mummy to baby

I haven’t been blogging here much recently, but that’s because I’m busy enjoying my pregnancy and blogging at my other blog — MUMMY TO BABY. XD

This is my first time trying out writing with a theme. It’s pretty much a blog that shares information about pregnancy and parenting. A lot of baby-related stuff there.

This will still be running as it’s my personal space to share my thoughts, so do check back once in a while. Alternatively, you can follow my Twitter account to get updates as every blog post is announced on it.

finding the time to invest

I have been a full-time housewife for a while now. While most would assume that I’m living it up, I’m actually gaining knowledge on personal finance and investment. Of course, I still find the time to do a lot of leisure things that I wouldn’t be able to do previously.

During the day, I read finance blog articles and one caught my eye — How Do You Find the Time to Learn Investing. Everybody says the same thing whether they are keen or not in learning about investing, they simply have no time to start. The author of the article argues that it’s not about time management but how we harness our energy.

That’s a possibly theory, but I really think it’s about how much you want to get your butt down to things. Trust me, I had zilch knowledge when I started and to make things worse, I was somewhat “forced” to learn about it. My only idea of money then was: the more the better because that means I can buy more stuff that I like. Of course, the husband would not take no for an answer to learning about personal finance and investment. It was either you learn and start making yourself useful or you jolly well go out to work. So one of the goals of investing simply became to earn enough through investments to justify why I’m not working. It may sound rather silly to set such a goal, but I guess that gave me a push and a little reason to start learning.

The ride hasn’t been easy at all. As we all know, we tend to drag our feet on tasks that we simply have no interest in. Till this day, even after I’ve already levelled up a little on my investment knowledge, I still drag my feet sometimes to read those printed investment articles or find the answers to investment-related questions the husband has. The temptation to do a million other leisure things is just too great compared to reading up on asset allocation or how to hedge currency risk when buying foreign ETFs.

But there are times when I find the energy to search for answers to things I don’t know. Like how I borrowed a book by Adam Khoo on stocks from the library and made it a point to actually read all of it. By the way, that really helped me understand a lot more about investing in stocks. Or how about when I had a debate with my friend on bonds and endowment plans? I had no idea what an endowment plan was and I actually researched on it. To be quite honest, my recent meeting with an insurance agent who was trying to sell me an endowment plan spurred me even further.

There’s still a lot I don’t know, but that just means I got to keep learning. There’s really no easy way out if you want to learn about personal finance and investment. Even when you start investing, you simply cannot have the naive thinking that you’ll make big bucks overnight. It takes time, effort and perhaps a few mistakes along the way. But isn’t that the same for learning any other thing?

So, to my friends who have showed a little interest in the subject, please ditch your “I don’t have time” or “I don’t know where to begin” excuses. I am the proof you need to tell you that it’s doable. If you really want to begin but need a little guidance, I am more than happy to point you to a few resources for beginners, but the rest is up to you.

And to those who say they have no money and cannot be bothered with personal finance, good luck to your future. If you don’t want to begin to change things, nobody can help you. But be warned that we live in a world where reality is harsh. If you don’t already know, the rate of inflation is higher than the bank’s rate of interest for your money in your savings account. I’m not saying that you must do what I do, after all, our financial backgrounds are all different. What I’m saying is that you need to begin saving and planning for your future. If you find yourself chronically in debt or living paycheck to paycheck, examine what has gone wrong in your planning and make the necessary adjustments to make sure your savings are actually growing and not dwindling.

three’s not a crowd

Finally. I’ve been waiting to do this for a long time now. Having observed the first trimester wait, I proudly announce that hubby and I are expecting our first child.

This was my little announcement via Instagram and Facebook:

And then there were three…

Unfortunately, some didn’t understand this picture. I think it would have been clearer with shoes, but we haven’t bought any baby clothes. The pair of chick socks was given by my sister. It’s actually meant for a one-year-old but she wanted to give us something cute for the baby, so she got this. We don’t know the gender of baby yet, so everything bought will be gender neutral for now.

This entry has been cross posted at MUMMY TO BABY, a newly set up blog that chronicles my motherhood journey. I’ll be sharing lots of thoughts, goodies and parenting tips there. So do check it out now and then. No worries, this blog will still be around as it is still my personal ground for ranting and discussing thoughts.

it isn’t the same i suppose

Humans are humans. We are biased just like that.

Something mildly amusing happened to me this afternoon while I was opening a checking account at one of the banks. This lovely bank officer girl was serving me and of course like all sales staff do, she tried to sell me something else. She was explaining that they have a savings plan which has a good interest rate and all I have to do is deposit a part of my monthly salary into the account. So I replied that I already do have some savings plan with other banks (was thinking of our investments and stuff). She then assumed that I was talking about a regular savings account so she said that theirs is a little different. She wanted to launch into this full explanation of what her savings plan offers, but I just told her it wouldn’t be necessary anyway since I don’t have a fixed income. To cut the long story short, she found out that I’m a housewife. That’s when things got a little interesting.

There was a slight change in her behaviour. She switched back to filling in the form of the account I wanted to open and said she’ll explain about the other plan later. Next thing I know, she passed me on to her colleague after filling in the form and turned her attention to another customer. Her colleague thereby helped me open the account (e.g. set the pin for online banking, deposit the money, etc.) After the account was set up, I walked out without even being told of the “special” savings plan.

Haha. She thinks I’m stupid. I perfectly know why she passed me on to her colleague just like that. She thinks I’m just a housewife with no income (aka no money to invest in them), therefore I’m not worth her time. She could talk about all her wonderful products, but if I haven’t got the means to get them then there’s no point talking further anyway. Well, that’s not quite right, but she’s right about her wasting her time telling me stuff because I’m not someone to be persuaded easily. I would do my own homework first before deciding on what product to get.

What amuses me is her little assumption that I’m too poor to invest anything with them. *shrugs* Ah well, there’s no loss on my part anyway. I didn’t have to explain or reveal anything more. I didn’t have to waste more time listening to her explanation of something I wouldn’t even get. A teeny weeny part of me was also rejoicing over the fact that I didn’t have to listen to her slightly broken English any more. It was just chop chop open the account and then goodbye.

But it isn’t the same I suppose — one who has a fixed income and a housewife. Haha.

thank you, sir

Yesterday, Singaporeans woke up to the grim news that our founding father had passed on. I knew that it was just a matter of time, but I still felt a little tinge of sadness in my heart.

We may disagree with some words that he said, even to the point of resentment, but we cannot deny that without Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore might be different today. He transformed Singapore from nothing to something.

Thank you, Sir.

You have done everything you can for Singapore. Take a good rest now and be reunited with your wife in heaven. Let God take care of you.

PS: To the people who post nasty messages during this time: If you have nothing better to say, then don’t open your mouth. Put aside your hate for a moment and have a little compassion.

spring time at starbucks

Every time March comes around, I get pretty excited because it’s time to check out the spring time merchandise at Starbucks! Specifically, the Sakura series. It started out in Japan, but slowly other Asian countries (including Singapore) caught on.

So what’s this year’s picks?

Starbucks Japan

Bolder colours like hot pink and yellow seem to be adopted for this year’s range in Japan. Nothing really caught my eye except for that pop bottle in the middle of the picture. Cute shape but not much use for me.

I was more excited over the drinks and desserts…

Look at the pinkness! I am so going to try these when I’m in Japan in April! <3

 

Starbucks Korea

There’s a different range of merchandise in Korea. There’s the usual baby pink and white toned merchandise, as well as some purple toned merchandise. Kinda like that baby pink tumbler in the picture, but again, have no use for more hot water tumblers.

The drinks look interesting. I like the pink chocolate flakes on the top as they remind me of sakura petals. A bit meh about the white chocolate drink though. So far, all the white chocolate drinks I’ve drunk at Starbucks are too sweet for my liking. Perhaps the Cherry Blossom Latte might be a better choice…though I’m awfully picky when it comes to sakura drinks. They must have a strong sakura taste and not just faint hints of it.

The dessert selection didn’t look interesting to me though. Unlike Japan’s Sakura Chiffon Cake, the Cherry Mascapone Fresh Cream Cake looks really rich and the kind you’ll get sick off halfway.

 

Starbucks Singapore

The range in Singapore is quite similar to Korea’s. Nothing really caught my eye. Was hoping that they’ll have a large straw tumbler so I can replace my cracked one from last year’s Sakura series, but they don’t have one this year. It’s just the regular small straw tumbler. Meh.

There are no special sakura drinks or desserts in Singapore. Another meh.

 

Starbucks Taiwan

There is a small collection of sakura-themed merchandise in Taiwan, but it’s not strongly advertised. Instead, they advertised their sheep-themed merchandise for Chinese New Year.

The red is really striking and some of the mugs and tumblers are pretty cute.

 

My verdict? This year’s Starbucks Sakura merchandise is not as interesting as last year’s. Nothing really stood out much and made me really want to get it. Guess I’ll look forward to next year’s range. Hope there’s something good then.

meh the huat be with you

Happy Birthday everyone! Today is the seventh day of Chinese New Year, which is also known as 人日 or all man’s birthday.

Set meal from Soup Restaurant

Haven’t been finding the time to settle down to write an entry for Chinese New Year. This year has been a bit quiet as my in-laws have chosen not to go visiting. We did however have a feast for our reunion dinner.

Set meal from Soup Restaurant

Made a couple of boo boos on the first day. Went over to my parents’ place for lunch. Was in a hurry to get out of the house that I completely forgot mandarin oranges and ang pows. Maybe because I’ve been so used to going visiting with my parents that I didn’t think we’ll need oranges. (My mum usually buys boxes of oranges.) Mother-in-law shot us the disapproving look. (Yes, my in-laws were there at the lunch too.) Then came the ang pow issue. This year, we definitely cannot run away from giving out ang pows as it is our second year of marriage. The first year, we could give the “excuse” that we hadn’t gone through the traditional ceremony. So, my cousins were there at the lunch and we had to give them ang pows. Uh oh. No ang pows on hand. Had to get some empty ones and new notes from my mum. Again, we got the disapproving look from mother-in-law. Yikes.

I was so ready to take some “ootd” shots this year, but then I realised we weren’t doing much visiting so there’s less chance to dress up. Moreover, I caught some bug that gave me a slight fever, bloated tummy and stomach ache. Totally ruined my plan of wearing my new cheongsam. Didn’t want my tummy to be sticking out, so I opted for an older mandarin collar dress on the second day.

Ah well.

Since it’s the year of the sheep, meh the huat be with you!

the big midnight scare

A health-related entry…maybe I should create a category for such entries…hmmm…

So I had this huge scare early this morning that resulted in a trip down to the 24hr clinic. It started last night while I was in the bath. For some strange reason, I had a strong urge to pee. Even after I emptied my bladder, I still felt like peeing. I just shrugged off that strange feeling, thinking it would go away after a while. Nope, it didn’t. Around midnight when I was ready for bed, I went to the loo to take one last pee for the night. That’s when I noticed a slight pinkish tinge in my pee. Blood. Uh oh. And mind you, the strange feeling of wanting to pee was still there. I crawled into bed feeling rather uncomfortable, but decided that maybe I’ll go see a doctor the next morning. Did a quick search on the internet for a possible diagnosis and thought to myself that nothing could be too bad.

And I was wrong again. One hour passed and the feeling hadn’t gone away. In fact, it was getting worse. I just couldn’t fall asleep with that feeling…partly because I didn’t want to end up wetting myself in my sleep. I got up and peed. My pee still had traces of blood. I could feel the panic rising in me and tried to distract myself with an activity so I would stop panicking and making things worse. After pacing up and down a few times, I decided to wake the hubby. I could feel my voice quivering as I struggled to tell the hubby I was feeling unwell. He immediately got up and drove us to a nearby 24hr clinic.

The doctor ordered me to pee in a cup for a dipstick test. That was when I got the biggest shock of my life. My pee was full red this time. I was really about to cry. There was no other pain or discomfort except for the strange urge to pee, the sensation at my uh…pee hole. Doctor confirmed that I was having urinary tract infection (UTI). I’m not about to go into a long discussion on the possible reasons for getting UTI except that the receptionist/nurse just consoled me that it is common for females to get UTI and with medication, the symptoms would ease off in about two to three days.

A first dose of antibiotics after I returned home did help. There was still blood in my pee but at least the nagging urge to pee was easing off. As I lay down to sleep, a wave of nausea came upon me. What now. Could be the effect of the medication or another symptom of UTI. Struggled out of bed for the umpteenth time and found some sour plum to take (wasn’t sour enough but I’m taking whatever chances I have to keep from throwing up). Sat up in bed a little and soon the nausea subsided. It was about 3am by the time I (and the hubby) actually fell asleep.

The lesson learnt from this scare is to drink enough water and not to hold in your pee. If you gotta go, you gotta go. The doctor’s advice was to pee every one to two hours. Yes, I was actually holding in my pee after dinner. We were at the mall for dinner and I thought it didn’t matter since I was going home straight after dinner. Would rather pee in the comfort of my own home loo. What an expensive lesson to learn as the trip to the clinic in the wee hours of the morning cost us $145 (consultation after midnight is $105 which is about the same as a trip to the hospital).

Oh and the hubby deserves a pat on the back (and maybe more) for sacrificing precious hours of sleep and still head for work this morning.

keeping yourself covered adequately

Some time last month, I wrote an entry about taking care of your health and keeping yourself covered with medical insurance. I cannot stress how important it is to make sure that you and your loved ones (especially if you have ageing parents) are adequately covered.

Up until the day I moved out of the family home, my dad has been the one buying the necessary insurance and managing the family’s coverage. His hope was that one day his children would take over the responsibility of managing their own insurance matters. The day is here, but I guess it is regrettably a bit late. After seeing how hospital bills can add up to the five-figure range with my father-in-law and managing his insurance claims, I resolved to make sure my own parents were well covered. I found out that my mum was only covered under the Basic Medishield plan, while my sister was covered under an integrated shield plan for up to government-restructured hospital A ward. My mum has always been adamant about going to a private hospital and staying in A ward. Therefore, with their current plans, it didn’t seem enough. However (much to my dismay), my mum and sister’s plans cannot be upgraded due to their medical conditions. My mum is diabetic and my sister is undergoing treatment for depression. My insurance agent told me that underwriting for medical insurance is very strict.

So what’s my point of writing this entry? Yes, while most Singaporeans are covered under Basic Medishield (unless they opt out), the coverage is only up to government-restructured hospital B2 or C wards. I’m not saying that everyone should buy an integrated shield plan as supplement, but depending on your income level and lifestyle, it may be a good idea to look into it. Do it while you’re healthy…and especially while your parents are healthy. As age catches up, so do health problems.

The other part of my entry is more to whine a little about how unfair it is that people who are not born healthy, have to be excluded in getting themselves covered. While my mum insists that she is not born a diabetic, we all know that her side of the family has a history with diabetes and for the longest time, I’ve known her to be a diabetic. My grandparents were diabetic and so is my aunt. Even if she wasn’t born with that condition, it is more likely to be passed down genetically. From a business point of view, I can understand why insurance companies do not want to cover unhealthy people. They are a liability (so to speak) anyway as their risk of getting hospitalised or seeking treatment is higher. But from a human point of view, I just can’t get my head round the idea that people not born healthy have to be excluded just like that. Hellooooo, they didn’t ask to my born unhealthy. The hubby tried explaining it from another angle which helped me accept a little (if not fully) this rule. He said that if these people were included and they really had to be make more claims, the premiums for everyone would go up (since it’s based on shared risk) and the healthy ones (like me) would not like that right? Sigh, I guess he has a point.

Anyway, friends or anyone else reading this, if you have no clue about this insurance stuff and want some help, I’ll be happy to share what I know. Yup, this has been my job since I became a homemaker. Reading up on and understanding insurance and investment related matters.

new beginnings

I recently changed webhosting companies. It’s not like I was unsatisfied with Webby Tech’s service. After all, I’ve been with the company since the time it was known as Netrillium and then AxisHost. The staff (which I suspect is only one person named Josh), has been very helpful and responsive to all my queries. You should just check out the number of tickets I’ve posted asking for help (usually pretty trivial matters) and all have been met with a great level of professionalism. It’s just that I have plans to expand what I’m doing with my domain now and I’m finding the most optimal solution to it. I’ve switched my hosting plans a couple of times with the last switch being fairly recent, but somehow I just couldn’t find something within Webby Tech that would satisfy me.

Thanks to Nick for recommending Vodien. The hosting plan costs more, but in terms of value, I think it’s worth paying that extra bit. Also, Vodien is a local company so I no longer have to wait for a response due to time difference or grapple with currency exchange (e.g. How much is this in SGD?) The folks at Vodien are very helpful too. I got them to help me with the domain transfer, which they did so for FREE. Really happy with their service.

New year, new beginnings. Thanks Webby Tech for hosting realistic-soul.net all these years. It has been a good 10 or so years. Vodien, am looking forward to many more years of great service with you. Cheers!