Part of a conversation with a friend yesterday went "it's Thursday afternoon, we're cycling up a hill, passing a pretty stream, with a backdrop of snowy mountains, we're not at work. This is what winning at life feels like!"
As we chatted, he also told me that when he retired, he decided to leave the structure and routines of his old work life behind. He'd been there, done that, and retirement life was going to be done differently. And yes, while his early retirement life is completely different from his work life, he's since realised that some structure and some routines can in fact be helpful.
I'm similar, although in my case, some structure and some routines probably should to be replaced with quite a lot of structure and quite a lot of routine. It's one of the reasons why I like to set targets at the beginning of the year and check in on them each month to see how I'm progressing. I don't have to do this, nobody is forcing me, but I do find it a useful part of my early retirement life. I also understand that, to many, it seems to be a completely odd thing to do, but it works for me.
Early retirement targets
Three months into the year, it's not looking too bad. Four targets are green meaning they're either completed or on target, six are amber which shows that progress is being made, and only two are red.
For March, I'm most pleased with my efforts to learn French. Not that I can miraculously now speak French, I can't, but because I've made a genuine and concerted effort to improve this month. As a bonus, my French lessons also helped me with my 50 things to make the world a better place target. One of my 50 things (I'm targeting to do at least one a month) is to take time to learn about a culture that is different from mine. My French tutor is a Muslim, so I asked if she'd tell me about Islam during our conversation practice. The result was some very interesting and enjoyable lessons, and I've certainly learned more about the Islamic religion and culture than I knew before.
One of the red items on my targets list is to volunteer for something. I've decided to cut this from my targets for this year, which does feel a little selfish. I'll try not to forget about it entirely, but it will become more of an aide memoir rather than a full on target. In it's place, I'm adding a new target of watching French television or listening to French radio for 30-60 minutes a day. I'm hoping that, alongside my French lessons, this will boost my French listening and comprehension, something I have a real difficulty with.
Early retirement costs
Our biggest cost in March was for going out to restaurants and bars. We had visitors, leaving dos, Sally took a trip to England and had a birthday in Zurich. I think this must be the first time that this category ranks as the biggest spend.
Groceries was close behind and as usual, less understood. I suspect I might grasp the French language before I grasp our grocery spend. In fact, for now, I've given up trying (to understand the grocery spend that is, I'm still trying with the French!)
The next biggest number was my ski lift pass for the 2023/24 winter season. It costs €570 (£504 or $620) and covers 650kms (404 miles) of groomed ski pistes for 19 weeks. That's a good deal - I get 19 weeks for about the same price as a tourist pays for 2 weeks.
My best not spending money item this month is a new bike. No, I haven't bought myself one, but three friends are riding around on very nice new bikes, so there is temptation. I'm quite liking the Canyon model in the picture. However, the bike I bought second hand 8 years ago (it's actually 13 years old) still works and, while a new one would be shinier, I'm pretty certain it wouldn't make it any easier to go up the hills.