We spent much more than I expected in March. Each month I question why we spend more than most of the other bloggers who publish their costs.
I understand some of the reasons. Having moved to a new country, our lack of language skills, and some documents, meant that we didn't get the best deals for car insurance and internet/TV package - hopefully the renewals will be less. Furnishing costs are also a function of moving to somewhere new.
I wonder how our costs fit with some of my other posts, where I talk about less being more and not trying to keep up with the Joneses. Does my spend contradict this? I hope not, and I don't see too much extravagance or waste - or am I ignoring the obvious?
I shouldn't lose sleep over it as our costs are well below our income. Still, I question myself, but as long as we are not needlessly wasteful, and we can afford it, what's the problem?
Here are the full costs for the month, along with the January to March totals and the monthly average costs. I tend to look at the month's costs and the average as well.
What made the costs so high this month? There were a few unusual expenses, not necessarily one offs, but not things that we'll spend on every month. Starting with the biggest first:
Home furnishing & maintenance at £846 / €947 / $1,108
It's only a little over three months since we moved into our new apartment and so there are still a few things that we are buying. This month it was some garden furniture (because we had some lovely weather, although it's snowing today), a vacuum cleaner, various power connectors and extension cables, a fire extinguisher (if you haven't got one, do), coat hooks, a shelf unit, plus some tools to put these things together. I wish that were it, but there will no doubt be more things still to come.
Ski lift pass for £444 / €497 / $581
This is for the whole of next season, which is mid December 2019 to mid April 2020. Although a sizeable amount, anyone who's skied will see that this is a bargain. I get access to the lifts for 122 days for a lower price than holiday makers pay for a 12 day lift pass.
Clothes (sports and normal) at £387 / €434 / $508
The biggest part was waterproof jackets for Sally and me which cost £238 / €267 / $312. We thought it important to get good quality garments as mountain weather can be unpredictable and we don't want to be caught out. On top of that we bought some normal clothes, for example, my one pair of jeans had a hole in a rather delicate place!
Car service cost £213 / €239 / $279
We shouldn't need another service for at least a year.
Leaving these more unusual costs aside, the two biggest normal costs that we have are groceries and going out costs.
I'm comfortable with the grocery shopping, we make a shopping list (this week's is shown...I'm trying to do it in French!), and stick to it quite well - wine was added to the cart though. We don't have a choice of supermarket which perhaps adds a little to the cost. Our big shop costs about 10% more than it would in the UK or the US (although my research on US prices is a bit old now).
Going out costs are definitely more than I expected, but it's easily explained. We go out more...not exactly rocket science! On average two times a week, once to a language night at a local bar, and then normally one other evening with friends. In March we visited family in the UK so went out for a few meals with them. To give an idea, a large beer costs around £6.25 / €7 / $8.20 - not that the whole cost is beer, there is Sally's wine too, and some food as well!
One last thing on costs, we started a monthly charitable donation in March, something I'm pleased about. It's a small beginning, but every bit helps. Some of the decisions around giving were challenging, which is not what I expected, and will be the subject of a future post.
I'm still hoping that going public with my targets will encourage me to keep them front of mind and help me get them done. I think it's working a little, at least I think about them in the week before this post.
I set my current targets in the middle of February and this is how I'm doing:
I've made an effort over the past week to make some travel plans, and I'll see if I can get close to a final plan by the end of April. The other thing that needs focus during April is my efforts to learn French. We have one lesson from our course remaining, so we need to decide what our next steps will be, and the lessons are expensive. This needs some thought and, more importantly, some action.
I injured my knee while skiing during February and don't want to risk its recovery by running on it. I still don't think the injury is serious (and can still ski and cycle, so it can't be that bad), but it's not healing as quickly as I'd hoped. If I was sensible, I'd probably go to the doctor, but I'll give it another week.
I'm still lost on how to make a GoPro video, and I suspect I won't progress on this one in April. I'll be happy if by the end of the month I can see good progress on the running and travel targets, with everything else remaining as is.