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Early retirement money & life - 2022 review

2022 was my sixth year of early retirement and, as with years one to five, I like to look back and see how things went. What were the standout items, how did our early retirement finances pan out, and how I did against the targets I set at the start of the year.


What my 2022 early retirement looked like

Day to day early retirement life continued in a similar vein to previous years. I've maintained most, perhaps even all, of my routines, still finding that a Monday to Friday, nine to five schedule suits me. Along with my targets, my routines keep me busy and prevent me from falling into laziness. If you want to see what my typical early retirement week looks like, my what I do and am I bored post from 2019 is still mostly relevant.


Travel is one thing that early retirement makes more accessible, becasue we're no longer constricted by limited vacation days. We started the year with a family trip to Finland to see the Aurora Borealis, mid year we had 10 days in the campervan to the South of France and a month in our Airbnb property in the UK, before ending the year with 6 weeks in the Philippines. In addition, I twice visited Berlin for running events with friends and Sally holidayed in Spain with her sisters as well as making some extra visits to family in the UK.


The events that stand out most clearly are:

  • Finland trip - we went with our adult children, which was a real treat. My high expectations for seeing the Aurora Borealis were exceeded, and the other activities that we did were a ton of fun too. It's not a cheap trip, but highly recommended.

  • Berlin marathon - special because it was a meet up with friends from my old life in Dubai, plus seeing one of them, Peter, run a sub 3 hour marathon, which was awesome to be part of. Oh, and I also got a new personal best time, but that was just the icing of the cake.

  • Running from Morzine to Chamonix - just something that 3 friends decided to do for fun. It seemed like a cool thing to do, and I think it was.

  • 6 weeks in the Philippines - going somewhere new is always exciting, as was spending a month with friends who we knew from Dubai.

I'm convinced that early retirement has given me a new mindset, and I'm sure I wouldn't have done some of these things without this.


Early retirement money

We continue to not be a low cost early retirement couple, Chubby FIRE is the description I've opted for. Our total costs (for a couple) for the year were £57,147/€68,005/$77,149.


A few years ago, I analysed our costs between what we spend on our needs compared to spend on our wants. "Needs" includes things like house related costs, groceries, car, medical etc. "Wants" includes the likes of entertainment, going out, holidays, gifting etc.


When I looked at this before, our spend was an almost even split between needs and wants. In 2022, it's much the same, with perhaps a slight move towards wants, which now account for 52% of our spend.

Our early retirement spend - split between our needs and our wants
Our early retirement spend - split between our needs and our wants

As to our overall spend, out of our six years of early retirement, 2022 was our third most expensive.

In terms of affordability:

  • Our investments are held roughly two thirds in rental properties and one third in low cost ETFs.

  • The after tax cash flow income from our rental properties equated to 110% of our early retirement costs in 2022, so we completely live off this income. We haven't needed to take any income from the ETFs nor draw down any capital.

  • In summary, our spend is comfortably affordable - a nice position to be in.


Early retirement targets

At the start of 2022, I made a list of twelve targets. Now that the year has finished, I've graded myself on them: five A's, one B-, a C, a D, an E and three F's.


Perhaps the D, E and three F's show that I'm setting some ambitious targets, something that I like because I think it's good to be challenged, and healthy to be pushed out of my comfort zone. Alternatively, those red (fail) scores could be telling me that I should be doing better. The answer is probably a mixture of the two.

Early retirement targets
Grading my early retirment targets

This year, I'm most pleased with my running. Getting a new marathon personal best of 2:55:41 was beyond my wildest dreams. That run couldn't have gone any better. Then there was running from Morzine to Chamonix with friends, it was such a fun day. I also did a couple of trail races which were tough and fun, at least once they were done! Outside of running, I also enjoyed chatting to my Dad about his younger life, finding out more about that was a good target to set.


Despite too many red scores, most of those targets can be done another day, perhaps some of them will reappear when I set my 2023 targets. The only one that I'm really disappointed in (yet again) is learning French, because I know that I'm not putting sufficient effort into it. On the plus side, at least I try to speak French, even if it is generally to the amusement or consternation of the person I'm attempting to communicate with.


So that's another year gone, it seems incredible to think that I've been retired for over six years. Thinking back to the three questions that I had at the outset, back in 2016:

  1. Do we have enough money? After 6 years, I'm certain the answer is yes.

  2. What will I do/will I be bored? Filling the days has rarely been a problem, and I'm most certainly not bored.

  3. Might I be lonely? No, I've found sufficient friends that meet my social needs.

  4. And now I can add a fourth - am I glad I retired early? I think maybe you've guessed that the answer is a resounding yes.

And now it's time to think of what targets I'm going to set for year seven of early retirement.

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A happy new year David.


Interesting to see your end of year cost breakdown, just out of interest I compared it with ours, as it was easy to do having very similar categories. So with an end of year spend of £27,100 ( does that make us low cost early retirement? I'm not sure) the breakdown was 70% need vs 30% want. This was split as follows: Car 7.6%; Clothes 0.4%; Internet/phones 3.6%; Medical 2.7%; House 30.5%; Groceries 26.3%; Gifts/Charity 5.2%; Entertaining 3.3%; Holiday/Travel 5.8%; Other 8.6%; Sports/Exercise 3.5%; Campervan 2.6%. The total slightly exceeded my target of £25,500, but only by a small margin and still affordable.


According to a Which survey in 2022, couples on average spent £28,000…


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Peter & David,


Comparisons of this nature are always tricky as people generally categorise their spending (especially at a detailed level) rather differently.

Categorising your spend i.a.w. the United Nations Classification of Individual Consumption by Purpose (COICOP) is one possible solution, as COICOP provides a standardised global 'lingo'. COICOP is used, for example, by the UK Office for National Statistics (ONS) for measuring inflation. However, therein lies a further set of complications e.g. CPI excludes council tax and CPIH includes council tax, and all inflation information - by definition - excludes spending on taxes and investments (including mortgage capital payments) which may comprise a significant portion of any given households annual expenditure. I think the logic is: consumption is…

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I'm interested to hear details about your trip to Finland. Did you spend the holidays there? Happy New Year!

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Happy New Year to you too. It was actually last January, so a year ago that we went to Finland. I actually did this post about it which describes what we did on the trip.

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