9 things that we received from our wedding that we used all the time

My husband and I had a hard time picking items to register for when we got married. We both owned a condo before living together, and eventually bought a house together. It was harder to combine the things we owned when we started living together.

Since we have everything we need, we only picked 23 items to register for. We only registered at Amazon because I don’t like going to brick and mortar stores. We looked at what we currently have and used the wedding as an opportunity to replaced items we have or get items that we will never buy ourselves.

Here are the items we register for that we use ALL THE TIME

The links below are affiliate only for those items that I recommend and actually uses.

Corelle Embossed Bella Faenza 16-Piece Dinnerware Set

We didn’t register for a china. Instead we (I mostly) decided to replace my old sets of plates. I liked the old plates, but it was thick, heavy and takes a lot of space. I’m a big fan of Corelle, but I want something more than just white. When I saw these pieces, I registered for 3 of the 16 piece set, which will give us 12 pieces of each. For some reason our gifter gave us 4, so now we have 16 of each. We donated our old set and used these every day.

Glasslock 11292 18-Piece Assorted Oven Safe Container Set

This is another food related item. I brought my own lunch majority of the days before we retired. I have exactly 5 sets of pyrex bowl that I used. We also started cooking a lot more when MBP was born. This became very handy for left overs. The small containers can hold cut up fruits/ berries or crackers for MBP.

ARC International Luminarc Pub Beer Glass, 16-Ounce, Set of 10

I like these glasses since you can stack it. We used it all the time. We didn’t handle it well so we lose it piece by piece. I think we only have 2 of the original 10.

NETGEAR N600 Dual Band Wi-Fi Router (WNDR3400)

This was suggested by my husband. He knows more about our tech needs and suggested that we replaced our old one. It’s still working after 3.5 years and I have no complaints.

Calphalon Contemporary Hard-Anodized Aluminum Nonstick Cookware, Omelette Pan, 10-inch and 12-inch Set, Black and Calphalon Contemporary Pot & Pan Lid Glass Cover 10-in.

I’ve been wanting to replace my old set with a new one. The old one was no longer flat because of everyday use. We cook a lot and this one gets a ton of usage.

ChefLand Set of 6 Standard Weight Mixing Bowls, Stainless Steel, Mirror Finish, 0.75, 1.5, 3, 4, 5, and 8 Qt. (Mixing Bowl Set Of 6)

These are great bowls, especially for the price. We thought about getting one ourselves but since we’re running out of ideas to add to our register, we just registered for it. We used it for mixing, or serving chips, fruit salads and sometimes a toy for MBP.

OXO Good Grips Utensil Set, 3-Piece, OXO Good Grips Wooden Spoon Set, 3-Piece, OXO Good Grips Wooden Corner Spoon & Scraper

We used this opportunity to get some wooden utensils for cooking. We used it almost daily. It’s not exactly the best quality, but it serves our needs.

USA Pan Bakeware Aluminized Steel 6 Pieces Set, Cookie Sheet, Half Sheet, Loaf Pan, Rectangular Pan, Square Cake Pan, 12 Cup Muffin Pan

I love these pans. I then added more pieces to this. It bakes evenly and doesn’t stick.

Mr. Coffee 12 Cup Programmable Coffee Maker with Thermal Carafe Option, Chrome

We have 2 coffee maker, one for decaf (me) and one for a very strong coffee (my husband). My husband uses this one. I prefer Carafe than single pods since we only brew once in the morning and drink it through out the day.

Here are the items that we used occasionally

Home Essentials & Beyond Del Sol Glass Beverage Drink Dispenser With Knobbed Lid, Chalkboard On Chain, On Metal Stand and Raised Easy Flow Spigot, 1.5 Gallon for Picnics Parties Bbq

We probably used this twice? We rarely host parties at home. If we do, we usually buy individually packed drinks.

GoSports Cornhole PRO Regulation Size Bean Bag Toss Game Set – Foldable (American Flag, LED, Black, Red & Blue Designs)

I never thought that we will receive this. My husband want it for fun. We did have fun with it and used it for MBP’s 1st and 2nd birthday and some 4th of July party. Sadly, a kid jump on it and broke one piece. It’s just being stored now in the garage, broken.

Hamilton Beach 1.7L Stainless Steel Electric Kettle 40893

We finally upgraded to electric kettle. I use it occasionally when I want some tea. This is probably not the best quality, but it heats water and gets the job done.

KitchenAid KFP0722CU 7-Cup Food Processor with Exact Slice System – Contour Silver

My husband mainly uses this. It is good to have when you have to cook for a party. I prefer cutting with knives if it’s just one or 2 pieces since it’s a pain to clean this.

Here are the items we used once or never used

Bissell SpotClean ProHeat Portable Spot Cleaner, 5207F

We used this once, but it’s a pain to clean it after use, especially if you’re cleaning nasty things. I’m pretty sure we “forgot” to clean it and I’m not even sure if it made the move.

Great Northern Popcorn Original Stainless Steel Stove Top 6-1/2-Quart Popcorn Popper

I don’t know why I register for this. I don’t even like popcorn. Suffice to say, it’s never been used.

Weanas Professional Backpacking Tent 2 3 4 Person 3 Season Weatherproof Double Layer Large Space Aluminum Rod for Outdoor Family Camping Hunting Hiking Adventure Travel

Who am I kidding? I’m not really a “rough it out camping” type of gal. I like day hikes and being able to shower and sleep on my own bed after (or at least a cabin with a bed). This one haven’t been used.

5 Year History of my Amazon purchase and how it showed where I’m at in my life

I don’t like to go to malls or grocery stores or department stores. Whenever I go, I have specific things that I need to buy and I’m usually in and out. These days, we go to the mall to utilize their indoor play area for MBP, especially on winters, but I don’t buy anything.

Shopping is still a line item on our expenses and most of the time, I don’t even know what it is. Most of these shopping items came from Amazon (and Costco, lately). I decided to look at my Amazon order history and surprised how it showed the stages in my life.

Note that my husband and I have separate Amazon account and this post only reflect mine.

My life through my Amazon Purchases

2015 was the year we bought a house and got dog, a month after moving. I ordered 43 items, 3 were returned and 7 were gifts. I kept 33 items and 48% of the items were dog related. We have a pretty spoiled fur baby.

2016 was the year we got married. I ordered 48 items, 5 were returned, 8 were gifts. I kept 35 items and 37% of the items were wedding related. The rest were pretty random.

2017 was the year MBP was born. I ordered 85 items (OUCH!), 4 were returned, 12 were gifts. I kept 69 items and 71% of the items were baby related. I can’t even remember why I ordered some. There were some items that I never used, but for some reason never returned. At least I learned that there was no magical pillow that will help you nurse better or any sleep sack that will make your baby sleep through the night.

2018 was our last full year before early retirement. This means that we are both working while my mom takes care of MBP. I ordered 51 items, 6 were returned and 5 were gifts. I kept 40 items and 58% of the items were baby/toddler related. I’m still learning how to get items from the consignment stores. Things like toddler shoes (that were used for less than 3 months, because MBP just grew so fast) were ordered.

2019 orders went down. We retired and I got pregnant, but surprisingly there was only 1 pregnancy related item that were ordered. I ordered 32 items, 2 were returned and 8 were gifts. I kept 22 items, 32% of that were toddler related. The rest were just random.

There are 4 apparent trends I saw while searching through our browser history

I purchased majority of Christmas gifts and Birthday gifts at Amazon. Christmas Gifts were sometimes shipped directly to the recipient, which made it more convenient.

I will buy consumables like lotion and dog food. This shows how much I dislike driving and going to a local store. I’d like to think that Amazon prices were cheaper too.

I will buy non-sense items and it showed quite a bit when we got a dog and when MBP was born. This includes dog toys that got chewed on in 20 seconds or random items that advertised to help me nurse or pump for MBP.

I buy things on Prime Day, just because. We have 3 echo’s in total, I bought 4 t-shirt (it’s on sale). I was able to use it for work, but the quality is awful, that 2 of them already have holes.

What I bought showed what I prioritized

Similar to our budget, what I bought showed what I prioritized. The first thing I did when we got our fur baby was go to Petco and bought $100+ of dog items like bowl, bed, toys, etc, etc. Little did I know that I can get all of these for a fraction of the price at thrift store. Similarly when MBP was born. Almost everything that we think we need are purchased online with very little thought on a more frugal option. And that’s ok. By going through this history, I cannot lie on my priorities in life. I cannot say that I prioritize travel, when I our spending don’t even include that. Perhaps when the kids are a little older.

Your turn! Anything in your purchase history that revealed something?

Early Retirement Spending – January 2020

The first month of the year is over. We finally got rid of our very high health insurance premium. The expenses for this month reflected that. We are also on the “waiting for baby #2 mode”. I’m now passed 37 weeks as of this writing. Although 37 weeks is still consider early, it is safe for the baby to come out. I worry less now. My doctor gave me a green light to get out of the modified bed rest. We started going out for walks, but I get winded quickly and have to take it slow. MBP is enjoying it though. We’ve been to the pond and he likes seeing all the ducks. He also likes playing around the puddle.

In January, we spent 2,471.50

Insurance $0

I’ll start with our $0 insurance cost. Investment income which includes dividends and interest is our only form of income. We have at least a year of our spending budget and I don’t expect to realize any capital gains for the year. Because of this, our income is “low”, per Washington state guideline. We thought about moving it up in order to pay for the marketplace, but the Apple Health through WA state plan has a better coverage. It has our whole family’s provider. This insurance cover both health and dental.

Food $641.73

Our biggest expense now is food. We spent $519.43 on groceries and $122.3 on restaurants. Our restaurant’s expense includes 3 trips to Costco, and 1 trip to KFC for my birthday dinner. There are 2 more establishments that can actually qualify as restaurants. Back in the days, pre baby, we can easily spend $60+ on brunch. which usually occur every weekend with friends. Going out is really where I see our expenses go down. We shop at WinCo and Costco for our groceries. Costco is closer to us and we think that we will most likely move most of our grocery purchases. We’ve been really good at eating all the produce. MBP has been obsessing with strawberries and blueberries. We serve fruit everyday with breakfast with some “soupy oats” during the weekdays and eggs/pancake combo during the weekend. There are still some food that go to waste, but we’re getting better and figuring out what we actually eat.

529 College Fund $400

I decided to include this as our expense. I know that it is not a cash outflow. It is still part of our net worth and has grown – thanks to Mr. Market. We started contributing $400 after his 1st birthday. Our decision to fund this will warrant another post. We will most likely open another one for baby #2 with the same monthly funding ASAP.

Tax Software / Licenses: $334.24

I am a license CPA in state of WA and plan to keep it. It took a lot of blood, sweat and tears to pass this exam after graduation. I plan to launch my own business at some point. I spent $230 for my CPA renewal that is valid for three years. I also spent $104.24 for HR Block Software. There was a glitch while I’m buying the software and I mistakenly bought 2. I purchased the premium + business downloadable software. This let me file for 5 federal tax returns. I prepare taxes for our family. The software will let me file for (1) ours (2) my sisters (1) my brother and (1) my parents. Total comes to just a bit over $10 per tax filing. I’ve used HR block and Turbo tax before. I like HR Block than Turbotax. I like that I can actually see the forms in HR block. It also tends to be cheaper than Turbo tax.

Utilities (Electric / Gas and Sewer): $216.33

This month doesn’t include water and garbage which is billed every 2 months. It is still fairly high because it was a cold January. We’re also running the washer and dryer almost everyday since we are potty training MBP. He has a habit of pulling his diaper out while sleeping and he wakes up in the morning soaking wet.

The kid got the chance to play with the snow.

Baby Supplies: $176.82

Baby Boy #2 is due in 2.5 weeks. We bought an infant car seat since our last one that we got for free expired. I also got some adapters for our Uppababy stroller so we can use the bassinet and the seat at the same time.

The rest of the expenses are routine/ boring. Our YMCA membership wasn’t canceled. I missed the cut off from last month. It finally canceled this month. This should be the last month with the gymexpenses. We bought some wipers for our Prius in Costco, dog food and other household supplies in Costco. Our internet is still around $50 and our mobile phones from Xfinity clocked in at only $11.93 this month for 2 lines.

“Crocodile swim at the Y”

We don’t optimized on all things. Items like “shopping” and even “household supplies” are somewhat unknown. We will keep an eye on it, but will not sweat it for now.

And here’s our expenses for January 2020. How was the start of your 2020?

DescriptionAmountComments
Food641.73Groceries and Restaurants
529 College Fund400
Business Services230CPA License renewal. Valid for the next 3 years
Utilities216.33Electric, Gas and Sewer
Baby Supplies176.82
Household Supplies121.04Toiletries and other items
Gym121Last Y membership
Gift117.12Gift for a wedding and random
Tax Software104.24
Auto78.95$60 for Gas and $18.95 for wipers
Pet Food & Supplies69.94Dog Food
HOA Dues68.25
Shopping54.02Not really sure. I think a shovel was included here
Internet49.95
Mobile Phone11.93Very cheap for 2 lines through Xfinity Mobile
Pharmacy9.61
Electronics & Software0.57
Grand Total2471.5

2019 Early Retirement Reflections

It has been 6 months since we officially quit our W2 employment, called ourselves “retired” and moved out of the city. We are financially prepared and has been very conservative with our estimates. I’m not worried about the financial aspects going into retirement, but I was / am worried about the emotional toll that it could bring, mainly the boredom and the feeling of being unproductive. During the last 6 months, here are some things I learned about myself.

Giving up control

We decided to add an addition to our family post retirement. I am on a category of a high risk pregnancy, given that our first son was born at 28 weeks. For some reason, I thought that this pregnancy will be easier. I will have the benefit of all the medications and preventative measures that are available to have an easy pregnancy. I pictured myself doing yoga while pregnant. Well, I was wrong. This pregnancy is hard. From the very beginning, I felt so tired. At 22 weeks, I was advised by my doctor to take it easy and was put on modified bed rest. Our plans obviously changed. My husband stepped up and did everything to run the house, while also being the primary care taker of me and our toddler. I tried to help out as much as I can, but I was paranoid on every contraction that I felt during the second trimester. It was such a relief when I completed my 28 weeks of pregnancy, knowing that a good prognosis is on our side if I give birth. I have to be very flexible and gave up control. There are certain things that I wish I could do, but I listen to my body instead. I nap when I needed to nap. I stopped any activity that caused contraction. I stayed still. So in the last 6 months, I didn’t really do anything “productive”. I had a plan to carved out some time start a business, be engaged in my son’s school, get to know our neighbors and be active in the FIRE community. None of it happened. My husband was doing really well hitting the gym everyday, but that stopped when he has to take on all the work here at home, taking care of me and our son.

Psychological effect of “lack of income”

As I mentioned before, we were very conservative on our estimates when we retired. Our paid off house and a rental condo was not even part of our “portfolio” when we calculated our need for the retirement fund. I know this, but it still stings knowing that I don’t have any money “coming” in. Our portfolio grew even more, thanks to the market, but our “cash” is decreasing. We expected this, obviously. There are certain things that helped, like the higher than expected dividend income that we received this year. It also helped that we have a pretty good cash buffer and the fact that we are actually spending less than I expected. After this 6 months, I’m more relax. I even shelled out $900+ for a new iPhone 11.

We really don’t need a lot

My husband and I have some discussions regarding things that we will do if we really have a LOT of money. I’m talking about hundreds of millions here. I’m still not sure if I like living the suburbs so my thought is to go back to the city, buy and live in the house overlooking the water. I then gave some real thoughts about it. We’ve been somewhat there. We lived in a neighborhood surrounded by million dollar homes. Our son attended his first toddler class in this neighborhood. We attended a fundraising event that auctioned an “art” made by a toddler for thousands of dollars. It’s insane! We have a fairly high income and can definitely be part of the crowd, but it is not “us”. After 6 months of tracking our expenses post retirement, I can tell that we are definitely not part of that crowd and I’m happy with that.

I started this new year turning a year older this January. I’m not sure how this will unfold. I do know that flexibility is the key on sustaining this early retirement lifestyle while parenting our two toddler. I’ll still have goals, but I will just be ok if majority of it never happened. That is the beauty of retiring early, having that flexibility to stop when needed.

EARLY RETIREMENT SPENDING – DECEMBER 2019

December is quite the opposite of November in terms of our spending. If November is low, December is high and the highest since we retired. This is expected because of the holidays.

In December 2019, we spent $8,748.80

Gifts

It is the holidays and the highest line items we have is our holiday gifts specifically for my family. It is a tradition in our family for the kids to give parents cash during Christmas, once the kids are independent, have a job and out of the family house. My older sister and I have been doing this since we graduated from college and start earning real money. I’ve increased the amount significantly since we had MBP. My parents have done so much to help us without expecting in return. Since we have some surplus, it just make sense to me to give some to them.

Health Insurance and Medical Expenses

Next line item is health insurance and medical expenses. This is the last month that we are paying COBRA and I expect this line item to go down considerably this year. We paid some drugs and doctor’s fee as part of our deductible. The good news is the I hit my out of pocket expense and was able to get a Willow pump fully covered by my insurance. I don’t think they fully covered this kind of pump since it is considered out of network, bus since I hit my out of pocket, they fully covered. I have to pay for the accessories, but the pump alone cost $464.2

iPhone 11 and a King Mattress

After contemplating for many months (even years) to upgrade my phone, I finally gave in and bought a new iPhone 11. I’ve had my iPhone 6 for 4 years. The memory doesn’t have enough capacity to hold the OS upgrades, my videos and my pictures. I use my phone as a camera to take pictures and video of MBP and I’m happy with this upgrade, considering that I use it everyday.

Another purchase this month is a king size mattress. We actually purchased one in Costco back in August but ended up returning it because it caused some back pain. I need a softer mattress to provide support as I am a side sleeper. I gambled and bought a Serta mattress online. It was on sale as part of the cyber monday. It’s been good so far and I’m planning to keep it.

A new Christmas Tree, Christmas Cards and Other Items

I also bought a new, unlit Christmas Tree. We donated my old 6.5 ft, pre-lit Christmas Tree that I got in 2009 for $25 at Walmart when we moved to this house. I’ve been telling myself that I want a new one since the old one really doesn’t have any leaves and just look sad. Considering that I bought it for so cheap, I can’t really expect anything more. The tree cost $168.94 on Amazon. My mom gave me all her red ornaments. She has a different theme every year and has been collecting ornaments since I can remember. I even got some ornaments that was from Manila. I still need to buy some lights for next year.

My Mom’s Christmas Tree

I also sent out 19 Christmas Cards on December 26th. I was late, I know, but I can’t get a good photo of the family. We finally got one from the actual Christmas Day. I went to Canva and design a card and printed 20 in FedEx. It actually cost more to print it than to order the cards online, but I want it to go out that day and not wait for shipping, so I suck it up. My husband got the envelopes and the stamps and the card went out that day. I’ll try not to procrastinate next year.

Our other items includes annual car registration for my 2011 Volkswagen Jetta, LED lights and about a dozen plain T-shirts for my husband.

And here’s our expenses for December 2019

DescriptionAmountComments
Christmas Gifts 2,211.26
Health Insurance 1,387.24 Last month under Cobra
Electronics & Software934.47iPhone
Furnishings849.96Matress
Groceries668.05
529 College Fund400.00
Pharmacy356.66Co pay for my progesterone shots
Doctor262.48Co pay for my husband's Dr's appointment
Utilities259.46This includes water, sewer, electric and gas
Shopping251.37A new 7.5 ft unlit Christmas tree and miscelaneous items from Amazon.
Restaurants163.16
Auto & Transport126.25Car registration for my 2010 Volkswagen Jetta
Household Supplies117.33We bought some 2 prong LED lights, wok and other items
Gym115.00Our last month of Y membership. We don't go enough to warrant paying for the monthly fee
Gift100.00Family birthday gifts
Gas & Fuel72.49
Clothing69.95About a dozen colored t-shirts for my husband from Hanes
Pet Food & Supplies68.81
HOA Dues68.25
Garbage61.75This should probably be included in the utilities above
Internet49.95
Baby Supplies46.44Bottles for my new pump
Christmas Cards30.17I printed about 20 christmas cards at Fedex
Lotion21.99
Fast Food18.97
Mobile Phone16.71
Christmas Shopping15.63
Library Fees5.00I put some money to print out items in the library.
Grand Total 8,748.80

Early Retirement Spending – November 2019

November is surprisingly an inexpensive month for us. Most of what we buy are starting to become a routine, with the exception of those one time expenses.

Our November Spending is $3,512.61

Health Care

Health insurance is still the biggest expense for this month and will continued on until December. With our projected low income next year, my research suggest that we will received a substantial subsidy for our health insurance. I’m still finalizing the details of our next year’s insurance. To that note, I maxed out my out of pocket expense this month. I have a maximum out of pocket expense of $3k for the plan year. My health insurance is covered through March until it resets for another year. In theory, I can keep this until February to cover for all child birth expenses. This is part of the reason that I’m still finalizing our insurance for next year. We also have to buy some iron and vitamin c supplements. My 28 week blood draw showed that I am slightly anemic.

Food

Groceries are surprisingly cheap considering that we hosted Thanksgiving for 8 people. We kept it simple with Turkey, mashed potatoes, cranberry and rolls with pumpkin pie for dessert. We also bought some beer for the occasion. My father received either a free turkey or ham from his work. My family is not a fan of turkey, but since this is one of the rare times that we are in town and celebrating Thanksgiving, he asked for a Turkey and gave it to us to cook. My husband cooked all Thanksgiving food and my parents brought some traditional Filipino food. Everyone enjoyed a wonderful meal while watching football and MBP singing “You Are My Sunshine” with his Ukelele.

Our festive Thanksgiving Meal

Our eating out is limited as well. There’s just no good restaurants in the area. MBP is pretty happy with Costco/ Food Court and Happy Meal food. I really miss the restaurants in Seattle, especially the Dimsum places that MBP loves.

Utilities

Our utilities are low because our garbage and water bill are paid every two months. We only have to pay for sewer, electric and gas for this month. The change in weather definitely reflected in our gas bill since we are heating more. It is still cheaper than our old oil furnace in our old house in Seattle. Our Electric and Internet remain constant for the most part. Our cell phone bills from Xfinity for 2 lines is still $18.24. This is very low since we never go over 1 GB of data.

Gym

We are still a member of the Y. MBP is still enrolled on swim lessons twice a week and gymnastics on Saturdays. This is something that we’re evaluating since we’ve missed some classes. For now, it will be in auto pay. MBP still goes at least twice a week, so we will see.

Kids

The only expense that MBP added this month is his class photo for $35. Other than that, we didn’t have to buy him anything aside from food of course!

December will most likely double this with presents and some other “one-time” expenses. So far though, we’re happy with the November expenses and surprised on how low it is, considering.

And here’s our expenses for the month of November

DescriptionAmountComments
Health Insurance 1,387.24 A couple more months in COBRA.
Groceries589.24
529 College Fund400.00I put this as an "expense" since it is alloted to MBP's college fund.
Doctor255.98Some more doctor bills
Utilities155.04Only Gas, Electric and Sewer are paid this month
Gym115.00
Shopping89.86We bought some external hard drive and some other stuff
Gas & Fuel83.65
HOA Dues68.25
Pharmacy58.61Iron and Vitamin Supplements + Laxatives
Internet49.95
Education49.00My Ethics class for my continuing education requirement to remain a CPA
Household Supplies37.15Anything else aside from Groceries
Kids35.00MBP's class photo. Cost 50% less than in Seattle
Restaurants26.08Food Court
Alcohol & Bars24.88Thanksgiving Beverage
Fast Food19.18Happy Meal
Mobile Phone18.242 lines from Xfinity Mobile
Hobbies17.99Another domain name that should have been expired
Pet Food & Supplies16.38
Makeup/Toiletries6.29
Books & Supplies5.04I paid a fine from the library
Gift3.99Wedding Card
Electronics and Software0.57AWS monhly fee to host this blog, which is sooo cheap!
Grand Total 3,512.61

Tell me, how was your November?

5 Books for your Toddler

It’s the holidays and you are searching for that elusive books that your toddler/niece/nephew or any other kid will love. Books that you are hoping that they don’t already own because you want to be a pretty cool caregiver.

Here are the top 5 books that MBP loves. We discovered these from the library. He loves it so much that we started giving it out as gifts for our friend’s kids. It was a hit.

5 books for your toddler

  1. Go Go Go Stop! – The picture books thought my toddler the meaning of green, red and yellow.

2. My Friend Robot – Sing along song that also teaches the concept of Simple Machines.

3. Roadwork – This is a fun picture book with all the trucks and a story on how to build a road.

4. If I Built A Car – I myself enjoy this picture book. It is very imaginative for your little inventor.

5. Whose Truck – Your toddler will learn the function of trucks that they see on the road.

How to sell your wedding dress online

I bought a used wedding gown and paid more than 70 percent off the original price. I eventually sold it for half the cost after I used it a year later. There are many reasons to sell the gown aside from an extra income. Personally, I wouldn’t want to keep a fabulous garment in a closet. I would love to see the gown used by another bride again and pass the savings.  

I bought my gown for $436 including shipping. I sold it for $270. I spent $15.69 to ship it and $30 to list it at preownedwedding dress. Below are the steps I took to sell it online.

How to sell your wedding dress online

Step 1: Know your size the day of your wedding. This is an important detail because you will use it when you list the gown. Measure yourself and take note of it before you go on a honeymoon so it’s handy.

Step 2: Ask your photographer to take a photo of the gown by itself. A professional image can add value to the actual price of the gown. Take some photo with yourself as well. Seeing it on a person can give buyers ideas or fit.

Step 3: Clean your gown, either professionally or yourself. I personally put my wedding gown on a wash and follow these steps. For those that are scared, have it professionally dry clean. If you dry clean it, keep the receipt.

Step  4: List it as soon as possible. This can be hard for some. Who doesn’t want to look at their wedding gowns and be reminded of their special day. If you wait, you might find yourself staring at it in your closet 5 years later and the value of the gown DO NOT appreciate.

Step 5: List on multiple sites or on a consignment store. Before listing it, I send some photos to my local consignment stores of the wedding gown. I prefer to sell it locally, but the shop didn’t accept it. I then listed on ebay and preownedweddingdress.com. Preowned wedding dress charge a $25 fee to list the dress.  If you sell on ebay take note that they charge a selling fee. This fee includes the shipping cost.

Step 6: List as much information as you can. This includes, the gown size, the street size you typically wear, your measurements when you wore the gown as noted on Step #1. The location of the wedding. An outdoor wedding typically means the gown is dirtier. Include the designer, fabric and the style of the gown. 

Step 7: Price it well. I initially price my gown for $400. I searched through the site and it has a comparable price. I waited for about 6 months and I still don’t have any leads. I slash the price for $270

Step 8: Promote the gown. Post the link on facebook. I paid an additional $5 to promote the gown on preowned wedding dress. It’s totally worth it because I received 5 leads in a week and sold my gown during the same week. 

The Cost of a NICU stay

November is prematurity awareness month. According to March For Dimes “the preterm birth rate in the United States has worsened for a third year, rising to 9.93 percent in 2017. Premature birth and its complications are the largest contributors to infant death in this country and globally.”

MBP was born prematurely at 28 weeks and 5 days. Every parent will never forget the day that their kid was born. I will never forget that day and the 74 days in NICU after that.

I’m not going to discuss the emotional trauma that every parent that step in the NICU get – that warrants an entire separate post. I’m going to discussed about the financial implication of a NICU stay.

Direct Medical Cost

We were fortunate to have a great insurance that covered the entire cost of MBP’s stay and the post care that he needed a year after. In WA state, a child is eligible of medicaid regardless of parent’s income if his/her hospital stay exceeds 30 consecutive days. MBP received Medicaid as a secondary insurance. That said, the payment billed on Medicaid is very minimal since I reached my deductible when I gave birth.

The total claims for MBP’s first year of medical expenses is $1,050,098.31. Yes, IT IS OVER A MILLION. It is not a typo. His primary insurance paid $352,293.52 and Medicaid paid $693.89. These are for 195 total claims that was processed.

Insurance gets massive discounts on these claims. This is the time that I’m so grateful to my former employer for providing good health coverage. My insurance even called me after MBP was discharged just to check on him and ensure that we are getting the care we needed.

Indirect Expenses

There are other costs associated to NICU stay other than the actual medical expenses. Funny that we actually spent more on them than the direct medical expenses.

  1. Lodging – Some families don’t live close to the hospital. We were lucky to live in a state that has a Level 4 NICU. I was lucky to deliver my kid in the same hospital and don’t need to fly him from other states. I know other families that have to deal with it.
  2. Transportation – We paid $200/month for monthly parking. The hospital is close to downtown Seattle. When you’re dealing with a NICU stay, finding parking is the least you care about. We were also in an out during the day, delivering the milk that I pumped. We paid $600 in total since MBP was in the NICU for 2.5 months. It’s funny that we pay more for parking than the actual medical cost since it was covered by Medicaid.
  3. Food / Eating out – I didn’t even track this, but I know we had a lot of take outs. I went back to work a couple of weeks after giving birth to save my maternity leave once MBP is discharge. There’s just no time to prep food, between pumping, working, driving in and out of the hospital and a lot and lots and lots of crying.

Healthcare is Important for Early Retiree

We can talk about probability. Statistically, 90% of pregnant women will have a full term pregnancy. They will never have to worry about the high cost of a NICU stay. But if you’re one of the minority group in the 10%, you are out of luck. I talked about Medicaid kicking in after 30 days. Some parents in the hospital actually wants this to happen just so they can afford healthcare. The claims of MBP’s first 30 days, just for the hospital stay is abut $200K. My overall out of pocket expense was $4k at the time and I paid less than that because MBP’s secondary insurance kicked in.

Early Retirement Spending – October 2019

It’s been 4 months since early retirement, but it feels like ages ago. Our spending still varies quite a bit month per month. There seems to be a one time expense almost every month. We were busy this October with the Halloween festivities. MBP enjoyed trick or treating and we went to 3 events – 1 for our neighborhood, 1 for his Co-op and 1 for the actual night. He won the best costume contest for our neighborhood based on facebook likes and received a $75 Target gift card. He still have some gift cards from his birthday that we haven’t used.

Our October Spending: 8,005.43

Property Taxes

Our biggest line item for this month is the second half of our property tax. This isn’t bad compared to what we used to pay in Seattle. Our escrow officer warned us that the county might not mail our bill directly, since they do it once a year. He was correct. I called the county to ask for the bill. That conversation went like this:

Me: Hi, we just purchased our home last April and I want to make sure we pay our property tax on time so we don’t incur any fines

County: Don’t worry, your mortgage company knows it and will pay it through escrow

Me: We don’t have a mortgage. We paid our house in full so we don’t have an escrow account

County: Oh, uhmm, let me put you on hold. (hold for a couple of minutes). Ok, I will send you the bill.

It’s so obvious that it’s very rare for them to get this kind of phone call. They sorted it out and I got the bill and sent the check the next day.

Pregnancy Related Expense

I got some scary news once I hit my 22nd week of pregnancy. I started feeling some contractions in the beginning of my second trimester. Given that MBP was born really early, I’m trying to be cautious as much as I can and listen more to my body. That week, my biweekly cervix scan showed some bad reading. It looks like there was a funneling in my cervix that also looks like a dilation. I needed to have a consult with maternal fetal medical (MFM) as they specialize on high risk pregnancy. I was probably a bit paranoid that week that I went back to my OB 2 days later because I was really concern with the contractions and my OB was also cautious. That turned out ok. I am now being a couch potato. I also make sure that every contraction stop when I move / change positions to make sure that it is just Braxton Hicks. Unfortunately, there’s very little research done on premature birth. My MFM basically just told me to take what I feel seriously and go to triage if I feel that I need to be seen. Expense wise, since I already hit my deductible I paid very little for my co-pay visit. I am also taking a weekly shot that caused 2K/month. My copay is a little over $250 and I paid for 2 months for that. My husband got a crash course from the nurse to give shots so I don’t need to drive to the clinic every week. At this rate, I’m pretty sure that I will hit my out of pocket expense by this month.

Other spending increase

Aside from the property taxes and health care, out utilities also increased given that we started heating. Our thermostat is set at 68 during daytime and 56 at night. I also started eating more, and get hungry in the middle of the night and this reflects in our grocery budget. My go to snack at night are cliff bars. We’re discovering more and more of the area and ate out a couple of times. Since we drove to my doctor twice a week the last two weeks, our gas is also fairly high. I also drove to Seattle and paid for parking to attend Cents Positive which has been a great experience!

On Budgeting

We still don’t budget. I never budgeted per line item on my entire adult life. I just really keep an eye on my total expense. Without the property taxes, we are pretty close to our expenses last month.

We track our spending and net worth using Personal Capital. We use credit cards every time we can in combination of Chase Sapphire for travel and dining, Amazon Prime Card for Amazon purchases and Fidelity Investments Credit Card for everything else. I also recently applied for a Costco Visa Card since Costco is our nearest grocery store and we purchased our gas there.

I highly recommend using some sort of tracking mechanism to track your spending. Credit cards are good to use if you can pay it off every month

And here’s our expenses for the month of October

DescriptionAmountComments
Property Tax 2,811.14
Health Insurance 1,387.24 COBRA for the whole family
Groceries713.40
Pharmacy615.28The progesterone shots that I have to take from week 16 - 36 of my pregnancy
529 College Fund400.00
Utilities289.30Electric, Sewer, Gas and Water
Hotel179.00My little sister will graduate this May and we booked our hotel in advance
Restaurants156.513 trips to retaurants for the family
Gas & Fuel152.21
Preschool Tuition143.42A full year tuition for the community college that is required for ourcoop
Doctor128.97
Baby Supplies117.35This probably should say kids supply
Gym115.00YMCA membership. MBP takes swim classes here twice a week
Arts115.00Membership to the children's museum
Service Fee95.00Credit card fee for Chase Sapphire
Home Improvement90.50We bought a leaf blower / vaccum
Pet Food & Supplies69.94Food for the spoiled furbaby
HOA Dues68.25
Hockey60.00
Shopping50.39
Internet49.95
Parking45.37Parking for the Cents positive in Seattle
Pet Medical38.00Some medicine for the furbaby
Household Supplies32.77
Tolls30.00This is an automatic refill of our toll pass
Gift20.65Another 2 year old bday party
Mobile Phone18.24
Service & Parts12.00
Electronics & Software0.55Blog hosting fee (yes, it's this cheap via AWS)
Total 8,005.43