Selfie Time at Peace Park, Taipei, Taiwan

Selfie Time at Peace Park, Taipei, Taiwan

2015 was our 3rd full year as itinerant idlers.

Although… for most of the year we were in Taipei, Taiwan, where we welcomed our first child into the world.

Being in one location for an extended period provided a lot of time to think and write about financial interests. At least until the baby was born.

I explored the pros and cons of Roth IRAs for early retirees, planned how we will build the world’s longest Roth IRA conversion ladder, calculated how much money we lost selling our house for $102k more than we paid for it, and evaluated how Obamacare killed the Roth IRA Conversion for US residents. Fascinating stuff!

It turns out some people actually read those posts, and the blog grew by leaps and bounds. I was even invited to speak at the 2015 Chautauqua in Ecuador, an incredible experience! As a bonus, I was able to meet several of my favorite financial bloggers.

When our little guy was ready to don his own tiny backpack, we did a trial run to Japan (Kyoto, Osaka, Nara.) It was a great success! Being outside and exploring new places made for a happier kid and happier parents.

So we hit the road again. We spent the last 2 months of the year in Chiang Mai, Thailand, where we swam, did yoga and Crossfit, and ate excessive amounts of Thai food, and reduced our average cost of living through the grace of geographic arbitrage.

By all measures, 2015 was a great year.

Total Expenses

Having a baby, International travel, and healthy appetites can do some serious damage to a budget. Or so we hear.

Our core cost of living in 2015 was around $137/day, totaling a little more than $50,000. All non-childbirth related GCCjr expenses are included. Even so, total cost of living was less than last year.

2015 Core Cost of Living2

Details2015 Annual ExpensesNotes
Housing$18,869~$52/day
Healthcare$2,813~$8/day
Transportation$2,114~$6/day
Groceries$3,927~$11/day
Dining Out$11,762~$32/day
Alcohol$519~$1/day
Entertainment$1,571~$4/day
Misc$8,570~$23/day
Total$50,174~$137/day

As in the past, I broke out irregular expenses. These include expenses directly related to pregnancy, childbirth, & recovery. Also included is the cost of flying my mother & grandmother to Taiwan to spend time with their newest grandchild, plus some family assistance dollars (an uninheritance, if you will.)

Other Expenses Atypical and Nonrecurring expenses
Childbirth & related expenses$4,552One-time expenses
Flights & Airbnb for Grandmas$1,409Flights purchased with miles & cash combo
Uninheritance$765Family
Total 2015 "Other" $6,727
Total 2015 Spending$56,900~$156/day

With core expenses of ~$50k, we could sustain this level of spending with a portfolio of about $1.25 million, plus some spare change for our one-time expenses.

More Detail

You may be thinking, “What the hell?! How did you spend so much money?!”

To which I would reply, “You sound just like my wife!”

But just like with her, I had better have a good answer. And since I stopped posting our monthly expenses, I’ll delve a little deeper into our spending. (Those monthly expense reports were among the least read posts on GCC, and I’ve since replaced them with cost of living summaries, such as our Cost of Living in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Feedback welcome.)

A Budget?

An average month in 2015 had expenses of roughly $3,900.

  • Housing – 1 bedroom apartment, utilities + weekly housekeeping: $1,630
  • Healthcare – Taiwan National Health Insurance: $25 each for Mrs & Jr
  • Transportation – $50 for bikes, buses, taxis, and Ubers
  • Groceries – $350 for organic produce & specialty items
  • Dining Out – $950 for 2 people to dine out 2-3 times/day
  • Alcohol – $40 for boys night out
  • Entertainment – $40 for random excursions
  • Misc – $800 to satiate the nesting instinct (1/2 is Jr related)

Above and beyond these expenses were many line items with annualized cost of at least $1/day:

Lifestyle Design

This isn’t a budget per se, but is the result of a series of lifestyle design choices we made. Big modern apartment near Central Park? Check. Meals, drinks and lattes out with friends, because we deserve it? Check. Using cash rather than creativity to solve even the smallest problem? Check.

Often when people proclaim they can’t save money, previous lifestyle choices are a major factor. Then when they stumble upon a humble website like this one, they declare, “Saving 50% or more of my income is IMPOSSIBLE!”

And they are right.

If we were to attempt to put lipstick on this pig, we might be able to save 10%. The design is fundamentally flawed. We must burn this consumerist lifestyle to the ground and rebuild from the ashes.

That’s what we did 14 years ago. Our rent this year was almost as much as our entire core cost of living while we were saving.

We can only live as we do today, because we didn’t live as we do yesterday.

Final Thoughts

2015 was a great year. We welcomed our first child into the world and enjoyed an abundance of quality time together. We had the privilege of seeing his first time rolling over, his first time crawling, and his first steps. I get to give him a bath everyday and read him bedtime stories every night.

We were also able to introduce the little guy to the joy of travel and socializing with people from different cultures and different languages. Travel and children are a beautiful combo.

Except for the obvious one time expenses, we didn’t notice an appreciable increase in cost of living just because we reproduced. I’ll expand on this in a future post, but any regular expenses we have had (diapers, baby formula) have been offset by reductions in other areas (alcohol, entertainment, taxes.)

2016 expenses are hard to predict. We’ll slowly travel through Europe for 4 months and the United States for 2 or 3, offsetting the higher cost of living with free hotels and flights. We’ll probably end the year back in Mexico, one of our favorite lower cost of living destinations, which will bring down our average costs once again.

Thank you for reading and for your support.

Please share your GCC love on Twitter and Facebook!

Jeremy, Winnie, & Julian
Go Curry Cracker!

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