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