Technology that has made my life easier

In this day and age, new technologies are popping up everywhere. It is difficult to keep track of every cool thing that comes out and in the end there are very few that stay in our lives permanently.

This made me think about the technology advances that have really impacted my life in a good way and made life easier for me.

Here’s my list.

GPS

gpsI am one of those people that has no sense of direction. Back before GPS devices were available I remember getting lost at least once whenever I had to drive to a location that I hadn’t been to before. I wasn’t the best at reading maps and I hated driving at night to unfamiliar places because street signs were obviously harder to read in the dark.

I bought my first GPS in 2008 for just over $300 and it was one of the best things I ever bought. It changed my life and I was no longer stressed out when I had to drive to an unfamiliar location.

Online Banking

online banking

I was reluctant at first to sign up for online banking for security reasons. I eventually signed up around 2007 which was when I started exploring buying and selling on eBay. This was the motivator as I needed an easy way to check when buyers had deposited money into my account.

Once I signed up for online banking I realised what I had been missing out on. It was so simple to use and definitely helped me keep an eye on my money and spending habits on a regular basis.

Dishwasher

dishwasher

Dishwashers have definitely helped me save at least 1 hour every day which otherwise would have been spent washing dishes. I don’t use mine every day as I don’t have a full load, so instead I lightly rinse the dishes and stack it in the dishwasher and run it every second day. I love my dishwasher and it has been a big time saver for me over the years and I also find that my dishes are a lot cleaner.

E-Reader

kindle

I can honestly say that the Kindle has changed my life for the better. I was one of those people that hardly read books and it wasn’t until last year that I started reading books on a regular basis. The kindle played a huge part in this as it helped me access the books I wanted to read instantly and it is also small and lightweight so I can carry it around with me everywhere.

What are the technology advances that have made your life easier?

Images: GarminAmazonClay County BankThe Good Guys

 

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October 2017 Monthly Recap

We got back 2 weeks ago from South East Asia and it’s good to be home, it always is. The trip was ok, we did manage to do two short getaways whilst we were there when my husband wasn’t working. But apart from that I did find staying in that apartment quite boring.

Since getting back, It didn’t take me long to overcome the jet lag but it did take my son about a week. The three of us were also battling colds, especially munchkin. But thankfully we are all feeling much better now.

I also submitted my son’s enrollment forms to his day care. Even though I won’t be going back to work right now, we have decided to put him in for one day per week. I think this will help him to learn new things and play with other kids. He will start in 2 weeks time. I expect the first day to be hard for both of us but after that initial hurdle I hope it’s all smooth sailing.

img_4435

Housing Update

We accepted a low offer for our current house after some convincing from our agent (eye roll). I wasn’t happy about it and was willing to reject it but my husband gave in. A small part of me was happy that we were finally selling after 2 months on the market but a big part of me was very disappointed.

Then a few days later the buyers pulled out of the sale. I was actually happy about this and felt like the universe was trying to say that we were giving it away too cheap. It’s back on the market now and we are seriously considering renting it out.

If we do decide to rent, we want to rent and then wait for the market to pick up again. When it does we want to put the house up for sale and hopefully sell at a good price. The media is speculating that house prices will go up next year, so fingers crossed that it does.

However, I would still love to sell now and move on. Financially it is our best option to sell and our agent has another 2-3 weeks to make this happen. He seems motivated and confident so I really hope I have some good news to report at the end of November.

The renovations on our new house are progressing well. The kitchen will be getting installed in 2 weeks time, followed by new flooring. After that we need to do a big clean up and then hopefully move in!

Work Update

My request to work remotely when I am out of the country was declined 😦 I am obviously very disappointed and angry with this outcome. The company I work for actually has an offshore branch in the country we are moving to and they still declined my request. I have now been forced to extend my maternity leave for an additional 6 months.

One of the biggest issues I have about moving overseas is boredom and I thought having my work would help reduce that boredom significantly. So now I have to find other things to do keep myself occupied.

Maybe this will force to me look at freelancing or doing short term contract work in the future. I need to do some research and update my resume.

This month hasn’t given me much good news but I am hopeful that some good changes are on the horizon. 

I really need to start being more positive and be grateful for what I have.

I Paid Off My Student Loan

I mentioned in my September monthly recap that I did my taxes for the year and received a refund. Along with that my accountant gave me more good news which was that I finished paying off my student loan. Yay!


To give you a brief insight on how the Australian student loan system (HECS) works, basically the government gives you a loan for your tertiary education at a very low interest rate. The interest rate is based on inflation so it is quite low, I say between 1 to 3 percent. To be honest I never really paid much attention to it, I just knew it was low.

You basically start paying off the loan after you start earning above a set threshold. This threshold has changed many times over the years, if I remember correctly the threshold when I started working full time was around $36,000 and it is now $54,869.

A percentage is deducted from your gross income in every pay cycle towards your loan. You don’t even realise it’s being deducted and you’re essentially paying off the loan in the background. At least that’s what it felt like for me. Every year after you lodge your taxes, the tax return statement specifies exactly how much you paid towards the loan.

My loan was $30,500 in the beginning for a bachelor and masters degree. I don’t know exactly how much I paid in interest as I misplaced some of my earlier statements.

I think it’s taken me about 10 years to pay it off. I could have paid it off sooner by making extra contributions but because it was automatically coming out of my salary and the interest wasn’t high, I just let it happen in the background. I’ve also had a mortgage for over 7 years so it made sense to me to put my money towards that instead.

Anyways, I am thrilled to have finally paid off my student loan!

Above all I am so grateful that the Australian government provides its citizens with an accessible way to get a tertiary education. This education has allowed me to build a career and gain knowledge that no one can ever take away from me. It is a great system and we are very lucky to have it and I really hope it stays for the future generations to come.

Image: Blogarama

September 2017 Monthly Recap

Hello spring!

The weather is getting warmer down here so I’ve been trying to go out for walks with the munchkin when I can. I am enjoying them, it helps clear my mind and he seems to enjoy looking at the trees and the cars driving by.

Being Productive

I would say this month has been reasonably productive as I managed to cross off several items on my to-do list.

This month I managed to get the following things done:

  • Packed and shipped a few boxes containing lots of nappies, formula and other essentials to South East Asia for our upcoming extended stay.
  • Submitted a child care rebate claim with Centrelink.
  • Opened up a bank account for my son.
  • Decluttered my wardrobe and donated a bag full of clothes, shoes and accessories to charity.
  • Lodged our taxes! See below.

Taxes

Yay, I got our taxes done!

It’s always a relief to tick this off the to-do list. I got a big refund but my husband has to pay around $500 to the tax office. This money will definitely come in handy with all the expenses we have right now.

Housing Update

The renovations on our new house are well on the way. Luckily my husband has taken full control and is managing that project with little assistance from me. I call him the renovation guru because he seems to have a talent for managing tradespeople efficiently. The house is getting a full transformation and I can’t wait to see the final product.

However our current house failed to sell at auction at the start of the month, and it is still yet to sell unfortunately. So far we have only received one solid offer and that was too low for us to accept. I never thought we would be in this situation when we live in one of the most popular cities in terms of real estate in the world. The market appears to have definitely cooled off which is unfortunate for us, but I’m still hopeful that we will sell in the next few weeks.

Work Update

My request to go back to work part-time has been approved so when I return in early November, I will be working 3 days a week. My request to work remotely when I am out of the country is still yet to be approved and they appear to be dragging their feet on this. My manager is fully supportive and it’s human resources and upper management that seem to be having issues with it. I still feel positive that I will get the desired outcome so fingers crossed that this final request gets across the line.

Reading

Yes that’s right, I finally managed to read a book!

To Kill a Mockingbird By Harper Lee

to kill a mocking bird by harper lee

The story is based in the 1930’s and is narrated by a 6 year old child who is nicknamed “Scout”. The story addresses many serious issues such as racism, rape and injustice and I can see why it was a groundbreaking book. I expected this book to have a happy ending which it didn’t, but I guess that made the story more realistic and true to the period it was set in. Overall the book kept me interested and I like the positive messages that it projected such as courage and empathy.

Final Thoughts

So overall September has been a busy yet productive month. I am currently overseas for a short visit to South East Asia to set up our apartment and get things organised before we come here again in December. Hope you all had a great month!

Images: Amazon.co.uk

 

Life Changes Coming Up

There are some big changes coming up in the horizon for us which I mentioned briefly in my previous post. There’s a few so I will talk about each one individually.

Life change ahead

Moving Overseas

Albeit temporarily, the biggest change is that we are moving to South East Asia for some months of the year starting in December. My husband is taking a job opportunity as an entrepreneur and we want to be together as a family, hence we are all going.

As much as I want him to take this opportunity it has been a struggle to come to terms with such a big life change. Having to live in two homes in two completely different countries with an infant is no easy task and I also want to go back to work which complicates things further. Needless to say there has been several fights between us but I think we are both over all that now and focused on what we need to do.

I have asked my employer permission to work remotely so I’m hopeful that my request gets approved. I’m also trying to look at this as a good opportunity to experience living abroad and enjoy ourselves.

A few things I want to mention about all of this:

  • Almost everything is paid for by my husband’s employer. This includes rent, some utilities, plane tickets and transport.
  • We are moving to a country where we have family so it will be nice for my son to spend time with them.
  • This will only be for a few months in the year. We will definitely be back home in Australia in April, May and June as it’s just too hot over there during these months.

We Bought Another House

Life wasn’t getting complicated enough for us so we went and bought a house lol!

We bought a house which is far more comfortable than our current one. It’s a single story house on a nice block of land with large bedrooms and a spacious living area. We don’t have to move very far as this house is just 5 min away from our current house, in fact we walked it the other day and it took about 40 minutes. We are planning to do some renovations to make it our own so the next few weeks are going to be busy.

You may remember me mentioning in a few posts last year that we were planning to renovate our current house. We had a draftsman draw up all the plans and submit all the required documents to the local council. We were told that it wouldn’t take long to get the approvals, approximately 4 weeks.

Well unfortunately that didn’t happen. The council kept requesting one thing after the other and kept delaying the approvals. We all grew more and more frustrated and in the end we withdrew our application.

After feeling completely defeated and giving up on having a more comfortable house to live in like we planned, this house suddenly popped up for sale which ticked most of our boxes. My mum gets all the credit for this as she was the one who found it.

So here we are, it’s funny how things work out. We are actually happy it worked out this way as we feel as though we got a better house in the end and we also think that the renovation that we originally planned would have exceeded our budget by a fair bit.

Selling Our Current House

Well naturally we need to sell our current home and we are currently in the process of doing this. We thought this would be easy but unfortunately, there hasn’t been much interest so far and it looks like the market is cooling off. Well I’m going to remain optimistic and hopefully I will be able to report some good news at the end of the month.

Final Thoughts

So there you have it, my life is pretty crazy right now. The next 12 months are going to be unpredictable, scary but also exciting and I’m looking forward to the adventure that lies ahead for us. My husband and I joke that we will like one of those couples on House Hunters International lol!
Images: retireonyourterms.org

I’m Back

Greetings!

I haven’t abandoned this blog, I have just been busy and preoccupied the last 4 months with life in general.

May and June were busy with various things, most of which I can’t even remember now. I do recall that my son caught a viral bug in June which caused him to become temporarily lactose intolerant which was not fun for any of us, mostly him. The end result was that we had to temporarily switch him to a soy based formula. He was on the soy formula for a month and a half before I slowly switched him back to his regular formula. I’m happy to say that he is back to his normal self and is happy and healthy.

In addition to all that stress I was also packing for our trip overseas to south east Asia in July. I was a bit anxious at the time as it was munchkins first trip overseas. It was all new territory and I was concerned about the flight in particular. In the end, the first leg of the flight (8 hours) was ok but the second leg (3 hours) was quite difficult. There was a 2 hour transit between the two flights as well. It was his sleeping time and he was struggling to fall asleep. We were all really tired at that point and couldn’t wait to reach our destination. In the end we got there and all was well.

We were overseas for just over a month and it was fun spending time with family, however the heat did become unbearable for me and I was just counting down the days towards the end. The flight back went surprisingly well and my son slept through most of it which was nice 🙂

A photo from our holiday

As we were away for most of July, August was all about settling back home. It took about a week for all of us to overcome the jet lag. Back home we were still in winter so munchkin did get a cold and so did I, mainly due to the weather change.

So here we are and it’s now September and several changes are on the horizon for us. I will share more on this in an upcoming post as it’s fairly long. All I will say is that life has been pretty crazy with more craziness on the way, and it’s taken some time for me to wrap my head around everything.

I will end it here and wish you all a happy spring! Here’s to more sunshine and warmer days 🙂

April 2017 Monthly Recap

April was the month with several public holidays so that meant long weekends! We enjoyed the two long weekends that we had, we mostly spent it with family and managed to catch up with some friends too. It was nice having my husband home as he was able to spend more time with our son in addition to me getting some help with taking care of the baby 🙂

I’m always on a mission to get more organised, it’s a work in progress but I’m slowly getting there.

Keep calm and get organized

I’m happy to say that this month I managed to accomplish a number of things on the organisation front. They were:

  • Sorted through and filed paperwork that had been piling up for months.
  • Cleaned out a cupboard that is located near the front door. It was piling up with all types of things but I’ve now cleared it all out and I have only kept things that we need in there.
  • Cleaned out two junk drawers in our living room.
  • Cleaned out my handbag.
  • Sorted my sons clothes and tidied up his wardrobe. Put away clothes that he has outgrown and washed the bigger sized clothes so they are ready to wear.

There’s still plenty more that needs to be done and I will get there eventually. I’m just happy that I’m making progress and accomplishing one goal at a time.

Apart from continuing on my quest of being more organised, I also started watching The Office (US version). Remember that show? It’s a great show and it is just hilarious! I watched season 1 years ago but I didn’t continue with it, I just didn’t get into it back then. Then a few weeks ago  I happened to catch some random episodes and loved it so I decided to start watching it from the beginning. I am currently part way through season 3 and I am loving it, so funny! Only 6 more seasons to go 🙂

What else? Well I have also enrolled my son into day care. He won’t start till the end of November when I am due to go back to work, but I may start him around mid October just so he eases into it a little better. We had a look at a few long day care centres and the one we liked by a mile was of course the most expensive at $110 per day. The others were not much cheaper but the one we chose had friendly staff, was spacious and looked very organised. It also had vacancies which was a surprise considering how hard it is to get a place in day care these days. So we decided to enrol him which involved having to pay two weeks bond plus an enrolment fee of $50. Very expensive indeed!

I just want to point out that the government does subsidise a part of that $110 per day. It should be 50% off capped at $7500 per year but I believe this may be changing according to the recent budget changes announced by the government. This benefit is not means tested so everyone is eligible. There is another benefit that is means tested but unfortunately I don’t think we will be eligible for that. Well at least we are getting something!

I think I have rambled on for long enough, hope you all had a great month!

7 Most Useful Products I Bought for My Baby – 4 Month Mark

I am all for being prepared for a given situation and having a baby was no different. I know some people start planning and preparing as soon as they fall pregnant but in my case I didn’t start getting prepared till I was about 7 months pregnant, I just wasn’t in the right head space.

There were people that even advised me to put off buying things until I needed them. This is practical advice but to be honest, the last thing I want to do is go shopping for a pram just after giving birth.  Hence, almost all the items listed below were purchased before the baby was born.

My baby is 4 months now so here are the items that have been the most useful so far.

Cot

childcare luna cot

Cot = $199 (Reg: $249)
Mattress = $90
TOTAL COST = $289

My parents gave us the money for this as their “big” gift for the baby. We bought the Childcare Luna Cot/Bed from Target and it happened to be on sale the day we bought it for $199 which was a nice surprise. We have this cot in the bedroom and it’s where the baby sleeps at night time. It has some really positive reviews online and it’s very sturdy, easy to assemble and it also converts into a toddler bed which will come in handy when munchkins grows out of the cot. You have to buy the mattress separately which costs $90.

Bassinet Cot

bassinet

We didn’t actually buy this item as we got it as a gift from my mother in law, however I wanted to include it in this list as it was a very useful to us. She sent it to us from overseas so the above image is not the cot we actually got but it’s a similar style. We were opposed to her giving us a bassinet at first as we knew he would grow out of it quickly but she really wanted to buy a cot for him and as my parents had already bought the main cot we just went with it and let her get this for us.

It’s good that we did because to our surprise it turned out to be very useful for the first 8 weeks or so. It has wheels so we were able to move it around the house easily and it made it easy for all of us to take turns to look after him. The wheels made it easy to rock him back and forth as well when he was unsettled. My baby grew out of it by the 8 week mark as he started to turn sideways and would end up in the horizontal position and get stuck lol. This really does depend on the size of your baby though as I have heard from relatives who purchased the same cot that they were able to use it for about 4 months.

Portable Travel Cot

portable travel cot

TOTAL COST = $120

We purchased the Childcare Travel Cot on clearance for $120 from Baby Bunting. I couldn’t find an exact photo of the cot I have (it must be discontinued) but the above photo is very similar to the one I have. The cot comes with a bassinet insert, changing table and mobile. We have this cot in our living room and it is basically where my baby sleeps during the day time. Munchkins graduated to this cot after he grew out of the bassinet cot mentioned above. It’s easy to assemble, folds up nicely, is not too heavy and when he gets bigger I can stop using the bassinet part of it. The cot we purchased doesn’t have wheels and it’s not something I wish it had as the cot is large and not practical to move around in our house. However, if you had a large open house I can see how having wheels would be beneficial.

Pram

valco baby snap4 black beauty pram

Pram = $295.65 (Reg: $349)
Vogue Infant Bootie accessory = $17.99
TOTAL COST = $313.64

We bought the Valco Baby Snap 4 from Baby Bunting and once again it was on sale the day we bought it, yay! This pram is lighter than most prams and weighs around 6kg. It also folds up easily and is easy to move around. The only thing I wish it had was a bigger basket but other than that it’s a great pram and I foresee it lasting a few years. I highly recommend getting the Vogue Infant Bootie accessory for this pram which is a cover that wraps around the bottom of the seat and basically keeps the baby safe and comfortable.

Car Seat

britax safe n sound millenia car seat

2 x Car Seats = $529 + $485
TOTAL COST = $1014

This is a must if you have a car and there are plenty of options available. Car seats are so expensive but on the bright side most of them are supposed to last till the child is 4 years old. We went with the Britax Safe n Sound Millenia and got it on sale for $529 from Baby Bunting and we have been happy with it so far. We have two cars so we ended up buying a second car seat as moving the seat back and forth became an inconvenience. Luckily the price of this car seat has dropped, so the second seat ended up costing us $485.

Bath Tub

ikea baby bathtub

TOTAL COST = $10

We bought a bath tub from Ikea for $10 and it has worked a treat so far. It gets used everyday and is totally worth the $10. Before having the baby we bought a different bath tub and a bath stand to go with it for $92 and this did not work for us unfortunately. The tub is moulded like a seat to rest the baby but I found this type of bath tub difficult to use with a newborn. I found a normal bath tub with nothing fancy works best and lets the baby feel free to kick and splash. Hopefully I can use this bathtub when he gets a little older, otherwise there is always Gum Tree or EBay.

Electric Steam Steriliser

electric steam steriliser

TOTAL COST = $148

We bought the Tommee Tippee Electric Steam Steriliser for $148 from Baby Bunting. I use this multiple times during the week and it’s really simple to use and sterilises in just 5 minutes. I purchased the starter kit which came with a number of additional items but I didn’t really end up using any of them long term. I used the 150ml bottles for a few weeks but my son preferred the bottles by Pigeon so I switched to using those bottles exclusively. I also used the bottle/food warmer for a few weeks but stopped because it was easier to get him to drink milk that was at room temperature. However, the warmer should come in handy when I introduce him to solids and cows milk.

So there you have it, a list of the most useful things I have purchased so far for my baby. We did buy everything brand new which was purely due to convenience, although I am sure we would have saved a few hundred dollars had we bought some items second hand. However I see most of these items lasting a while so I really have no regrets, apart from the first bath tub and stand I bought which hasn’t worked out yet.

What were the most useful items you bought for your baby in the early months?

 

March 2017 Recap

Well March was mostly about settling back into our house as my husband was away for most of February for work, and because of that I stayed at my parents with the baby. It took about a week to get into our routine but it is nice to be back home.

Apart from settling back home I managed to finally attend a mothers group meeting at the local community centre. I wasn’t aware that these meet ups were for babies that are between 0-8 weeks old so my son at 3.5 months was the odd one out. However I am glad I went as I was able to see what happens in these meet ups. I was unable to attend mothers group when my son was born as they were closed during December and January, but had they been open I think it would have been very helpful during those tough early weeks.

Mother and baby polar bears

On the bright side, at the mothers group meet up I did become aware of playgroup sessions that were also operating at the community centre. Playgroup NSW is offering free registration this year for babies under 12 months, so I registered my son and I have been attending the playgroup for babies over the last 3 weeks. Although munchkins is little, it’s nice for him to be around other kids and get used to noises and a different environment. It’s also nice to meet other mums and share experiences so I would have to say that I have enjoyed attending these sessions so far.

Taking my baby to these playgroup sessions has also unexpectedly helped in building my confidence. I have generally been hesitant to take the baby out on my own, but the other day I went to the shopping centre to buy a few things with the baby and I wasn’t stressed at all. I would not have had the confidence to do this a month ago, so I think getting out more has been beneficial to me too.

As far as my reading is concerned, I didn’t read any books this month and I’m pretty disappointed with myself about that. I want to read at least one book a month so hopefully going forward I start to achieve this goal on a regular basis.

So march ended up being a very positive month for me apart from the reading. Hope you all had a great month too!

Images: Tumblr

February 2017 Recap

The weather has been terrible this summer. I used to love summer, I seriously hate it now! We have experienced one of the hottest summers down here in Sydney Australia and I will be happy to see the back of it!

Ok weather rant over…

This month I have been staying at my parents house with the baby as my husband had to go overseas for work. My parents have enjoyed having us stay with them for a couple of weeks, they are after all pretty smitten by their first grandchild 🙂 I have used this time to catch up with friends and go out and do a little shopping here and there. It has only been for a few hours but it makes a difference. Staying indoors all the time can get isolating so it’s good to get out when the opportunity arises. I have also been trying to be more active by getting a morning walk in when I can. It was impossible during the first two weeks of the month due to the hot weather but as the weather has improved now I have trying to get more walks in.

It was my birthday this month and I was able to catch up with one of my dear friends on the day. We had lunch and saw the movie – Hidden Figures. Great film, those women were so strong, super smart and inspirational!

I started watching the TV show – Married at First Sight. Yes I have no shame lol! What can I say, I just can’t look away. Some of the couples look cute together and could make it work but there are few that seem totally mismatched. I really don’t know what the experts were thinking there. It will be interesting to see how they all progress, I know the likelihood is that most of them will break up, I guess there is always hope for a happy ending 🙂

I’ve been reading again and I finished my first book for 2017! Yay!

This month I read..

babysecretsbyjotantum

Baby Secrets – How to know your baby’s needs by Jo Tantum and Barbara Want

This book was recommended to me by a friend as a guide to introducing routines to babies. I found it to be a really insightful read and so far I have implemented the routines recommended in the book on my own baby. The main purpose of the book is to guide parents into introducing a routine with the ultimate aim of helping babies to sleep through the night. The book also talks about how to read your babies cries and tips on how to troubleshoot various issues that arise. It’s a good book and I would happily recommend it to a parent who wants to introduce their child to a routine.

I hope you all had a nice February. Next month I am hoping to settle back home and continue with my quest of getting more organised.