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!
February was an expensive short month. In total we spent, $4,294.9.
Food & Dining
Bills & Utilities
Health & Fitness
Auto & Transport
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.
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!
We started the New Year visiting the Happiest Place on Earth at Disneyland. This is our second year at Mickeyland. The visit is more relaxed despite the rain on our first day. The kids were also able to appreciate the rides more and have quite a bit more opinion about it. They were able to interact with the characters as well. For me, a vacation in Disneyland is an easy family vacation in terms of logistics. Everything is catered for family and there are services for everything we needed, like a car service with 2 car seats on and a stroller that is delivered right to our hotel and picked up in our hotel. Unlike our visit to Chicago, we didn’t have to lug our 2 heavy car seats and our stroller. Transportation is just easier. The visit also doesn’t need to be expensive. In fact, I think we spent the same amount of money on a per day basis when we visited Chicago.
Most of the expenses for Disney were paid last year, so you will not see it in this report. Similar to last year, our flight and 8 nights hotel stay were paid by points. This year, we stayed at Hyatt Place. It’s a little bit longer walk to Disneyland, but our room is bigger with a separate “living room” and breakfast were included in our stay. We used Southwest to fly from Seattle to Santa Ana and Alaska Airlines to fly from Santa Ana to Seattle.
This month, we spent $4,387.76.
Food & Dining
Health & Fitness
Bills & Utilities
Fees & Charges
Auto & Transport
Food and Dining – $1,465.19
This is inflated this month. I purchased $400 Visa fee free gift cards at Staples. We exclusively uses this to shop at WINCO. WINCO only accept debit card and by using the gift cards, we can maximize the points that we use for travel. We haven’t used this all and will probably last us until February. We ate out 3 times at Disneyland but the kids got a gift card from my brother and we used that to eat out. Restaurants are actually reasonably price at Disneyland. I bought a $200 GC from Instacart, using raise.com. I got a little less than $20 back, so the GC only cost $182.88. I used this to buy some groceries delivered to our hotel. We used this for our lunches and Dinner for the 8 nights of vacation. We brought our rice cooker to make some simple dinners (e.g. mac and cheese with hotdogs). It’s actually a hit for the kids, though not the healthiest. I did try to add some steam vegetables, for dinners and tons of fruits for breakfast and lunch. We also visited In and Out when we got off the plane. Our car service allowed a 30 minute stop to a groceries or in and out. Since our flight arrived around noon, we were ready for lunch at that time.
We visited our local diner back home and visited McDonalds once. I also started going to Starbucks. I canceled our YMCA membership and I needed a place to hang out while my the kids are in school. A and I go here before he goes to school. I bring his breakfast while I have coffee and hang out with a parent from his class. So far the cost of coffee is less than or Y membership and I enjoy hanging out with other parents, so I think it is worth it.
Kids – $1,076.39
This also inflated since the M’s tuition hit in 2 months, one for Jan and one for Feb. Speaking of tuition, it looks like the preschool’s tuition will increase next year. Good thing, M will start Kindergarten, but A will go to preschool for 2 more years. This still includes the $200 contribution per kid to their respective 529 college funds. The kids also got a haircut!
Travel – $508.33
I booked 7 night Alaskan Cruise through Princess cruise. Princess was having a sale with kids free (or 3rd and 4th passenger free), so we booked it. My sister and my mom is also coming with us. I’m excited to try cruising and definitely excited to see Glacier Bay National Park. I bought a $400 Princess Cruise Gift Card at raise.com and received 6% discount. I used it for the deposit. The rest is payable in February. The rest of the items were souvenirs from Disneyland, and housekeeping tips during our stay.
Health and Fitness – $336.3
I paid $200 from previous Mr. MMD’s Dr’s visit and ultra sound. I also paid 2 months worth of dental insurance for January and February, so that totaled to $82.8. I bought some medication as well and Mr. MMD paid for a pick up hockey game.
Utilities – $328.31
Utilities are normal for the winter season. Sewer and internet are flat. Our mobile phone range from $16.64 for 1 gb- $28.78 for 2gbs. We have been using 2gbs for the most part now, especially when we travel. We still uses Xfinity mobile and have been happy with the service.
Business Services – $238.51
My CPA certification is due. It is valid 3 years and I intend to keep this forever! About $10 bucks are shipping items and office supplies.
Home – $163.67
AHP moved to a twin bed (that we got from our local buy nothing group). We got him a duvet and a couple of other items for the kitchen. We still have our crib, that we are looking to get rid off. For some reason, our local buy nothing group doesn’t want it.
Fees and Charges – $95
I open a Chase Sapphire Preferred. I was finally eligible to open one with a sign up bonus of 60,000 points. This card allows me to transfer points to different airlines and hotel partners which we uses when traveling. My favorite transfer partner for hotels is Hyatt, which we used in Disneyland. We still have a big chunk and I’m looking for inspiration of places to travel — probably Key West?
Pets – $78.25
We got our furbaby some collar and toys from Petco and some medication from Amazon.
Auto and Transport – $77.36
3 gas filled up from Costco. We were out most of January so this is slightly lower.
Shopping – $18.32
I got a little carried away with the after Christmas sale at the Dollar store and got quite a bit of craft items for the kids.
Entertainment – $2.18
Last month subscription of HBO Max. Technically this is free since I got the cashback as a lump sum from Rakuten.
We wrapped up 2022 with more travel as a family of four and a dog. We visited Disneyland in the beginning of the year. We went camping last summer and visited the midwest last fall. We visited friends in the city with the boys. I was also able to see my friends in person this year.
There were also some not so fun days like spending our spring break dealing with a car accident and spending the next month finding a car when car supply were basically zero. I spent 3-4 months dealing with the car accident aftermath with some PT sessions and chiropractor visits. We also had COVID last summer. MBP and AHP went to school this fall and spend the first 3 months, coughing. Viruses came back full forced, but luckily the boys were able to handle it.
Travel and car accidents require spending and this year we spent $77,048.33
We spent $24,987.12 more this year compared to last year – a 48% increase. Looks like we lived it up, right? Let’s see where our money went this year.
Taxes – $27,224.42
We sold our rental property in 2021 and took a tax hit of $20,686.00. The other $6,538.42 was our property tax from owning our home. We no longer own any rental property and expect our tax to be immaterial for 2022.
Food and Dining – $10,483.75
Surprisingly enough, our food and dining only increased by $293.96 from $10.189.79 in 2021 to $10,483.75 in 2022. Despite of inflation, spending 5 days in Disneyland, 2 days in Chicago and various camping trip, we manage to keep our food cost mostly consistent. I am impressed myself! We are still eating mostly plant food base diet with loads of fruits for snacks. The boys can’t get enough of cosmic crisp apple.
It looks like we ate out on restaurants more and drink more. I want to say we ate less junk food, but that is probably not true. I just neglected to categorized it as junk.
Groceries went down?
But we ate out more
Alcohol & Bars
And drink more
This was a credit from Instacart
Kids – $7,517.24
This category increased by $2,219.93 from $5,297.31 in 2021 to $7,517.24 in 2022. I expected this. MBP and AHP have a 529 plan. We contribute $200 per month in the plan in total of $400 per month. This is an automatic deduction from our checking account, total $4,800 annually. The boys tuition also increased since AHP started attending his 2’s class and MBP started attending preschool 5 days a week. Next year, MBP will be in kindergarten. If it works out in our local public school, the tuition should decrease. Kids gadgets, supplies, activities and toys are all combination of items specific for the kids. This can really be more in line with shopping and entertainment for adults.
529 College Fund
Normal and will continue on the upcoming year
This should decrease next year
You think that this should go down since it's mainly diaper
Gifts and Donations – $6,114.8
We spent $213.47 more on gifts this year, increasing from $5,901.33 last year. The charity portion was the fundraising for the boy’s preschool. The holiday card included a photo session from JC Penney with 3 digital images and one print for $27. A shipping fee for the said print and 3 more complementary prints because the photographer was late was $10.45. I printed 50 copies of the Holiday card at Canva for $38.50 and I bought stamps for $12. I enjoyed sending and receiving holiday cards. I make my own design using Canva and find that the prints from them was the cheapest and I’m happy with the quality of the prints.
Donation for the boys preschool
Health and Fitness – $4,743.79
This category decreased by $1,162.1 from $5,905.89 in 2021 to $4,743.79. I thought that this will decrease more, since we received significant health care insurance subsidy in 2022 vs 2021, but our family also visited doctors more in 2022. We switched our health plan from bronze to gold this year based on this data. In 2022, we spent $1,526.86 for copayment of doctor visits.
We also pay for a gym membership at our local YMCA. MBP and AHP were enrolled in swim classes, gym and soccer and those were included as part of the membership. I also visited the Y significantly in the beginning of the year, before the car accident.
Our dental visit total $460. These were for 3 visits in total, 2 for Mr. MMD and 1 for me. This year, we signed up for dental insurance, which will pay for itself with our bi-annual dental visits and a little coverage for other care.
Others were new bench for our home gym, some meds, and my new eye glasses that I ordered online from eyebuydirect.com that cost me $44.88.
Gym Membership for our family at our local YMCA
Various doctor visit
This should include the first month of our 2023 health insurance
Bills and Utilities – $4,333.6
This category increased by $419.3 from $3,914.3 in 2021 to $4,333.6. Electric and gas increased the most. I’m pretty sure that the reason for the increase were timing of the payment. I paid December 2021 bill in January 2022 and I just paid the December 2022 bill once I got the bill in December. So in theory, this was probably consistent from last year. Sewer decreased? It’s on autopay so I don’t even look at it. Water increase not necessarily because of the usage but the rate increased as well. Our internet rate increase this year. Garbage decreased, again probably because of the billing cycle. We are still using Xfinity mobile for our cell phone. It increased a bit this year because we used more data when we travel. It is still very affordable at $24.75 per month for 2 lines.
Electric and Gas
Auto and Transport – $3,527.41
This category increased by $810.5 from $2,716.91 in 2021 to $3,527.41. Gas increased. We travelled more this year and gas prices were also at the highest last summer. Auto insurance increased because we added another car. My old sister gave us her car, which she got from me because she bought a new (new to her) car. Service and parts also increased because we added another car. The public transportation included our bus tickets when we were in Chicago. It also included the car service that I booked in 2022 for our upcoming Disney trip in January of 2023. The car service was the big portion of it. Rideshare was for our Chicago trip. Parking increased because we visited the city more frequently this year.
I talked about our car accident that occurred in March 2022. Our 2015 Toyota Prius 4 was totaled. We attempted to get another 2015 Prius with less mileage or a totally brand new car, but there was no inventory in the entire country!! At that time, we only had one car, so we definitely needed to buy a car. We ended up buying a 2011 Toyota Prius 2 with about 103k miles that I found on Craigslist. I didn’t add that purchased here because we used the insurance proceed to buy the car. We think that our Prius 2 will last at least another 5 years and at that time, we should be ready to buy an electric car (or an electric van?).
Gas & Fuel
Service & Parts
Auto & Transport
Shopping – $3,102.42
This category increased by $55.62 from $3,046.8 in 2021 to $3,102.42 in 2022. This category is a catch all from our household supplies like toilet paper to electronics to clothing and appliances. Mr. MMD bought a new computer and we bought a new modem. AHP “accidentally” spilled his water to our modem and we were not able to resurrect it. We figured that it was time to say goodbye to this modem, after 7 long hard years of service. In tech world, I’m pretty sure she was considered ancient. We are also now an owner of a pressure washer, which we will probably used once a year.
We also bought some shoes. Actually, I bought 3 pair of shoes while Mr. MMD bought one pair. I have a hard time finding comfortable shoes for my wide flat feet with bunions. I stumbled on this brand, Altra while searching for some camping gear at steepandcheap.com. I won a $200 gift card from steepandcheap and I decided to use it to try out a pair of shoes. These shoes aren’t cheap, but I tend to buy a shoe every 2 years or once the soles were worn out. I like the shoes so much that when it went on sale at REI, I bought 2 more pairs. I went to Rakuten and bought $191 e-gift card from REI and used it to purchased the shoes. Mr. MMD went to Fleet Feet and purchased his shoes. Fleet Feet analyze your feet and take a picture of it before recommending the type of shoes. It was pretty cool. I didn’t buy my shoes there but Mr. MMD did. I did buy toe socks. Alright, enough about shoes. The rest were stuff.
And you will not see the 2021 expenses below. There are tons of category changes and I don’t want to manually add it up.
Electronics & Software
Computer and Modem
Home – $3,046.01
This year, I separated the property taxes and include that as part of taxes. Overall it is consistent from last year. Home insurance and HOA Dues increased. We had our HVAC cleaned. We also have to hire a plumber because our pipe freeze. Our built ins can get some repair, but I’m really waiting until the kids no longer have the need to draw on our walls before making some changes in the house. Hopefully in a couple of years. We didn’t buy any furniture this year but at some point we will most likely buy a new couch and a dining table.
Travel – $2,405.73
This is low, considering we spent 8 days in Anaheim, with 5 days in Disneyland, 2 days in Chicago and about 11 nights camping this summer. The biggest expense was our 5 day tickets to Disneyland for January 2023. Our camping site was for 11 nights of camping last summer. Our rental car was for the “extra insurance” that we purchased for the rental car when we had a car accident. The insurance company didn’t reimburse us for it.
Hotels were for 2 nights in Fairfield Inn in Chicago, 1 night in Sheraton in Seattle to celebrate Mr. MMD’s 40th and a $20 tip at Howard Johnson for our 2022 Disney trip. We get an employee rate through Marriott and the rate was really low. We paid $52/night in Chicago including breakfast for 4. The Sheraton hotel was about $81.
Our air travel were all book with points and these were for taxes and fees for 4 round trip tickets to Santa Ana for our Disney trip. Our tickets to Chicago were reimbursed by family so we didn’t include it here. The rest of travel were train tickets and probably other little things.
Most are 3 5-day tickets to Disneyland
Includes 4 nights at YMCA camp which includes food
Rental Car & Taxi
The insurance that was not covered after the accident
3 hotels and tips
taxes and fees
Our corgi visited the vet twice this year in addition to her annual exam. We also needed to pay for some antibiotics for her. We paid for boarding when we went to Chicago. My parents typically take care of her, but they were out of town as those weeks.
Entertainment – $1,464.66
A thousand was for our ticket to CampMustache this year. Mr. MMD and I went for memorial day weekend. The rest were for tickets to museums and subscriptions to music and videos.
Fees and Charges – $954.74
These are bank fees. We opened credit cards and used it to pay our taxes (with credit card fees) to meet the sign up bonus. This will continue and I’m ok with that because we get more for free airline tickets and free hotels. Our 8 day hotel stay in Disneyland in 2022 and our upcoming trip in January 2023 were all paid by points. Our tickets were also all paid by points. It already saved us at least $4k, just for our Disney trip. It’s a great hobby that pays for itself.
Personal Care – $468.92
Stuff like toiletries and hair cut.
Business Services – $40.56
Some supplies like markers, stamps and the registration of the domain name.
After documenting all our expenditures, the main contributor of the 48% increase was the federal tax paid for the sale of our rental income. Without the $20,686 federal tax liability our spending goes down to $56,362. This represents an 8% increase from our 2021 spending of $52,061.21
Overall, 2022 was a mixed year. I wished it could be better, health wise, but I am thankful that we were finally traveling again. I’m excited for 2023. We are off to Disneyland this month. I’m looking forward to seeing some sun again and escaping the gloomy PNW weather.
Last year, we went to Bellevue to watch the Snowflake Lane Parade. It became a tradition and we went again this year. Bellevue is about an hour north from of us and like last year, we made a trip out of it.
Our first stop was KidQuest Museum. The museum was not crowded when we went on a Thursday afternoon. My 5 year old enjoys the “packing” room. It’s a room with tons of boxes, where kids can put it on a conveyer belt, or scan the items or deliver the packages. He stayed there majority of the time and made some friends around his age. My 2.5 yr old played all over the museum – in the toddler room, the market, the train and the treehouse. We were there for almost 3 hours until around dinner time.
For dinner, we arrived just before 5 at Cheesecake Factory. We chose this because it is the closest restaurant by the parade. We were lucky and got seated right away. We had dinner at normal time, around 5:30. We went to Bellevue Square Mall to kill time before the parade. The mall has a kids playground for kids under 6 on the third floor. It was very crowded. We masked up and luckily both kids didn’t complain.
We started our way out around 6:45 and that is where everyone seems to be going to. We got a good spot and both kids were able to seat on the sidewalk so they can see the show. The parade was 20 minutes long, with floats, characters and marching band. There’s also snow before and on the grand finale of the show. My kids got some high fives from Rudolph and Polar Panda. They also got some candy canes from a nutcracker character. Overall, it was a great 20 minute Christmas show.
We finally reviewed our annual spending for our second year of retirement. In total, we spent $52,061.21. This is 23% more than our spending in 2020, up from $39,955.36. The increase was primary driven by our health insurance. We sold our rental condo in 2020 and we paid the full amount of health insurance through marketplace.
We started to seriously consider early retirement back in 2018. We thought about it, shortly after MBP was born in 2017. In early 2018, we assessed our assets and current spending. My husband came up with a monthly spending budget of $4,618 or $55,416 annualized. We never reviewed our spending on this initial budget once we retired in 2019, but successfully spent below that in the last two years.
So where did our money went?
Food – $10.189.79
I wasn’t surprised that this was our biggest expense. The biggest chunk of this spending were for groceries. We followed a plant based diet, for majority of our meals and we think that there can be some room to decrease it. We will not limit ourselves, but will be more cognizant of the prices.
We also ate out this year or ordered a to go meal. We can easily spend $100+ on one restaurant meal for a family of 4. So this was probably acceptable. I do want to limit our fast food visit. It’s just not healthy. Alcohols and bars, were just alcohol from groceries that I categorized separately, similar with junk food. And I apparently went to Starbucks last year.
Alcohol & Bars
Housing – $10,133.08
We do not have a mortgage, but housing is still expensive. We spent over $6k on property taxes last year and I expect this to go up once the county completed there assessment. We’ve been thinking about moving somewhere closer to MBP’s school to an area that do not have an HOA, but the housing market is so nuts! The house prices there are comparable to where we live so we’re not necessarily saving. We’ll see if we can do it this year.
We also added a new mattress and a new to us couch for the kids playroom. We hired someone to clean our roof and gutters, our home insurance went up and we bought some things from Home Depot or Lowes that were accounted as Home Improvement.
Kids – $5,297.31
In theory this could be lower because we included our 529 Plan contribution as an expense. We are adding this contribution because we are hoping that there will be no significant increases in our spending 12-13 years from now (or at least nothing more than the adjusted inflation) Both kids have their own plan and we only contribute $200 each account. This should be $4800/year going forward since we just automated AHP’s contribution.
I’m also expecting an increase in preschool tuition next year. AHP will start his toddler class in our Coop and MBP will go to a different preschool in preparation to kindergarten. MBP’s tuition will more than double for the year because he will no longer be in a coop.
The rest were small items that may or may not be needed. We just didn’t pay enough attention to this. But hey, maybe next year, we will no longer Baby Supplies, because those were all disposable diapers that the boys still uses at night. One can dream, right?
529 College Fund
Health and Fitness – $5,905.89
Major factor of our increase spending was our Health Insurance Premium. We didn’t get a subsidy in the beginning of 2021 and then CARES act provided some subsidy. I will need to check our tax bill this year to ensure that we didn’t overpay or underpay.
We also went back to the YMCA this summer. I enrolled MBP in a swim class last summer and the cost was similar to the monthly membership at the Y at $145/month. The monthly membership is for the entire family and includes swim classes for the boys, if we actually enroll them. So far, we’re just going as a family and I go by myself at least 2x a week.
My husband and I also pay for our dental cleaning out of pocket since we opt out of insurance. The cost was $140 per visit for cleaning and exam. I went once last year and my husband went twice. I also had my eye exam and purchased an annual supply of contact lenses. I also needed new glasses since my eye prescription changed.
Gifts – $5,901.33
Similar to last year, we gifted my parents some cash for Christmas. This was the big chunk of the gifts. The rest were for my immediate family and my godkids. There were also some gifts for birthdays.
Utilities – $3,914.3
This price was consistent to last year. This year, I also started paying extra to offset my electric and gas or to purchase clean energy. Puget Sound Energy has an option for their consumer to pay more to use clean energy. For a month, it was only an extra $3-6 depending on our consumption. I reviewed some comparison of our home to other energy efficient, and we were pretty efficient.
Sewer was billed at a flat rate per single family home regardless of water consumption. Our water cost was also lower in comparison to other city. Our unincorporated county gets water from Tacoma and the cost are lower than the closest city we’re at. Internet was pretty normal, although I already received a letter suggesting that rates will increase next year. I also expect some increase in garbage next year. Cell phone was super low for $246.56 annually for 2 lines. We still uses Xfinity Mobile and uses about 1GB per month. There were only 4 months that we used 2 GBs.
Electric and Gas
Shopping – $3,046.8
This cost was a catch all of every item we bought. Some stuff, we itemized, like my husband’s new desk. My husband also bought a new computer monitor and I bought a 1TB hard drive for my MacBook Air. I’m hoping that my laptop last another 5 years. The rest were just stuff. I think I have one purchase at Amazon that we didn’t use, which I think was a waste.
Electronics & Software
Books & Supplies
Transportation – $2,716.91
Unlike 2019, we ventured out in 2020 and went camping for 8 nights. We visited 5 campsites last year – 4 in WA and 1 OR. This means that we drove quite a bit during the summer. My husband also went back volunteering to teach Computer Science at our “local” high school and I swim at least twice a week. We live far from these places so we drove often. Part of the reason we were thinking of moving was to lessen our commute. If we’re successful, maybe this will decrease. If not, this cost will probably be consistent, until our area is somewhat develop — maybe in 10 years.
Our auto registration and insurance increased. Our state based this on the value of the car and apparently our Prius was valued more in 2020 than in 2019. The rest were for new tires, a violation ticket, license renewal, car wash and oil change. We also paid for parking when we were in Seattle.
Gas & Fuel
Auto & Transport
Service & Parts
Disney – $1,369.45
Our trip to Disney was technically this year, but I purchase majority of the expense last year, including our tickets, car service and rental gear.
Entertainment – $1,354.04
My husband plays hockey and the education was for my annual subscription of CPE education for my CPA credentials. I might be able to get some free CPE credits this year, so this should decrease or perhaps be semi-annually. I also paid to rent the new 007 film and purchased 2 months worth of Apple TV subscription to watch Ted Lasso. The only thing that was valuable to add was the Music that MBP purchased from Alexa. We’re lucky he only purchased one.
Movies & DVDs
Pets – $852.35
Pet supplies and the cost of the annual exam for our Corgi. She’s almost 7 and is officially an adult dog. We’re lucky there were no emergency exam needed this year.
Camping – $814.7
This year was our first year tent camping. We purchased all our equipment including tents, sleeping pads, sleeping bags and cooking gear. I tried to get some of it used and I might return some of our sleeping pads purchased from Costco. We spent 6 nights at state parks and 2 nights at Kamp of America Campground in Oregon. We went to KOA during their member appreciation day and we received the 2nd night for free. The rest are some foods / groceries / games that we consumed while at the campsite.
Food & Dining
Vacation – $218.62
We spent one night in Great Wolf Lodge before MBP’s school started last September. This was the cost of the night stay including the arcade games.
Misc – $335.72
Some miscellaneous items like bank fee. We opened 4 new credit cards this year in preparation for our trip to Disney. Christmas cards includes the Groupon photography session and cards ordered from Canva and my annual hair cut.
Overall, 2021 was a great year. We enjoyed the outdoors and surprisingly enjoyed tent camping. Spending wise, we could probably be more efficient in terms of tracking our “shopping”. It’s so easy to just buy things online.
2022 started with great with our vacation. I’m already looking forward to more vacation and more things that we can do before MBP goes to kindergarten.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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
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.
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.
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.
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?
Groceries and Restaurants
529 College Fund
CPA License renewal. Valid for the next 3 years
Electric, Gas and Sewer
Toiletries and other items
Last Y membership
Gift for a wedding and random
$60 for Gas and $18.95 for wipers
Pet Food & Supplies
Not really sure. I think a shovel was included here
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.