Property taxes, Mattress and October 2023 Expenses

October went by quick and it was busier than expected. We had our normal October activities like visiting the Pumpkin Patch and Halloween. New this year is MBP fundraising event for his school. It was a school fun run. The school ended up raising $27k+ in this event and MBP’s class raised funds the most. In my opinion, this is a great fundraising event. No need to sell anything, just straight up asking folks for some money. I volunteered at the event and saw the kids had a lot of fun running around. I was initially scared that MBP will need his in-hailer, but he didn’t need to. He did end up crying in the beginning because he keeps tripping while other kids run over him. He was slow. One of the moms saw him and walked him towards me. I told him that he can walk instead, but he insisted on running. The other kids finally slowed down and MBP kept running. He was really focus and was so happy afterwards. I was so proud of him. I’m always worried that his lungs never really develop because of prematurity. He gets winded quickly, but we know that he actually need to slowly develop his lungs through exercise. We walk to school everyday. I’m hoping that this will help.

We picked some Asian Pear at my parent’s house. It’s delicious!

We also visited the Pumpkin Patch this year. We’ve been going here since MBP started in his coop school. I recommended this to MBP’s campfire group. One of the parents put it together and got us a deal, which is fantastic! The weather was great and it was a lot of fun.

Picking Pumpkins

In October we spent $7,982.95. It is less than our September spending. Let’s look at it…

Food & Dining$1,002.53
Health & Fitness$833.75
Bills & Utilities$401.98
Auto & Transport$198.11
Gifts & Donations$27.00

Taxes – $3,092.71

Our second half of property tax was due. I paid the 50 cents convenience fee to pay via ACH. Washington’s property tax was about 1% of the property value. The rate was actually lower than other state, but property values here in the Pacific Northwest was high, so the absolute value was high. We chose to stay in a “smaller” 2500 sq ft home in our neighborhood. Our house is probably the cheapest in the block.

Home – $1,429.48

I finally bought a new mattress and it cost $1,154.13. We’ve been using my old queen mattress from 2006 and I’ve been having some back issues. It’s been so bad that I slept on our Thermarest Mondo King camp mattress. I actually purchased a king beds in 2019, one from Costco, which we returned and one from Macy’s which we used for a little over a year until it sagged. That Macy’s King Bed was a waste of money. I was hesitant on buying a new mattress again. I spent a lot of time researching. I ended up buying a 9 inch latex mattress with 120 day trial period. I’m on my second week now and so far my back pain is lot a less and I’m back sleeping in the bed. I’ll write a more comprehensive review about it after the 120 days trial.

We also spent $195.7 at Lowes and $79.65 for our HOA.

Food and Dining – $1,002.53

Our groceries clocked in at $958.6. There might be some non-grocery items here since we buy some other things at Walmart and Costco. Now that the boys are in our neighborhood schools, it’s easier to buy groceries at Walmart, but Mr. MMD still go to Winco for the bulk section items. I ate out in the beginning of the month and spent $31.93 and we also got the boys a $12 cotton candy during Salmon Days.

That is a unicorn shape overprized cotton candy

Health and Fitness – $833.75

I continue to see an out of network ophthalmologist. Apparently I suffer from dry eyes. The prescription cost $310 for a 6 month restasis treatment. I saw a chiropractor 3 times this month as well. Total cost of doctor visits were $273.77 for both the opthalmogist and chiro. Our health insurance for a gold plan is $99.58. Our dental insurance were $41.4. I also started a vision insurance for $5/month. I also had a dental filing this month and it cost me $104 for co-pay.

Kids – $407.65

Preschool tuition is still a majority of this at $323/month. Supplies are $54.11 and other school materials are $30.54

Our neighborhood halloween festivities. The kids were scared of these decorations

Bills and Utilities – $401.98

Our electric and gas is $198.78. This is for 2 months as I forgot to pay it last month. Sewer is constant at $66.46. Internet is $61 for 2 months. Water is $46.78. We used about 2gb of data for our cellphone and paid $28.96 for 2 lines.

Shopping – $392.42

Overall shopping is $172.39. Clothing, mostly kids clothes, kids shoes and halloween costumes are $142.33. Household supplies are $70.05 and our prime subscription is $7.65

Auto and Transport – $198.11

Gas were $198.11. and oil change for our 2010 Volkswagen Jetta is $84.3

Misc – $120

Mr. MMD withdrew $120 cash. He likes having cash, which we usually spend at the fair or Sunday market.

Pets – $77.32

Our Corgi’s food.

Gifts and Donation – $27

This is the Groupon deal for our annual family photo that we used for our holiday cards.

We spent quite a bit on furniture this year. I get a lot of utility on these items and everything is use everyday. Our couch is awesome and we use it everyday. Our bed is awesome and we use it everyday. My hope is that our new latex mattress will last like my old queen mattress that I bought in 2006. So far it is comfortable, but it is too soon to tell if it will sag or not. Our shed housed all our garden materials everyday.

Mint is about to sunset and I will be moving our spending to Empower going forward. There are 2 more months left in 2023. Holidays are in full swing. I’m looking forward to it.

Shed, Couch and other September 2023 Expenses

School started for both kiddos. For the first time in many years, the house was quiet for a couple of hours in the morning. It was a little weird not having the kids at home, but it is nice to do have some time to actually do some work.

We continue to do some work around the house this September. We, really means Mr. MMD. In September, he finished putting up the shed and put the insulation back in our crawl space. Apparently, a big chunk of the insulation fell to the ground because nothing is holding it up. Mr. MMD, managed to fixed this. Hopefully, it will stay put. Other household project includes buying a bed frame for us and a new couch. I led this project and you can see this on our spending.

I used the morning time to organize and declutter. We finally got rid of the grass fertilizer and other household chemicals that were in the laundry room. Funny that we actually move those items in our new house and it took us 4 years to get rid of them. I donated some clothes and household items in Goodwill. Decluttering is really a never ending project, especially with the kids stuff.

AHP finally let go of this trampoline Time for other kids to have fun with it!

I also had my eye examined by an ophthalmologist. It was so hard to find a doctor in my network that I actually went out of network. I’m just glad that I was seen and I’m hoping that this issue will get fix. I also started going to a Chiropractor. I started having some lower back issue when we switch mattress. I’m still having some and I’m looking for a new mattress. My insurance covers 10 visit with a $15 copay per visit. I like my insurance for that and I also like my chiro.

In September, we spent $11,691.21. This is huge and we are living large! I wish I can say that our spending will go down, but I can’t see this happening. We will re-asses by the end of the year. We might need to put together a budget if our spending continue to increase. Let’s take a look where we spent our money.

Food & Dining$809.39
Health & Fitness$651.45
Auto & Transport$622.72
Bills & Utilities$126.81
Personal Care$75.44
Gifts & Donations$7.28

Home – $5,937.62

The biggest items are furnishings. Mr. MMD and I haven’t bought a new furniture together. Our couch is falling apart and I’d like to have a real bed. Macy’s had a sale for labor day and we spent $3,735.04 on a sectional and a queen bed. The amount included a $299 white glove delivery. The guys came in and assembled the furnitures and took out all the garbage with it. It’s well worth the price. I listed our old couch and love seat on our buy nothing page and it was picked up the next weekend.

Goodbye Old Couch. You served us well for 14 years

We also purchased our shed at Walmart for $1,289. We received a $12 credit from Chase offers by ordering on Walmart online. I also got a couple of clocks for the playroom and the living room, a dozen new glassware, flatware for MBP’s lunch box and some scissors at Ikea. I used some old gift card and spent $48.30 on the balance.

The shed with our planter on the left and heat pump on the right

The next item under home, are Home Improvement. These are the expenses to prepare the ground for the shed. Mr. MMD rented a tamper to even out the ground. The cost is $343.51 with delivery. He also ordered some gravel which cost $307.7. We spent $146.42 for various visit at Lowes.

Last category for home is our HOA fee for $79.65.

Pets – $1,564.17

This is a fee for our furbaby’s tooth extraction and tooth cleaning. This is her second tooth cleaning since we got her and is totally overdue. Our dog doesn’t like her teeth brushed. The vet needs to give her some anesthesia for it.

Kids – $940.82

We spent $350.31 on Kids Gadget. We moved AHP out of his high chair and got him a Stokke Chair. I’ve been looking for a used one for months, but I think kids uses it for so long and I never saw a used one closed to us. I didn’t want to drive too far so I hit the buy button at Amazon, instead. It’s expensive at $261.71, but the kids are using this chair everyday. MBP’s chair is still going strong after 3.5 years of use. This is one of those items that I think is worth the splurge for our family. I also got MBP a lunch box. The price is steep at $49.22 but MBP seems to really like it. We can pack hot lunches with it from our left over dinner. The box is big enough to hold his lunch and afternoon snack. I also got AHP a new backpack for his preschool, a headphones for MBP and a rain shield for our double umbrella stroller. We’ve been walking to and from school everyday. The walk is .7 miles one way with elevation of 115 ft. He can walk to school but struggle going back because of the hills. I pick him up with the double stroller. He’ll walk until he gets tired and will climb into the stroller.

Preschool tuition for AHP is $323. We spent $176 on various kids activities. I signed up MBP for Camp Fire. It’s an after school activity that meets every other week, completely ran by parents. The fee and the vest is $78 for the year. I also paid $68 for their school photos and $30 for the pumpkin patch, which happened in October.

School is $91.51. These are various expenses related to kids school like, PTA membership fees for $20 and teacher wish list donation for the rest.

Food and Dining – $884.88

We spent $842.10 on groceries. Mr. MMD spent $38.36 for dinner with his buddy and I spent $4.42 for coffee. We actually didn’t eat out this month.

Travel – $791.2

We bought 4 tickets to Chicago to visit my in-laws for Thanksgiving. I booked a rental car from O’Hare Airport through Costco to drive to Bloomington area. There were plenty of direct flight to O’Hare from Seattle and it makes more sense to just drive to Bloomington instead of flying there.

Health and Fitness – $651.45

I’ve been having some eye issues since June. I can’t find an in-network ophthalmologist on my insurance so I went out of network. I really like my doctor and I’ll be switching to her next year. The cost of my first visit was $266.47. I also paid $30 co-pay for my 2 visits at chiropractor. We paid $154 for our YMCA membership. We never really went to the Y this September, so it will not be a recurring expenses for us until next summer. Our health insurance was $99.58 and our dental insurance was $41.40. I also paid a $50 co-pay for my dentist. Lastly, I paid $10 co-pay for my eye drop. This eye drop cost over $100 without insurance. We are definitely using our insurance this year.

Auto and Transport – $625.96

Our 6 months auto insurance was $534.37. This is for our 2010 VW Jetta and 2010 Toyota Prius. We also spent $79.55 on fuel and $8.8 on tolls from this summer.

Bills and Utilities – $126.81

This is for our water at $43.39, sewer at $66.46 and mobile phone at $16.96. We are back on consuming 1GB on our Xfinity Mobile.

Shopping – $123.31

We got MBP the Super Mario Odyssey game for his switch. He is almost done with it and is now on the bonus section. The cost is $58.2. I also got him a pair of rain boots / snow boots for $43.77. This is a must in the Pacific Northwest. I spent $13.69 at Dollar Tree for sticker books and we also paid $7.65 for our prime subscription.

Personal Care – $40.95

The boys had a hair cut. This is actually cheaper because our hairdresser have a 1 free hair cut for every 10 hair cut. It’s usually cost us $60+ including tips.

Gift and Donation – $7.28

We went to AHP’s friends birthday party and this is the boy’s gift to her.

Theme Parks and August 2023 Expenses

We wrapped up our Summer Adventures, visiting Southern California. We were there for 11 days, visiting Legoland, San Diego Safari, San Diego Zoo, Seaworld, the Aquarium and Belmont Park. Hurricane Hilary were there during our last days and our planned beach days were canceled. San Diego closed the public beaches during that time. We stayed in our hotel instead.

Checking out the Ninja Lego in Legoland

Back to school activities started once we were back home. MBP had quite a bit of friends meet ups with upcoming kindergarteners. There were donut days, sweet and treats days and cookies and milk days. It was fun meeting families in the neighborhood. After 4 years of living here, we are finally meeting getting to know our neighbors.

We continue to loosen up on spending. In August, we spent, $4,840.75. I’m just seeing this the first time too, so let’s dissect our spending.

Food & Dining$1,242.73
Bills & Utilities$519.78
Health & Fitness$338.96
Auto & Transport$288.78
Personal Care$8.41
Fees & Charges$1.73

Travel – $1,452.00

This cost is associated with our travel to Southern California. Our flight tickets, 9 nights of hotel stays and car rental were paid with points. This is mainly for activities. First, I bought 2 adults and 2 kids 7 day San Diego Go City all inclusive pass. This pass let us visit Legoland 3 times, San Diego Safari, San Diego Zoo, Seaworld, Aquarium and Belmont Park all inclusive rides. I priced out these passes against the cost of individual tickets and it was about a couple of hundred cheaper even though we didn’t visit a lot of places. We would have saved more if we added more activities, but the point is to have a relaxing trip. I bought the passes at Groupon for $1191.88.

We also bought 2 travel car seats at Walmart for $107.08. Our car seats were heavy and we didn’t want to haul it all the way to San Diego. We did it on our last trip in Chicago and vow that we will not travel with those car seats again. We spent $94.01 for hotel parking and some ice cream in the hotel lobby. For these trips we stayed at 3 different hotels – a Hyatt Place, Hyatt House and Fairfield Inn Marriott. I redeemed my Ultimate Rewards from Chase to book the Hyatt hotels and spent $51.03 at Fairfield for one night before our departure. The Fairfield rate is a family member employee rate through my father. We also spent $8 for some knick knacks at Seaworld San Diego.

San Diego Safari. It was hot!

Food and Dining – $1,242.73

This is expectedly high since we ate out more while traveling. We still brought our rice cooker and made some dinner in the hotel. We did groceries and pack some lunches and snacks as much as we can. We spent $667.4 for groceries for the month. The restaurants that we visited were actually really good and I was very impressed. We spent $445.85 on restaurants and $129.48 on foods in the theme parks, fast food and trip to get frozen yogurt back here at home.

Utilities – $519.78

We spent $189.31 on electric and gas. This was for 2 billing cycles. Our garbage bill also charged me for 2 billing cycles and cost us $162.48. We now have a credit on our account. Sewer is flat at $66.46. Our water boll is $51.57. Internet is at $33 and our phone is back at $16.96.

Home – $452.24

This category will also continue to go up. We started a list of home projects. We will take our time, so the cost will not be one time. Majority of the work will also be a labor of love my Mr. MMD, so it shouldn’t be that high. This month we spent $372.59 with 4 charges from Home Depot and 2 charges from Lowes and 2 charges from Amazon. Mr. MMD is almost done with putting the gravel in our yard for the foundation of our shed. It looks nice right now even without the shed. Our HOA is flat at $79.65

Health and Fitness – $338.96

Our health and dental insurance were $281.96. This was also for 2 billing cycles. I paid for a copay of $35 for an urgent care visit that happened last June.

Shopping – $274.18

We renewed our Costco membership for the year at $120. We are now an executive member. We shop there so often that we will get this back in terms of cash back for the year. My 20 year old hair dryer also stopped working. It just stopped heating up. I bought a CONAIR hair dryer from Amazon and cost $33.59. We spent $29.01 on household supplies, $29.01 for MBP’s new Kirby backpack and lunchbox, $10.72 for a souvenir in San Diego Zoo and $7.65 for Amazon subscription.

Auto and Transport – $288.78

We spent $178.78 on gas, including gas to our rental car while we were in Southern California. Gas price there is comparable to Seattle. We also spent $110 on parking at the theme parks that we visited.

Kids – $184.62

Kids activities are $100 fro a visit to Chuck E Cheese and school supplies for MBP’s Kindergarten. Diaper cost us $44.99. We also bought Super Mario Cart Game for $39.63.

The Dolphin show is pretty cool

Pets – $77.32

Our furbaby’s food. She will also need to get her teeth clean and a tooth extract. So this category will be high next month.

Personal Care – $8.41

Kid’s shampoo. How exciting!

Fees and Charges – $1.73

Fee for a credit card interest that I forgot to auto pay. Oh well.

The kids are now back to school. This is the first year that both of them are out of the house for a good half a day. It just started and AHP already caught a cold and had a fever. He missed 2 days of school on his first week. I’m really hoping the we don’t get hit by a bug as frequently as last year. That said, with them being gone, we have more time to ourselves. I still don’t know what it looks like but I’m looking forward to it.

Summer Adventures, Heat Pump and Housework

We spent July at home and enjoyed the great weather in the Pacific Northwest. We were invited to a pool party during 4th of July and to a private lake spot. We definitely enjoyed all of those, though for a moment, I thought about stepping up our game and host something just as elegant, gladly we were out of there right away.

We hit the beach on one of the days

My in-laws also had their annual visits and we all had a great time. It was very laid back and we stayed local. The boys were over the moon.

Mr. MMD and MBP paddle boarding

This month, we started some housework that was put off for the last 4 years. There were some work we wanted to do at home when we initially bought our house. We put it off because we thought we were going to move. After 2 years of searching with a dozen house visits, we finally decided that we will stay put.

So for this month, we spent $13,738.58. The spending trend this year is up, up and up. I wonder if this will be a new normal.

Food & Dining$749.49
Fees & Charges$285.00
Health & Fitness$274.74
Bills & Utilities$258.80
Auto & Transport$60.83
Personal Care$18.99

Home – $11,640.79

After 21 years of living in the Pacific Northwest, I am finally living in a house with central A/C. We installed a heat pump in our house. We actually thought about getting central air 3 years ago after a year of living in our house. The initial quote then was about $7k. Once we decided to stay put, I know that it’s time to install a central air, in case we hit another 90+ degree weather. We spent $10,507.86 for a heat pump. So far, we haven’t had the need to turn on the A/C. We keep it at 75 and our house has been cooler than that.

Since we are staying put, we also decided to add a shed in our backyard. The initial work happened this month, which consist mostly of digging our very rocky land. Mr. MMD did almost all the work. There’s no shed yet and it will probably take another month or 2 before it’s there. I would say, I’ll be happy if we can actually finish a project this year, then we can move on and do some projects inside the house. We spent $121.9 at Home Depot for some wood and some tools.

We also paid our annual Home Insurance at Nationwide for $931.37. I paid it at 4th of July, hoping that our house don’t get burn by the neighborhood fireworks.

Lastly, we paid, $79.65 for HOA Dues.

Neighborhood Fireworks

Food and Dining – $811.86

Our grocery bill is at $637.21. This is low this month. My in-laws were here and they paid for grocery and restaurant for 10 days that they were here. We spend $800sh on average. We spent $162.62 on restaurants. We paid for one take out meal with my in-laws. I met up with a friend and had some ramen and a couple of bubble tea. I only drank one Taro bubble tea and got another one to go for the kids. MBP really enjoyed it. We also ate out and had some Dimsum. Lastly, we got a large kettle corn at the local farmer’s market.

Fees and Charges – $285

This is for 3 Annual Membership Fee for 3 credit cards. We opened 2 Chase Ink Business Preferred in anticipation of paying our heat pump. We already got one sign up bonus of 100,000 points. I value this at about $1,500 conservatively. I’m ok paying for these fees, because we get more value from the sign up bonuses.

Health and Fitness – $274.74

Our monthly YMCA membership is $154. The boys have been taking swim lessons at the Y. MBP is doing really well and AHP is getting more and more comfortable with the water. We were also able to take our in-laws and they swam with the kids at the Y. Mr. MMD also paid $120.74 to play hockey for the season.

Bills and Utilities – $258.8

We paid $112.82 on our phone bill. Mr. MMD used quite a bit of data that month and it actually surprised both of us. Our monthly sewer bill is $66.46. Our water is $59.52 and our internet is at $20.

Shopping – $226.10

Shopping is a catch all. It’s clothes, housing supplies and prime subscription

Auto and Transport – $60.83

We filled up twice and paid 50 cents of parking in Seattle.

Pets – $57.81

Food and treats for our furbaby

Our Corgi watching the fireworks

Kids – $57.66

I bought the kids 2 headphones for travel. I also bought a travel stroller from our neighbor.

Entertainment – $35

Our Annual Discover Pass to visit the state Parks in WA. We already visited 2 state parks this summer.

Personal Care – $29.99

Not sure why Mint is not categorizing it as shopping, but these are just toiletries.

That’s our July. We spent half of August in California. I’ll talk about that on the next month’s update.

How’s your summer?

Car A/C, Birthday and June 2023 Expenses

We spent most of June sick. Our household got hit by this bug that started with MBP, passed on to AHP and to me. Luckily my husband didn’t get it. It wasn’t a typical cold because mine lasted about 3 weeks. We visited urgent care 3 times with 1 visit to virtual urgent care. I’m finally just getting better. We skipped our first and only last camping trip reservation this summer because we were sick.

Fortunately, we were still able to celebrate some milestones. MBP turned 6. We postponed his birthday party because he was sick. We were grateful that his friends were still able to come over.

MBP also graduated preschool. He will start kindergarten in September and AHP will attend the same school for Pre-k.

We also celebrated our 7 year anniversary. I tend to forget this because it is a day before MBP’s birthday and I’m busy preparing for that. Mr. MMD, though, is always on top of it.

Summer events also started. We celebrated Rubharb Days in our small town. We also took the boys to their first ever baseball game. The Mariners lost, but we still had a good time.

Our total expenses for the month is $6,300.13. We are living it up here. Let’s see where that money went.

Auto & Transport$1,404.54
Food & Dining$1,111.77
Health & Fitness$508.57
Bills & Utilities$468.66
Gifts & Donations$150.00
Personal Care$140.35
Fees & Charges$95.00

Auto and Transport – $1,404.54

The air conditioning of our 13 years old Toyota Prius went out. The Prius is our everyday car and it is summer here. Midas charged us $1,229.29 for the service and parts. We spent $156.25 on fuel and $19 for a train ride to Seattle to see the Mariner’s game. The train ride worked out really well. The kids rode free with paying adults and no one has to drive to the city, deal with traffic and pay for parking.

Food and Dining – $1,111.77

We were sick most of June so there are quite a bit of grocery run for food that we can eat (ie chicken noodle soup). Our groceries total $944.17. We spent the rest on eating out. We ate out twice, one at our local restaurant for Rubharb Fest and we had lunch before the Mariner’s game and had ice cream during the game. Mr. MMD also met up with our friend one time for a drink.

Shopping – $865.12

The big chunk is Mr. MMD’s new hockey skates for $466.29. He finally replaced his 10+ years old hockey skates! We spent $147.15 for miscellaneous shopping. I also replaced the batteries of my 4 year old iPhone for $97.99. It is finally charging at 100%. Hopefully, it last for another 4 years. I also bought 3 books from our local bookstore for $43.73. We usually visit that bookstore every summer during Rhubarb Days. I made a rule to myself that if I ever buy a book, I will try to buy it at our local bookstore first before ordering it at Amazon. I usually borrow books from the library, but the one I want has a long waitlist and it was for my bookclub. The boys picked a book for themselves as well. The rest are household supplies, shopping and our prime subscription.

It was a Space Theme Party

Kids – $755.23

We bought MBP a Nintendo Switch for his 6th birthday. We also bought him a game “Kirby the Forgotten Land”. Total for both were $346.78. MBP is really into it. AHP is a little too young, but do try to play it as well. We paid our last preschool tuition for the year for MBP for $294. I spent $92.58 for party supplies for MBP’s birthday party. We also bought a Frida Baby for AHP for 21.87. He was NOT into it!

He moves around the house while playing

Home – $537.72

Our neighbor repaired his fenced and decided to repair the side shared with ours. It was $400. My initial intuition was that it was too high, but I will not really argue with that. Mr. MMD and I decided to go ahead and be a good neighbor and pay it. We also pay $37.5 to dump some wood for recycling. Our HOA was $79.65 and we bought more light bulbs at Amazon for $20.57

Health and Fitness – $508.57

I had my bi-annual eye check and purchased an annual contact lenses for $195.97. Our monthly membership at the YMCA is consistent at $154. The boys are on swim lessons from M-Th for the past 2 weeks. We really get a lot from our membership. Mr. MMD paid for his hockey league for the season at $117.2. We also paid for our dental insurance at $41.4. I used our rewards from our health insurance provider to pay for our July health insurance, so it wasn’t here this month.

Bills and Utilities – $468.66

We paid $208.6 for our electric and gas. We continue to pay extra to get a “green” energy source from our utility provider. We do this because we can. Our garbage were $75.38. Sewer was consistent at $66.46. We paid $52.82 for our mobile phone. We about 4gb of data. We paid $45.4 for water and $20 for internet.

Gifts and Donation – $150

We got 3 $50 Target gift card for MBP’s teachers.

Entertainment – $141.12

MBP’s game was categorized here for $65.63. Our baseball tickets from Costco were $39.99 for 4 tickets. It was cheap seats, but MBP enjoyed it. We also watched the new Pixar Movie, “Elemental” and paid #25 for 3 tickets and big bucket of popcorn. Regal Crown has $5 movie ticket every Tuesday. This was MBP’s 3rd movie and AHP’s 2nd. AHP was able to seat down longer but I still have to go out with him and walk / run the hallway back and forth. I also paid $10 for a meetup membership. It charged me twice, but I let it go.

T-Mobile Park

Fees & Charges – $95

Mr. MMD’s annual credit card fees for Chase Sapphire Preferred. We will keep this card because we get a lot of value from it.

Pets – $77.25

Our furbabby’s dog food from Chewy.

Travel – $44.8

4 round trip tickets to San Diego this August.

Property Taxes, Cruising and May 2023 Expenses

We went on our first ever cruise in May. The cruise departed from Seattle and we visited Juneau, Skagway, Glacier Bay National Park, Ketchikan and Victoria BC, before going back to Seattle. These expenses were paid the previous months with the exception of tips, transit and food while we were visiting the town. I enjoyed Alaska but I don’t think I’ll be cruising anytime soon. I’d like to visit Alaska again in a different way. One day on port was not enough time to truly see the last frontier.

Cruising Glacier Bay National Park. Pictures don’t do it justice

Back here at home, we were preparing for the end of school year and start of our new kindergartner. MBP had his kindergarten assessment right when we got back. He also met some of his new friends in kindergarten.

In May, we spent $6,547.30. An expected high number given our property taxes. Let’s look at where we spent the rest of our money.

Food & Dining$735.29
Health & Fitness$526.35
Bills & Utilities$356.07
Auto & Transport$108.29
Personal Care$74.39

Taxes – $3,139.09

This was a one line item for half of our property taxes. I was late on payments and paid some $4 penalty. I made sure to put this task on my calendar from now on.

Food and Dining – $735.29

We spent cinco de mayo in Seattle and gave one of my best friend a send off. She got a great opportunity in London to advance her career. I’ve known this person since college. I will definitely miss her, but I am also very excited for her adventure. We spent the night in Seattle at a friends house and treat him for brunch the next day. The boys spent the night at my parents and we bought some Chinese food takeout for lunch with them. This food also included our dining out in the ports. Food was included in the cruise, but I’d like to support the local businesses in the port when we can. We got chocolate fudge in Juneau, had lunch at Skagway Brewery in Skagway and also got some treats for the kids.

Flights from Skagway Brewery.

Back home, we dine out more at Red Robin. We also celebrated Mr. MMD’s 41st birthday at Taco Bell, per tradition.

Health and Fitness – $526.35

Mr. MMD signed up for hockey this summer season and that cost $317.2 The rest were for our monthly gym membership at our local YMCA, health insurance and some dramamine for our cruise. The good news was that my insurance finally figure out the correct billing. They refunded me the overpayments. It was now corrected going forward.

Shopping – $498.39

Quite a bit of shopping this month, but the biggest one was for Apple Airpods Pro that was a gift for Mr. MMD. It was on sale at Best Buy at $199 vs the regular $250 price tag. I also got a $25 cash back by using my Chase Sapphire Preferred Card. Total with taxes was just under $200. I bought some clothes for the kids for the cruise and a rash guard for Mr. MMD. Total price for the new clothes were $37.17. The rest were for household supplies and miscellaneous shopping, which includes the trinkets that we bought from the ports.

Travel – $468.11

These were the expenses for the cruise including tips. Gratuities for the cruise were $16 per person per day. We used our $200 On Board Credits, which brought it back down to $233.11. This total also included the corkage fee when we had our bottle of wine open during dinner. The wine was under $10, but the corkage fee was a little over $20. It wasn’t that bad though. We were able to share it with my sister and my mom — though Mr. MMD and I mostly drank it. I also paid for some bus tickets to get us from Juneau to Mendenhall Glacier. The bus tickets were quite pricey at $45 per person, but I don’t want to haul our car seats and rent a car. We enjoyed Mendenhall Glacier, but I wished that we have more time to explore.

Wine from Trader Joes. This is the red wine that we served at our wedding. It’s nice that we can get it whenever we want.

Kids – $380.68

This includes the monthly preschool tuition expense for MBP at $294. The rest were some diapers, clothes and some other gadgets.

Utilities – $356.07

Electric and Gas were at $193.64. Water was $46.98. Sewer was flat at $66.46 per month and our internet was $20. Our phone bill for the month was $28.99. It looks like we’ve been using more than 1GB. This is still fairly cheap compare to other phone bill, but I just noticed that we actually used 8gb this month, so there will be month that we will pay more than $100 for the phone bill… yikes!

Home – $127

Our HOA due for $79 and some items for the backyard.

Pets – $121.64

Food for our fur baby from

Auto and Transport – $108.29

Glad to see this being down here. This was normal with 3 fill up of gas, a car wash and parking when Mr. MMD was in Seattle.

Personal Care – $74.39

The boys got a haircut and some lotion for me.

Entertainment – $12

Mint categorized our museum ticket in Ketchikan as entertainment.

Spring Break and April 2023 Expenses

We started the month of April by celebrating the kids’ Spring Break. MBP’s classmate turned 5 and he was invited to a birthday party. The party was held at some bouncy houses / trampoline indoor playground. The kids had fun, but for the most part they didn’t really play together. I also have to follow AHP to make sure that he’s safe as he could easily be smashed by older kids. The birthday party was fun but I really prefer the good old fashion house party. You can invite everyone, have games and pinata and actually talk to some adults instead of following your kids everywhere.

We stayed in for Spring Break. I didn’t get the chance to plan it ahead. We still did quite a bit of stuff for the week. First, visited the YMCA, local playgrounds, and took the kids to the grocery stores! We renewed our YMCA membership in anticipation of Spring Break. The kids were able to play in the pool. We also took them to Costco. A Costco trip is a fairly big deal for the boys and they always enjoy it. They get to try different samples (yes, some are junk).

One of the many parks in our neighborhood

We also went to Hands On Children’s Museum. This is a really big children’s museum. It was Spring Break and they had some special exhibit. We almost the full day here and I’m sure we can spend a whole day. We got a discounted tickets. We did have lunch in the cafe. On hindsight, we could have easily pack some lunch. The food there was a typical lunch food, and not really that special.

On one of the days, we went Chuck E Cheese. The one closest to us was newly renovated. We got the kids timed tickets and they were able to play whatever game they want for 2 hours. I went to Raise and bought a discounted gift card.

MBP also got his second COVID shot and AHP got is first one. These 2 primary shots are actually harder to find. We have to go to another county. Good thing that it was in the mall. We just made a day out of it. We got a pretzel from Auntie Annes and the boys loved it! The boys didn’t get any reaction from the shots. We finished off the Spring Break by celebrating Easter at home and at my parent’s place. The boys got tons and tons of candy!! We are just finishing off their Valentine’s day candy and we got more replenishment.

MBP capture his feelings during easter

So in total, we spent $4,010.45. Our spending for the last months were trending to be over $4,000. It’s looking like a new normal for us. This is actually pretty high, considering we don’t have a mortgage and car payments. Let’s look at where our money went in April.

Auto & Transport$820.08
Food & Dining$735.42
Bills & Utilities$453.11
Health & Fitness$361.80
Gifts & Donations$160.18
Personal Care$55.66
Business Services$11.84

Auto and Transport – $820.08

Another high number for this category. The biggest one was for our 6 months auto insurance for $463.96. We have a liability insurance for our 2010 VW Jetta and 2010 Prius. I also renewed the tabs for our 2010 Prius. It’s been a year since we bought the Prius. So far we’ve put in less than 10k miles and hasn’t had any issues so far aside from the regular change oil. We bought 2 new headlights for the Prius as well and my husband installed it himself. We spent $126.16 for gas and about $20 for parking for the Mr.’s night out in Seattle.

Food and Dining – $735.42

We spent $511.09 on groceries. We spent about $700 per month on groceries. It looks smaller this month because it doesn’t include the VISA gift card that we purchased last month that we used for shopping at WINCO. We also spent $171.52 on restaurants. We ate out a couple of times as a family at the Children’s Museum and at our local’s farmers market. We also got a $25 gift card at a local cupcake place. It was part of an auction for AHP’s school. I also paid for dinner for a friend and Mr. MMD ate out in Seattle with his friends.

Travel – $532

We bid on a 2 night beachfront condo for the summer as part of AHP’s auction. It was $450. We know the family and she mentioned that we can stay for 3 nights. $82 were for 2 night camp site at Sunlake State Park.

Bills and Utilities – $453.11

Electric and Gas is at $220. There was a day that it hailed here and it was still cold. I’m hoping that it goes down. Garbage is at $87.1. I should receive a credit next month since this was higher than expected. Sewer is constant at $66.46. Water is at $47.56. Mobile phone for 2 lines were $17. We only used 1gb this month. Internet was $14.99. We received some credit due to outage.

Kids – $431.43

This includes MBP’s monthly tuition fee at $294. I also included a $40 business fee that I paid for AHP’s school. I haven’t received a reimbursements yet. I also paid another $10 for the auction item for AHP. We spent $50.96 at Chuck E Cheese and $10.5 for the tickets and parking at the Children’s Museum. The rest are for some kids gadgets.

Health and Fitness – $361.8

Gym was at $224. This includes our monthly YMCA gym membership at $154. I also won a one month free for the same YMCA at $70 for AHP’s auction. Dental insurance was $82.8 for 2 months. Mr. MMD played pick up hockey at $35. Mr. MMD also have a $20 copay for lab fees.

Shopping – $192.63

I bought some clothes for Mr. MMD and the boys at the GAP. I try to get the boys clothes used as much as possible, but I can’t really find good pants for them. I really like the GAP because it has the adjustable elastic that can fit the boys better. We also bought some household supplies like paper towels etc. All of these are categorized as shopping.

Gifts & Donation – $160.18

$112 was a donation for AHP’s school. We got some flowers for my mom at the farmer’s market. It was $30 for a beautiful bouquet. I also bought some gift for AHP’s classmate. We went to another birthday party at a jump place in a mall.

The many flowers in the farmers market

Home – $148.54

Typical monthly HOA for $80. We also bought a Google learning nest. Puget Sound Energy gave us a steep discount for the earth month and we got it for $53.61. We also bought some stuff from Home Depot and Lowes

We replaced this old one with a Nest Learning Thermostat

Pets – $83.53

Food for our fur baby

Personal Care – $55.66

Some toiletries/ lotion

Entertainment – $24.23

Our entire family watched the Super Mario Bros. We got a deal at Regal. Admission every Tuesday is only $5.50 and a big popcorn is only for$5. We have the entire movie theatre ourselves. We enjoyed it except for AHP. He cried and got scared on some of the scenes so we have to leave the theatre and walk around a bit then come back.

Business Services – $11.84

This is for another year domain at

We are spending more. At this rate, we will definitely spend more than $60k this year. We already spent almost $8k this year. Everything is more expensive this year. We are also eating out and will travel more. It will be interesting to see our total spending this year. My gut feel is about $70k.

Well, that is April. How was yours?

Car Troubles, Carrie Underwood, March Madness and March 2023 Expenses

Spring “officially” arrived in the Pacific Northwest. I typed that with quotation mark because we still experience some hail and snow last month. I am pretty sure this is the longest winter I’ve experienced here. Sun peeked for about a week and now we are back on gloomy and wet weather.

This March, we finally got our VW Jetta towed to our local auto mechanic. It’s been broken since January. The parking break got stuck because it was on for a long time during our very cold winter. Our attempted DIY didn’t fix it. The VW is our second car and we rarely drive it. I bought it brand spanking new in December 2010 and it hasn’t even hit 60k miles. I gave it to my sister for a year when we decided to go with one car. It didn’t work and we realize that we really need 2 cars. She bought a new to her car and gave back the VW to us (thanks, sis!) There is no public transportation in our suburb. Occasionally, one of the grown ups have to go somewhere and we like having another car at home to ensure that we don’t get stuck here in case of emergency.

I also saw Carrie Underwood’s concert in Seattle. My sister won 2 tickets from a radio station. Last time, she won 4 tickets to Disney on Ice. I’m not necessarily a big fan of Carrie Underwood, but I do like live music. It was a great show and it’s great to hang out with my big sis and be back in the city.

This is a restaurant for dogs! Only in Seattle

March is also the time of March Madness. It’s a basketball college tournament. Last year, everyone in my family put together a bracket with a $5 buy in. Even our kids participated and we of course put in $5 for them. AHP, our 3 years old picks his team based on the last team that my husband says and he almost won! MBP was disappointed and cried in the beginning because he doesn’t have a lot of points. He finally get the purpose of the game in the end. No one got the champs right, but I won! Second year in a row!!

This month, I also continued preparing taxes for low income people as part of VITA program. It is a very rewarding job. Getting paid is nice too, but I will probably volunteer, even if I don’t do the job.

Back to expenses. Our total expenses in March was $4,430.27

Auto & Transport$1,297.44
Food & Dining$907.87
Health & Fitness$639.67
Bills & Utilities$412.93
Business Services$44.80
Gifts & Donations$21.87
Fees & Charges$0.00

Auto and Transport – $1,297.44

This is our biggest expense this month because of the issue with the VW. I paid $167.12 to get it towed to the mechanic. Our mechanic charged us $697.21 for the fix and to change the rear tires. We also paid $197.98 for oil changes for both Prius and Jetta. I got some Groupon deal for the Jetta but paid full price for the Prius. Oil change is getting expensive but it is such a hassle to do it yourself. The other $224.2 was for gas. I was not able to carpool for a week and drove more. I also bought a phone holder for VW.

Food and Dining – $907.87

This is inflated again. I bought $400 worth of Visa Gift Cards at Office Depot when they were having a $15 sale. This basically free up the activation fee and $2 discount. We uses this gift cards at WINCO exclusively because the grocery store do not accept credit cards. We still have about $300 worth of GCs which we will use in April.

We did buy cereal and milk!

Health and Fitness – $639.67

There is still some issue with our health care bill. I signed up for a Gold Plan that should cost us $99/month, but for some reason the credit from WA state was not reflected on the March invoice. It’s continuing, but I’m hoping that it will get resolved soon. Our dental plan includes March and April. There are still some lingering doctor bills from my husbands medical issue last year. Lastly, we went back to the YMCA. We don’t have plans for the Spring break and went back swimming at the Y. The boys are also signed up for swim and baseball classes.

Bills and Utilities – $412.93

Our internet bill was posted for 2 months, including April. We also paid for water this month. Hopefully, our gas bill goes down in the next few months as it warms up a bit.

Kids – $407.23

About $300 is for MBP’s preschool tuition. I paid $51.75 for AHP’s annual school auction. The 2 tickets includes dinner which was actually pretty good. Even the desserts were homemade. We are, unfortunately still using diapers at night and spent about $50 at Costco for these. I can only hope one day that we can be out of diapers!

Travel – $320

These are for 2 expedited kids passports. We applied in February but the checks weren’t cashed until March. We already received their passports.

Pets – $227.82

More medication for our fur baby. I think she has some allergies so we started her with some allergy medications.

Home – $79.65

Our HOA bill. It is high and I wish it doesn’t exist but we try to use the parks all the time, so maybe it is worth it.?…

Business Services – $44.8

I bought a tax software to prepare ours and my sister’s taxes.

Shopping – $38.44

Some kitchen gadgets like 2 pizza pans and other miscellaneous things.

Entertainment – $32.05

My husband took MBP for his first ever movie experience! They watched Puss in Boots. He enjoyed and apparently no one was in the movie theatre except for them!

Gifts – $21.87

MBP was invited to his classmates birthday party at an indoor jump park. We got her a present. Admission to the park is $20 for one kid. In theory, it was cheaper to buy the presents and the kids had fun. MBP is now asking to have his birthday in a jump parl.. yikes!

Alright, how’s your March?

Trampoline Park, Birthday and February 2023 Expenses

It was a busy, short month of February. We went on some play date in a trampoline playground. It’s basically one giant place for kids to jump around. It was packed and a bit intimidating for our kids. We also had a snow day during valentines day and it has been colder than usual here in the Pacific Northwest. I’m ready for Spring, but Winter never seems to end.

AHP also turned 3 this February. He was so excited for his birthday! He had school on the actual day and we brought mini cupcakes for the class. He also had a family celebration for the weekend and even had 2 cakes!

Hi! I’m 3!

February was an expensive short month. In total we spent, $4,294.9.

Food & Dining$738.33
Bills & Utilities$265.52
Business Services$249.79
Health & Fitness$230.75
Auto & Transport$106.37

Travel – $2,112.4

We spent $1,996 for our upcoming 7 nights Alaskan Cruise this May. It will be our first ever cruise and I’m excited. Even the kids are excited. The cruise will tour Glacier Bay National Park. National Park Rangers will board the ship to give us a “tour” of the glacier. I read really good things about it. Since the tour will go to Canada, we decided to get passports for the kids. We paid $94 to the county for processing and kids passport photos. The actual application fees were cashed in March. I also paid $22.4 for 4 one way ticket to Florida this December during the winter break. I’m still unsure if the trip will happen, but I found a non-stop tickets to FLL, using Ultimate Rewards on Virgin Atlantic (via Delta). The ticket is refundable, so I have some time to plan.

Food and Dining – $738.33

Well, I thought this would be lower, given that we were using our Visa Gift Card to shop at Winco for groceries. We spent $585.88 on groceries. We also ate out twice and spent $107.45 on restaurants. I also spent $45 on Starbucks. Yes, I’m spending money on lattes!

Pets – $410.03

We took our furbaby to the vet again for some skin issues. It is getting a bit expensive but she is also getting old and these expenses are probably normal for her age. We’re hoping that it clears up and we can get to the bottom of it.

Kids – $300

We decided to stop contributing to the kids 529 plan. $200 is for one kid. We also spent $93.11 for the trampoline playground. Not worth it, in my opinion. The kids are just too young for it and it was expensive. The rest are for supplies for AHP’s coop that I donated.

He got stuck!

Utilities – $265.52

These are for water, sewer, garbage, cell phone and last month’s subscription to HBO Max. It looks like we’ve been using 2gbs of data on average and our cell phone bill is now normally $29.29.

Home – $116.4

This is for one month of HOA. We paid for a late fees because it was on an auto pay from a bank account that we closed.

Auto and Transport – $106.37

3 trips to Costco for gas and $40 for my carpool for the month of January and March. I prepare taxes for VITA and carpool with my neighbor three times a week. It’s a fun retirement job and I get to do it with my retired, 74 year old neighbor.

Shopping – $18.10

Subscription fees for Amazon, which we mainly use for music. I also bought some sunnys for the kiddos, for one week when the sun came out!

How to report a backdoor roth IRA using H&R Block Software: A step-by-step guide

I’ve been using H&R block software for the last 3 years. I used the downloadable software which allows me to e-file 5 federal returns. I used the software to file ours (1), my 3 siblings (3) and my parents (1). I used the premium version which cost $54.95 at Amazon.

What is a Backdoor Roth IRA?

According to Mootley Fool, “A backdoor Roth IRA is a retirement savings strategy whereby you make a contribution to a traditional IRA, which anyone is allowed to do, and then immediately convert the account to a Roth IRA.”

In layman’s term, a backdoor Roth IRA is a way to contribute to Roth IRA if you are above the income threshold that the IRS allows. You can find the threshold on IRS website.

Ideally, your traditional IRA balance is 0 before contributing to backdoor Roth IRA. You can do this by rolling your traditional IRA balance to your 401k, before doing this conversion.

For this scenario, Taxpayer (TP) has 0 dollar balance in traditional IRA. This is done by moving the balance to the TP’s current 401k. In January 3, 2022, TP contributed $6,000 to a traditional IRA. In January 5, 2022, TP convert the traditional IRA to Roth IRA. By December 30, 2022, TP has 0 balance in traditional IRA.

TP receives the following IRS document from the brokerage account:

  • Form 5498 IRA Contribution for Traditional IRA
  • Form 1099-R: Distributions from Pensions, Annuities, Retirement or Profit Sharing Plans
  • Form 5498 IRA Contribution for Roth IRA

Step 1:

Add all your income from W2s and other incomes.

Step 2:

Add the IRA contribution. You will see this under the Federal Section –> Adjustment Tab

This will trigger the software to create a form 8606, Non Deductible IRAs and it will look like this:

Step 3:

Add the 1099-R. This is the distribution made from Traditional IRA because you converted the contribution to Roth IRA.

You now have conversion documented in Form 8606, step 2 and it will like below:

Congrats! You now completed the form 8606 for 2022 tax year.

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