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Early retirement costs & targets - March 2023

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.

My early retirement targets tracker
Tracking this year's early retirement targets

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.

How much does early retirement cost?
Early retirement costs - March 2023

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.

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Guest
May 24, 2023

In my opinion, if we want to retire early, we should be thankful with the life you have at this very moment. Thankful to have supportive families and buddies, thankful to have a stable job, and thankful you can afford what you want. I really enjoying my life after retirement. You can read blogs of The Rookie Retiree.

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Hi David,

Quick question. Do you calculate your net worth? That would be an interesting article on how people can do this exercise and should do it on their journey to FIRE

All the best,

Ian

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Outside of the rental properties, you're right that the vast majority of the balance is in ETFs. We have some cash that I want to be in ETFs but I'm too scared to invest it all I one go, so I've been putting in a proportion each month over the past year or so and will continue to do so.

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I do like a purchase that makes my hobbies more fun, but honestly, I don't know that I'm sufficiently good at them that the quality of my equipment makes a whole lot of difference. A new pickleball racket wouldn't make me any better at it or enjoy the game more, so that's a no. I did buy a set of knitting needles that I rather like, though. They're interchangeable and the set has every size, which is convenient as there is no hobby store in town. So really, I'm saving money...🤣 If riding a new cool bike makes you happy, I'd get one, but if you just love riding a bike, and you already have a good one, then …

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It's why it's often a good idea to pause before purchasing...in the moment, I might think I'd like a new bike but, when I think about it, I realise that it wouldn't do anything different from my current bike and it wouldn't make me enjoy cycling any more. Fortunately, I think I'm quite good at making these decisions, which saves me spending money on things that don't give much of a return. Knitting seems to be quite the thing these days, I have a few friends who have taken it up. My sister gave me a scarf that she knitted for Christmas, and it's such a lovely gift knowing that she made it herself. Not sure I'll be knitting Christmas…

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A few comments:

i) retirement should be biking DOWNHILL, not up...

ii) glad you categorized housing costs together

iii) if the point of biking is to get exercise, shouldn't one be riding the oldest, heaviest bike around?

iv) well done on all!!

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Haha, I kind of like the idea of all biking being downhill but then I wonder if that were the case, would the downhill feel so rewarding without the effort to have got to the top of the hill in the first place? I must confess though, that more than one person does roll their eyes at the early retirement lists, tasks, challenges (minor though the challenges may be) and routines that I set myself - I think they'd opt for the permanent downhill option! Also, even though my bike is 12 years old, it is pretty light, so I don't have that as an excuse to buy a new one anyway - I'll have to wait for some of…

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Morning. I've been thinking about your previous post about making early retirement better. For me, I think doing this sort of target and expenditure tracking would be one thing. I have got some targets around my reading list and getting better at golf but I've not been tracking my spending / budgeting as much as I probably should.


Is there a negative side to that exercise though? Does it make you more prone to "penny pinching" or is it the opposite and allows you to enjoy the spending as you know you can afford it? I'm 16 months in to retirement now and have just finished the second bit of major renovations to my house - who thought a…


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Whether there is a negative side to tracking my spend is a good question. I think the answer is that there can be, but whether that is the case will depend on the individual i.e. for some it could be a negative while for others it won't be. As you point out, there can be a risk that tracking can sway us towards trying not to spend simply to avoid seeing it come through in the tracking and therefore potentially missing out on something we want and can actually afford to do. I occasionally find this, but not often, and I find that I can generally overcome it - I have a keener sense of value (which applies to both…


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