Free Printable DIY Recipe Card

I realized that I’ve been tackling some projects almost every month since early retirement. On month 1, I repaired 47 Bumgenius Cloth Diaper Elastics. On month 2, I digitized our filing cabinet and got rid of more than half the paper in my filing box. This month, I created a recipe card for our favorite meals.

Old Recipe cards

Our old recipe cards are handwritten on a left over card stocks that we used for our wedding. We bought a rim at that time and still have a lot of left over. I cut it in half and wrote some of our favorite recipes. My husband, who cooked most of our meal also wrote down some recipes. Most of the recipes are found online, but tweak specifically to our liking. We will only wrote the recipes that we actually like. Having it printed on a hard copy is a lot easier than looking at our phones/tablet while cooking. In time these recipe cards have been spilled on. We also stopped adding to it and find ourselves missing the recipe that was used for certain food, if we need to re-create it.

Handwritten recipe cards

New Recipe Cards

You can find many free printable recipe cards online or purchase one from Etsy. You can even get one for free and editable. For these recipe cards, I decided to type it. There is some nostalgia in handwritten recipe cards, but it is useless if you can’t read it. For example, I have a very small handwriting and sometimes my husband complains that he can’t read it. As for him, well his hands get tired of writing down the recipes (and look above for his handwriting). I also think that it is easier to pass along a digital recipe, or print it out for someone.

Personalized Recipe Card
Our new DIY Recipe Card

The Recipe Card

For this recipe card, I used MAC pages as a template. This is the MS word version of MAC but I find that they have better fonts and card template that I can easily use. I ended up using a template for a moving post card template.

Card Templates
MAC Pages Card Template

This will give me 2 cards per sheets. I changed the text, deleted pictures, added more text boxes and typed up our names. I typed up our current recipes and personalized our names. I then printed it on our stock cards. I specifically use a black and white template since we only have a black and white printer.

My plan is to keep it on stock cards so we can still write on it if needed. There might be some variation of the recipe that we want to tweak as it goes along. This will add the personality to it. We don’t have a recipe box either. I don’t want to add anything on our counter top. Our recipe cards are store in one of the drawers in the kitchen.

New Personalized Card
Screenshot of the personalized recipe card

You can download the recipe card here.

It will open in MS Word and you can edit it as you see fit. Enjoy!

Early Retirement Spending – September 2019

I’m going to start logging our monthly household spending, now that we completed 3 months of early retirement. We track our spending pre-retirement and have some idea of our monthly spending, but it would be good to see the actual numbers, now that we have a somewhat different lifestyle.

Early Retirement Spending

Some Background

Our journey to FIRE is short, 1 year and 8 months in total. My husband went back to work after his parental leave. He came home and started talking about early retirement blog that he discovered. That was October 2017. I was excited because I’ve been reading those blogs that he mentioned since I graduated from college. GE Miller from 20Somethingfinance.com helped me pay off my student loan debt quickly. I’m always a firm believer of FI, but never thought that I would trigger early retirement, until I did at age 33. My husband is 37. Our last day of W2 employment was July 1, 2019.

Retiring to something

We don’t hate our jobs. There are a lot of good things about it. My husband met most of his friends in Seattle as an Intern at Microsoft. He stayed at this company until he retired. I was happy at work and was in management position when I left. The year before my retirement was one of the best years. I produced more than I thought, being a working mom. But we know that we are missing the best (or the worst?) years of our first kid. Life move to a completely different direction when he was born. Add another factor that he was born prematurely. We know that we want to spend more time with our son while he actually ask for us. We are now both full time parents, which takes a TON of time and honestly, harder than our previous jobs.

A Very Short Planning

There are pros and cons of short time frame to FIRE. I’ve never read a blog with a shorter timeline as ours. The number 1 pro is that it is short, we’re really just trying to be conservative with our FI number, but we could have retired that same day. The cons, which I discovered a month before retirement, there’s more to early retirement than just a number. Retirement is a significant milestone, mostly done at 60s. There are some data suggesting that folks that retired early actually have a shorter life span. I know some individuals that retired only to go back to work after a year. My hope is that it is not me, but if it is, I’m ok with that. Aside from being a full time parent, and growing our family, I don’t really have a plan. I’m taking this time to slow down, getting to know myself and practicing self care.

Our September Spending: $5,600.33

Healthcare

Our biggest expense, as we expected is healthcare. We are in COBRA until the end of the year and it cost $1,387.24 / month. Talk about a very expensive healthcare. I am also pregnant with kiddo #2, and pay for OB visits, labs, ultrasounds and weekly shots. I’m on a high risk pregnancy, so I’m taking weekly shots and have biweekly ultra sound. I also see my OB every two weeks. My insurance is separate from MBP and my husband, since I already covered my deductible and it would be cheaper to have mine solo.

Annual / Semi Annual expenses

September also hit some annual and semi-annual expenses. I prepaid MBP’s preschool tuition, paid our car insurance for the next 6 months and my husband pay his hockey league fee. We cash flow this expenses and also expect that there will always be one time expense almost every month. It would be interesting to see our average expense after a year.

Food

Food is surprisingly cheap! It’s probably because we are planning our meals, started doing groceries at WINCO and Costco. We haven’t found a decent restaurant near the area. We used to go out or have take outs often. It will be nice if this is consistent, but will probably go up.

On Budgeting

We don’t set a monthly budget. We have some target on our annual spending so we don’t spend more than the 4% rule. However, if we find that we need more, then we will most likely go back to work.

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 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 September

DescriptionAmountComments
Health Insurance801Cobra for MBP and my husband. Mine was logged in August, but should be an additional 586.24
Hockey759.35My husband plays ice hockey and this is the fee for the season
Groceries548.17Surprisingly not bad
Preschool Tuition526.5Annual tuiition for MBP's preschool
529 College Fund400Monthly transfer to MBP's 529 College Fund
Service & Parts323.43Our prius had a flat tire and we changed two tires. Also includes the change oil
Auto Insurance317.266 month insurance for our Prius and VW Jetta
Veterinary194Annual exam for our furbaby dog
Doctor187.81Monthly fee for my OB in addition to insurance cost
Shopping140.77??? This consist of 8 transactions. 4 from Amazon, 2 from Costco, 1 from Walmart and 1 from TJ Maxx. I'm sure Amazon and Costco aren't categorized properly.
Utilities123.39Electric, Gas and Sewer Bill
Gym103.5YMCA membership
HOA Dues68.25Monthly HOA Fee
Water/Sewer/Garbage63.39Garbage fee
Gas & Fuel61.19Gas
Subscription60Our Costco membership renewal
Internet49.95
Restaurants92.61Fair Food + a take out
Baby Supplies39.33Diaper
Gift31.99Gift to our neighbor kid and nephew
Coffee Shops22.68Starbucks Gift Card refill + brewed coffee
Household Supplies20.75These are the household supplies from Costco
Pet Food & Supplies20.38Treats for our spoiled dog
Charity20Boy scout knocked on our door, selling popcorn. We didn't buy the popcorn but gave them $20 for donation
Home Improvement19.65Items in Lowes
Cell Phone18.24Really cheap cell plan for 2 lines through Xfinity Mobile
Parking0.5Street Parking in Seattle
Total5014.09
Add Insurance that was logged in August5600.33

Xfinity Mobile Review 2019

My husband and I switched to Xfinity mobile a month before our early retirement. We were fairly happy with our old plan in T-mobile, but we don’t get coverage in the new house. Verizon have a new cell tower in the area and have great coverage.

Xfinity

Pre Early Retirement Cell Plan

I’ve been a T-mobile customer since 2012. My plan was the cheapest plan. T-mobile actually stopped advertising it. I was on a prepaid plan. I received, unlimited data, unlimited text and 100 minutes per month. I was paying 33.98 per month, tax inclusive. My husband moved in with me in 2014, he switched from Verizon to this same plan. HIs bill went down from $60+ to $33.98. At that time, T-mobile only sell this plan through Walmart. They don’t advertise it. I can’t even find this plan on their website. So since 2014, we were paying $67.96/month for our cell plan.

Discovering Xfinity Mobile

We found out about Xfinity Mobile as recommended by our neighborhood page group. Everyone says good things about it, which surprised me — because you know it is Comcast. I’ve been a Comcast customer because I don’t have a choice – it’s the only provider that gives decent speed in our area. I’m only paying for internet. We don’t have a cable and our phone is through Google which is a one time cost. I don’t want to bundle another product with Xfinity, so I had my doubts.

What is Xfinity Mobile?

Xfinity Mobile is a Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNO) operated through Verizon Networks. Verizon have a better coverage than T-mobile, according to review.org. This is already an upgrade for us. Customers are also automatically connected through Xfinity Hotspots. Their plan is only available if you are an existing Xfinity Customers.

Our plan

Xfinity mobile plans allows us to share data and pay only for the data we used. 1GB starts at $12 per month. We are retired, so we are not planning to use much data. We use wifi most of the time or use Xfinity Mobile Hotspots. We were using 2GB pre-retirement. This slowly went down to 1.5 GB to less than 1 after retirement. Our bill ranged from $40 – $19. Our last bill came in at $18.24 including fees for 2 lines, using .77 GB of data. We can save 49.72/month if we really want to cap our usage to 1GB. Even if we go on the high end of 2GB, we are still saving money compared to our previous bill.

Other Deals

Xfinity Mobile were offering customers $100 prepaid debit card if you bring in your iPhone. My iPhone is unlocked and it was a breeze to bring in the phone. My husband’s phone is an Android phone, owned by his former employer. We either have to get a phone through Xfinity if he wants to keep his Android or get an iPhone. My sister has an old iPhone with crack screen. She gave it to us for free and it cost $97.99 to get it repaired. We unlocked the phone and port my husbands number to Xfinity. We also received another $100 prepaid debit card as part of the offer.

Savings

We have saved 345.53 for 4 months of usage, including the offer that we were able to avail. I’ve been pretty happy with the service and pleasantly surprised with the coverage, especially the hotspots.

MonthT-Mobile PlanXfinity Mobile# GB used
Month 167.9639.162.34
Month 267.9639.162.64
Month 367.9629.751.34
Month 467.9618.240.77
Total271.84126.31

One Time Deal: $200

Total Savings: $345.53

Surprisingly, I recommend Xfinity Mobile, if you are looking to lower your cost and do not need much data.

Cloth Diapers vs Disposable Diaper – over $500 savings in 2 years

We have been using cloth diapers just a little over 2 years. I wrote an article about how we spent $230 to purchase 63 used BumGenius cloth diapers, saving us about $1300 if we bought it new. With my analysis below, we saved over $500 in 2 years by using these cloth diapers MBP.

Cloth Diapers Vs Disposable Diapers 2 year cost analysis

Hybrid Cloth Diapering

We don’t use cloth diaper exclusively. When MBP turned 18 months, we started using disposables at night. My goal is to go back to using cloth diapers at night, but it is just easier to use disposables. We also uses disposable diaper when we’re on vacation and whenever we have to go out for more than 2.5 hours. It is more convenient to pack disposable diapers. I spent $130 on disposable diapers so far. During the first month, I received a $100 credit from Amazon by using their baby registry. You can only used this for diaper related item. I got the newborn and size 1 diaper and 9 packs of baby wipes for free

Washing Method

We washes cloth diapers every 3 days. We uses 47 BumGenius pockets diapers. Our laundry typically have 24 cloth diapers coming out of the wash. We wash twice, one on lite with no detergent and one on extra heavy with detergent, both on cold. We uses Tide Original HE Powder to wash the cloth diapers. The inserts are dried using the dryer and the shells are line dry. All our appliances are also electric. Our bill went up by about $5 – $7 per month. I used $7 increase in utilities for this assumption. In theory, this increase is not just for the cloth diapers. We also wash more just by the fact that we added an additional person in the family who uses clothes.

Diaper Wipes

We also used cloth diaper wipes. I made these wipes out of a 10 year old queen fitted sheets and 3 pillow cases. The sheets are 100% cotton but has been beaten up over the number of years used. It cost me about $5 for the thread.

Diaper Pail

We have one Dekor diaper pail and 2 Dekor diaper pail liner. I bought it new and cost us $29.95 for the pail and $19.69 for the liner.

Cream / Oil

We uses coconut oil instead of cream. Sometimes, when MBP has a rash we also uses Desitin. The Desitin is free from the NICU, when MBP was discharged. We still have these up to now. I didn’t include this in the calculation.

Disposables Comparison Factor

I used the Costco diaper and wipes for this analysis. I used these because this is where we get our diapers. Using this calculation, there will be excess diaper. In my opinion this is realistic in our situation, because we err on the side of changing more often. We will keep this excess for kiddo #2 or give it away

On Year 1, we changed MBP’s diaper 7 times on average. A LOT more on the first 6 months until he was sleeping through the night. He was only on size 1 for the first 3 months and we upped a size to size 2 up until 10 months and we upped to size 3.

Disposable DiaperPriceQty Total# of changes(# of changes / ct)
Size 1 (192 ct), up to 14 lbs29.994119.966303.28
Size 2 (174 ct) (12-18 lbs)29.999269.9115058.65
Size 3 (198 ct) (16 - 28 lbs)35.99224202.12
Diaper wipes (900 wipes) 19.99359.9721352.37
Diaper Liner26.99253.98
Total575.8

On Year 2, we changed MBP’s diaper 6 times. We changed his cloth diaper every 2.5 – 3 hours during the day and triple the liner or put him on disposable at night.

Disposable DiaperPriceQty Total# of changes(# of changes / ct)
Size 3 (198 ct) (16 - 28 lbs)35.996215.9410955.53
Size 4 (180 ct) (22-37 lbs)35.997251.9310956.08
Diaper wipes (900 wipes) 19.99359.9721902.43
Diaper Liner26.99253.98
Total581.82

Comparison

Using the factors I mentioned above, we saved $504.74 by using cloth diapers. We could save more if we use cloth diapers exclusively. These cloth diapers are still holding up well and ready for kiddo #2.

Year 1Cloth DiaperDisposable Diaper (costco price)
Cloth Diaper229.780
Cloth Wipes50
Cloth diaper sprayer29.990
Disposable Diaper55.44461.85
Disposable Wipes059.97
Diaper liner refill19.6953.98
Detergent36.50
Utilities840
TOTAL460.4575.8
Year 2 Cloth DiaperDisposable Diaper
Cloth Diaper00
Cloth Wipes00
Disposable Diaper71.98467.87
Disposable Wipes059.97
Diaper liner refill053.98
Detergent36.50
Utilities840
TOTAL192.48581.82
 Cloth DiaperDisposable Diaper
Total Cost652.881157.62
Savings504.74

Other reason to choose cloth diapers

The cost is just one of the reason we choose to use cloth diaper. Disposable diaper sits in the landfill for 500 years. We are lessening our carbon footprint by using cloth diaper.

Do you use cloth diapers? How much did you save?

How to Save Money on Cloth Diaper

We have used cloth diapers for 2 years now. MBP was discharged from the NICU by end of August, but we didn’t start him on cloth diapers until September. I waited until he is big enough to use a one size cloth diaper so we don’t have to buy a new born cloth diaper.

What is a cloth diaper?

Cloth diaper is just what it say, a “cloth” diaper. I remember when my little sister was born, she used a flat cotton cloth and we will use safety pins to secure it to her. We then used another water repellant shell, which is called a PUL to keep the liquid in. This was the only cloth diaper that I knew existed back then.

I was overwhelmed when I started researching about cloth diapers before MBP was born. There are so many types and brands to choose from. The cost can be significant, depending on the type you choose.

Cloth Diapers are soo cute!

One Size Pocket Diapers

I tried 2 kinds and 3 different brands of cloth diaper. I tried 2 brands of one size pocket diapers – BumGenius and Fuzzibunz. I also bought Clotheez prefold diaper which is the traditonal flat cloth but the middle section is a more absorbent layer. You need to use an outer shell for these type of cloth diaper. Just a couple of days into it, I knew that we will stick with the pockets. My husband prefer the Bumgenius over Fuzzibunz. He also prefer the velcro vs snaps because it is easier to fit to the baby.

I got my cloth diapers in 3 ways:

  • Free from our local Facebook Cloth Diapering Group
  • Used also from Facebook Marketplace
  • Green Mountain Diapers for the fitted cloth diaper

Getting Cloth Diapers for Free

Cloth diaper is very popular in Seattle. There is a dedicated facebook group where you can buy and sell used cloth diapers. You can also ask any questions to members related to cloth diapers. I’ve seen range of questions from cleaning cloth diapers, traveling with cloth diapers, rashes and fit. I was lucky and received 20 Bum Genius 3.0 from this group. The cloth diapers was used for 18 months by one kid. The elastics needed some repair when I received it. Luckily it wasn’t hard to replace. I also received 2 Planet Dry wet / dry bags.

You can also check out your local Buy Nothing Group. I received 12 Fuzzi bunz cloth diaper. It didn’t have an insert but the PUL is still in great shape. Just like the Bum Genius, I have to replace the elastics for these diapers.

You can also go to The Cloth Option, which is a non-profit organization that provides cloth diaper to those that needs assistance.

Getting Cloth Diapers Used

I bought mine from 2 sellers in our local FB marketplace. I bought 27 Bumgenius 4.0 for $150. The lady who sold it to me used it for 6 months. She lives in an apartment with shared laundry and it became difficult for her to wash it. These are in great condition and I didn’t have to change any elastics. I also bought 16 Bumgenius 1.0 for $40. It was used by one kid 6 years ago and was just stored in her closet. I didn’t end up using it because I have more than enough to rotate in the stash.

The total cost of my “new to me” cloth diapers is $190. Which cost about $4.5 per diaper.

New To Me cloth diaper

Getting Cloth Diapers New

Cloth Diapers can be expensive. An individual BumGenius is priced at $21.95. You can get a discount if you buy in a bundle at $20.55 per diaper. I bought a dozen of Cloth-eez Prefold Diapers for $33.95. I used this as an insert for the Fuzzibunz when we were still trying to determine between Bumgenius and Fuzzibunz based on the free cloth diapers we received. We ended up liking Bum Genius. I sold this same diaper on eBay for $26.

Total Cost of getting the diapers free and used: $229.78

  • $197.95 for the 63 cloth diapers
  • $31.83 for the elastics, cleaning supplies and shipping fee

Total Cost of getting the diapers new at current price of $20.55: $1294.65

Savings: $1064.87

The cost to visit the Washington State Fair

We visited the Washington State Fair this month. One of the greatest gift of retirement is a gift of time. We visited on a Monday after MBP’s nap. We didn’t have to fight over long lines. We also live fairly close to the fair, so it didn’t take us much time to go there. This was only my second time visiting the fair since living in the Pacific NW for 17 years. The total cost for an afternoon visit with a toddler was $50.31.

Here’s the breakdown of what we did and what we spent on:

Admission / Parking – $10

My husband received an educator ticket since he is volunteering to teach CS in a local high school. One of the volunteers haven’t shown up so he received another one. Children under 5 are free so MBP is free. Our overall admission cost comes down to zero. Regular adult admission ticket is $14. You can plan well in advance to get a discounted ticket on some local stores before the fair open. I also saw quite a few tickets that was gifted through our local buy nothing group by the last week of the fair.

We drove to the fair and parked at the nearest parking lot closed to the farm animals / petting zoo. Parking on weekdays is $10.

Rides / Attractions – $10

We knew that MBP is not tall enough for most of the rides, even the kiddie ones, so we went to the fair mainly for the animals. I was pleasantly surprised with the Sillyville farm, which offers a “farmer for a day” experience in a 1.5-acre farm area and teaches kids farming concepts. MBP is too little to understand the farming concept, but he was given a lunchbox where he can collect milk, eggs, wheat and vegetables on each station. He then exchange his haul in the farmers market and was a given a snack for his “work”. This was free and I’m sure we will visit it again next year when we visit the fair.

We saw a carousel with real ponies and ask MBP if he wants to ride it. Of course he does.!! It cost $10. I was surprised that he wasn’t scared of the pony. He keep on “neighing” and shouting “horsy” the whole ride. He rode a pony named Max, which is also MBP’s first name.

We then spend the rest of our time in the fair farm where MBP got to pet some goats, rabbits chicks, sheep and more. We have to keep reminding MBP to be gentle, but all of the animals doesn’t seem to care about it. I was scared that the goat might kick him at some point. I grew up in the city all my life so seeing these farm animals are a novelty to me. This entertainment is free as well.

MBP was super entertained with a booth that sells bubbles that we just stayed there for a bit. He also walked quite a bit, splashing one puddle to the next. Things that entertained a toddler really are free.

Food – $30.31

I didn’t get to eat a lot of fair food, except for the elephant ear. I was just craving for some chicken and fries. MBP and my husband had some corndogs. Total cost for food is $30.31.

Will we go again?

Definitely!! The cost is pretty minimal for an afternoon of fun. We will probably plan well in advance to get some bulk ride tickets and discounted admission once the kids can enjoy the rides. I don’t foresee this happening in the next 2-3 years.

Three months post retirement

Our Neighborhood Trail

It’s been almost three months since we retired from our jobs. The first month was a blur for me. We sold our house in Seattle after some last minute needed repair and negotiation. There were issues in the sewer and electrical after inspection, and we have to deal with that. We also dropped the price by 10k to give some concession on the upgrades that we’re not willing to do. Things were going well, until the final walk thru happened. The water heater broke down. We haven’t been in the house since the first open house, so I’m not sure what happened. That was another concession that we have to deal with, a couple of days before closing. There was a time that I thought we were never going to close. Luckily the buyer pushed through. It was bitter sweet since it’s our first house. We have our wedding photos taken there and I really thought that it will be a forever home. I have to keep on telling that it is not a rational investment and move on.

Our Old House

We celebrated our first 4th of July in an unincorporated city. This means that there are TONS and TONS of fireworks. Our neighbors have a bouncy house set up for their kid’s birthday and it looks like every houses is just hanging out in their front porch. We walked to the bouncy house and was invited right away. MBP (our toddler) have tons of fun in the bouncy house. He is the youngest of the kids here, but the older kids were very nice to him. At the end of the party, he was even walking across the street with the other kids. I saw one of the older kids trying to teach him hula hoop.

I also let myself sleep in. My body is adjusting to retirement and pregnancy. I realized that I was so tired from work that I just collapse at night. Now that I no longer work, my mind is all over the place. The first trimester pregnancy didn’t help either. I started taking some Unisom, which didn’t really work. I have to physically and mentally transition out of the work zone. I re-read Harry Potter and took on some sewing projects that seems to helped a bit.

I was physically more active in August. My husband and I are starting to find some rhythm at home, and started to get to know the area. I drive more now too since the grocery and the library is no longer walking distance from us. We learned (or at least trying to learn) to meal plan. I started going to grocery stores again. I can’t believe my husband can price compare the price of tomato and meat in Seattle to our grocery store here. Apparently, the tomato in Seattle cost 3x more than the grocery store that we go to now. I think it’s because we shop at WINCO and it is a discount store. We are a block away from Albertsons in Seattle and my husband goes to the store daily to purchase ingredients for our dinner.

Our family also visited the parks a lot. We try to make sure that MBP frequented the park. We live in a cul-de-sac and have great summers here in the Pacific Northwest. I’m so glad that I was able to see him slide all by himself for the very first time!! I also joined some Mom groups recommended by some Moms I met in the parks. MBP really enjoyed those meet ups and have great naps after. There are more visits to the children’s museum and the public library as well.

One of the many park adventures!

September is more hectic. My husband started his volunteer work in our local high school. He started teaching an AP class for Computer Science 3 times a week. I also enrolled MBP to swim class, gymnastics class and his preschool that meets twice a week. We have something going on almost everyday. I also had OB appointment every 2 weeks. My OB is about an hour away so it is a drive to get there.

We’re three months in now. So far I feel good about our choice to retire. I’m very fortunate to be able so spend this much time with my kid and to take care of my body during pregnancy. That said, being a stay at home parent is not easy. Work can sometimes look like a walk in the park. Our schedule revolves around MBP’s schedule. But we’re rewarded every day just by seeing him grow and change. I got to know him more the last three months that we retired than the first year of his life and I’m definitely looking forward to watch him grow!