Nice view! – Bali

2019 was our 7th full year of post-work life and probably our most “normal” year to date – we lived in a normal city, Jr went to a normal school, and we did normal life things. It was nice. And different.

We did manage ~5 weeks of travel vacation (Thailand, Vietnam, Bali) and I took most of the summer off from anything with a screen, which was also very wholesome and normal and nice.

So of course something happened that will completely change our lives, forever.

2019 Cost of Living

This was our 2nd full year without expense tracking. I know roughly how much we spent because I know how much we received in dividends / capital gains / blog profit. Since we spent it all, income = expenses.

Here are the gory details:

Health insurance$75$900$2
Total (Core)$4,975$59,700$164
Total(~$8,000) <---$95,200$261

That “Other” category is pretty big, so here is a break down:

  • Montessori pre-school – $10,000 (includes some summer sessions)
  • IVF – $10,000
  • Self-employment taxes – $8,000 (paid throughout 2019 as estimated taxes – great way to get tons of award points!)
  • New toys – $3,000 (Garmin EDGE 830 and Forerunner 945, iPhone 11, Samsung Galaxy Note 11)
  • Chinese New Year trip to Chiang Mai – $1,500 (paid cash for everything – discount airline / hotel / airbnb)
  • Spring trip to Vietnam – $1,000 (discount airline flights, 2 free hotel nights, rented Airbnb with another family.)
  • Summer trip to Bali – $1,000 (free flights and most hotel nights free – details.)
  • Income tax – $1,000 (2018 taxes paid in 2019)

Since we did only short duration regional travel we spent quite a bit less than last year (which included 2 months in Europe and a month in the US.)

Expenses would be about $4,000 higher without travel hacking – using rewards programs to get free flights and hotel nights. See our Award Travel Series for more details.

The Cost of Normality

Our core cost of living is now about $60k/year.

We’ve designed our lives to have a nice home in a city center within easy walking and biking distance of everything we care about, and easy access to bus and subway. We continue to be car free and care free.

Our big Other expenses are pre-school and elective medical procedures. Those stop within the next 1.5 years. (*)

We also pay some self-employment taxes, or as I like to call it – an involuntary annuity purchase with reasonable ROI. These wouldn’t exist without blog income, which also reduces our ability to do tax-free Roth conversions and capital gain harvesting. You win some, you lose some.

Everything else is spent on toys and travel.

This brings our total cost of living to ~$95,000 – $260/day.

Average spending over the entire 7 years of early retirement is much lower at $74k/year – $200/day (inflation-adjusted to 2019 dollars, excluding self-employment taxes. SE taxes add ~$6k/year or ~$17/day.)

For reference, here are the annual spending summaries for the previous 6 years: 20132014201520162017, 2018.)

Life Changing Events

Wait a second… what are these elective medical procedures mentioned above?

After a couple failures we gave up on having another child. Until we didn’t.

Winnie is now pregnant with our 2nd child, due in September. Yeah!

Jr is very excited to be a big brother.

We don’t plan a destination birth and will remain in Taipei for the duration of the pregnancy.

The Dr told us if the fetus doesn’t grow a penis in the next 1 1/2 weeks then it is a girl. This is the kind of deep insight I’ve come to expect.

baby ultrasound

We think it is a girl

For background, I wrote previously about the IVF process and childbirth in Taiwan, and our previous decision to not try IVF again.

Regional Photo Tour

Since we went to all of the trouble of traveling, here are a few of my favorite travel photos from the year. See many more on Instagram.

Playing with Elephants

Playing with Elephants – Chiang Mai, Thailand

Taking a hiking break – Chiang Mai, Thailand

“You can live in bliss” – Hoi An, Vietnam

Breakfast of Champions – Hoi An, Vietnam
(mmm, cold brew)

Beach Reading – Bali

Sunset Stroll – Bali

Conclusions and Projections

It was a good year. We enjoyed a normal yet relaxing life in numerous countries for a reasonable sum. Best of all we are all excited to grow our little family.

I expect 2020 will be much the same in terms of cost. Fortunately, it doesn’t look like we will blow kid #2’s college fund (yet.)

With tax credit / bundle of joy #2 on the way, we recently moved into a bigger apartment. This increased our rent about 10%.

Childbirth and pre/post-natal care, with part-time nanny help for the first couple months, will cost about the same as IVF. Maybe we will come out ahead on that one with the additional $2,000 Child Tax Credit.

Our travel expenses will also be about the same. While we will be in Taiwan for the rest of the year, our January 2020 trip to Japan cost about the same as all of our 2019 travels combined. We might spend a little on Taiwan adventures as we are working on having friends and family come to us (my Mom is already booked for a flight in the spring.)

Thank you for reading and for your support. I hope you have a great 2020!

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Jeremy, Winnie, Julian, & TBD
Go Curry Cracker!