A “Splurge” California Christmas Vacation Report With Our Family

This is our first California Christmas vacation report. (Definitely not going to be the last one, we go back to California from Seattle, Washington every year to see family.)

Initially, I didn’t see the point of tallying up the total for our vacation – but in the long term – this will not be the only vacation or Christmas holiday trip we will take so I would really like (at least for myself) to be able to track the expenses in the form of an expense diary. I’ve asked Jared countless times how much was our airfare from last year and either of us can even remember the first number.


I went into holiday mode with the word ‘splurge’ in my mind. We have been so good this year. Our net worth ballooned up by $350K and we had an annoying dragged out a nail-biting run-up to the millionaire club. Splurge can mean different things but our definition of a splurge is definitely doused with raw fish and rice vinegar.

We started tracking all of our expenses in the beginning of 2017 and this inquisition intensified when I made the family income reports public. Now we’re tracing the price of everything and I know that I will have to publicly report to everyone later. That kind of effects the splurge mentally a bit…

I consider this a splurge, all we did was eat, eat, eat. In our defense, a lot of people we scheduled to hang out with got sick so we canceled. We didn’t want to risk getting the stomach flu back to the jam-packed airport and then infecting our Airbnb guests at home. Overall, it didn’t feel like a complete Christmas but it was FUN. We got to know the in-laws a lot and Jared’s father thinks I’m hilarious, so, WIN!

Jared’s mom is a big Star Wars fan. I have never…ever…seen any Star Wars. On New Year’s Eve, the family put on the first and second Star Wars movies for me to watch. You’re not part of this nerdy family until you watch at least one Star Wars movie. The V Star Wars movie is definitely better than the IV from a purely cinematic point of view.

All those episodes parodies of Star Wars from Family Guy finally make sense to me now.

Expense Breakdown

*Grand Total*=$554.04
Transportation$146Flight for 2 to San Francisco
$11Return flight for 2 to Seattle
$42.20Lyft taxi ride to Seattle airport
$46Transit bus from airport to parent's house
Gifts$29White Elephant gift + Boo boo...
Food$2.744 AM fries at the airport
$33Mexican grub
$6Tip for sushi (parents covered rest)
$30Sushiholic (name of the joint but also me.)
$47Sushi....buffet LOL.
$60Sushi....party tray...for myself
Misc.$10Thrifted clothes
$5.10Dollar Tree (gummy bears and cheap toys for me.)
$25Checked luggage fees


The Lyft ride was unplanned. We overslept after the alarm failed to go off. We had a red-eye flight (early morning flight) and decided it wasn’t worth 3 miserable hours on the train with baggage in chilly 35-degree weather to Sea-Tac.

Almost everything in the airport was still closed but my favorite café, The Hudson, before TSA was miraculously open. Usually, airport food is expensive but this joint I found had a generous box of yummy french fries for less price than the price advertised and it was sales tax-free!

Jared and his father have a lot in common. One key principle is that they both HATE driving in the city. Any large metropolitan city has their share of congestion and San Francisco is no different. We took the Marin Airporter for $46 and his parents picked us up to their house for the rest of the way. We took the Marin Airporter on the way back as well but the parents insisted they pay for it since it’s their fault that they didn’t want to drive into the city.

White Elephant

OK, this one is embarrassing but my White Elephant gift – a box of bath bombs and a box of “chocolates” was expired. I purchased both boxes online in May of 2017 and held onto them for Christmas. A few days after Christmas, the receiver (my sister-in-law) texted me and told me not to buy it from the online seller because they’ve been expired since 2016. The Japanese “chocolates” were actually stale Japanese cookies.

 Oof, if I could crawl into a hole and hide…

White Elephant gifts are $25 or under per gift but mine was a little more expensive to make up for my mistake. I insisted on making it right and I did have another gift in mind specifically for her but because our family played the Christmas White Elephant game, I was afraid it wouldn’t reach her if someone opened it or decided to make a steal.

Originally I wanted to save it for her birthday but now it’s a reparation for feeding her expired cookies.

Anyways, LOOK HOW CUTE THIS THING IS. Wahhhh! It’s a pochi owl silicon coin purse. She has a favorite owl bag so I bought her an owl pochi coin purse.

I am pochi owl!

My White Eleplant gift was from Jared’s sister and it was a bird feeder with 6 lbs of bird seeds (THAT was fun to take to TSA! xD). She also gifted me a Pusheen plush just because she likes me.

Or liked. I gifted her expired food so I don’t know how much she likes me now.


PIC HEAVY! 😀 In no particular order…here are some things we ate during the week-long holiday trip. The first lesson for next time is to take better photos. The second lesson is if something is a good deal but you order a large amount of it then you’re not really saving any money…😓

habit burger double
Double Double – Habit Burger & Grill
habit burger
Sides of Habit Burger and Grill
Sushi platter of California rolls, spicy tuna and lots of fish
Bento of salmon roll, sashimi, soup, and salad.
Tacos Tuesdays – all tacos for $1.75.
It would have been frugal had I not gotten 20 of them.
sushi-lunch bento (2)
Salmon bento lunch
sushi-lunch bento
Tempura lunch
sushi roll feast
All you can eat sushi
sushi buffet 1
Hamachi handroll
california sushi
All you can eat sushi
sushi buffet 2
Quail egg shooters 😀
Rolls from sushi buffet
Mexican ice cream
Sashimi for lunch
sushi-bento-box-restarurant 1
Bento of teriyaki stuff.
X-mas brunch with family


I have a $100 credit from Airbnb for retaining my Superhost status but we didn’t use it this winter as planned. People were sick so we never had to overnight or look for accommodations. The credit expires in October of this year so we have plenty of time to use it.



Yes! I only spent $10 on new clothes for Christmas. I didn’t realize this until I was tallying up this expense report. My cherry blossom dress was $7 dollars. I thrifted a super soft Nike shirt for $1, a green dress for $1 and another sweater top for $1. Last year, I spent almost $300 on Christmas clothes (before I had this blog). Now that I publish my expenses reports and thrift for myself, I am no longer willing to spend $300 on clothes for the sake of “appearances.”

Personal finance bloggers can benefit a lot from their own blogs because it’s used as a point of reflection. Also, random strangers on the Internet will be judging you.

The random Dollar Store run was a craving attack for gummy bears. Don’t laugh, it can happen to anyone.

The checked luggage fee was a necessary evil. We had to haul back some of the mess from the parent’s house. Now, instead of cluttering up their home, it’s cluttering up ours. Yay.

I was not exactly happy about paying $25 for a large luggage of junk that’s worth $20. This caused a fight between us that lasted a few hours. Some things were sentimental to him; I’m not much for sentiments. My previous life, I didn’t have too many possessions and I don’t feel anything towards the things I had. I partially congratulate that feat to my parents for moving often, evading my room constantly, throwing things out whenever they felt like (including my borrowed library books and school books for some reason) and all sorts of their crazy “parenting.”

$1 – My dress!


I didn’t understand why my husband was so keen on keeping his first apartment lease, an old and dirty bunny stuff animal, or his mid-term from middle school. I guess if you had a happy childhood, you’re keen on keeping those things. My theory is because he’s a huge sissy. 🤔 He won out in the end and we paid $25 for a box of sentimental feelings.


Does anyone side with me on this or am I a sociopath? Do you still feel attachments to things like stuff animals and term-papers?

31 thoughts on “A “Splurge” California Christmas Vacation Report With Our Family”

  • Wow you really have a sushi problem! Also, what airline did you fly?!
    Around here you can’t fly ANYWHERE for less than 300 per person! That or you need to play our trips from now on.

    Without knowing what the stuff was and the meaning I can’t comment. I can understand being sentimental but I’m not a sentimental person anymore.
    Budget on a Stick recently posted…Simply Put Recipes: Chili

    • We flew with Virgin and on the return flight – Alaska. I think Seattle to SF is pretty cheap because it’s just a short 2 hour straight route down.

      The stuff animal was just his old bunny that he liked to hold. The mid-terms were just papers and a grade on them (from D+ to As).

      You wish you had my sushi!!

  • Ahh look at all the food, especially the sushi! Buffet sushi? I’m in!

    I’m glad you guys had a great time with family over the holiday. Don’t worry too much about the expired chocolates. I’m sure your sister-in-law understands. I would! The purse is super cute, btw. 😀 And your expenses are really reasonable for such a blast.

  • $25 is a small price to pay if it makes your significant other happy. While a few years back I would have seen it your way, I have learned to pick my battles when it comes to my partner. For instance, we have a baby boy and for Christmas this year a friend of my partner’s gifted our boy a piece of totally impractical clothing, which I believe cost upwards of $30. I suggested returning it and getting our kid socks instead, which he totally needed. My partner was adamant about keeping the gift, precisely because it was a gift and had sentimental value. We fought for about two minutes and I just let it go. I bought socks with my own money and we still have the gift sitting in a drawer, unworn (because it is so darn impractical!) But I realized that sometimes, the same thing can have totally different meaning to different people. And I could afford to “lose” $30 to preserve whatever the heck that gift meant to my partner 🙂

    • I love your input B! Yes it is very true. Thinking back it was silly but in the moment it was more about who wins / who gets to be right. Great advice! (I would have sided with you over the socks by the way 😂)

  • Don’t overdo it on the sushi. I know a couple who loved sushi and ate a lot of it. The lady developed mercury poisoning in her 30s, was never the same again. The couple was worth 9 figures, health definitely >>> money.

  • Your last comment- mercury poisoning!! My life is ruined now. I don’t eat that much tuna sashimi but I love salmon sashimi.

    I love sushi- that looks like super fresh sushi too- I bet it wasn’t cheap because I remember when I went to SF I found the sushi expensive. Are there no “AYCE” sushi in Seattle? You should come up to Vancouver, there’s tons of fresh sushi joints here.

    I think $25 is reasonable considering Jared doesn’t spend much it seems and it is important to him. If there’s sentimental value to something I think it’s worth keeping especially if it brings back happy memories 🙂 I still have my plush toy from kindergarten 🙂 (it’s not on my bed though thankfully hahaha).
    GYM recently posted…PF Blog Round Up: Genymoney.ca Giveaway Winners Edition

    • I just wanted to be “right” and win because it doesn’t make sense to me. $25 isn’t worth a fight so I was in the wrong for that.

      Buffet was only $18/person. This was in a small city call Petaluma and not in SF. SF sushi buffet will be about $25-40/person. There’s Seattle sushi buffets here and they’re around $20/each too but the quality (and how much raw fish they use) isn’t as good. Vancouver is known for good sushi (even better than SF).

  • Awww… don’t call your husband a sissy. I grew up with a lot of stuffed animals. I would hate to part ways with them, especially my childhood favorite one. I could be biased, but I do believe stuffed animals are great for developing compassion and sensitivity for young children.


    Also… how did you score a return flight for 2 for only $11???

    • I’m just teasing! That video made ouchies, I had a small red panda bear toy like that!! (It auto played to Horrors of Children, omg how depressing too!)

  • My fiancé forms emotional attachment to objects, me less so. But I value his sentiment. I think it’s the natural outgrowth of his sense of empathy and emotional openness, traits which I value and I think make him a good partner.

  • Holy crap, that food looks great–especially the Habit burger. Sorry to hear about the expired cookies. I’m sure they would have tasted great in May. Anyway, thanks for sharing, Lily. I live vicariously through the adventures of Lily and Jared. And this installment didn’t disappoint. What a treat way to start the week!
    Mr. Groovy recently posted…Building Groovy Ranch: Update 2

  • “All those episodes parodies of Star Wars from Family Guy finally make sense to me now.”

    We should hang out more – we are oddly obsessed with Family Guy and quote it at leaaaast 2-3 times a day. Hahah

    I’m debating publishing our expense reports as well but haven’t even talked about it with Kristin. Probably not in the cards lol
    Dave @ Married with Money recently posted…Don’t Be a Financial Ostrich

    • Habit is good on the first bite and super messy the rest of the bites. In N Out is better IF they don’t put their sauce on it (but I still get it animal style and just scrape off the sauce). Everybody likes it but it’s just thousand island dressing xP

      NO ONE can compete with Super Duper Burger in the Bay Area. NO ONE!!!

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