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Early retirement costs & targets - March 2022

This post should have been finished more than a week ago, but early retired life got in the way. It snowed, so I headed out with friends in search of powder - if only it was as easy to ski as it looks on YouTube, I made a complete mess of it! Then we visited our daughter for a weekend in Zurich, before jumping on a plane to attend our son's graduation ceremony in the UK. Checking in on early retired life: the number of vacation days that I needed to take from work...precisely zero; how much it matters that I missed my blog posting deadline...not a jot; that we can head off to visit our kids when we want...priceless. No wonder I like this early retirement life!


So that's how April started, but how about early retired life in March?


Early retirement targets

Sometimes I look at my targets table and think I should be doing better. Why isn't it already a sea of green to indicate that I've done everything? One reason is because we're only three months into the year, and the key is that I see some progress from month to month - Rome wasn't built in a day, or even in three months. Another reason is that if every item can easily be ticked off, then I've made my targets too easy. And I have to admit to a third reason, that sometimes I should simply be doing better...of course, my learning French target falls squarely into this category😬.


On the positive side, I'm still doing well with my exercise targets, hitting my four days a week, plus a bit more. I've now got to quickly add quality to this though, as I have a trail race in 10 weeks which I'm a long way from being ready for.


My friend sent me this photo from the Philippines

Another plus is progress on my medical check target. I want to have a fairly comprehensive check up, hopefully to find that all is well, but to give an early warning and the best chance for treatment if something is found. The original idea was to get the health check done locally, but it transitioned into travelling to South East Asia where medical costs are much cheaper and we can buy both the check ups and the flights for the same price as just the check ups in our home country. Kind of like having a health check and a free (or at least significantly discounted) holiday thrown in! We haven't yet booked the medical, but we have booked flights to the Philippines. We'll be there for a little over six weeks in October and November.


I also managed to invest a little more cash in March. I still find this incredibly difficult, perpetually worried that the markets are too high and my timing is wrong. The amount of returns we've missed out on over the years because of my dithering doesn't bear thinking about! I haven't solved this issue, having only managed to invest 33% of our investable cash, but at least it's a step in the right direction.

Over the next month, I should give more focus to those targets that haven't even got a colour. My ideas to visit Barcelona and Auschwitz, to climb a mountain, hike to Tour du Mont Blanc and imagine a new adventure for Sally and me. I haven't mentioned campervan trips because we'll be in it heading to the South of France tomorrow. And as to that red mark against improve my hopeless French...je dois vraiment commencer (I actually wrote that without Google Translate)!


Early retirement costs

The costs mounted up in March. Going out costs, sports equipment costs, my ski pass for next winter and running event entry fees, medical costs, hot tub repairs and flights for our trip to the Philippines later in the year.


Our average monthly spend for the first quarter feels higher than I'd like. It's less than we used to spend when I worked, but a fair amount more than the amount I guestimated our early retirement spend would be when I was making my early retirement decision back in 2016. I guess I have to remember that it's still affordable for us and I'm sure we could trim our costs without impacting our quality of life if we needed too. What I do like is that I know what our costs are, have the chance to judge whether I'm happy with what we spend our money on and, if we needed to reign in our spend, I can see where we could do so.


Of course, I can always live in hope that next month's costs will be less🤞

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Hi David, like Bob I went down a formal route to improve my French. A challenge was that my understanding of English grammar wasn't great in the first place. My pinnacle was being able to understand the news on French TV.


I once skied across Morzine, assisted by the free shuttle bus. On returning to night school we happened to be covering transport & I stunned everyone by announcing that I travelled, "par navette gratuite". So, I'm wondering about your preferred learning style and if something more fun might also help? Could your target be "to enjoy learning French", eg, by doing an activity with native speakers? (The reflection of your Geneva transfer conversation sounds like fun -in hindsight- with…


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Hi Shona, although I frequently feel foolish, I always try to use my French. I had another go this evening when the building manager was at our apartment, and again I mostly made myself understood. The bigger problem that I have is understanding what people say to me, I'm almost at zero on that score. A difficulty in Morzine is that almost everyone speaks English, so even when I try to speak French they reply in English, most often trying to be helpful. Also, perhaps because I don't work, I don't have much engagement with the French population. I have my fingers crossed that I can reach your standard of understanding the news, I'd be very happy with that!

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Hi David, another great post - I must admit I miss them when one doesn’t come for a couple of weeks! Just a small suggestion in terms of French - I found it hugely helpful to put myself forward for an exam with formal accreditation, for example the DELF exams organised in the UK by the Institut Français. I had an additional incentive as I was applying for French nationality but I didn’t really get moving until I knew there was a hard deadline. In the end I quite enjoyed putting myself to the test :)


https://www.institut-francais.org.uk Here is the link in case you are interested!


Best Wishes

Rob

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Hi Rob, now there's a challenge that's going to get me thinking. I hesitate at the idea of a test on something I'm not very good at, but completely get the deadline logic. I suspect your suggestion makes complete sense, while similarly sounding completely scary! Hmm🤔 By the way, I had an interesting telephone conversation with the car park transfer driver at Geneva Airport the other day. I did it all in French, evidently on speaker phone to the amusement of the French speaking passengers, only to subsequently discover that the driver to whom I was speaking was English🤣 and was stringing me along. On the plus side, it was good practice and he said that I made myself understood, and…

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