Saving money

Mommy Time Savers

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Happy and Healthy New Year!  As a new mommy of two, I’ve learned quite a lot this past year and my favorite thing to ask myself has been, “How will this save me time (and energy)?”  So, in the spirit of new year’s resolutions, here are my top mommy time savers:

(1)  Electric Pressure Cooker–This thing is amazing and I don’t know what I would ever do without it.  I use it primarily for meats, stews, and soups.  A dish that would ordinarily take at least a couple hours to make with my standing at the stove (what mother has time for that?) now takes an hour with my not even being in the kitchen.  I just toss everything into the pot, push a button, and go about my day.

(2)  Rice Cooker–I adore my rice cooker and use it just about every day.  Many people don’t realize that you can do quite a lot with a good rice cooker.  Not only do I use it to make rice, I also use it to steam vegetables (as a matter of fact, since I use it primarily to cook our veggies, I often call it “the steamer”).  And, like the electric pressure cooker, you set the timer and you’re free as a bird.

(3)  Grocery Delivery Service–Depending on where you live, delivery fees can range from reasonable to pricey.  It all comes down to how much your time is worth.  Being parents of a 2-year-old and 6-month-old, Derrick and I rely heavily on this service.  Sure, we’ll occasionally do the shop ourselves (if we forget to add on a few items to our weekly delivery) but we have the same reaction after every trip:  “Geez, that took a whole hour?” (if one of us goes to the store) or “We are NOT going to forget to put this on the list next week!” (if the entire family goes–and, yes, it takes longer for us to get the kids ready to go out than the time we spend at the grocery store)

(4)  Product Subscriptions–If you use any skincare products, I highly recommend this.  Many online stores offer a subscription service where they’ll send your products to you at regular intervals.  This not only saves you time but helps you to avoid the annoying situation of being in the shower and realizing all of a sudden that you’re out of your favorite facial scrub.

(5)  USPS Package Pickup–Because we do most of our non-grocery-related shopping online, we also make quite a few returns via mail.  If you’re like us, here’s a tip:  you’re eligible for free USPS pickup service if you’re mailing at least one Priority Mail package.  Just schedule your pickup online at www.usps.com.

(6)  Multiple Stations–Our home has two levels and when we brought our baby girl home, we decided that we needed at least one diaper changing station on each level to save us the hassle of running up and down the stairs with every diaper change (and if you’re parents of two or multiples under the age of 2, you understand the value of this).  So, we converted one of our loveseats into a changing station complete with a diaper pad, a month’s supply of diapers/wipes/baby powder, and a diaper pail.  To protect the loveseat, we draped it with flat bed sheet (but you can also use a sofa slip cover).  The key takeaway here is to have at least a couple “stations” for something you do often during the course of the day easily accessible to you (because minutes add up to hours and hours add up to days!).

(7)  One Size Ahead–If you have small children, you know that shopping ahead can save you the aggravation of impulse buying and/or having your child(ren) go without something for a certain period of time (and when you have kids, two days without gloves in the winter can seem like an eternity!).  This is why I always try to buy at least one size ahead for my children.  And it’s a great system.

(8)  Cook in Bulk and Freeze–This is quite common and self-explanatory.

(9)  No Holiday Cards–Before we had kids, I was the stationery queen.  Cards for everyone and for every occasion.  No more.  Other than handwritten thank-you and sympathy notes, we now use e-mail and social media to send birthday/congratulatory/holiday greetings via e-cards.

Hope you’ve found these tips to be useful–please feel free to share this post to anyone and everyone who would find it helpful!

The Final Frontier

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Forbes came out with an article on the top 15 countries to retire in this year and it included one that I’ve set my sights on for quite some time–Malaysia.  Unfortunately (and fortunately), hubby and I have a long way to go before retirement but if there is ever an opportunity for us to visit the country (for fun or work), we would jump at the chance.

Fantasizing about retirement isn’t all fun and games.  It also forces you to consider more serious matters such as finance, healthcare, and lifestyle.  It’s widely known that retiring in a developing country (especially one that is non-US dollar based) stretches your pocketbook.  That’s an easy one.  In terms of healthcare, that requires a bit more due diligence.  According to International Living, Malaysia is one of the top destinations for retiree healthcare.  And, in terms of lifestyle, it’s attractive to me because it offers a variety of choices in terms of food, shopping, sightseeing, and other activities.  In a nutshell, it offers the holy trinity of the best retirement destinations:

(1)  Choice of city or country living–City-living means having access to state-of-the-art medical facilities, shopping that is on par with that of developed countries, variety of culinary cuisines as diverse as most major cities in the world, and cultural institutions such as theaters, museums, and concert halls.  The beauty of living in a country like Malaysia (so I’ve read and been told) is that you have the best of both worlds.  In addition to having the choice of living in a sprawling city, you may also choose to live in a rural village or quiet corner by the beach.  Serenity at its best.

(2)  Stretching your dollar–Again, this part is widely known.  One of the primary goals of searching for the perfect retirement destination is to find a place where you can live like a king without spending like one.

(3)  Sunny daysStudies have shown that low barometric pressure can adversely affect our bodies (joints, sinuses, etc.).  Because of this, it’s not surprising that many retirement homes are located in warm and tropical locations.

And, as countries like Malaysia get more expats as residents, we’ll see that great minds do, indeed, think alike  :).