The Monthly Expenses of Early Retiree – January 2021

Well this was a very late post, given that it is already end of March. I thought about stopping my monthly update since our last year’s expenses are surprisingly low. That said, I still find this update useful for me. I like looking back and comparing my finances and the updates of our early retirement life.

Life Update

In January, I turned 35. Woo hoo! I am officially on my mid thirties. It was a low key celebration with my family with some KFC and Boston Cake from Safeway. MBP love love birthday celebrations because he can blow the candles which he did on my cakes.

We also officially sold our rental property. The property is a 1.5 bedroom condo in Seattle. All the proceeds excluding taxes were invested on VTI. I also gifted my Volkswagon Jetta to my sister. I bought that car in 2010 and put in about 50K miles. I haven’t driven that car for the entire 2020 and barely driven it in 2019 after retirement. We have to buy a new battery because the it was dead. We also changed all 4 tires before giving it to my sister. She reimbursed for all maintenance cost and administrative cost. We are now a one car family, until we buy a van in the near future.


We spent $2,045.47 this month! This is actually lower than I thought!

Health insurance premiums are going to be a big expenses this year. There was some back and forth for the kids insurance until I finally got clarity. We opt out for dental care insurance and plan to pay for it out of pocket.

Food is next category that we spent on. I started accounting for all the junk foods that we’re buying, because I really want to stop eating them!

We paid MBP’s tuition fee for the rest of the year and continued to add on to his 529 plan. We will start contributing to AHP’s plan around May.

Utilities this month were for sewer, internet, electric and gas, and our mobile phone. Our electric and gas are low because I accidentally prepay it the previous month.

Our housing expenses consist of HOA dues, furnishings and household supplies. We went to Ikea in January and I’m pretty sure we bought items for the kids but I can’t recall.

The rest are pretty straight forward below and all under $100.

Health Insurance707.15Bronze plan for myself and the Mr.
529 College Fund200.00
Preschool Tuition168.00MBP's tuition for the whole year. It is very affordable because it is a coop
HOA Dues73.00
Fast Food70.99Run to KFC for my birthday and a Burger King trip
Pet Food & Supplies57.47
Electric and Gas38.93
Furnishings33.51Something from Ikea - which I think are gifts for the kids
Junk Food24.47I started accounting for all the junk food that we are eating!
Gas & Fuel21.26
Mobile Phone16.31
Household Supplies10.92
Alcohol & Bars10.00
Books & Supplies5.00Library fine for the books that I apparently lost. I swear I returned it.
Hobbies1.88Cost from Google Cloud Platform to host this blog
Shopping(76.57)I returned some items to Amazon so this is negative
Grand Total 2,045.47

Everything we spent on our first full year of retirement

2020 was our first full year of retirement. This was also the year that the entire world shut down. Like many others we stayed home, wear mask, social distance and limit the time spent with our extended families.

On a happy note, this year also brought some joy in our lives with the birth of our second son, AHP. I discovered weight training and lost 30 lbs post pregnancy and MBP’s preschool moved outdoors and I became more involve in the preschool.

Our Second Son

I was already pregnant when I quit my W2 job back in July 2019. I thought about staying and quitting after taking the maternity leave. My main concern was the cost of health care. I’m glad I left then. I probably lose out over $200k of vested stocks and salary, but we have more than enough. It was a good practice on saying no, it really is enough. During this time, I was able to focus on my pregnant body and spent a lot of time with our growing toddler. AHP was born in February 2020. About 3 weeks later, our state shut down. It was difficult to have a newborn during the shutdown. The outside help from our family was very very limited. We have to pull MBP out of preschool and struggle on making some decisions – like enrolling MBP for this school year, the frequency of our grocery trips and going to the parks. We were trying to protect our newborn and our preemie. Now, we somewhat accepted our new normal and still live our lives with all the precautions that we can take and situation under our control. AHP just turned one. We celebrated it with my parents. He had a cake. We also started taking both kids to Costco – a trip that they enjoy.

Weight Training and Losing Weight

Like everyone else, I gained weight during this pandemic. I was also post partum, so of course I gained weight. I was at my highest at 140 lbs. After getting a green light from my doctor and started sleep training AHP, I set a goal to go back to my previous weight of 105 lbs by the end of the year. I tracked my food intake, tracked my weight and by the time of this writing I’m 108.5 lbs. I didn’t hit the 105 lbs goal, but I’m glad with where I’m at.

MBP’s Outdoor Preschool

MBP is part of a Cooperative Preschool. This means that parents work during class several times a month and take a very active role in the classroom. I enjoy being in the classroom and watching these kids outside. It also gives me an opportunity to be outside for at least 2.5 hours whenever I’m working. We experience rain, sunshine and cold weather and the kids are still having a blast. I’m a co-treasurer this year and I’m glad to be using my background as a CPA to help the school.

2020 Spending

Every month, I published our monthly spending. We retired without necessarily creating a budget so I’m curious of our spending after our first full year of retirement. The total — $39,955.36. We spent just under $40k! This includes adding an additional person in our household! I don’t think we ever spent this low at any given year. Hunkering down definitely helped since we never traveled this year.

What we didn’t pay

Let me go through some of the items that we didn’t spent on this year. First is housing. We do not have a mortgage, so you cannot see that here. Our property taxes was over $6k, given that we live in a suburb of Seattle. This property tax was about half of what we paid when we were living in Seattle. We also didn’t pay for healthcare. In 2020, we have $0 of earned income. Our dividends will hit under $30k so we qualify for Apple Health. We planned for this because my pregnancy was high risk. In 2021, we are paying for a full health care coverage through marketplace without any subsidy for a family of 4.

Spending Details

I used Mint to track our spending. I’m very detailed on the category because I want to track which line items can be optimized. Given that we hit under $40K, I think everything is optimized at this point. $40k is definitely our floor and will go up next year with the cost of our health insurance being the main driver.

Housing – $10,005.61

Housing still top our spending even though we do not have a mortgage. As I said, we live in a suburb of Seattle and property taxes alone was more than $6k. We also have monthly HOA dues and we signed up for lawn care last year. The rest was our household supplies.

Kids – $7,927.14

About $6k of these expenses were contribution to the kids 529 plan. I choose to consider these as expenses and will continue to do so. The rest were some supplies and MBP’s preschool tuition.

Food – $7,788.75

About $7,300 were spent on groceries and the rest were on restaurants and fast food. I am trying to categorize the unhealthy snacks that we buy at the groceries. I want to see if this will be an added motivation to stop buying it. Ruffles, Nutella and Donuts are my enemy and I can’t seem to stop eating them when it is in the house.

Gifts – $5,678.57

The biggest chunk of this was the cash gifted to my parents during Christmas.

Utilities – $3,928.84

Part of living in high cost of living city is paying for high utilities. This was probably half of what we would have paid in Seattle.

Shopping – $1,423.42

This category was combination of clothes, new iPhone, and other items we bought from Amazon.

Pets – $778.68

Not bad for this year. This was mainly her food and treats. We were slowly cutting back on treats because even our furbaby needs to lose weight.

Health – $428.73

This includes a procedure for AHP that was not covered by insurance, one month of gym membership pre-covid, one year supply of contact lenses and some prescription drugs.

Other $726.83

Combination of all the other items we paid for.

Future 2021 Spending

I expect to spend more in 2021. We are paying our health insurance without any subsidy this year. We are also looking to buy a new to us minivan. I’m also hoping that we can start traveling to see family and visit the happiest place on earth! All of that will require more spending, which we are happy to make.

How was your 2020?