des Gets, supposedly 42km and 2,700m of elevation gain, although my watch came up with slightly different numbers. My new trail shoes worked great, so that's already a win, and I managed to finish 17th overall (out of 170) and 1st in my age group, which was quite a surprise. My assessment, I did quite well, so I'm happy with that but, at the same time, I know I could have done a little better in the final 10km.
So that's the July wrap up, time to publish this post and head back over to the running shoe and running poles websites!!