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Thailand - relaxation

January 8th, 2024 at 05:30 pm

So we were thinking of jumping to Bali from Singapore but we didn't have much time.  So instead we went to Thailand.  We decided we had done city with Singapore.  We also wanted to waste at most 2 hours on the flight and we didn't want to hit up a city.  So we flew into Krabi.  Most people go to Phuket or Ko Samui or Bangkok or Chang Mai.  We headed to Krabi, but we didn't stay there.  Instead we went further off the beaten path and went to Ao Nang.  Think small beach resort area without a ton of tourists comparatively. 

Initially I wanted to go even more secluded and stay at an alcove that you had to take a boat too.  But decided it was too difficult with the kids.  Good thing I didn't because getting off the long tail boat (we visited for the day) we saw people carrying their luggage on their heads through the water since the dock wasn't big enough.  But where we stay?  It was in "town".  And we got to walk around, swim, and rest.  Way better decision.  Ao Nang has according to google 7800 people.  I loved it.  

Our hotel room had a private pool (but it was too cold).  Some rooms opened to the pool. We had breakfast included everyday as well.

Our first night and walking at the beach right outside the hotel.  Ours was on the beach about 50 steps away from a different pool at the hotel.

The next day we booked a tour and went kayaking in the mangroves and feeding elephants.

Long Tail Boat ride

Beach just gorgeous

Then we flew back to Singapore to catch our flight home the next day.  This time we flew direct into SFO on United in premium economy.  Well worth the $425 upgrade.  But I also decided to splurge and we stayed at the Marina Bay Sands hotel.  It's pretty much the iconic cruise ship hotel in Singapore, featured in Crazy, Rich Asians at the end.  It has the infinity pool that's only guest accessible.  What did we do?  Stay the whole day in the pool from 3 pm check in after our flight till the evening. We even had food delivered.

View from the deck of the gardens by the bay.

View during the day

View at night

Then our lovely adventure had to end.  Did we have jet lag?  Surprisingly no.  We were great.  Mostly because our timing was excellent.  It was worth spending more to get the right times.  We used up pretty much all of our miles to fly united back at night and arrive at night.  It was a 18+ direct flight from LAX to Singapore and return was also 18+ hours direct Singapore to SFO.  This allowed us to nap on the flight there and coming back.  4

Going we arrived at 6 am and then stayed up so we got right on schedule (and it's easier going west).  Coming back while difficult arriving at 12 am midnight at home and going straight to bed and waking up at 10 am and forcing ourselves to stay up to 8 pm then back to bed and up at 7 am meant we were tired but not jet lagged like some people.

So going to Macchu Picchu this summer I did the same thing and booked flights I thought would minimize our jet lag going and coming.  I'm hopeful that it works.

I guess all that's left is to work on what it all costs in the next post.

Singapore Day 2 and 3

September 13th, 2023 at 09:33 pm

Day 2

We spent the day at the Singapore zoo and River Wonders.  Cost was $118 4 park hopper because there are 4 parks total Zoo, River Wonders, Birds of Paradise, and Night Safari (which we did another day).  Running total $216 SGD (since I bought it for $414 SGD) in activity entrance fees so far.  We took the train to the zoo which cost us around $16 public transit, but the uber home for $22, which was 60 minutes versus 30 minutes.  We spent $70 USD on lunch in the park.  Typical.  

That evening since we got back by around 4 pm we decided swim a bit and then go out for chili crab on the Boat Quay.  It was delicious but our most expensive meal all trip $162 USD.  

Day 3

We started off the day with a big bus tour at 9:30 am across the street from our hotel at Suntec Mall.  It is the double decker buses that run around most major cities with tons of cool facts and fun way to see a lot fast.  Also less walking for those with kids.  Cost $53 SGD. 


Then we took it to stop number 2 because we missed the floral fantasy at the Gardens at the Bay also included and saw more flowers (my DH and DK2 love gardening).  That was an extra $20 SGD also included in the Go City Card.  Then we hopped on a train and went to chinatown hawker stall and ate lunch probably $15 total for 4 of us. 

We had an early day and went back to the hotel and swam again.  But DH and I went across the street to the famous Raffles hotel and got 2 free singapore sling drinks $40 SGD on the Go city card.  They gave us 2 each for 2 adult and 2 kid passes.  The kids chilled in our bedroom.   Now I would never have paid for the singapore sling but it was super cool and fun and A LOT of people were waiting in line to drink it and eat peanuts.

We had dinner at a place on Clark Quay for Japanese Yakitori for $79.  And we did it early since we had called it an early afternoon.  Then since we were done with dinner by 7 pm, we hopped on a river boat tour included on the Go City card from the Clark Quay.  Cost $28. Running Total $357 so far.


Singapore Day 1

September 11th, 2023 at 11:57 pm

Day 1

So we arrived in Singapore at 5 am and were fortunate the hotel let us use their shower facility at the pool to shower, change, and refresh.  Our location at the JW Marriott South Beach was excellent and it was a nice hotel.  You don't have to tip in Asia but honestly in places where they are used to guests they are expecting tip, just not as much as you would in North America.  Our hotel we stayed for free using Marriott points for 4 nights get 5th night for free.  You know our airline ticket story from another post.

After we showered we took a uber to chinatown, had an awesome breakfast (noodles and dumpling $10 for the 4 of us), then headed over to Gardens by the Bay.  This is a financial blog so we'll do some breakdowns along the way.  I paid $414 for an adult 5 day unlimited Go City Singapore card, the kids were $100 less or so.  The cloud and flower dome were included and the cost?  $53.   Those were the supertree grove and kids pretending to hold the tree.

We stayed until about 1 pm ate a light snack at McDonald's.  One of my favorite places to eat no matter what country we're in.  We love seeing the how McDonald's adapts to local culture.  We had a nasi lemak (fried chicken) burger and a chicken nugget happy meal for the kids.  Then we were off to our 2 pm Duck Tour reservation.  Duck tours are WWII boats adapated for tours that go in the city and water.  Cost $45 and you need a reservation.  The merlion photo was taken from the duck boat.

After that we headed back to the hotel to check in and rest until an early dinner across the street at the Suntec City mall.  We had dinner for the cost of $48 which included tax and tip for a family of 4.  Yes that was one of the more expensive meals we had out.  Anywhere we paid with a CC was more than the cash stalls we happened upon.

We got a dog!

September 1st, 2022 at 09:28 pm

We got a dog on Saturday.  Less than a than a week ago.   I put a short post on the forum but I'll go into detail here what happened.  

He is an awesome 3/4 poodle 1/4 golden retriever mix from a breeder.  He is 16 weeks old and we call him Parker.  He is super cute.  I found him on FB adopting doodle/poodles rescue group.  Well LAL how did you get a rescue dog?  Well Friday 8/25 a post was put up on a puppy needing to be rehomed.  He family was unable to take care of him so they were looking to rehome him and the group was taking applications. 

So I said ME! And then I applied and was picked, we zoomed to confirmed it was real and not catfished or anything.  Then we drove saturday and picked him up.  The kids were so excited and we were so excited. It was $700 donation to the group and we got ourselves a 4 month old PUPPY.  

Background about where we got him and what happened!  You will absolutely be amazed.  He was adopted by a single mom influencer with a 2 year old child.  She thought it would be a great idea to get a puppy and raise with her son and I bet probably put on her website and be part of her "brand".   But she didn't realize how much work having a dog would be.  So she put him up for adoption about 8 week after she got him.

She adopted him from a breeder 4th of July.  She took him home and worked on crate training and house breaking him.  But she never had time to brush him (turns out he hadn't been brushed and was startled when we tried).  She told us in 8 weeks she had never walked him outside.  She couldn't find his leash when we went to get him.  She hadn't made a groomer appointment, and had been once to the vet but hadn't followed up with the fecal sample or appointment to neuter him.  This made her aware she just didn't have time for a dog.  For anyone whose had or has a dog they know this is really sad.

But we are eternally grateful she was willing to turn him in and just wanted him placed in a good home and gone asap.  So now less than week leter he's a great pup and we are so so lucky!  Look at how cute he is!  We got another secondhand dog!  And I feel better since I didn't end up with buying from a breeder again.  My DH was really concerned about adopting again with our last dog and his health problems.  And aren't too sure about sizing but whatever.  

Thank you covid for all these great dogs being put for adoption.  My pearl of wisdom is if you are looking for a dog now or soon, go look on FB at all these rescue/rehoming groups because there are a lot of high quality adoptable dogs being put up by families unable to take care of them for many, many reason.




Grocery update

March 15th, 2021 at 07:49 pm

Stopped at Asian market for sahimi for dinner Saturday. Spent $40.64.  

Black Cod $9.77b (16.99/lb) - miso butterfish i'm making

Hamachi $6.93 (29.99/lb)

King Salmon 6.61 ($30.99/lb)

Tuna $9.04 (26.99/lb)

Curry paste $4.99 and $3.29 = $40.63, running total $450.40 for the month

Well that explains how my grocery bills have been outrageous.  I'd say at least once a month we bought sashimi and prepped it at home if not every three weeks and usually I don't show such restraint. I usually buy way more and better quality. I picked the cheaper stuff.  I usually figure it's way less than what I spend on sushi even takeout.  Takeout sushi for us runs closer to $100 out.  More when we go out.  And I usually throw in a can of Asahi or two at the store.  

I need to go to Costco and get milk and bacon (plan on buying at least 3 packages and 2 packages of milk).  I'm also thinking of buying non-persishables but I have $375 executive check and my rebate check of $300+ to spend at costco.  So maybe I'll save it.

Question - do I consider it grocery budget if I buy it using my rebate check? Or is it free because I didn't pay for it? 

day trading day 1

April 3rd, 2020 at 02:10 am

So I figure everyone can have a good laugh and watch my adventure into day trading. I'm going to start buying some stocks or etfs and just day trade. I'm going to do it here and there

500 UCO for $809.95 purchase
today $1125

Now I'm contemplating TSLA but this is a long term position hold. As well as JETS ETF. The problem is that I think the market might crater again and I'm hesitating.

I'm also contemplating uber. I missed when it hit $14. I'm also wanting to buy Carnival Cruise line. The question is when?

day 2

January 16th, 2018 at 04:30 am

It is day 2. Yesterday was not a great day but today was better. Last night I weighed out my chicken alfredo 4 oz. Tonight I weighed out my 4 oz of Broccoli, ham, cheddar quiche I made.

Dido made me look back at what I cook make? Do I eat bad? Here and there. But overall not terribly. I made chicken teriyaki, tacos, chicken salad, etc last week. We did eat out one night but that was it for the last week.

The real problem? I know what it truly is. I overeat. I eat portions way out of control. I know the right size is a fist, but I probably eat 2 portions.

Usually until now I never weigh my food. Meat is definitely not a deck of cards, nor is it even close to 3-4 oz. Instead it'll be 8-12 oz of steak at home. It'll be that much of salmon I'll bake.

I also do not eat half a cup of rice or pasta. I probably eat 1-1.5 cups if I'm being honest. I don't snack really but then I will eat what is an improper portion size of carbs and protein.

I found it hard even doing weight watchers and nutrisystem. The portions were hard. I really need to get used to eating less. I mean seriously do people eat 4 oz of meat? Or starch? Probably not or we might not have a weight problem.

I'll have a soda once a week. I drink a lot of water and tea. But a glass of wine? Sure 1-2x/week. And I know it's not a 4 oz pour either. It's a generous 8 oz pour at home. So I'm not just having 1 serving it's more and it's I believe 200 calories for 4 oz.

So I know where my problem lies. Not necessarily what I'm eating or cooking. But honestly not eating everything I make. I also have admitted this I find it HARD to waste food. So I eat my kids leftovers on top of what I eat.

Sometimes I leave it there and finish it later in the evening. Tonight I scraped the plates and threw it away. No more.

This morning I had 1/2 oatmeal (usual), salad for lunch with a bell pepper, 4 oz of quiche I made. That's it. No leftovers from kids.

I am also aiming to drink more water. Baby steps. NO more eating kids leftovers. And I'm going to be honest and conscious about my portions. I am also going to try and avoid all alcohol to prevent the extra calories.

Compounding Retirement Returns

June 9th, 2017 at 06:27 pm

So I wanted to see how compounding has worked for LAL and DH. DH started saving in 2005 when he got his 1st job and LAL started probably in 2001 but didn't save much! I have never had a 401k so my entire retirement account has been in Roth IRA. Here are my balances on the first of the year. In 2005 was the first time I contributed the maximum of $4000. The total contributions for 2005-2016 is $59,000.

1/1/2003 $1,604.43
1/1/2004 $1,649.98
1/1/2005 $1,523.08
1/1/2006 $5,797.28
1/1/2007 $6,055.02
1/1/2008 $11,247.42
1/1/2009 $11,964.48
1/1/2010 $18,810.28
1/1/2011 $21,820.45
1/1/2012 $29,829.13
1/1/2013 $39,922.18
1/1/2014 $62,515.36
1/1/2015 $77,467.00
1/1/2016 $83,467.30
1/1/2017 $93,054.38

On January 1st, 2017 I would have contributed at total of $59,000. But in reality I only contributed $53,500 since I didn't make my 2016 contribution till 4/1/17. So based on compounding I made $39,554. ($39,554/53,500)/12 for a rough estimate return of 6.16% return. The proper way would be to calculate each year but I'm tired.

Currently though with my $5500 2016 contribution I have $104,926.89 in my Roth IRA. Not to shabby considering I have now contributed $59,000 and still have to do 2017 $5500 contributions.

DH is a lot more impressive but he's had a 401k with match.

DH Roll DH IRA 401k B 401k V 401k F

$4,000 $0 $4,871
$4,148 $24,581
$8,322 $9,351 $38,895
$27,149 $13,642 $21,491
$18,497 $38,484 $59,763
$74,170 $100,378
$81,580 $121,116
$97,781 $165,139
$134,170 $247,078
$148,742 $288,367
$148,993 $320,533
$228,543 $304,448

Starting with zero in 2005 he contributed in 2005 the maximum IRA $4000 and $4871 to a 401k. Not bad considering he worked 2 months out of the year. As of January 1, 2017 he has a total $532,991 for retirement in 12 years. He also did not contribute for 2016 IRA but did max out the 401k for 2016 so we didn't miss a year. He contributed $251,000 so an approximate return of 9.36%. Not too shabby. Plus with the $5500 2016 contributions and 401k this year he's at $598,962. We broke the $700k retirement savings mark combined.

I'm not sure where we are heading but we are up $77,840 for the YTD and 2016 we went up with contributions and returns $73,501. 2015 we made $40,157, 2014 we went up $73,151.

I am going to guess we're getting over the hump where our returns will be more than our contributions annually. Which is $29k/year.

While not fantastic or super exciting I'm thinking that overall we're average boring investors in index funds now. Before DH would try to pick stocks which might explain why our returns are poor compared to the market. It also could be we had a few bad years in 2008-2010. But overall I think in another 10 years we'll see around average 8% returns.

we're making a house offer

April 25th, 2017 at 03:32 pm

Our agent is submitting an offer on the house today at 2 pm. I'm not sure if I'm excited or not. It's a good house with everything we wanted and a decent location. In the area we wanted but not quite middle of city more like edge. Still in the school district but DH's commute is longer than I would have liked. But otherwise the location works. It works for us weekend commute wise to where we like to go. It works for schools. It works for quiet. The house is a good layout and a good size.

So any hang ups? Well we are coming in under asking by a lot. And we do have an escalation in case there is another offer. We decided this because we had a home inspection yesterday because our realtor felt something was off about the house but couldn't pinpoint it. She said the preinspection the seller did didn't feel right to her so she asked us to get one. Turns out she was right. Best $675 we ever spent. Over 4 hours and we now know that the roof is leaking in multiple places including a couple of skylights. The siding has problems and needs repair that will cause the house to need to be painted. The backyard has to be regraded with the sitting water and side of driveway recemented. We also need to replace the water heater and piping, and the a/c that they once had obviously broke and they hauled it away so they wouldn't need to replace it. It's something we'd like to replace as well. So hence our below ask offer. They may laugh us off but at least we did our due diligence and will accept the house for less.

Our plan initially before the inspection was to put wood throughout the entire house and paint it. The house is 2004 built and quite dirty. The roof leak was probably due to the owner power washing it and probably the builder being cheap when installing it. The siding was due to improper installation. But this is all fixable. Inside was okay but normal wear and tear of carpet all over the house from 13 years and probably never replaced. And never painted so marks all over the wall.

Interestingly their inspection report did not find the roof leaks. Nor the siding issue. It also said "owner has a lot of personal effects making evaluating the house difficult." And yes they have A LOT of stuff. Nice, expensive stuff, but OMG it was really crammed into the house. I say that not as someone trying to minimize but really as someone just house hunting. Seriously they should have rented a storage because a couple of the rooms you couldn't really see the floor it was packed full of boxes and stuff.

Anyway we'll see what they even say or respond.

itinerary planning

April 11th, 2017 at 03:23 pm

So I've pretty much finalized my parents crazy tickets. I spent some time and I think I got it for $1100 which is a good deal. Way better than expected considering they are also flying multi-city with us and another island connection in hawaii.

I'm researching for a deal to hawaii this summer and next February.

Right now I'm debating between VRBO and hotels. VRBOs seem to make sense when we stay put for like 4 to 5 days in a city. But I'm not sure it makes sense for 1-2 days in a city to pay a cleaning fee on top of the cost of the rental.

I'm also debating our mode of transit between cities. Obviously train is the first option but buses are often used as well. Did I forget to mention we're doing Japan and Hong Kong? I've finalized the airfare but not the details. Now I'm working on the cities and plans.

Right now I only know Tokyo Disney and Hong Kong Disney. Onwards to planning.

When Frugality crosses the line...

May 20th, 2014 at 05:36 pm

Well it's when what you do affects others. And what you did causes others to suffer or pay more. The easiest example is people who always split the bill in the group and throw in far less than their fair share. I know this because I love to get credit card rewards but more often than not the amount comes up short. Seriously tax and tip people. People who are frugal will budget for a split bill and not mind. People who are cheap will pay for their meal but not the tax and tip. Trust I know from watching the bill of what people throw in.

Recently I went to a wedding that was so obvious they were trying to be "cheap" and save on a big wedding rather than having a wedding they could afford.

During the appetizer time samosas and chicken strips with lemonade, water, and coffee were served (good move no booze so frugal). The catering staff forgot to put out plates, knives, forks, napkins. So people were standing around looking for help and trying to get something to eat off of. But then the lemonade, water, and cups ran out. When I went to ask the catering people they said too bad. There wasn't enough because the couple didn't order enough. CHEAP! Seriously you can scrimp on what you serve but the amount? To not order enough food and drinks?

Then the buffet. It was spicy, no kid friendly food. Personally I ate the food but I like spicy. But again on each table there was one pitcher of water for 10 people. Luckily our table had 8 adults and my two kids. So the one pitcher really didn't have to fill all 10 cups. When we tried to stop the couple of waiters they said they were busy and would get to it. So not enough tap water! UGH. But apparently there was soda but only waiters were carrying around pitchers because there wasn't enough pitchers to leave on every table. There was 140 guest by the way. Then we had to bus the tables ourselves and rearrange the tables for dancing at 8:30. So the couple CHEAPED out and didn't hire wait staff or pitchers for soda! I mean seriously fill a few coolers with ice and throw in bottles of water, soda, juice and put it next to the buffet and let people grab their own. What would it cost? $200 at most! CHEAP! Again the couple cared about themselves and not how to provide enough beverages for the guest. I can accept busing my own table, getting my own drinks, but to not even enough water? Okay it's a bit much.

Then the cake cutting of a tiny cake at 9:15. They didn't have a knife or server so they used spoons to feed each other and "cut" the cake. Fine didn't want to bring a knife or forgot it. However they didn't serve the cake. People had to go up to the kitchen area and get cake from the one server working. I asked for a piece vanilla and a piece of chocolate, and was told there wasn't enough cake for everyone so I couldn't do it. I was stunned. Lucky my piece went to one kid and DH got the other kid another piece. Not enough cake for all the guest? CHEAP. Provide enough food if you are hosting a party/wedding.

I have to say the groom asked me about cakes about a month before and to be "frugal" and save money I suggested a $100 "cutting" cake for photos then sheet cakes at least 2-3 from Costco at $40/each. WTF! CHEAP!

The only bigger insult was the couple trying to hit guests up for cash for their honeymoon. I don't think it often gets worse than that.

Moral of the story? The line between frugality and cheap is thin. It's really easy to cross over and hurt people by being more than just frugal, becoming cheap. Having the expectation that others will provide largess to make up for the lack of your own contribution.