Big Tree on Big Island (That’s me under the tree!)

2023 was our 11th full year of wild and free livin’ domesticated living.

Life in the burbs is interesting… life largely revolves around kids and their activities. Every once in awhile when we are feeling a little wild, we might bake a pie or mow the lawn. And as the school calendar allows we mix in a bit of travel (Spring break in Vegas, early summer on the Big Island, Thanksgiving in Tahoe, and Christmas in Taiwan.)

It took some getting used to but we have now become fully acclimated to this relaxed, family-friendly, predictable environment. The only real surprise was the total cost.

2023 Cost of Living

I don’t actively track our spending anymore… so it was a bit of a shock when I opened up mint and Empower to do a 2023 post-mortem. We spent HOW MUCH on!?! And don’t even get me started on Costco…

But overall expenses still came in surprisingly close to what I nonchalantly predicted last year, about $10k/month, although spending on housing and transport went down. Travel costs continue to be low for what we get thanks to extensive travel hacking.

Here is the breakdown:

Kid Activities$5006,000$16

Sums don’t total due to rounding.

Actual outgoing cash flow is roughly $52,000 greater due to:

  • *We have debt on our house (30-year fixed 2.75%) and car (7-year fixed 2.74%.) Reported expenses reflect only the interest portion of loan payments. Principal reduction is another ~$14k.
  • Minimum payments on about $50k in credit card debt at ~0% interest (with that $50k invested in short-term treasuries at ~5%.)
  • Roth 401k/IRA contributions – $26,000 in total, see Legal Money Laundering

Amazon, Costco, and Target, Oh My (aka What the #^&%!!!!)

Part of the joy* of living in the suburbs is the opportunity to frequent Costco and Target and have anything and everything else delivered directly to your front door by Amazon.

Packages arrive seemingly daily… or even multiple times per day. Because who doesn’t need a Burnt Orange Cast Iron Dutch Oven Pumpkin Cocotte at Halloween, an ongoing subscription for Lavazza Gran Crema Espresso Beans, or an occasional That’s What She Said bottle opener? (affiliate links)

So maybe (MAYBE) it shouldn’t be a surprise that our miscellaneous category is so very LARGE. But still I was shocked. Winnie was shocked. The kids were shocked to see Mom and Dad being shocked.

My second reaction was to analyze where it all went… $9k on Amazon, $7,400 at Costco, $1,800 at Target…

I installed the Chrome Amazon Order History Reporter and started digging… a couple new cell phones, art supplies, an outdoor dining set, some kitchen stuff… I should definitely sort this by category because it is ridiculous to just label everything as miscellaneous.

But then I realized we were still under budget and that I would rather do other things with my time… and yet we probably have $1k/month of waste buried in there.

So we discussed… I’m going to track spending on a monthly basis for a few months and see how things look, because we would rather spend that $1k per month on business class tickets than some versatile solutions for modern living that have been completely forgotten. (February 2024 Amazon spending is only $241.93…)

A Cool Chart

Based on the table we spend about $2,000/month on food… but looking at things on an annual basis tells only part of the story.

While reviewing our expenses I came across this cool little chart of food spending… Wow, June! What happened there?

Well… we were in Hawaii for 2 weeks in June and spent nearly $1,700 on restaurants in that time… because those macadamia nut pancakes with coconut creme weren’t going to make themselves. is terrible at charts (it would be nice to have a separate color for groceries and restaurants, no?)

Anyhoo, moral of the story… sometimes it is worthwhile to zoom out (and be sure to order the mac nut pancakes.)


We are tied to a school calendar these days but we still manage to have some fun. The kids these days say pics or it didn’t happen… so here are some pics.

A daily ritual

Another day, another package

Home eating is good eating (but no mac nut pancakes)

Tasty Eats

Homemade bbq pork

Life milestones

Biking to school

Trick or Treat – HP & Elsa

Hawaii – Big Island

Volcano Zone (Mount Kilauea erupted while we were in town)

Black sand beach

Summer Fun

On the Water

Escaping the Heat

Back in Taiwan

Jet lag

Night market – by far the kid’s favorite


Life is good. Our life these days revolves around the kiddos… school and sports, sports and school. They are doing well and enjoying the journey.

We live well, travel well, eat well. That costs us about $10k/month, which seems a little wasteful. I’ll track spending more closely to start 2024 and see if we can cut 10% or so (or at least redirect it towards things we value more.)

Thank you for reading. Please share your GCC love on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram.

Hope everyone has a great 2024 and beyond.

Jeremy, Winnie, Julian, Jaiden
Go Curry Cracker!

* “joy”

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