Reflections of 2016, Hey Big Spender

You spent how much?! (Blue Lagoon, Iceland)

2016 was our 4th full year of living large. And this year we have the receipts to go with it.

We traveled a bit, spending time in 16 countries. This includes a month in Thailand, a month in Malaysia, a few days in Singapore, 4 months in Western Europe, 2 months in the US, and a few months in Taiwan. Jr has been to 17 countries now.

If that weren’t enough, Winnie finished and published her book (in Mandarin), we took a ton of photos, wrote some blog posts, attended a blogging conference, and even appeared in People Magazine (print only, see all press here.)

Whew! One of these days we are going to have to actually retire, or something.

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Our Cost of Living in Chiang Mai, Thailand

Wat Chedi Luang

Wat Chedi Luang

For 2 months at the tail end of 2015, we called Chiang Mai, Thailand home.

We quickly settled into a way of life that revolved around yoga and Crossfit, afternoon swims, walking among the temples, and exploring the vast food scene.

Christmas and New Year’s Eve were special nights out on the town, as were the dual Thai festivals of Loi Krathong and Yi Ping.

As we explored the city we met a diverse and exciting group of new friends, and shared our favorite places with visiting friends and family.

We enjoyed a high quality of life with a surprisingly low cost.

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Monthly Expenses (March 2015, Taipei, Taiwan)

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Happy Birthday Winnie!

(I will trickle out 1H2015 Monthly Expense Reports over the coming weeks)

Nesting is in full effect.  Winnie is ready to pop any time now

Most of this month was spent at or near home, preparing for GCCjr’s arrival, and hosting dinner parties, including Winnie’s Birthday party.  We washed baby clothes, baked bread, and ate.  In the down time, Winnie crocheted a baby blanket

We received a few large boxes of used children’s clothing from Winnie’s friends, and now GCCjr has more clothes than Winnie and I combined.  We’ve also been gifted a few toys and some diapers, and lent a bottle steamer and small crib.

Unlike last month, March expenses were reasonable

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Monthly Expenses (February, 2015, Taipei, Taiwan)

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

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The GCC Accumulation Phase Expenses

Old Growth Forest Near Home

Old Growth Forest Near Home.  The Price Is Right

If somebody was looking for a great example of how to live lean, to truly be efficient in spending and maximize savings…  we would not be it.  Or at least, we wouldn’t be a good example today

It just takes a quick look at our detailed expenses to see that we are by no means a frugal household.  We rent 5-star accommodations, eat out 2 to 3 times a day, and buy whatever we want whenever we want.

This is one reason that I find it a little humorous when the idea of early retirement gets some mainstream press, and people go nuts in the comments.

“Yeah, right.  Like I’m going to live like I’m in poverty now, so I can save enough to allow me to live like I’m in poverty forever.  No thanks.  I’m going to work forever and live a little”

“Yeah, you can do that in Whereverville, but here in my high cost of living area it is impossible (turns on TV)”

Besides ignoring the effects of compound interest, or the value of time and freedom, this type of comment ignores the obvious.  A person that lives well below their means can always choose to increase spending.  A person that is already spending everything they earn has few options, in spending or in life

So I thought I would look back and see what we were spending while we were still accumulating, to see what 10 years of “living like we were in poverty” in a “high cost of living area” looked like

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Retire Early.

Travel the World.

Let's do this.

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