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

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

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!