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Early retirement costs & targets - October 2020

I just re-read one of my old posts, Am I Mr Fat FIRE? Given that we spent £8K (€9K/$10K) this month, I have some justifying to do if I want to say I'm not.

In fact, I spent half of October in a Coronavirus travel quarantine which should mean less spending opportunities, not more. So what happened to make our costs so high this month?

The biggest part was implementing our plan of splitting our time between the UK and France - alternating three months in each, winter and summer in France and spring and autumn in the UK. That's meant furnishing a UK property, everything from teaspoons and tea towels right through to furniture, washing machine and a way too expensive coffee machine. Oh, it also means getting two sets of bills.

The furnishing costs are a one off - we spent £3,369 (€3,975/$4,379) in October, on top of the £6,649 (€7,846/$8,644) from September. That's a grand total of £10,108 (€11,821/$13,023). There will be a few more bits and pieces in November but they shouldn't cost too much. The big money has been spent - beds and sofas were 55% of the amount spent.

The ongoing cost will be two sets of bills each month. That's two sets of municipality tax, two electric, gas and water bills, two internet subscriptions, two sets of insurance. Added together, an extra £290 (€340/$380) a month or £3,480 (€4.080/$4,560) a year from using two properties.

Plus, our two home lifestyle will mean less income. Our new UK home was previously one of our rental properties that provided income for our early retirement. Converting this property into a part-time home reduces our income by around £6,800 (€8,000/$8,900) a year.

The numbers for splitting our time between two houses add up fast! One future option is to Airbnb the property for the times we not using it. We're not sure if there's a market for that in our town, but it may be worth investigating.

Early retirement costs for October 2020

The other number that jumps out this month is groceries at £1,585 (€1,871/$2,061). I just don't believe this number can be correct and suspect it includes items for furnishing the house. As I don't have the receipts to tell what or how much these might be, I've left them in groceries and just made a mental note about it.

That said, I suspect our grocery spending has increased. Since converting to a vegan diet in August, I've found some items are reasonably priced while others have a significant premium. I'm also supporting our local refill store, but this also comes at a higher price. For Sally, she's following a Keto diet which, like my vegan shopping basket, includes a mix of reasonably priced items along with things that cost a lot. On balance, I'm sure that both Sally's and my diets are costing more than we used to spend.

All told, does this make me Mr Fat FIRE? Perhaps in part it does, splitting our time between two houses doesn't seem normal. But I'm going to stick with the conclusion of my earlier Am I Mr Fat FIRE post that I'm slightly chubby FIRE rather than fat. And anyway, so long as it's affordable, spending a little extra to follow a lifestyle you want seems an okay thing to do.

Early retirement targets

Maybe I should have changed my targets when Coronavirus hit the World, but who expected it to hang around for the whole year? Back then, when my April marathon was cancelled, I figured an autumn one could still go ahead, travel to visit four new places could take place during the second half of the year, a time by which we could also still try new restaurants and invite friends over for dinner.

As we now know, that's turned out to be wildly optimistic. Instead, I'm writing this back in lockdown - things aren't exactly getting better!

My early retirement target tracker - October 2020

I guess this is the year where we shouldn't beat ourselves up too much if we don't get to the things we planned. At least there are some patches of green on my tracker. While being back in lockdown isn't what we want, perhaps it's a chance to actually do some French learning and introduce a tiny bit of amber on to the learn French line. I'm going to sign off by making that my target for November...C'est mon objectif pour Novembre.


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I suspect it's me not you...that's certainly the message I get from Sally🤣



No worries - I probably should have been clearer!

I look forward to you future post on "... what it's like to split our time between two places"


Ah, it was the risk that you were pointing out to me. I think the reason I missed that is because I'm quite cautious and did my sums on the basis that I was confident we had enough income without needing to Airbnb the properties. Of course, I'm not saying extra income wouldn't be nice! But alongside that, I have a feeling that using 2 propertiea and one always being empty is a waste - it's not environmentally nor socially friendly. It just doesn't feel right to me, kind of wasteful. The idea or the Airbnb option probably stemmed mostly from that, a mechanism so at least it would be used. That first, the money part of the equation a…



Extracted verbatim from the transcript (scrollable pane towards the end of linked page):

"So the first thing is I’m thinking differently about risk than I used to. You may recall in previous episodes, I talked about my “peak arbitrage” strategy, where I buy a property in a mountain resort destination in the States. And I buy a property in Edinburgh, Scotland, and since the peak tourist season for those two properties is different, I could live in one of them during the off season and rent the other one out. And the, you know, the higher priced peak place would pay for the lower priced off-peak place. And then I can enjoy two really great houses and two great…


The house swap idea is interesting. I've actually wondered about it myself, somehow it's come up on some of my social media feeds. Even Sally thought it interesting, after all, she reckons it worked well in The Holiday movie!

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