Pink Elephants at Taipei Lantern Festival

Pink Elephants at Taipei Lantern Festival

Chinese gift culture is awesome.  Whether it be for a wedding, an anniversary, a birthday, a baby shower, or for Chinese New Year, everybody gets and gives cash.  Just stuff a few bills into a plain red envelope and your gift is ready.  Fortunately the wrapping paper industry hasn’t been able to corrupt the culture via advertising in the same way as the diamond industry.

Chinese New Year is a big gift giving holiday.  Employers will pay a bonus of at least one month’s salary, or even much more if business is good.  People also receive the gift of time; many businesses close for a week and people leave town to visit family.

We stayed in the city, and celebrated by attending the Taipei Lantern Festival, joining and hosting dinner parties, and via the giving of gifts… to our friends and their children, the door staff of our building, and the lady who helps us with house cleaning

Preparation for GCCjr’s imminent arrival also began in earnest this month, with mass purchases of baby necessities.  For the next 18 years, I’ll be reporting our child rearing expenses on a dedicated page, still a work in progres.  As such, GCCjr will have his own expense report section going forward.  Lucky kid

As a result of wild spending on baby stuff, an unexpected bill, and overall large living, our total expenses were embarrassingly high in February.  Total was a new monthly record

2015 Feb Expenses w Average

  • Housing – We rent a great 1-bedroom apartment in the heart of Taipei, Taiwan. Rent is 42,000 TWD (~$1,330 a month), plus an amortized brokerage fee of 1/2 months rent (~$53.)  We also have a housekeeper to help out during the pregnancy, which costs 1,100 TWD (~$35/week.)This month we received a bill for all utilities while in our previous Taipei rental.  The total bill came to $538, mostly due to high A/C usage during peak summer months.  Late billing saved us about 5% on currency exchange fees plus float
  • Healthcare – We had minor health expenses due to bug bites and the purchase of some gas meds for GCCjr. Pregnancy and baby related expenses are included in “Other Expenses”
  • Transportation – We regularly ride bikes around the city (no longer free), along with buses, the subway, and taxis.  February temperatures are ideal for bike riding.  We also ride Uber from time to time.  Give it a try with a free ride
  • Groceries – We went to a nearby Traditional Market several times this month, mostly for fresh meat, fruit, and vegetables.  A big Costco trip provided meat, cheese, etc.. for CNY parties
  • Dining Out – We dined out regularly, as is our norm.  Total spent on food at restaurants, coffee shops, and pastry shops was $789 (~$14/person/day.)  Our most expensive meal for two was ~$51 for Italian style pizza, lasagna, and gelato
  • Alcohol – I had a boys night out with some friends, and bought some beers and cider for CNY dinners
  • Entertainment – In addition to Flute lessons and art classes, we had a professional maternity photo shoot ($285.)  “You’re only pregnant once(?)”
  • Misc – This is the category that lumps together random purchases.  This month included Chinese tuition, a seemingly endless list of baby stuff, and CNY gifts
  • Other – Winnie went to the Dr for a baby checkup & ultrasound, and had a massage for back pain. We also purchased prenatal nutritional supplements and a hospital supplied list of supplies for the birth
DetailsFeb 2015Notes
Housing$2,1431 bedroom apt: $1330
Amortized Broker Fee: $53
Housekeeping: $105 (3 wks)
Housekeeper CNY bonus: $54
Door staff CNY bonus: $63
Old utility bills: $538
Healthcare$10Pregnancy expenses in Other
Little Tummys Gas Relief Drops: $8
Bug bite balm: $2
Transportation$61Typical public bike rental: $0.20
Typical bus ride: $0.50
Typical subway ride: $0.80
Typical taxi ride: $4
Groceries$479Big Costco trip for dinner parties: $202
Dining Out$789~$14/adult/day
Alcohol$116Boys night out: $60
Costco case of beer: $27
Belgian beer: $15
Cider: $13
Entertainment$447Maternity Photo shoot: $285
Flute lesson (x2): $95
Art classes: $63
Lottery ticket: $3
Sheet music: $1
Misc$1,811Chinese class: $354
Baby clothes (80% off/$20 free): $293 baby stuff: $260
(e.g. Peek-A-Boo Forest Book, $12)
Amortized housing: $151
J Jeans (lost weight): $145
Ikea baby stuff (sleeping pad, play set, etc): $140
Hot Water Boiler: $56
W clothes: $55
Baby soap: $31
Baby books: $28
Ikea misc: $21 toothpaste, deodorant: $18
Cell phone: $13
Laundry soap $8
Earrings: $8
Bottle opener: $3

Gifts for friends: $125
Scotch gift: $61
CNY gifts for kids: $38
Other Expenses Atypical and Nonrecurring expenses
Baby checkup & ultrasound$16
Prenatal supplements$18
Birth supplies (disposable absorbent pads, etc.)$93
Total Other Expenses$211All childbirth related
Total February Expenses$6,067
February 2015 Cash Flow

February 2015 Cash Flow

So, with spending like this we now remember what it was like to be a consumer. A lot of our free time was spent planning to buy stuff or actually buying stuff. How exhausting

Fortunately we were able to be somewhat efficient. Baby clothes were purchased at 80% off via Amazon’s MyHabit and cover up to 9 months, we used some old Amazon gift cards to buy baby toys/books/blankets, and saved on shipping by having my Mom bring everything over when she comes in May (Yeah for 2 free checked bags on International flights!)

I think if we were in the US we would have been more efficient.  I’m always impressed by what people are able to do with aggressive couponing.  For example, check out the Krazy Coupon Lady‘s savings tools for ideas or see how Eli Inkrot saved 80% at CVS on stuff you would buy anyway.

Oh well, I’ll sulk about our big bills this month but am still happy knowing our pregnancy and childbirth costs are much less than they would be in the US.  And these pictures of the Taipei Lantern Festival will cheer anybody up (it reminded me a bit of Burning Man but with less dust and fire)

Big Brass Band

Big Brass Band

Iron Man

Iron Man, Taiwan Style


Money God, my favorite


Chinese Scholar

Retire Early.
Travel the World.

Retire Early.

Travel the World.

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