Disneyland Vacation, Day 1 – It’s a Small World

January 5, 2022

I’m pretty sure I was more excited than the kids. I was awake at 6AM, but didn’t get up just before 7AM, basically when the boys woke up. I prepared some oatmeal, using the rice cooker and cut up some apples and strawberries. We had oatmeal with raisins, with brown sugar and flaxseed with the cut up fruits. After breakfast, I prepared the boys snacks – apples, strawberries, raisins and goldfish crackers, packed in a 4 compartment bento box. For lunch, we packed some turkey lunch meat and wheat bread. My husband got some ice from the hotel and packed it in a zip lock bag, which we put in our lunch bag, along with the meat. We got our water bottles and off we went!

It took less than 10 minutes to get to the gate and probably another 20 minutes to get through security and entrance lines. We got inside Disneyland around 8:45. The crowds were not bad. It has been 18 years since my last visit, and I can’t remember the layout of the theme park. I do remember the rides and the LINES. Once we passed through the main street, I saw the castle and Tomorrowland. Our first ride was Astro Orbiter. I’ve been watching some Youtube videos of the rides with MBP and AHP so they noticed the rocket ships right away. Lines were reasonable at around 10 minutes but we definitely had to explain to MBP the concept of waiting for our turn. We lucked out and rode Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters just right after. The lines were short and we only waited 5 minutes. MBP was definitely entertained with this ride. When we left the ride, I noticed there were more people. We started walking around and for some reason ended up at a “It’s A Small World” castle. Since the line was short, we rode the boat. I was definitely impressed by this ride. Disney still had the holiday theme and everything was so colorful. We sat by the bench after the ride and the boys had their snacks. AHP was very methodical about his snacks. He will first eat the goldfish crackers, then raisins before eating the strawberries and apples. We soaked up the Southern California Sun for a bit, had a bathroom break and let the kids run around.

Our First Minnie Sightings – the kids don’t want to look at the camera
Buzz Light Year from AstroBlaster
Holiday Theme for It’s a small world

Snack Time

We found our way to Fantasyland and rode the Carousel, Pinocchio and Mr. Toad’s wild ride. AHP was a bit scared of Mr. Toad, but was such a good sport. We then head to Toontown. There were a lot of character sightings at Toontown and it was a great place to let the kids run around. We had our lunch at Toontown Park. It’s a great place to have lunch, since it is shaded and somewhat enclosed. AHP can’t really sit down for more than 5 minutes. He will walk/run around, go back to us to take a bite and will run around again. We stayed in Toontown for a bit and let the kids explore the character houses and say hello to all the characters. We saw Mickey, Minnie, and Donald Duck here – just one of the many sightings on this vacation. We then headed back to our hotel for some nap breaks. On the way back, we lucked out and there was a mini parade with Donald, Pluto, Princess Anna and Elsa and Chip and Dale. It was a packed morning. 

Toon Town

We got back before 2PM. The boys were exhausted and napped right away. I cleaned the dishes from breakfast and also had a nap. MBP woke up before AHP and we gave him the iPad. AHP napped until 4:15. We prepared some dinner of rice, rotisserie chicken with BBQ sauce and steamed veggies. Once our bellies were full, we headed back to the park. 

The park was so different at night. The Christmas tree was lit and the main street was transformed with all the lights for the holidays festivities. I was so glad that we went just after the holidays. I was able to see all the holidays decorations without the holidays crowds. We went back to fantasyland and rode the mad tea cups and the carousel. We then waited in line for the Casey Train Ride, which the app said was a 5 minute wait. Well, that wait was 45 minutes. Good thing, the kids were entertained. We then head back to get some seats for the fireworks. We settled around 8:15 and waited for the show. During the wait, the kids snacked and we played a lot of games and sang some songs. It was probably the hardest wait for them since they cannot run around. The fireworks show was great and ended with some “snow” (it’s really soap). We had a little bathroom break before heading back to our hotel. 

The Park at Night
Waiting for the fireworks

It was a rush to get the kids ready for bed, but they definitely slept well that night. Overall it was a good day!

Total Money Spent for the day: $0

Disneyland Vacation, Day 0 – Travel Day

January 4, 2022

I call this day travel day. The day leading up to the Happiest Place on Earth, our vacation to Disneyland in Southern California. We started packing days before the trip. The night before our trip, we loaded our Prius with most of our luggages. We have 3 suitcases to check in. I checked in our flights and paid for 1 checked in bag. The other 2 suitcases were free using my Alaska Airlines Credit Card. Our flight leaves at 11:56 AM, boarding at 11:10 AM. We wanted to be in the airport around 10 AM, which means leaving the house by 8:45AM, at the latest. 

The alarm went on at 6:45 AM. My husband got up and prepared breakfast. By 7:15, I woke up the boys, changed them and had breakfast. By 8:30 AM, we left the house to my parent’s house. My father gave us a ride at the airport. I squeezed in between the car seats and luckily fit, so the 5 of us went to the airport in the Prius. 

My husband took our luggages while I unbuckled the kids. Just before we entered the airport, a lady wished us “good luck”, while my 4.5 year old started running towards the gate without us. There were some chaos in the beginning, since we didn’t know where to put our already checked in luggages. I printed out the tags, but I needed a way to tie it in our luggages. We briefly stand in line the kiosk to print our boarding passes and our luggage tags. Luckily, a lady working in Alaska was there. I showed her our printed luggage tags and she gave us the “self-tag” bag that we can clip on our luggages. She directed us to another line where we can drop off our luggages. My husband hauled our 3 luggages, while I carried our almost 2 year old (AHP) and our 4.5 year old (MBP). It was a lot easier once we checked in our luggages and headed towards security. The line was short enough and the boys cooperated, for the most part. We headed towards our gate, which included a shuttle ride. The boys were excited. MBP started counting down before the shuttle took off, which gave some giggles to other passengers. We had ample time before boarding so we took a bathroom break and refilled our water bottles, before going to our gate.

Luckily, we didn’t have to walk too far to get to our gate. We grabbed some chairs, and tried to entertain the kids. My husband got our lunch while I watched the boys. I took out the Ipad to entertain MBP, while AHP kept on running away. I offered AHP some snacks and finally took out my phone just before my husband came back. We ate our lunch and used the restrooms before boarding the plane. The airlines typically let you board early if you are traveling with kids, but I like to do the opposite and board the plane at the very end. This lessens the wait time inside the aircraft and hopefully less screaming and / or crying inside the plane.

It was an uneventful 3 hour flight. The kids did great. The folks behind even told us that they did really well. Yay! When we got to baggage claim, the driver from Lansky was already waiting for us, with my name and a cart for our luggages. I was so glad that I paid for this service. It was expensive but definitely worth it. He helped us load the luggages in the cart and pushed it while we carried the boys to the car. I checked the car seat and buckled the boys in. Initially, we thought of stopping by the grocery store, but decided not to. Instead we ordered our groceries from Instacart. We got to our hotel and MBP fell asleep on the drive. AHP on the other hand was wide awake and talking A LOT. He keeps pointing out different colors of the cars. 

We got to the hotel and I took the boys with me to check in. Our double stroller and bed rail from City Stroller were already waiting for us. This is another service that I’m so glad I paid for. It was super convenient and I’m so glad that I rented the bed rail.

Our Stroller for the next 9 days

We settled in the hotel room, which consists of a double bed and bunk beds. MBP was on the top bunk while AHP on the bottom. AHP usually sleeps in the crib at home, but there wasn’t really enough room for a crib. Luckily the bed rail worked out and the boys actually liked the set up. 

I ordered our groceries from Walmart via Instacart. Free delivery for 3 months were included as a benefit for new customers paying via Chase Freedom Flex card, which I opened to pay for our Disneyland Tickets months ago. We had dinner in the hotel while waiting for our delivery, which arrived around 7PM. For dinner, it was simple rice with sardines that we packed with us. Rice was cooked in the rice cooker which we also packed with us. We entertained the kids for a bit and put them to bed before 8 PM. When they fell asleep, I cleaned the dishes, took a shower and turned in to get ready for the big day tomorrow!

My first Instacart order

Total Money Spent for the day: $158.86

Airport Lunch – $67.37

Driver Tip (20%) – $20 

Instacart – $83.84

The Monthly Expenses of an Early Retiree – March 2021

The first quarter of 2021 ended. Unlike last year, I find myself more and more optimistic. AHP turned one year old last month and his schedule is getting more and more predictable. We are venturing outside more and more, enjoying the local parks and the trails that our neighborhood offers.

MBP started playing soccer. The “academy” was in our elementary school and we were thinking of more ways for MBP to socialize outdoors. I am 90% sure that we are not going to do this again. MBP was not really into it or perhaps just too young. Majority of the time, he was picking up grass or wants to play with other kids.

uhmm – yeah, that ball


We spent $3,281.87 this month. Ouch!

I tried to deliberately spend a little more money this month because our spending last year was very low and I guess I succeeded!

Food – $902.08

We spent $902.08 on food. We usually spend between $600 – $700 a month. Our grocery spending was higher with more trips to Costco. I also ate quite a bit of fancy easter chocolate candies before easter. Those Lindt bunnies were tasty.

Health Insurance – $657.15

Health insurance for this month was $657.15. The kids are still under apple care because of COVID-19 act (?). I’m not really sure, but I won’t argue with the state plan on this. Mr. MMD and I are paying full premium at bronze level.

Gift – $477.06

We bought an iPhone SE for my mother in law as a birthday present for her. She loves it and it would be another medium for us to face time.

Utilities – $338.99

Utilities clock in at $338.99 this month. Out internet was charged for February and March so it cost twice this month. We paid $28.5 for our cell plan for 2 lines. This was the first time that we used more than 1gb for Xfinity mobile.

Auto – $289.66

We spent $289.96 for car this month. Our car insurance cost $230 for 6 months. This was higher than our last 6 months premium. I don’t know why! I got some other quotes and this was the cheapest. We only have one car and only carry liability. Oh well – maybe it is inflation?

Others are combination of shopping for items ordered from Amazon for some sewing materials. Hobbies are the cost to maintain this blog which includes the annual domain renewal and monthly hosting from Google Cloud Platform. We also bought some treats for our furbaby and paid for our monthly Amazon Prime Subscription.

And here are the detail expenses:

CategoriesDescriptionGrand TotalComments
FoodGroceries707.79Higher this month
FoodRestaurants119.10Take out Chinese Food
FoodJunk Food65.19Those Easter Candies!
FoodAlcohol & Bars10.00For Mr. MMD
HealthHealth Insurance657.152 person at bronze level
GiftGift477.06iPhone SE
Kids529 College Fund200.00
KidsKids Activities119.876 weeks of Soccer for MBP
KidsKids Gadgets63.38New monitor for MBP
KidsBaby Supplies41.23Diapers
UtilitiesElectric and Gas158.08Hopefully this will go down as it gets warmer
UtilitiesInternet90.002 months of internet bill
UtilitiesMobile Phone28.50We used more than 1gb of data!
AutoService & Parts4.50Residual from tires
AutoAuto Insurance230.006 months from progressive
AutoGas & Fuel52.46Gas
HousingHOA Dues73.00Annoying HOA
HousingHome Improvement4.90Something from Lowes
ShoppingShopping75.63Sewing materials and some other items
HobbiesBooks13.09Atomic Habits was 50% off
HobbiesHobbies12.62Blog annual domain renewal
PetsPet Food & Supplies9.36Treats
SubscriptionSubscription6.55Amazon Prime
Grand Total 3,281.87

How was your Q1 2021?

The Monthly Expenses of Early Retiree – February 2021

We celebrated 2 birthdays in February. It was my grandmother’s birthday and AHP’s birthday. We’ve been really good at low key celebrations with just the immediate family. We also went to a drive by birthday parade for one of MBP’s classmate. She turned 4 and was so cute about it.

There was also Valentines Day. This year we cut out rainbow colored heart shaped and wrote letters to the kids. We stick it outside their doors for a whole week before Valentines Day. MBP really loves it.

Valentines Day Hearts

We also enjoyed playing with a LOT of snow this month. MBP got really into and even AHP joined in. I have to remind myself of the great fortune we have to own time and be able to play with the kids during snow whatever day it is and of course not having to worry about work. There were many snowman and snow angel involve.

Snow, Snow and Snow!!!


We spent $2,480.01 this month.

Healthcare is our biggest expense, similar to last month and clocked in at $633.41. Mr. MMD visited the dentist for cleaning. We do not have dental insurance and Mr. MMD paid $140 for x-rays, exams and cleaning. It is still cheaper than paying for dental insurance. Health care premium is also cheaper because apparently the kids are still under Apple Care, and we over pay last month.

We spent $633.41 on food. We ordered buckets of chicken from KFC for AHP’s birthday and ordered a Costco sheet cake. The sheet cake was huge and delicious!

Utilities were high this month at $397.11. It was not unexpected since some of these utilities get paid every other month. This month, we did pay for all of them.

We still contributed $200 for MBP’s 529 plan and paid the registration fee for next year’s preschool of $60.

We bought two set of tires for our Prius. We only have one car and need to make sure that it is on top shape.

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

Health Insurance539.82
Fast Food47.15
Alcohol & Bars19.99
Junk Food5.59Junk food is lower than last month. Yay!
Electric and Gas153.41
Mobile Phone16.31
529 College Fund200.00
Preschool Tuition60.00
Auto & Transport235.362 Tires for our Prius
Gas & Fuel18.50
Service & Parts2.00
Clothing98.344 new pants for Mr. MMD
HOA Dues73.00
Pet Food & Supplies26.00Doggie bag from Amazon
Personal Care16.92
Subscription6.55Prime Subscription

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?

The Monthly Expenses of Early Retiree – December 2020

We celebrated the end of 2020 by spending on gifts, just because we can. I’ve been tracking our spending every month and was pleasantly surprised of the number. We have some surplus from our budget so we decided to spend some more in December.

We spent $7,315.39 this December. Whoa!

Here are some unusual / top line items.

Gifts – $5,353.57

We celebrated Christmas with my family, my 3 siblings and my Grandma. Celebration starts on Christmas eve at my parents house and continued on at our house for Christmas Day. This year, my older sister suggested that we do Secret Santa which I happily oblige. Apparently, my family thought that Secret Santa was addition to other presents. We still receive presents from each member of the family and the kids received A LOT – toys, clothes and envelope (with money). We on the other hand only bought presents for our Secret Santa and a check for my parents for $5k. It was unusually large this year. My father was furloughed because of COVID and I can tell that this pandemic affected them. We were fortunate enough that our finances were not affected at all, so why not. I’m really happy that I can do this for them.

Aside from my immediate family, we also bought gifts for my godkids. I procrastinated on this and Mr. MMD have to drive an hour to their house to drop the presents. Both kids got some Legos from us.

Look at my Mom’s beautiful Christmas Tree.

Groceries – $619.78

This is probably on a high end of our grocery spending, but we have to eat, right? Groceries are purchased in Costco and Winco.

Electric and Gas – $245.18

This was for 2 months worth of electric and gas. The company finally started accepting credit card on auto pay instead of one time payment. They made a mistake of charging me twice. I did get the credit for the next month, so it is not a big deal.

Clothing – $252.07

This is for my winter boots, winter jacket and MBP’s winter jacket. I got the jackets on ebay and the winter boots at Nordstrom. I specifically want a down jacket that will keep me warm and water resistant so I can use it while working at MBP’s cooperative preschool. I also needed some boots since the school is outdoors. I bought a Soia and Kyo jacket that is 70 percent down-filled from e-bay. I have a wool jacket from the same brand that I got as a gift and I love it. It really keeps me warm. I already tested the jacket and it worked really well. I also bought a $100 gift card from REI. I got 10% discount on the gift card and I used it to purchased MBP’s jacket.

Auto and Transport – $126.45

I renewed the registration of my 2011 Volkswagon Jetta S. We haven’t used this Jetta for over a year. I am giving the car to my older sister as a gift and she is reimbursing the cost of the registration. We also put gas on our Prius this month.

DescriptionGrand TotalComments
Christmas Gifts 5,353.57 A big chunk of our spending this month is a cash gift - because, why not!
Groceries619.78We probably bought more snacks and junk food
Clothing252.07Winter clothing for me and MBP
Electric and Gas245.182 months of electric and natural gas. It's high because it is getting colder
529 College Fund200.00
Auto & Transport126.45Registration and Gas
HOA Dues68.25
Household Supplies48.38Some stuff from Ikea
Fast Food30.67KFC?
Christmas Cards28.88Stamps and some pictures for our Christmas Cards
Mobile Phone16.31Our very cheap mobile plan for 2 lines!!
Subscription6.55Amazon Prime
Electronics & Software2.47Cost to host this blog from Google Cloud Platform
Grand Total 7,315.39

The Monthly Expenses of Early Retiree – November 2020

Monthly Spending of Early Retiree

In November, we voted, celebrated the result of the election, celebrated Thanksgiving and hunkered down. I’m glad the election is over. I’m happy with the result but I did spent a lot of time refreshing my browser asking google for election result. We also had a small Thanksgiving celebration. Our initial plan is to have my family over, but with the COVID cases going up, we canceled it. Instead, we celebrated it as a family of four, watched Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade on TV and had a whole chicken (because the Turkey we got is HUGE), mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie. Max had fun watching the parade, especially when Elmo showed up. Football was also on the background while cooking and feasting.

We spent $1,858.33 this November. Below are some notable items.

Food – $725.17

This is the most we spent on food for this year. We are still shopping in WINCO and Costco. I think we spent quite a bit on snack this month. I added a line item to separate the junk food we’re buying. I need to stop going through a whole bag of Ruffles or Donuts or Toblerone. Yikes!

Furnishings $302.69

We definitely cranked up the heat this month I ordered 2 heaters for the boys’ rooms so we can lower the heat for the whole house at night. Right now it is set to 68 degrees from 8AM – 7:30PM and 50 degrees for the rest of the night. The small electric heater seems to work out so far.

Christmas Lights

I bought 2 strands of LED Christmas lights to wrap around my tree. Last year, we didn’t put up any lights on the tree, so I made sure to order one before Thanksgiving. Luckily it arrived just in time so we put up the tree after Thanksgiving. I like the lights except for the fact that it didn’t come with a standard male/female connector so I can’t connect my tree topper and have to connect it with an extension cord. It’s ok for now, but it was annoying to see it. I might return it and buy a different led lights after Christmas when it is on sale. We decorated the tree with new to us ornaments from my Mom. Some of the ornaments are from the Philippines and I love seeing them on my tree.

Our tree with handmade Christmas stockings

Baby Supplies – $71.89

I can’t remember the last time we bought some diapers. MBP is still in Pull Ups at night and AHP is using disposables at night and cloth diaper during the day. A pack from Costco typically last us 6 months. I am really glad that we are using cloth diapers. Some folks were hoarding diapers and I know that there were instances that Costco was out of stock of diapers and diaper wipes. Cloth diaper for another win!

Christmas Cards – $44.79

I also successfully printed and mailed our Holiday Cards before the Holidays. Last year, I sent it after Christmas, so I made sure that I have enough time to get some photos taken, create the card and get it printed. My little sister came here last October just before it got too cold and we managed to get some decent family photos with both the boys and the dog actually smiling. We walked to the park on the end of our cul-de-sac and was able to snap some really good ones. I used Canva to create the card and printed 50 cards. I ordered these envelope separately through Amazon because it is cheaper and it looks a lot better. The card looked nice but not necessarily thick enough, even though I ordered the deluxe version.

Alright, so here are the line by line items.

Groceries708.39The highest in the month, but we hve to eat, right?
Furnishings302.692 Heaters
529 College Fund200.00
Baby Supplies71.89Diapers
Shopping(63.56)This is negative because I returned the rainboots I got from Amazon. It was too big.
Household Supplies79.22Probably toilet papers
Electric and Gas75.33
HOA Dues68.25
Clothing54.73Some clothes for Mr MMD
Christmas Cards44.79
Pet Food & Supplies39.28Christmas presents for our fur baby
Business Services35.95I renewed my PTIN
Gas & Fuel34.88
Electronics & Software25.68Mr. MMD bought a new keyboard. It's more expensive than this but he was able to get some gift cards from Walmart
Home Improvement17.48Not necessarily sure but it is an order from Amazon
Snacks16.78Junk foods. New line item that I will try to track
Mobile Phone16.29
Grand Total 1,858.33

One more month for 2020. This year is definitely proving to be our floor in terms of spending. It’s a weird year, overall, but we are safe, healthy and have a privilege to spend all our time with our kids and not worry about work.

How was your November?

The Monthly Expenses of Early Retiree – October 2020

The Monthly Expenses of Early Retiree

October is a month of getting into a routine and anticipation of the election results. We are starting to get comfortable with our new normal. Our routine includes going to outdoor preschool 2x a week, seeing my family every 2 weeks and getting groceries once a week. This month, MBP’s class visited the Thomassen Family Farm for their annual pumpkin patch. We made it a family trip and AHP tag along. We ended the trip with a drive thru order from McDonalds for lunch. The farm was outdoors and all adults are wearing masks. We had fun and glad that this field trip happened despite some restrictions.

I also had my annual exam and established care with a new physician closer to our area. Luckily, my new physician was able to get a women’s physical therapist. I started seeing her this month and so far it really helped my back and get back some of my core strength. All of these expenses are covered by our insurance.

Alright, for our expenses, we spent $5,033.77 this month

Property Taxes – $3,043.39

We paid our second half of property taxes this month. It is expensive and will likely jut increase next year. Our property taxes is base on the value of our house. There are a lot of demand for single family housing. Two of our neighbors in the cul-de-sacs sold their houses for $650K+. I appeal our taxes in our old house in Seattle twice and won. I know that the assessment was reasonable so I’m not going to appeal this one, but I do keep an eye on this because sometimes, the county assessment is higher than the market.

We don’t include the value of our house in our net worth, so I probably shouldn’t care too much. I am happy to pay that tax if it means better public school for our community.

Food – $537.61

We spent over $500 for food. This is probably our normal spending now. This includes $507.42 on groceries and $30.19 on fast food. My husband is our primary chef but I’m starting to run some errands now. I can see this go up once the pandemic is over when we venture out more and start eating out.

Transportation – $218.09

We paid $198 for a 6 month auto insurance for our 2014 Toyota Prius. I still have my 2011 Volkswagen Jetta that is park in the driveway. We need to get rid of it at some point. Maybe once the vaccine is out and I can actually go to the dealership and get the recall and the tire fix.

Education / Hobbies – $198

This month, I also sign up for a one year membership at CPE Depot. I need to complete some continuing professional education to maintain my CPA license. This can fulfill the CPE needed for 2 years, as well as the ethics program. I also attended a virtual summit Mama Talks Money. I paid $69 to access the content after the summit. It was great to hear from more women talking about money. I still need to act on some of our to do’s particularly our will.

2 more months until the end of 2020. Our spending is considerably low this year because we basically stay in. I expect this to be drastically different next year as we start traveling, eating out more, preschool expenses and healthcare (on another post)

Here’s our every line item we spent this October:

Property Tax 3,043.39 Second half of property tax
529 College Fund200.00
Auto Insurance198.006 month auto insurance of our prius
Education129.00CPE courses to maintain my CPA license
Furnishings83.85Heater for AHP's room
Shoes78.86I bought some rainboots but returned it. The return wasn't processed until November
Electric and Gas75.39
Hobbies69.00Mama's Talk Money Virtual Summit
HOA Dues68.25
Kids60.25Class Photo and MBP's Big Bird Costume
Pet Food & Supplies52.45
Fast Food30.19Trips to McDonalds
Entertainment29.96My husband bought some game and one ticket to Thomassen Family Farm
Home Improvement28.35
Shopping25.23Some school / craft supplies
Gas & Fuel20.09
Mobile Phone16.29
Pharmacy7.09Some OTC medication for my husband
Electronics & Software0.55Last AWS billing to host this website. I moved to Google Cloud Platform
Grand Total 5,033.77

How’s you October?

The Post Baby Weight Loss Challenge – Month 4

The Post Baby Weight Loss Challenge

I completed the 4th month of my post baby weight loss challenge. My weight goal is 105 lbs, by the end of September. Did I reach it? No. I failed on this one. I am 106.2 by September 26. The lowest I’m at was 106 lbs.

I am 1 lb off my goal weight. It is disappointing to miss this goal even by just a pound. I was on a good start when I started this self impose challenge, but went array for the month of September.

What Happened?

First, the fire happened. We were 5 miles from the evacuation zone where the fire was. We still left our house and stayed at my parents for 3 nights. I ate all the home cook meals without necessarily tracking the ingredients or the amount I’m eating.

Second, I stopped going to the gym. I was hitting my limit on strength training. I have a hard time getting motivated because I was not moving up on weights.

Third, I stopped tracking my weight and my food intake. This seems to be the key. It started when we left the house, but ultimately continued on through the month. I felt that I lost the battle in September and just sort of gave up. I ate more Costco size Ruffles and some more Chocolate Covered Raisins! I gained more weight and now a t 108 lbs. Ouch. I also stopped tracking my weight consistently.

What happens now?

Well, it is easy to blame the fire on this one, but ultimately, I am the one responsible on that weight gain. I went back on eating mindlessly. Snacks are the killer. I am actually pretty good on portioning meals, but awful when it comes to snacks, which tends to have more calories.

I know the main problem – snacking. It will be so easy to complete this challenge if I eliminate snacking, but I know that it is not going to be sustainable. I eat when I’m bored, or if I’m just seating in front of the TV. Ultimately, I need to find something to do. What a great problem to have during retirement, right?

The 2020 goal

We went back to the gym this week. I started tracking my weight again. I want to end 2020 with some win on this weighing 105 lbs by Dec 31st. At the same time, I want to find a more sustainable way to maintain the weight. It is hard I’m hopeful.