Hawaii and April 2024 Expenses

We spent 9 days in Oahu for Spring Break. It was the longest flight that the kids have taken. I started planning this trip a year out. I booked the hotels, on points once I know that dates of the kids break. Being in Seattle, most families spends their break in Hawaii (or Mexico) and I know that it will be a high season. For this trip, we spent $2,483.30. It is low because our flights, hotel and car rental were all booked with points. Without these, we will probably need to add an additional $5k on that amount.

Ko’Olina Lagoon

I am also officially retired again. I completed my second year, managing a Tax Site for VITA. It was a pretty good and a very relax gig. Our site was not as busy as my previous tax site, but I prefer that. I never felt “taxed” coming home. We had our end of year celebration at a local Mexican place. The food was better than I expected and the company was great as well. I hope that majority of my volunteers come back.

We also attended AHP’s friends birthday party. We are at a point that we are attending more of our kid’s friends birthday party than hanging out with our own friend. That said, it is nice to see some families at our previous coop. Lastly, MBP’s campfire troupe had a Pinewood Derby at our local park. He had a lot of fun decorating it and looking at the brackets. He narrated what’s going on for everyone.

This month, we spent $4,958.09. It’s about time that we spend more than $4k. Let’s take a look.

Home Maintenance382.55
Pets/Pet Care229.69
Home Improvement101.58
Kids Activities97.3
General Merchandise65.16
Charitable Giving41.3
Mobile Phone17.2
Dues & Subscription7.65
Service Charges/Fees5

Travel – $1,669.16

This is the amount of money we spent in Hawaii during our trip. We spent $444 for a valet parking in our hotel. I could have parked next door and spend half the price or even less, but I like the convenience. I drove around the block with the intention of parking on the next door garage, until I realize that it is not worth it. At least not to me. I prefer the convenience of having the car in front waiting for us once we are ready for the day’s adventure. Even with this cost it didn’t really break the bank. I also find myself “spending” and fighting my nature to be frugal on everything. We ate out for dinner on all nights except for one where we order in a pizza. I had the best poke bowl and the best ramen in front of Waikiki. Yes, those are expensive, but it is ok. We spent $40 on 1 coconut and 2 mangoes from a street vendor on our way from Kualoa Ranch. That is also ok. I actually prefer to spend my money giving it to the hands of locals. Oahu, just like any other cities in the US, are not immune to social issues even though they are living in a paradise. You can tell that there are parts that are pretty run down. If you look at Waikiki, I’d be willing to bet that majority of the people who own the condos were not locals. This means, that the money doesn’t really stay in the community. When you look at houses in Oahu, the school rankings around it are very low. I feel that Hawaii is a playground of folks living in the West Coast (mainly California) or Japan. The rest of our spending was for food, transportation, souvenirs and tips. I paid for our GoOahu Pass in the previous month, so it is not here.

$40 for 1 coconut and 2 mangoes

Anyway, I’m already planning our trip back next year. This time in Maui. I’m getting better at getting more value on our points, but Maui will be trickier. There are less hotels in the island and I’m still not sure if they are back to normal after the devastating fire in 2023. If not Maui, perhaps Florida coast.

Healthcare/Medical – $714.89

We are still paying some bills from Mr. MMD’s colonoscopy that happened last year. The last bill was $498.8 We also paid our health insurance for $99.48, vision insurance for $5 and our dental insurance for $77.52. Our dental insurance is actually good through end of June. I bought another box of eyedrops from Costco for $20.25 and some gummy vitamins for the kids for $13.74.

Groceries – $488

This is low because our “grocery” spending in Oahu were categorized as travel related.

Home Maintenance – $382

We hired a plumber to fix our outside faucet so we can water our front yard. My hope is to xeriscape our front yard at some point. It is small, but I’m not sure if HOA will allow a no grass front lawn.

Our tulips are alive!

Education – $323

AHP’s preschool tuition. This will go up to $355 next year. I can’t believe it’s almost summer. One more year for him and he is off to Kindergarten.

Pets/Pet Care – $229.69

Our furbaby had vet visit for $145. We also ordered her food from Instacart (affiliate link). This is the second time that I ordered her food there. Petco has a same day delivery with in-store pricing for Instacart. They also usually run deals. I was able to stack it by buying a discounted GC at Raise (Affiliate link). I got $100 GC for $84.69.

Utilities – $210

Water, sewer and garbage. Nothing new here. Our electric and gas were paid in May.

Automotive – $178.25

Annual registration for our 2011 Toyota Prius.

Clothing / Shoes – $137

I got the boys a minimalist shoes from Amazon. AHP has a very wide feet and I’d like to keep their feet on a wide splayed shoes, zero drop shoes. I found one at Amazon that is reasonably priced and bought 2 for $72.9. I also got the 3 of us (boys and I) some flip flops from target to use in Hawaii. AHP ended up hating them and didn’t even wear it in Hawaii. I got them some toe socks as well, a biker shorts for me from Costco on sale at $10.98. Lastly, I paid $15 to consign the kids stuff at a consignment store. I think I’m getting $60 back. I’m not sure if it is worth it, since I have to tag all the items and put it in the system. That said, it is nice to finally get rid of all their stuff in one go. The Prius was packed! I can’t believe we accumulate those items, considering I’m very careful on things I buy, since I know that I need to store them somewhere!

Gasoline/ Fuel – $118.77

We gas up our Prius twice and our Jetta once.

Home Improvement – $116

Some stuff from Lowes and Costco. I think it is the soil for our garden bed.

Kids Activities – $97

4 tickets to the Tacoma Rainer’s game and painters tape from Home Depot.

HOA – $84

To pay for our playground and trails. I do hope someday it will go away.

General Merchandise – $59.61

Random stuff from Costco, Amazon and Walmart. Delta also broke a wheel on our Uppababy Vista. Luckily they reimbursed us for it. They are also very quick to respond. One wheel was $51.45. Mr. MMD also bought some games.

Gifts – $55.53

Gifts for MBP and AHP’s friends. I typically spend $20 per person for gifts. Sometimes less if I can find something interesting at the dollar store.

Charitable Giving – $41.30

MBP has another fundraiser at his school and he just need to get those key chains. We donated the minimum. I don’t mind the charity drive, but I don’t think it is teaching the kids that it is for a certain cause. MBP just want the key chains!

Alcohol – $17.55

For Mr. MMD. I do get wine from Trader Joe’s as well for my monthly book club.

Mobile Phone $17.2

We are still at Xfinity Mobile. This is for 2 lines using about 1gb of data.

Internet – $13.92

We should be getting lower internet package from Xfinity going forward.

Subscription – $7.65

Monthly Prime Membership

Fees – $5

Chase fee of $5 for the Savings Account that I opened to get the sign up bonus. I received $900 sign up bonus by opening both Chase Savings and Checking account and having my paycheck directly deposited to it. I closed it now and transferred the balance to a high yield CD. I still net positive even with the fees.

Overall spending for April is less than I expected considering we went to Hawaii.

Review: Kualoa Ranch Grown Farm Tour and Secret Island Tour

We visited Kualoa Ranch twice during our trip to Oahu. The area was very beautiful, especially for a private ranch. The owner of the ranch used the funds of the tours to maintained the ranch as a sanctuary.

I picked 2 tours for our trip. Our first tour was the Grown Farm Tour in the morning. I used our Go City Pass to reserve our tour. First, you have to go to their website. The cost starts at $54.95 for adult and $41.83 for kids. Go City will give you a promo code which will bring the cost down to $0. The ranch charges $1 per person to reserve which are then refunded back to your credit card after the tour.

I received several emails confirming my reservations. They also asked me to send my Go City QR code the day before the tour to expedite the check in process.

The check in process was a breeze. I went in there and showed my ID and they printed out my ticket for our group. We got lucked out because there were only 2 other groups in the tour. It wasn’t long until we were in the trolley for our first of the three stop.

During our first stop, we saw some birds native to the islands, my favorite being the red crested cardinal. We also saw some native farming process for both plant and fish. During our stop we sampled some poi, smoked fish and pineapple. Our stop has a great view of the Kualoa Mountain Ranges.

Our next stop was all about the large man made fish pond that were maintained my the ranch. It was pointed out that several movies were shot there, like 50 first dates. I don’t recognize the rest. It was of course beautiful. During this stop, we get to sample a Macadamia Nut and we have to open it ourselves. It was my first time seeing a macadamia nut in a shell. Apparently, you need a special tool to open it. It was delicious and tasted very buttery.

Our last stop was to see more of the farm and also the place they shot Jurassic World. This ranch is actually very famous because of all the movies that were shot here, most famous is probably the original Jurassic Park. We sampled some cocoa and again it was my first time eating eat. It’s like eating rambutan because you don’t really eat the beans. MBP enjoyed it. I find it too slimy.

We then went back to the welcome area, just in time for lunch. Overall, I enjoyed this tour. The movie tour is so popular but this tour actually has some sites as well without the crowd. There were plenty of time for the kids to run around and chase the birds.

The next tour we took also in Kualoa Ranch is the Secret Island Tour. Since we are using our Go City Pass, we have to go on a different day. It works well for our schedule. We took a more scenic route to go to the ranch on our way. We also picked the best day because it rain just the day before that. The Secret Island Tour was probably my favorite activity that we did in Oahu. Similar to Grown Tour, I made a reservation in advance and was charged $4. The $4 was refunded on my credit card on the day of the tour. They asked us to checked in at 11AM as the bus will leave at 11:30. Similar to Grown Tour, I received an e-mail asking for my Go City Pass which I sent a day before. This must be a popular time because there was a line to checked in. Once I got my pass, we sat down on one of the benches to eat our pack lunch. We also changed to our swimsuits and put on our sunscreen.

The tour was running late and there were probably 60+ people. It was a bit crowded waiting in line. We took a bus to the pond and took a 10 minute boat ride to the island. The ride gave us a great view of the mountain. It was really cool. Once we got there, a guide showed us the bathroom, changing room and told us the do’s and dont’s — really common sense for everyone. We also signed up for a boat tour to see some turtles. Once we got there, the kids went to the ocean right away. There were plenty of sand toys for the kids. There were also plenty of shelter, volleyball court, horse shoe, ping pong table and corn hole. MBP played it all except for the horse shoe. When it was time to board the boat, we saw a spectacular view and about 10 or so turtles. They’re like showing off! It was really cool. Back on the beach, Mr. MMD and I also tried stand up paddle boarding and we took the kids on a kayak ride. We didn’t go far, but it was really cool to get to do all these water activities. MBP also watched some family play beach volleyball. He apparently kept score for them. We stayed there until 3PM and were the last one to board the boat back.

As I said, this was probably my favorite activity. The beach was calm and the island gave us plenty of opportunities to do some water activities. It also never felt crowded.

Overall, I definitely recommend visiting Kualoa Ranch. I can’t speak for their other tours but I enjoyed the Grown Farm Tour and the Secret Island Tour.