Most of MBP’s clothes and toys are either used or free. There are very active Buy Nothing Groups in Seattle where we got MBP’s crib, chairs, clothes, bottles and tons of toys. I supplement his stuff by buying other items on consignment, which typically happens twice a year.
When we moved this May, I joined the local Buy Nothing Group, but it doesn’t have much activity. There are also more people asking for things and I feel bad taking it from them, knowing very well that I can buy it. My favorite consignment store was also in Seattle that was put together by Seattle Parents of Multiples. I don’t have multiples, but I find that most of their items are barely used, and prices are low. Parents probably stop having kids after having two, or three and want to get rid of the items quickly. Unfortunately I’m now an hour away but was able to find one close enough and I was able to last Friday while MBP was in school.
Buying in Consignment is NOT the cheapest route, but the most convenient for me, while still buying used items that my kid will only use for the next 6 months.
I don’t expect to get super great deal at consignment. Sometimes the prices can be consistent with new items that are on sale. I pay for the convenience of having one room filled with most of the items that my kid will need for the next 6 months. It’s typically seasonal as well. Most consignment happens twice a year, one in fall for the fall and winter season and one in spring for the spring and summer season.
How I buy at consignment store
I make a list of items that I know my son will need, from clothings to feeding to bathing. During the fall season, I keep an eye out for winter wear which cost quite a bit when bought new. I’m still fairly new to this, so there are some items that I bought that I probably don’t need or could get cheaper if needed.
I saved about 82% of all items I bought or about $432.17.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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 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.
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
Cobra for MBP and my husband. Mine was logged in August, but should be an additional 586.24
My husband plays ice hockey and this is the fee for the season
Surprisingly not bad
Annual tuiition for MBP's preschool
529 College Fund
Monthly transfer to MBP's 529 College Fund
Service & Parts
Our prius had a flat tire and we changed two tires. Also includes the change oil
6 month insurance for our Prius and VW Jetta
Annual exam for our furbaby dog
Monthly fee for my OB in addition to insurance cost
??? 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.
Electric, Gas and Sewer Bill
Monthly HOA Fee
Gas & Fuel
Our Costco membership renewal
Fair Food + a take out
Gift to our neighbor kid and nephew
Starbucks Gift Card refill + brewed coffee
These are the household supplies from Costco
Pet Food & Supplies
Treats for our spoiled dog
Boy scout knocked on our door, selling popcorn. We didn't buy the popcorn but gave them $20 for donation
Items in Lowes
Really cheap cell plan for 2 lines through Xfinity Mobile
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
# GB used
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
# of changes
(# of changes / ct)
Size 1 (192 ct), up to 14 lbs
Size 2 (174 ct) (12-18 lbs)
Size 3 (198 ct) (16 - 28 lbs)
Diaper wipes (900 wipes)
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.
# of changes
(# of changes / ct)
Size 3 (198 ct) (16 - 28 lbs)
Size 4 (180 ct) (22-37 lbs)
Diaper wipes (900 wipes)
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.
Disposable Diaper (costco price)
Cloth diaper sprayer
Diaper liner refill
Diaper liner refill
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.