Ouch! Well first of all, as in the past three years, two days ago I was able to pay a further 10% extra off my mortgage. I think I've explained before that the only time I can pay extra off my mortgage is if I pay 10% of the initial sum (obviously they don't want people to do this), so in my case it means I have somehow to cobble together 33,000 Swiss francs. This will be the fourth year in a row that I have been able to make this extra payment on top of my regular mortgage payments and I thank God I have been able to do it because that is what is going to allow me to retire at Christmas!
I always keep a copy of my original mortgage amortization schedule in my diary on the date the mortgage falls due (I pay every three months) and from that I can see that by doing this I have knocked an extra 114,000 Swiss francs (£89,000 or $114,000) off where my mortgage would have stood had I not made these extra payments! Yay me! I realize, of course, that I have been very fortunate to be able to do that but I'm just so, so glad that I knuckled down and threw (almost) everything I had at it! Not everything of course because I have still travelled but as I mentioned in a recent post, I cut everything else back as far to the bone as possible in order to be able to sock that money away!
On the "brrrrrr" side, we have been having glorious weather here still - no rain, and you can still easily go outside in the sunshine without your coats on (well the Brits can - everyone else seems to think it's "cold" enough to wear coats. What a bunch off wimps!!!!) Buuuuuttttt, apparently as from Saturday we are heading for fairly constant rain for a few days so I imagine the snow won't be too far behind. I'm just so glad that when I got my car serviced the other week I had them put my winter tyres on because as soon as the first snow flurries come the garages are swamped with people rushing to do the same, so again "yay me"!
And on the "I wish they'd make up their bloody minds" part, I had spoken to a colleague who lives near me (in France) and was telling her about the horrendous tax I was going to pay on the lump sum. In any case, I have resigned myself to paying it but the thought of it is more than a little painful, I can tell you. Anyway, since she will also be retiring shortly she contacted our local tax office and they basically said the info my tax guy had given me was baloney, and that the tax on the lump sum would work out at about 15% instead of the 22% he was talking about. So I forwarded to my colleague the explanations my guy had given me and she then "played tax ping-pong" with the tax authorities, which eventually led to the lady there basically saying that my guy "doesn't know his a$$ from a hole in the ground" (only she put it more politely) and offering to bring him up to speed!!!!! Sooooo, I have the name of another tax person that I intend to talk to and I will shortly be going on a pre-retirement course to be held in one of the large international organizations here where they bring in tax people from both Switzerland and France to talk about these issues (amongst other things), so I intend to put my case to them (in front of about 500 people I guess). Crikey! In any case, I have/had resigned myself to paying around 22% of my lump sum in tax so if I can get that down to around 15% I will be well pleased, but don't you think everyone should be "singing from the same song sheet on this matter"!!!!
And finally, on Wednesday night I went with Thérèse, the "Présidente" of our sewing club for the last 22 years, to the annual meeting of the local community centre groups. I was surprised to find out that there are about 14 groups in total who use the facilities donated by this particular commune for free (and who also receive a small subsidy from the commune) and we are, therefore, obliged to have a yearly meeting where each club must submit its accounts! That's a bit of a joke to me at least because I am the treasurer of the second-hand bookshop that we run in aid of various charities and for me that just means tracking spending/receipts and keeping any remaining cash in a tin under my bed! Still, this has to be done properly and it was pretty nice to find out more of what kinds of groups it is possible to join (you know, when you're not putting in 12-hour days working/commuting). Anyway, the big joke is that I am now the "Présidente" (so a little respect is in order don't you think) of our sewing club (despite not being able to sew!!!! - I do a bit of patchwork when I go, but can't sew) but then they only need someone to do the administrative work in any case! After the meeting everyone crashed out of the meeting room for drinks and snacks, but as it was nearly 10 p.m. and I hadn't even been home yet I bowed out (this time). So there you, go - another feather to add to my hat (and CV) when I finally get round to asking for French citizenship! I hope they are impressed!