The Cost of Traveling the World (August 2014, Taipei, Taiwan)


Calligraphy for Posers

August was an exciting month for our family, with confirmation that Winnie is pregnant with our first child.  With that much excitement, we didn’t have much time or energy for other activities.

A baby on the way has impacted other things…  we are having more meals at home and have hired somebody to help with cleaning and home care a few hours a week.  Based on the advice of her flute teacher, Winnie is putting her flute lessons on hold until things are more stable.  She has also decided to avoid contact with the chemicals in oil paints, so no more art classes for awhile

Eating more meals at home has affected our grocery spending and dining habits.  We even ventured to the local Costco for the first time for some heavy duty shopping

With all of these changes our spending patterns shifted around a lot, but the total was roughly similar to previous months in Taiwan

Full details below

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The Cost of Traveling the World (July 2014, Taipei, Taiwan)

Royal Purple Tulip in Oil on Canvas - Winnie

Royal Purple Tulip in Oil on Canvas – Winnie

July was an exciting month, but in an entirely different way than we are used to.  The theme of the month was baby making, and most other activities were put on hold or took place with greater moderation

We both still managed to go to the dentist this month, and I had to do a visa run to avoid legal trouble, which was basically the world’s most expensive Starbucks run.

In other news, there is an update to our health insurance.  Around a year ago we decided to self-insure and said good-bye to our health insurance plan.  Now that we have been in Taiwan 6 months, the feds here decided that Winnie should pay into the system.  Furthermore, we have to back pay for the entire 6 months.  This will appear in our spending in July and August.  The total bill comes to about $12.50 a month for fantastic coverage.  I remain self-insured

Without further ado, here is our monthly expense report, which looks fairly average for our time here

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Is College Worth It? (With Future Tuition Predictions)

The University of Washington

The University of Washington (Winnie’s Alma Mater)

With a child on the way, we have lots to think about.  What to name him/her, how to get all the proper nutrients, natural birth vs. C-section, and how to pay for college

It might be a little early to be thinking about college, but that is the point of biggest concern shared in comments on the blog and on reddit about our estimate for the cost of raising a child.  In general, people are concerned that I am too optimistic about stock returns and not pessimistic enough about the rate of growth in tuition

Let’s investigate

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How Much Does It Cost to Raise a Child?

“Hey, Congratulations!  You are going to have a baby!  How exciting!”

“Does this mean you are going back to work?”

We’ve been asked this question a lot recently
(The answer is no, but thanks for asking)

After all… raising kids is expensive… isn’t it?  The USDA estimates that (on average) raising a child to age 18 costs $245,000.  Add to this the average cost of a 4-year degree, another $100k-$200k, and kids look like a guaranteed financial disaster

In the face of these incredible costs, what is a family to do?

Don’t be average

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Making a Baby

GCCjr, Embryo Version

GCCjr, Embryo Version 1,2, & 3

Do we want to have a child?  We discussed this topic many times over the years.  For a long time we both thought the answer was no, but… then things like maturity, love, and a strong relationship happened

Like most people, we knew how to make a baby the old fashioned way.  But no matter how hard we tried (or how many times), it just wasn’t happening.  Perhaps this had something to do with the vasectomy I had about 12 years ago?

Determined to extend our family, we explored our options, comparing costs, success rates, and convenience factors.

Although we had health insurance at the beginning of our journey, it seldom (or never) covers the costs of infertility treatment, so cost efficiency was important.  Why pay more than we had to?

Here are the results of our path to pregnancy

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The $7,000 Baby

Somewhere in the deep recesses of childhood memory, I vaguely recall a fuzzy black & white Lee Majors sprinting across the television screen at incredible speed in the TV show The 6 Million Dollar Man.

We Can Rebuild Him

We Can Rebuild Him

For the unfamiliar, Majors played Steve Austin, an astronaut who was severely injured in a test flight of an experimental aircraft.   Rebuilt by the government with a bionic body, he had superhuman strength and speed, infrared and zoom vision, and the greatest in 1970’s fashion.

The total cost of this life-saving operation? 6 Million Dollars. That’s a lot of money to create one amazing human being. With inflation, that 1973 procedure would cost more than $33.5 million today. Or would it?

Over the past few months, using the latest in modern technology, we have managed to create an amazing little human of our own at an expense of slightly less than $7,000 (although certainly that is only the down payment)

That’s right, Winnie is pregnant!  We are both pretty excited

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A Taiwanese Dental Visit

It’s that time of year again, time to give the teeth a little tender love and care.

Taiwan is the 4th country in which I’ve visited a dental office, and this one looked much like the others.  The diploma on the wall from The New York University College of Dentistry could have been on the wall of any dental office in any town in the United States. The Chinese calligraphy too

Take a Seat Please

Take a Seat Please

The cleaning was quick and efficient, and personally taken care of by the dentist himself. He found a missing filling and another two 10-year-old fillings with small cracks in them. This was explained in perfect English, but a high-res camera let me see the cracks and the diagnosis clearly first-hand

A week later I had these 3 fillings replaced. It was quick and painless, both physically and financially

The total cost for a cleaning and the replacement of 3 fillings was less than the $250 my old US dentist charged just for a cleaning.

Until next year

Office visit fee: 250 TWD ($8.50)
Cleaning fee: 800 TWD ($27)
Cost of each filling replacement (x3): 1200 TWD ($40)

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An Excellent Session of Cupping Therapy

For years, I would sit at work with hunched shoulders, counting our dollars and contemplating our early retirement and world travel plans

No longer do I obsess about the value of our portfolio, but I have yet to completely shake the Mr. Burns hunch.  Sometimes after long guitar sessions, writing a blog post, or hours of practicing Chinese writing, I can feel that old work tension creep into my shoulders and upper back

This Guy Needs a Massage

This Guy Needs a Massage

Doing a little yoga or getting a massage helps, but some of those knots are deep, built up over years. It isn’t something a 90 minute massage is going to completely work out

So I decided to give something else a try… so I signed up for a session of Chinese Cupping Therapy.  When in Rome…

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