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Early retirement costs & targets - June 2020

Early retirement costs

Relaxing in Chamonix - I'm behind the camera for once

It's good to see some normality creeping back into our early retirement costs with some coffee shop and going out spending returning in June. Unlike some FIRE aficionados, I'm happy to spend on a cappuccino, latté or café au lait even if I could make the same drink for a fraction of the price at home...I do that too, just not as well! The town is still quiet without many tourists so we're able to enjoy our coffee while maintaining social distancing.

Another notable event was putting diesel in the car for the first time in three months. Along with that came toll and parking fees as well as the cost of the statutory vehicle inspection and having the air conditioning gas refilled. It's a reminder that cars aren't cheap to run, but at least the lack of driving over the past months means Sally hasn't received any more speeding tickets!😉

Then we've spent some smaller amounts on a bunch of different things. A gas bottle, gas and regulator for our outside paella cooker which is currently being well used, chemicals for the spa/jacuzzi which is not so well used (in fact, the most expensive underused thing that we own and I wish we didn't!), some sports clothes (surprisingly mostly not for me) and a yoga mat (that was for me), some tax advice (money well spent) and rabies vaccinations for the cats.

June 2020 Early Retirement Costs

Quite a mix of spending this month which I'm going to call good news as it's a sign that things are starting to return to normal. The task now is to not get complacent with our social distancing and hygiene so that we can keep it that way.

Early retirement target tracker

If you've seen any of my target tracking posts before, you'll know that my intentions to learn French have not been followed by a good enough effort to learn French. I've neither walked the walk or talked the talk so far, and nothing changed this month. Still a bright red, for not very good, colour on my tracker.

Elsewhere, things look a bit better. I'm still eating fairly healthily and it's been another alcohol free month, which makes it 8 of the last 10 months - maybe I'll have a non alcoholic beer this evening to celebrate🍺. We tried a new restaurant, The Chaudanne, when my daughter visited and also took a day trip to Annecy - I'm counting that towards my visit 4 new places target. Annecy was busier than I expected so, if I'd known in advance, I would have chosen to delay that trip given it made social distancing more difficult. We also took a day trip to Chamonix, social distancing was no problem there.

After running 300km in May, my distance dropped to just under 200km in June, partly because I have a sore foot. Hopefully it's nothing serious, but I've reduced the distance and missed some sessions because of it. A sub 3 hour marathon was always an aspirational target, but I never imagined a pandemic would be the biggest challenge rather than my running ability. It's a reminder that we don't know what lies ahead. Maybe the rearranged London Marathon will go ahead in October, but realistically my run target will have to be deferred until next year.

June's early retirement target tracker

Perhaps most notable for this month is that the target of figure out where we'll live has turned from red to green. We have a plan! Whether it's a good plan is open to debate, but at least we've made a decision. One of the best things about my early retirement is the change in mindset that's come with it - it's helped us make a decision accepting that we don't know if it's right or wrong, but knowing that we can always change things if we need to.

So that's half the year gone already. A very strange year. So far we've had a few months of normal life, we even went on holiday, a few months of Covid-19 lockdown, and a not quite two months of graduating to the current version of post lockdown normal. It's great that we can start to do more things, but only if we guard against complacency - one step forwards two steps back is the last thing we want.


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Hi Mark, I'd make a hopeless detective, but that's a big clue... even I've figured the connection out from that! I'll look forward to catching up and swapping stories.


Hi David

Thanks for the response, I now see how you managed to get the 70/30 split. As you well know the fees for any long term fund can be the killer so the Vanguard Lifestrategy fees work pretty well. We also have some rental properties which will account for around 40% of our income so we are similar in profile. Mutual friends...Tsala is your clue


Mark, I forgot to answer your question about returns... Vanguard publish the returns on their site, hopefully this is a link to the 80/20 fund and you should also be able to find the returns of the other funds there too. Lifestrategy is an accumulating fund so it reinvests dividends rather than paying then out.


Hi Mark

The reasons I have chosen ETF's is because I can get a very diversified investment in terms of sectors, geographies, established markets and emerging markets at a low cost. If I were to instead buy individual company shares myself, I simply wouldn't know which are going to be good companies to invest in and which are going to be less good or bad - I don't believe the so called experts know either as I've learned from some difficult experiences. Also, I couldn't get anywhere near the diversification that I can get with an ETF as it would be impossible to own such a wide spectrum of shares and, if I tried, the buy/sell fees would be hig…


Hi David,

Well done with the blog, I'm sure it's not easy to keep up this level of updates. Would you be happy to share your reasons for choosing ETFs and to give an indication of the % returns you have been getting over the last few years? I had seen in an earlier post your bond and equity split however I do not see this ETF with Vanguard anymore, did you change platform provider? I'm looking to move from my 100% equity position and would value your feedback. I hope you have a great summer in the hills and perhaps we will meet during the ski season as we have mutual friends who live in Morzine.

All the best

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