Top 5 food trends in Singapore 2016

We are still going crazy over these food that started trending since last year. Now that the hype finally died down slightly, most of us could taste them and finally understand the long queues. Let's see what are the food that made us lose our rationality: 
1) Bingsu - Kpop is here to stay and Kdramas are just taking South East Asia by storm! From their fashion to songs to drama and food, everything Korean seems to be trending. Bingsu is just perfect for Singapore's weather and they look so romantic for couples to share one big bowl. Not to forget the drool-worthy pictures you can get.
2) Rainbow/Galaxy everything - They look so pretty in pictures which is no wonder they started trending easily. Children love them and adults like to show them off in social media, but I am not so sure if their taste is also that unique!
3) Salted Egg Yolk - With Mcdonalds and Breadtalk jumping on the bandwagon, you can be sure that salted egg yolk flavour is going to expand to more areas. Burger patty, croissant, tarts, snacks, western food, prawns, crab, fish skin and many more dishes, salted egg yolk seems to go well with everything! Addictive and sinful, the flavour definitely pack a punch!
4) Cheese anything - From cheese fondue, cheese hotpot, raclette cheese wheel, Japanese cheese tarts... Chocolate fondue is so yesterday and we Singaporeans just love our cheese. Luckily you do not have to queue for 2 hours anymore for the to-die-for-but-oh-so-expensive baked cheese tarts. Bread talk also have them but it's not as creamy inside. 
5) Health food bowls - Everything above are so sinfully delicious but not to worry, on diet days, we still treasure our pockets and health. Eating clean is not a rich man's thing anymore and many restaurants are making them affordable. We see more yoghurt, salad and organic shops popping up and the trend is definitely here to stay. Of course, we are also playing our part supplying the condiments with our nutsseedsdried fruits
Which trend do you think will remain in 2017?
This post first appeared on the blog of Snackfirst.

Why I chose not to have epidural

I am not that brave at all. I am scared of pain too. However, I chose not to go down the road using epidural. The top question I got was why.

Why suffer through the pain when you have safe and modern medication?

9 financial tips you must know during the 9 months pregnancy

Congratulations on the expansion of your family!

After the initial excitement, most of you will start to have a panic attack because the responsibilities on your shoulder have just gotten heavier. Taking care of another family member is going to put a dent on your finances but don't get so stressed that you start taking on a part-time job or borrow money. You have 9 months to prepare and manage your financial health before you welcome this bundle of joy!

Here are 9 tips on how I managed my finances, which I think could help all new parents embark on a financially-sound future:
Not just love, you need financial planning too! 

1) Compare prices of gynaecologists

The costs of a gynaecologist vary widely between a government hospital and private clinics. The more popular ones usually require at least an hour of waiting in line so be prepared for that. Some indicative prices are stated here:
Breakdown for my approximate pre-natal charges in private clinics
Do take note that in some cases such as premature babies or jaundice treatment, your baby might need to stay in the hospital for a longer period of time. For a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), the daily ward charges would be up to $647 in NUH (for A1 ward type), or more at a private hospital, so be sure to have some emergency funds on hand.

Bonus: The location of the gynaecologist's clinic is also important because you would want a convenient place to go for a check-up every month.

2) Compare the cost between different hospitals

For private clinics, you can only choose the private hospitals for delivery such as those listed below. They will cost higher than public hospitals. You can check the average hospital delivery charges based on ward, normal vaginal birth and caesarean section from the MOH website. Take note that the price listed is after the deduction of Medisave claimables. Based on my delivery in 2016, my bill works out to be $7,070.

Average hospital charges by ward and hospitals, accurate as of 3 May 2017 . Source: MOH website

Bonus: Find out which credit cards will give you the most rewards/cash rebates for these hospital charges.

3) Buy online and look for deals

There are many baby items to buy and one way to save cost and effort on transport is to buy online. You can also visit baby exhibitions to take advantage of special offers. Before the arrival of the baby, you will need to plan and purchase these 20 things, such as baby cot, diapers, wet wipes and sterilizer. I spent less than $1200 for these things and these expenses can be made over a few months. You don't have to buy everything at one go.

Pay by credit cards and get some rewards back
Bonus: Hospitals do give free gifts to new parents such as bath tub, nursing covers and diaper bags. So do some research on what you will be getting and only buy what is needed.

4) Know your benefits

When my foreign friends heard of our government grants for maternity, the first thing they said was, "So good, how envious!" Not every country has such incentives to support parents, so let's take a look at the benefits that are available.

👶The Medisave Maternity Package allows parents to use their Medisave to claim for pre-delivery expenses, such as pre-natal consultations, ultrasound scans. It can also be used for delivery expenses up to the Withdrawal Limits.

In summary, here are the Medisave withdrawal limits to take note of and total cash and grants you may be eligible for:
Maternity package and withdrawal limits

👶There is also a Medisave Grant for Newborns. The amount goes into your child's Medisave account that will help with the costs of his/her recommended childhood vaccinations, hospitalisation and approved outpatient treatments. It can also be used to pay for your child's MediShield Life premiums.

In addition, there is the Baby Bonus Scheme, which includes a Cash Gift and Child Development Account (CDA) benefits.
*Applicable for 1st and 2nd child. Refer to Baby Bonus Website for 3rd and subsequent birth orders. Total cash and grants from the government.

Bonus: On top of these grants, parents will also qualify for tax relief.

5) Start a baby fund

Now that you know the costs involved, you should start setting aside a small amount of savings each month in preparation for the baby's expenses. If you still have existing debts, furniture loans, wedding loans, renovation loans, it would be wise to clear them before the arrival of the baby. This will help to prevent you from getting overburdened when additional recurring costs come in.

Hello world, I need some baby funds!
Bonus: CDA bank accounts give a guaranteed, 2% interest for up to $36,000!

6) Cut down on unnecessary expenses

It's a good time to tidy up your house and arrange a space for baby stuff. Some unnecessary cost includes buying too many baby clothes, feeding sets, shoes and toys. These are things you will receive as gifts from family, friends and relatives and so, there is no hurry to buy them first.

Try to delay buying things that are not needed during your baby's first 3 months. Chances are you may forget that you ever bought them, or your baby may outgrow them in a blink of an eye.

Bonus: During my pregnancy, I wore my husband's t-shirts at home and they are definitely fitting and comfortable!

7) Re-evaluate your insurance coverage

Now that you are going to have a dependent, it is important to review you and your spouse's own insurance coverage and hospital plans. All Singaporeans and Permanent Residents have MediShield Life coverage, even for those with pre-existing conditions. Our Medisave account can be used to pay for MediShield Life premiums so you do not have to worry about the cash portion.

Bonus: You may also like to take a look at Integrated Shield Plans (IP) where I have compared the price difference for different companies.

8) Be prepared for other expenses

A confinement nanny is helpful to parents during the first month. Do reserve them as soon as possible as the popular ones are snapped up very quickly. Be aware that price is around $2,500 to $3,000, excluding cooking ingredients. If you are without a confinement nanny, you may intend to get confinement meals which cost around $60 a day for both lunch and dinner. For post-natal massage, 5 sessions cost around $300.

When your baby is older, you might need to look at the price comparison of different brands of formula milk and the prices for different brands of diapers. With these, hopefully you can make more informed decisions. Not to forget, planning for your baby's first month celebration can be a lavish affair. Buffets, decorations and door gifts all require upfront costs.
They are worth every penny!
Bonus: Ask for gifts in cash!

9) Evaluate infant care, nanny or grandparent options
If a grandparent is available to take care of your child, then you have one less headache. You may still need a maid or part-time helper to help with your house work. For caretakers, a nanny will charge around $750 to $850. If you are looking at infant care options, note that going to a government-run infant care centres ($600 - $700 for Singaporeans including subsidies) will be less expensive than going to privately-run centres (Usually at least $1,000) so do consider your options carefully. Don't forget to read up on the pros and cons of each option!

Bonus: You can claim the Grandparent Caregiver Relief if your parents are taking care of your children. There is also the Maid Levy Relief for foreign help and Additional Subsidy for infant and child care centres.

Financial planning is a big part of family planning. It may seem like there is a lot to do and I was initially quite worried if I could handle all these challenges.

Just take a deep breath and go through the list one by one. You do have enough time and these 9 months will prepare you in becoming a great parent. After which, get ready for all the crying, whining, milk stains and poop! I guarantee you all your efforts and sleepless nights will be worth it!

Final tip: If you want more grants, give birth to more babies! Just don't ask me when I am having my second child. :)


Disclaimer: This article was brought to you in collaboration with CPF Board. Follow me on Facebook for more updates on how to better manage family finances. 

You need to be rich to date my daughter

A single mother brought her 3 daughters up single handedly. Now all she wishes is for her children to live happily and healthily. No, that is not the only wish. She wants them to all live in abundance and preferably in wealth.
Everyone wants to have so much they can even top up their children's CPF

5 types of social media postings

I am more active in social media lately mainly because of SnackFirst. It's the requirement of an e-commerce site to generate traffic and the best way is through social media. These are the 5 types of postings I generally see on your feeds:

Fat lady no more!

Remember my last post where I was called fat during my pregnant times? Well, I am here to update on my weight now.

How to Stretch Your Dollar on Groceries with Your Credit Card

Being a parent of a 1-year-old baby is tough financially and it has made me more eager to stretch every dollar. Here I am going to compare some credit cards to see which will give me the most rewards or rebates. As a family, my main expenses are usually spent on these things:
1) Groceries – Household items, wet wipes, snacks, fresh ingredients to cook at home.
2) Online shopping for groceries – Bulk quantity is cheaper especially for milk powder and diapers, and I can easily get free shipping too!

My Snack Fix from! by Mitsueki

Am pretty particular about my weight ever since I embarked on my weight loss treatments with Han Dian 3 years ago.. but everyone knows I love snacking! However, snacking can be controlled too in small portions and opting for healthier options other than junk food such as potato chips!
One place where I recommend that you can get your snack fix is from a new startup from a fellow blogger called SnackFirst! You can read up more about her story behind starting up SnackFirst here!(:
Quote “TAKE3OFF” to enjoy $3 off any $30 purchase!
Anyway, I selected a couple of healthy snacks of SnackFirst recently and they arrived nicely packaged and delivered to my place! All snacks from SnackFirst comes with FREE shipping islandwide in Singapore and that is super value for money!(:
All snacks from SnackFirst have been handpicked from various sources and tasted personally by Jes and Lucas (the 2 people behind SnackFirst) before being added to their stores for sale if they were deemed delicious! Prices are also reasonable and there is a large range of both healthy and not-so-healthy snacks to indulge in!(:
The nutritional information, health benefits and ingredients can be found in each individual page of every product – this is a nice touch so you know exactly what you are purchasing!

Healthy Snack Range!

Here’s what I tried below from their healthy snack range:
(NUTS) – Greenfaced Pistachios Raw
(FRUITS) – Sunshine Raisin
(GRANOLA) – Addictive Chocolate Granola
(NUTS) – Sunkissed Cashews (Roasted)

Cookies & Biscuit Snacks!

Other than healthy snacks as above, SnackFirst also offers a range of slightly unhealthy snacks perfect for your teabreaks and sharing with colleagues and families! Note that mine are in sample packets as the usual packaging is in the 500g form (:
Just to mention – for the cookies and biscuits range, the cookies come with no preservatives or artificial ingredients while the biscuits contain no preservatives.
  • (COOKIES) – Amazing Almond Cookies
  • (COOKIES) – Delightful Bangkit Cookies
  • (BISCUITS) – Refreshing Coconut Crackers
  • Hearty Nut Bars
And boy, did they choose right! Every package I opened to try was fresh, addictive and very delicious. Would say they definitely tasted slightly different and tastier from the usual packaged nuts/snacks you get from the local supermarkets!(:
Will definitely share these snacks with my family and if they like it – I guess we will be ordering from SnackFirst very very soon!(:
Here’s wishing SnackFirst all the best in their venture – so far its looking good!
Quote “TAKE3OFF” to enjoy $3 off any $30 purchase!
Note: This is a sponsored product review but all opinions are of my own!
Till later,

♥ mitsueki
Disclaimer: This post is written by Mitsueki and first appeared on her blogLike her blog on Facebook or follow her on @mitsueki on Twitter & Instagram

From Jes: Food bloggers are usually quite snobbish, trust me I have contacted many! Mitsueki is really nice and friendly and so unlike the rest. With her nice pictures and personal touch, I am sure she will be more popular in time to come. Dear Mitsueki, you have got a fan here :)

The ultimate price comparison of Integrated Shield Plans (IP / Riders)

Health is wealth.

Without health, you cannot enjoy anything, even with all the money in the world. However, we occasionally take health for granted. As I aged, I start to see more illnesses happening around me which are constant reminders that I should put in more efforts to maintain good health. However, I can only do so much to prevent illnesses from happening. So, it's due time I do a post on hospitalisation plans aka Integrated Shield Plans or Riders.

The ultimate price review on diapers in Singapore

After the price comparison for milk powder, I have to look at the other big expense for a baby, which is the diapers. Most parents would have close encounters with poop or urine within the first year. If you have not been through an explosive diarrhea episode, you are lucky!

For families who use cloth nappy and wash them, I salute you! You totally deserve the savings because I would rather spend the money than wash all the poop from the nappy every day. Diapers are truly the sanity life savers to working mothers!

Picture by ParentingPatch