Early retirement costs & targets - May 2022

Early retirement targets

I have my targets, the list of what I want to get done that I set at the beginning of the year. It's a mix of things. Stuff I like doing, exercise and this blog for example, but sometimes need a nudge to keep on track. Things I want to do, climb a mountain, hike the tour du Mont Blanc (at least I think I want to do them) and travel too. And there are those things that I ought to do, have a medical, attend a first aid course, learn French, invest cash.


I don't stay perfectly on track, but I am convinced that setting these targets, writing them down and, in particular, having a monthly review process, keeps me mostly heading in the right direction. And as I've said before, if everything was coloured green, it likely means that I'm setting my sights too low, so I'm OK with some other colours telling me I still have work to do.


This month, I've kept up with my exercise, my blog posts and attended a first aid course so that I can be better equipped to help someone if the need arose. I enjoyed learning more about my Dad's life, spent a few days in the camper and even plucked up the courage to invest some cash. I'm not getting to everything, but that's reasonable progress.


Last week I had my 53rd birthday, which sounds much older than when I retired at 47. I don't particularly feel older, but I'm much more conscious of time passing. One of my targets is "imagine a new adventure for Sally and me" and seeing another year pass makes this seem more of a priority. I've little idea what this "big thing" could be, but I don't want time to disappear without doing whatever it (the unknown big idea) is. I have friends who are self-building their dream house, and other friends about to set off to cycle from the northernmost part of Norway to Greece. What can my big adventure be? If I chose a target to make progress on in the next month, answering this question would be it. Unfortunately, I suspect I'm unlikely to have an epithany and will instead just create stress at home because I can almost guarantee that the likelihood of Sally and I having similar ideas is zero. Oh well, nobody said it was going to be easy?😬


Early retirement costs

I'm starting to take serious note of inflation. In the UK, the annual inflation rate is around 9%, in the US about 8% and in France closer to 5%. It's sobering to realise how this is feeding into everyone's costs - I guess we've been spoiled by many years of abnormally low inflation. I don't think we need to change how we live/what we spend, but it does make sense to keep an extra eye on costs these days.


We spent May in the UK, staying in our Airbnb property. It's been nine months since we started our Airbnb experiment. The house previously had long term tenants, but we switched it to an Airbnb property to be able to use it when in the UK (we block the dates in the Airbnb calendar for when we want to use it). I'll do an update post about the Airbnb property soon, so look out for that if it's something of interest.


For our month in the UK, we drove from our home in France. Driving costs more than I expect, the total for the tunnel, fuel and tolls is £760/€905/$1,024. We could fly for a fraction of the price, but that's a difficult option in terms of taking the cats with us. We also avoid renting a car in the UK, and car rental prices are crazily high these days.


Compared to the French Alps, the UK seems to have a larger variety of foods in the supermarket, particularly for those of us on a plant based diet. It's nice to have the extra choice, but it comes at quite a cost - someone who works for a supermarket told me that the profit margins on plant based products are super high, which seems ethically questionable to me. A benefit of driving between the countries is that when I returned to France, I came with four big jars of Marmite, 24 litres of Oatly Barista oat milk, 2 litres of maple syrup, 3kgs of peanut butter and 13kgs of nuts and dried fruit - hopefully that should keep me stocked for a while!


Where else did we spend money? A new battery to battery charger for the campervan, replacing an existing product that didn't seem to work. Perhaps we should have taken it back to the company that did the conversion and have them fix it, but the peace of mind of having it now working is worth the extra cost. We also paid a sizeable sum for someone to prepare our French tax returns, another item where the peace of mind of getting right probably justifies the cost.


So another month has passed, another month where our spend is higher than I'd hope. But there isn't any spend that I regret, and presumably some of the cost is a result of inflation. Well, that and buying 13kgs of nuts and dried fruit...and in case you're reading this in the US, that is 29lbs - as Sally said, "that is a lot of nuts, David!"



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