This time last year, we were in Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica. What a difference a year makes and what I'd give to have the chance to be back there now.
On the plus side, thinking back to those travels is a reminder of how good financial independence is. It meant I could be in Puerto Viejo last year - travelling for three months wasn't an option before FI. And in today's Covid-19 world, financial independence means that I'm not stressed about a job or where my income will come from - it's why I'd always recommend taking steps towards financial independence where you can (or at least an emergency fund) irrespective of whether or not the retiring early part of FIRE is of interest to you.
Early retirement costs
Maybe if I say it quickly it won't hurt, like ripping off a band aid...we spent almost £11,000 (€13,000 or $14,000) this month. Yikes!
It made me think of a previous post, Am I Mr Fat Fire? My answer back then was that I wasn't. I figured I occupied a middle ground somewhere between lean FIRE and fat FIRE.
This month's big spend was starting to furnish our part time house in the UK. 60% of the costs were on that, new beds, bedding and bedroom furniture, sofas, kitchen crockery and gadgets etc. The place is completely empty so we need everything. There will be more things to buy next month, but hopefully the most expensive stuff is already bought.
So we now have two homes, one in the UK where we plan to spend spring and autumn, and one in France for summer and winter. This wasn't envisaged pre early retirement and we'll have to see how it works out. It will cost more, two sets of property taxes, insurance, maintenance, wi-fi service as well as utility bills. Also, we used to rent the property out and we'll now not receive that income - a double whammy, less income and more costs! I'm wondering whether we should try to get some Airbnb income for the time we're not using it.
Outside of those big costs, we also paid a property/municipal tax bill this month, incurred travel costs for relocation trips to the UK and seemed to spend a lot on groceries - something I seem to say quite often.
So where do I fit on the lean or fat fire scale now? I think still somewhere in the middle, but splitting our time between two homes must move us a few notches towards the fat end of the scale. But the more important question is can we afford it? Having crunched the numbers, I'm sure the answer is yes, but what nags in the back of my mind is that it feels a little wasteful and environmentally I'm sure it isn't the best use of resources - this gives me the biggest pause for thought. Anyway, we'll see how it goes and, if we find it's not right for us, we can always make a change - financial independence gives us that choice.
Early retirement targets
I like the idea of setting targets, especially once I realised that these don't have to be chores. I have a mix, among them are fun things such as travelling, practical stuff like figuring out where we'll live and healthy goals around a good diet or my marathon ambitions.
Clearly Coronavirus has interfered with some of these and, I don't know about you, but I'm finding a wearing down/attritional effect the longer it drags on. This can make the monthly review of my targets frustrating e.g. the marathon and travel targets have been taken away, they're simply not possible right now and not in my control.
But on the other hand, my target tracker also reminds me of what I can do. I can make an effort to keep in touch with distant friends, so yesterday that's what I did. I can do better (well I can hardly do worse) with learning French - my upcoming two weeks of Coronavirus quarantine is a perfect time to start learning again.