Early Retirement Spending – July 2020

July 1st marked our first year anniversary of early retirement. It’s still hard to believe that it’s been a year. It’s hard to say if our spending will stay consistent. We were paying quite a bit on Cobra on the first half of our retirement. We spent the second half on a lockdown because of the pandemic. I don’t know what a “normal” year will look like.

In July, we spent, $2,341.59

Groceries – $739.16

Groceries continue to be on top of our spending. This month, we decided to eat more plant based recipe and we think that’s the reason of the increase. We still don’t have go-to recipes and have been experimenting with ingredients. Ingredients tend to be more expensive too. We are also eating a lot more fresh fruits and veggies which tends to be more expensive. Maybe we will be better on this once we accumulate some bulk ingredients.

Electronics – $491.32

Mr. MMD got a new iPhone. I got a new one last December and he’s been using my sister’s old iPhone 6. It is no longer charging. He finally got a new iPhone SE. He returned his old iPhone back for a rebate, but we won’t know the rebate amount until Apple gets the phone.

Home Improvement – $404.16

I am making some roman shades for the kids bedroom and their playroom. There are 4 windows in total. I bought a black out insulated windows and drapery fabrics and some materials needed for the shades. We finally installed one for MBP’s bedroom. It’s not professional looking, but it does the job. I also didn’t add the pull mechanism yet because I don’t want the kids to be playing with the strings. This is good for now and it is a lot better than their shades before.

2 of our carbon monoxide and fire alarm detector also expired, so we bought a new one. That beeping was really annoying, especially when it happened at nap times. Oh well, we know now that these alarms expires every 7 years.

Others – $706.95

The rest are pretty normal expenses. There are monthly expenses like 529 college plan and HOA dues. I also split our utility bills as a category for each bill. I separated electric and gas as 1 bill, sewer, internet and mobile phone as another. We also have some discretionary expenses and bought some toys and kids supplies and we had some fast food take out because I’m craving for it.

Celebrating July

This is the second year that we celebrated 4th of July in an unincorporated county. Unlike in the city, it is legal to have some fireworks here at certain times. HOA frowned upon it, but the neighborhood doesn’t seem to care. Last year, we were invited to a party in our block. I basically just walked around and our neighbor invited us. This year, there are no parties but all our neighbors are out in their front porch. We set up some chairs and watched our neighbors fired up some fireworks. MBP enjoyed it. It is hard to tell a 3 year old to keep 6ft apart from the other kids though, but we tried to make sure that we keep the social distance. AHP slept through all the fireworks while our furbaby thought that it is the end of the world.

Our neighborhood fireworks. One of the many!

Overall July was great considering that we are still in a lockdown. Maybe we are just getting used to this new normal and our expectations are low. It is a bit more expensive, but not alarming.

Here’s a recap to our spending in 2020:

And here is the breakdown of our expenses in July

DescriptionAmountComments
Groceries739.16We are changing our diet ot be more plant based. At some point, we're hoping to optimize this.
Electronics & Software491.32Mr. MMD got a new iPhone
Home Improvement404.162 fire and carbon monoxide alarm and materials for roman shaes
529 College Fund200
Electric and Gas86.41Trending down so far
Shopping68.34Batteries, iPhone case and toothbrush head
HOA Dues68.25
Sewer60.16I started another category to divide our utilities to what it is
Household Supplies59.54Cleaning supplies and toilet paper
Internet45From Comcast
Baby Supplies29.99Some supplies for MBP and AHP
Fast Food28.41Take out from KFC because I was craving for it
Mobile Phone15.91Our very cheap plan for 2 lines in Xfnity Mobile
Toys14.97Some more toys/books for MBP
Alcohol & Bars13.59Some craft beer for Mr MMD. I'm still not drinking because I'm still nursing and it's just easier that way
Toiletries9.83Some soap
Subscription6.55Prime subscription
Grand Total2341.59

How’s your July?

Early Retirement Spending – June 2020

It is still hard to believe that the first half of 2020 is over. It was the quickest and yet the slowest year at the same time. AHP is officially out of the newborn phase and we celebrated MBP’s 3rd birthday in the middle of the pandemic.

Spending wise, in June we spent 1,812.03

Groceries – $623.89

Groceries still top our spending. There are really no other way to spend money in quarantine aside from food. In June, we (I mean my husband, mostly) cooked everything we ate. We haven’t had a chance to discover any new restaurants in the area to get some take outs. For those times that we did, pre COVID-19, we were disappointed, so it is fairly easy to just cook everything at home. We did spend quite a bit on groceries, majority of it spent at Costco and WINCO.

Household Supplies – $200.49

This category seems to be catch all for everything we needed to maintain the house. We bought a new lawnmower because the battery of our old lawnmower was no longer charging. We found some hacks to revive it but my husband doesn’t think it will last. My husband bought one that plug in to the electric outlet. He seems to like it better even with the cord. We thought about buying a gas powered mower, but getting gas is just a hassle and the thought of keeping it in our garage scares me.

Utilities – $316.05

Utilities includes water, sewer, electric and gas. My husband says that our water bill is $40 higher this month since we turned on the sprinkler on our front yard. We are trying to revive the lawn and I guess $20/month is not so bad. I didn’t recognize the trend since our water bill is lump to utilities. Electric and gas is $40 cheaper though since we are no longer using the heater.

Gifts – $125

The fundraising event for MBP’s coop was canceled for the year because of COVID-19. Majority of the funds for his coop comes from this event. We decided to donate the cost of 2 tickets to the coop.

Birthday, Anniversary and Father’s Day

We celebrated our 4th wedding anniversary this month and MBP’s 3rd birthday. He was born a day after our anniversary. Mr. MMD got some flowers and we had a pretty low key celebration.

We invited my immediate family for MBP’s birthday. This includes my parents, my grandmother and my 3 siblings. I made a rainbow cupcake, some rolls and bake chicken while my parents brought some Filipino food. It was a lovely day and our bellies were full. We had so much fun seeing MBP get so excited for his birthday. A week before his birthday, he was asking what day it was and keep on telling us that “today he is 2, but on Saturday he will be 3”. It was hilarious and he was so happy blowing his birthday cake. I was a bit bummed since I thought that this is the first time that we can celebrate his birthday with his classmates, but he still had a lot of fun! He was really excited with all his gifts. Just shortly after, we visited the kids pediatrician for AHP’s 4 month check up and MBP’s 3 year check up. It’s the only adventure out for the kids. We stayed home for the rest of the month, but enjoyed the sunny weather and the trails in our neighborhood.

I made the birthday cupcakes for MBP’s 3rd birthday

We also celebrated Father’s day and just like other celebrations, it was very low key. MBP “made” a card and my husband cooked some pancake ~ the usual breakfast every Sunday.

The Best Dad Card

Here’s a recap to our spending in 2020:

We’re tracking under 40k if we assume that our expenses will just double through out the year. Holidays are always expensive though, and we still don’t know if MBP’s school will open for the year.

And here’s the breakdown of our May expenses

DescriptionAmountComments
Groceries715.8A bit high for the month
Household Supplies200.49Our new lawnmower
529 College Fund200
Utilities166.39Water and sewer
Gifts & Donations125Donation to MBP's coop
Electricity87.02
HOA Dues68.25
Garbage62.64This is for 2 months worth of garbage and recycling
Shopping52.39Rolling pin, portable fan and other stuff that I can't remember
Internet45
Alcohol & Bars19.11Some beer from Costco and from WINCO
Gas & Fuel17.71
Mobile Phone15.912 lines from Xfinity mobile
Amusement14.99Flowers for our anniversary
Clothing14.21Some clothes for the Mr.
Subscription6.55Monthly Prime Subscription
Electronics & Software0.57AWS monthly fee to host the blog
Grand Total1,812.03

Early Retirement Spending – May 2020

In May we spent, $2,059.62

Groceries – $623.89

Food is still our biggest spending. My husband shops at Costco, WINCO and Amazon for our groceries. He goes every two weeks, or longer if we can.

Home Insurance – $537.72

We also renewed our home insurance for the year. Surprisingly, I got an e-mail from our former insurance provider about renewal of our home insurance for our old house. I thought that the bank automatically notifies them about the sale of the house. They didn’t and I received a refund for the 2019 policy. It feels good to deposit the check.

Others

We also got some size 3 diapers for AHP from Costco. We use disposable at night so these diapers will last us until he outgrows it. We actually size up on purpose since I know that he will outgrew size 2. I’ve been covering the disposable diaper with a cloth diaper shell to make sure it’s in place since it was still big about a month ago. Our diaper expenses is low since we are using cloth diapers that I got used. MBP used it until he is potty train. The cloth diapers is now covering its third baby butt and it is still going strong and looking very cute on AHP.

Celebrations – Priceless

We celebrated Mr. MMD’s birthday. He bought an IPA from Costco, MBP “made” him a card and MBP helped me baked some small batch cupcakes. We happily sang him a Happy Birthday and MBP excitedly blew the candles. He bought a $5 game as our birthday gift for him.

The card that MBP made.

I also received some coffee filter flowers from MBP for Mother’s Day, as he sing “cause making something is one way to say I Love You” from a Daniel Tiger episode.

My coffee filter flower. Note that the vase is a shot glass

AHP turned 3 months in May and we made some banana cake that looks like a Panda, because MBP wants a “Pandy” cake. I also want to try some banana cake and a cream cheese frosting. The cakes look terrible but it’s actually delicious. I’m now a big fan of cream cheese filling. It’s a lot better than butter cream.

The “Pandy” Cake and the Adam’s 3 months cake (it’s really just excess).

MBP turned 3 this June. I thought that this is the first year that we can have a celebration with some of the kids in his preschool, but COVID happened. Instead, we had a simple celebration with my family. We got him some blocks, a sand box and a book from Amazon as our birthday presents. We got this in May since we didn’t know if it will arrive on time for his birthday. Usually, I will get at least some of these on a consignment, but the one that happens around Spring was cancelled, so we got some new toys and books.

AHP is now sleeping on his own crib (way to go!!!) and we’re enjoying some sunny weather. I can actually get some one on one time with MBP during the day and we are enjoying the trails. My fitbit said that I made 3K steps on our walk one time. I’m really surprise that his little legs can hike that far.

The park and the start of the trail about 3 houses down from us.

Here’s a recap to our spending in 2020:

And here’s the breakdown of our May expenses

DescriptionAmountComments
Groceries623.89Trips to Costco, WINCO and orders from Amazon
Home Insurance537.72The lowest quote I got is through Nationwide Insurance
529 College Fund200This is our 529 contribution for MBP. I made a one time contribution on AHP's account last April. It will go back to $400 in 15 months.
Utilities186.21Electric, Gas and Sewer for this month
Toys105.593rd birthday gift to MBP
Pet Food & Supplies89.54We started ordering online for our fur baby's pet food. My husband can't help to add some treats and toys in that order 🙂
HOA Dues68.25We live in a Master Plan community that is unincorporated. This due help maintain the many parks and 20+ miles of trails that we enjoy.
Household Supplies68.2
Internet44.27
Baby Supplies35.99Diaper.
Business Services35.93Renewal of the domain name through blue host.
Shopping34.74
Mobile Phone15.97We're going through one year of Xfinity Mobile and we are still paying dirt cheap for 2 lines.
Alcohol & Bars6.3Beer for Mr. MMD
Entertainment5.45Our gift to Mr. MMD
Gym1A trial for Noom App
Electronics & Software0.57Another month of cheap hosting for this blog through AWS.
Grand Total2,059.62

Early Retirement Spending – April 2020

We incurred many one time expenses for this month and our spending is A LOT higher than usual.

In April we spent $8,666.55.

529 College Plan – $3200

Our contribution to the kids 529 college plan was high for this month. I opened AHP’s 529 account with a one time contribution of $3000. Vanguard has a minimum requirement of $3000 to open an account. We did the same with MBP and now we have one with AHP.

Property Taxes – $3,043.38

This was the first half of our property taxes. The first half was due in April which was extended to July because of COVID-19. We decided to pay it now since we have the money anyway.

Lawn and Garden – $771.56

Aaahhh we live a very luxurious life and hired someone to take care of our lawn. We reseeded the front lawn last year, but it didn’t seem to work. We don’t have the time to take care of the lawn with the newborn and the toddler, so we decided to hire some one else to do it. We will see by this year if it is worth it.

Groceries – $689.8

Groceries are averaging to be about $600 – $700 per month even pre COVID 19. So, the pandemic didn’t seem to change our spending habits. Mr. MMD is currently in charge of our groceries, planning our meals and our main chef. At one point, we used to switch every 7 days but, pregnancy, giving birth, and having a newborn happen. At some point, I’m sure I’ll get back out there.

Others

Auto insurance also kicked in this month. The insurance is for 6 months liability coverage of our Prius. We did not insure my Volkswagen because we never used it.

It’s really weird to be writing this monthly expense in the midst of pandemic. Our spending wasn’t affected at all. We passed the first quarter and our total spending for the year was at 15k. The trend was also downward, perhaps because of the lockdown. Although I’m not sure if we will spend more in normal circumstances. Just to recap, our spending for the year is below:

DescriptionAmountComments
529 College Fund 3,200.0 As described above
Property Tax 3,043.4 Half of our 2020 property taxes
Lawn & Garden771.6Bill for our lawn and garden maintenance
Groceries689.8Food, mostly Costco and Winco
Utilities379.5This includes garbage and water for this month
Auto Insurance192.5Car insurance for our Prius for 6 months
Kids129.2Some items for the kids
HOA Dues68.3
Household Supplies67.4TP, Paper towels, sponges
Internet48.0
Pet Food & Supplies31.4
Mobile Phone16.0Another month of Xfinity mobile for 2 lines using less than 1GB of data
Electronics & Software15.3
Alcohol & Bars7.7A beer for Mr. MMD
Subscription6.6Prime monthly subscription
Grand Total 8,666.55

Early Retirement Spending – March 2020

We hit our lowest retirement spending this month. Our spending was very bare bones given the stay home stay safe order in Washington state. The whole chaos was hard. I was very much looking forward to being normal after being on a modified bed rest. The COVID-19 virus also brought some anxiety in our family. Our son, MBP has a weak lungs, as a result of prematurity. Just last January, we were on urgent care for a cold that needed a breathing treatment. The traumatic experience from the NICU and post partum hormones are not good combination. I am better now but I still have some overwhelming days. My body adjusted with lack of straight sleep. I still get 6+ hours of sleep at any given day, just not straight.

In March we spent $1,685.85

Food – $646.93

It makes sense that this was our highest spending for three months straight now. We didn’t eat out, but we stock up on groceries. We also ordered some food from Amazon. We were able to stay in for three weeks before my husband have to do a grocery run. We probably could have go on for 4 weeks, but we ran out of fresh veggies and fruits and some key ingredients for a meal.

Utilities – $200.91

This was for sewer, electric and gas. Gas was pretty high this month since I set our heating to 65 C at night. I thought that it will help our baby sleep through the night. It didn’t. I moved it back down to 55 C.

Kids – $114.51

I ordered 2 copies of AHP’s birth certificates, some baby wipes, MBP’s rain boots and some bubble juice. I bought MBP some rain boots since his class will start having some outdoor time rain or shine. He haven’t used it because (1) He complains that it is too heavy for him and (2) His class was cancelled for the year.

Internet – $99.9

This was for 2 months. The February bill was posted in March.

Pet Supplies – $92.93

We bought our furbaby her kibble and her monthly treats.

Gas – $17.5

We didn’t go anywhere in February.

Shopping – $16.38

Socks for the Mr. because a lot of his socks have holes.

Mobile Phone – $15.97

Another month with a very inexpensive mobile phone bill for 2 lines through Xfinity Mobile.

Subscription – $12

Monthly payment for Amazon prime and a subscription for PBS channel for a month. MBP really loves Daniel Tiger and we are getting tired of seeing both Season 1 and Season 2 over and over and over again. We tried getting MBP to watch other shows, but his answer is always no – he wants to watch Daniel Tiger.

Electronics and Software – $.57

This is my AWS bill for hosting this blog. I am almost done with the promo year and I will need to find a way to move this site somewhere else. I think there is a way to keep it in AWS.

DescriptionsAmountComments
Groceries646.933 trips to Costco, 2 at WINCO and 5 orders from Amazon
529 College Fund400
Utilities200.91Electric, gas and sewer
Kids114.512 copies of AHPs birth certificate, rainboots and bubble juice for MBP
Internet99.92 months through Xfinity
Pet Food & Supplies92.93Kibble and monthly treats
HOA Dues68.25
Gas & Fuel17.5Gas
Shopping16.38Mr MMD's socks
MobilePhone15.972 lines from Xfinity mobile.
Subscription12Amazon prime subscription and one month subscription to PBS Kids
Electronics & Software0.57AWS fee to host this blog
Grand Total1,685.85

Early Retirement Spending – February 2020

Our second son, Adam Henry or AHP completed our little family on February 15, 2020. I made it to term at 39 weeks and 3 days. AHP was born at 7 lbs 12 ounces and 20.5 inches long

As of this writing, we already survived one month with 2 kids, and a month of sleep deprivation. The chaos surrounding us with COVID-19 virus didn’t help, and it doesn’t seem to have an end.

In February, we spent $2,192.44

Food – $599.34

Food is our highest expense for 2 months in a row. We ordered some takeouts while I was in the hospital. It includes a take out from Burger King, right after I gave birth and a take out from an Asian Restaurant for dinner during the night that I spent in the hospital. Aside from those, our meals were cooked at home. We spent $566.86 in groceries. $301.33 were spent in Costco and $223.93 were spent in WINCO. The rest were scattered between Fred Myer and Walmart.

Utilities – $366.04

We paid for garbage and water this month. Both were paid bimonthly.

Doctor – $193.05

We chose to circumcise AHP. The procedure was elective and not covered by insurance. I was surprised of the cost. My quote from my OB office was about $400. I found out that AHP’s pediatrician does it and we chose her to perform the procedure instead of my OB office. Our pediatrician is local and we will be able to save the drive. I didn’t even asked for a quote. I was prepared to pay upwards of $400, but was happily surprised when the receptionist told us the price. My husband and I looked at each other because it cost half of the quote I received from my OB’s office. It was also half of the cost the the insurance paid for MBP’s circumcision.

Baby Supplies – $184.9

If only I can put him down.

We bought some newborn diapers, size 1 diapers, diaper cream and a formula for AHP. I supplemented with formula because my milk didn’t came in until day 4. We bought diapers since the size of our cloth diaper will not fit AHP until he is about 10 lbs. Our plan is to get through the size 1 diapers and the switch him to cloth diapers. The baby supplies also included some bottle nipples and saline solution for MBP. Shortly later, we were able to convince MBP to give up his bottle and drink his milk straight from the cup. Win win win here. He is also doing well on potty training and is only on diaper at naps and bed time.

Furnishings – $99.4

We bought this at Amazon for the guest room / my husband’s office. We thought about a murphy bed for the guest room / office, but it didn’t make sense. Murphy beds will cost more than our current bed and will be used 10+ days in a year when my in-laws are here. We got this bed so we can fold it and keep it in the closet along with the mattress whenever we don’t have visitors.

Shopping – $71.19

Mr. MMD bought some crocs, socks and dry erase markers.

The rest were some routine monthly expenses like HOA, Gas, Cellphone and Prime Subscription. Gas expenses was down this month since we didn’t go anywhere. We also received a discounted membership for Prime since we are eligible for Apple Healthcare. Cellphone bill is cheap at $16.12 for two lines from Xfinity Mobile.

Overall, expenses remain low. I will never forget the month of February with the birth of AHP, the artificial highs in the stock market just to see it plummet in a couple of weeks.

And here’s our expenses for February 2020. I hope you are all doing well. Take care, wash your hands and practice social distancing.

DescriptionAmountComments
Food599.34
529 College Fund400
Utilities366.04Electric, Gas, Sewer, Water and Garbage
Doctor193.05
Baby Supplies184.9
Furnishings99.45
Shopping71.19
HOA Dues68.25
Preschool Tuition60Registration fee for MBP's school next year
Gas & Fuel48.48
Pet Food & Supplies36.78For our very spoile baby fur
Personal Care23.19Some lotion
Household Supplies18.53
Mobile Phone16.12This is dirt cheap through Xfinity mobile
Subscription6.55
Electronics & Software0.57
Grand Total2,192.44

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