Monday, March 30, 2015

What I've Been Reading Lately

The 7 Most Relaxing Ways to Spend Your Lunch Hour :- I find the last one the most interesting :) ... I generally go out for lunch with my colleagues or my friends once in a while and am just waiting for warmer weather to get here so I can go out for walks.

Save Money On Groceries With Manager Markdowns :- At the Market Basket where I shop, there's a shelf with all reduced groceries. I always take a quick peek there when I go grocery shopping and if something looks good, then I buy it if I will use it reasonably soon. Last Friday, I picked up 6-7 zucchinis @ 0.59/lb which is a pretty good price. I shredded all the zucchinis and put them in the freezer save for 1 cup which I used to make zucchini muffins.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Uses for Hair Dryers!

Having a 2 year old in the house automatically translates to stickers and crayon marks everywhere. I  just read an article which says I can use a hair dryer to remove the crayon marks and stickers from my walls and floors. I'm going to try it out and see whether it works.

#3. Clean Stray Crayon

If your little Picasso has missed the paper yet again—or forewent it altogether—you can make cleanup a little easier with a hair dryer. Just blast the stray crayon marks with hot air from a hair dryer. This will soften the wax and make it much easier to wipe away.

#4. Remove Stickers

Heating stickers with a hair dryer can loosen the glue or adhesive on the back. Once it’s warmed, you can slowly start to peel away the sticker. This also works well for price tags and most bottle labels.

9 Handy New Uses for Hair Dryers That Will Blow You Away! - Common Sense With Money

Monday, March 23, 2015

Summer Dollar Movies at Regal Cinemas

Regal Cinemas is doing $1 movies in the summer in select areas. My area didn't have it but perhaps your area might!

Summer Movie Express

(Thanks, MyFrugalAdventures!)

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Fry "Applam" in the microwave

I was watching the TV show "The Kitchen" the other day on Food Network. They had a part of the show where some of the hosts talk about microwave uses.

One of the tips mentioned was how to make potato chips in the microwave and to make sure they are crunchy. I thought why not try the same thing with appalam. I thought this would be great since I did not have to use up a lot of oil to enjoy my favorite appalam.

So, the tips says to start with a microwave safe plate and take a piece of parchment paper and spread some oil on it - enough to cover the area. I just poured a little bit of oil on it and spread it with my fingers around the parchment paper.

I first tried with pepper appalam chips which I had bought in India. I put a few side-by-side and put in microwave for 2 minutes. This came out very well - crunchy and not oily.

Next, I wanted to try a whole appalam. I put the appalam on it and kept it in the microwave for 2-3 mins, depending on your microwave. This came out decent but not perfect - some of the edges I felt were not fully cooked. So on my next try, I tried to spray the side facing up with oil (using Pam cooking spray). Then I put in microwave for 2-3 minutes.

This came out well. My husband grabbed it from my hand before I could even taste it. :)

Try this recipe out and let me know how you like it!

Fry "Appalam" in the Microwave:

1. Take microwave safe plate and put a piece of parchment paper on it
2. Pour a little oil on it and spread it around the parchment paper with a spoon
3. Place the appalam or appalam chips on it
4. Put in micro

Friday, March 13, 2015

What I've Been Reading Lately!

Financial Independence and Career Choices :- This was a great article by The Simple Dollar. It really made me think and get motivated about my career. It put things in a different perspective for me.

The Preschool Visit :- We're considering moving my daughter to a full-day preschool closer to our home in the fall after she turns 3. We're going to go and check out the place next and this info is helpful. I really love her current daycare but it's expensive.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Visit to Acton Children's Museum

On Friday, I took AGirl to the Acton Children's Museum. They are free for the public the first friday of every month from 4:30-8:30 pm. Though they have a Discovery Museum and Science Museum, we only explored the Discovery Museum. From the outside of the building, it looked very small and you wouldn't think that they would have as many exhibits as they did.

There were kids of all ages in there - from a 6-month-old baby to middle school kids.

AGirl had a blast - she kept running from one exhibit to the other. The pirate ship exhibit and the kitchen exhibit were her favorites. This is AGirl trying to climb the ropes (sails) of the pirate ship.

Unfortunately, it was so crowded that I couldn't take pictures. Plus, I was busy chasing after AGirl! But I will definitely go again and will try to take more pictures that time.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

New Hobby!

From when I was a kid, I have always been fascinated with coins and always wanted to collect them. In fact, my grandfather had a big stack of old coins which I coveted but I never mentioned it to him and he gave it to my cousin.

Recently, my interest in it has been coming back. I don't want to invest any money in it - my idea is just to do something small. I want to collect quarters of all US states. Once I'm done with this, I want to collect a quarter from each year as far back as I can go.

And then we'll see from there... I'm excited about this. I will post again about this when I'm done collecting all the US States quarters. I currently have 41 US state quarters - I still need 9. 

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Comparing our kids to others

It's inevitable. You're talking to your friends and one of you mentions something that your kid did. And the talk moves on to where each kid was developmentally at different ages. One mom might say - By age 3, my daughter was reading and starting to write. Another might say her son was talking full sentences by 2 years. Another might say their child started talking at 8 months.

Recently, I was talking to one of my friends and she was telling me about her daughter. I listened to her and felt a sinking feeling in my stomach. Was my daughter where she should be? Am I failing her in some way by not teaching her more and spending more time with her?

Agirl doesn't know her colors or numbers or the alphabets yet. She's not expected to but a lot of Indian kids do know them by this age.

Logically, I know there's really no answer to this question. Kids will learn at their own pace. Her teachers have no concerns about her. I need to just provide the environment and the tools. Part of this is guilt at not being a stay-at-home mom.

All I can do at this point is make more of an effort to spend time with her and teach her.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

February Update on Goals

February wasn't a very good month either. I was still dealing with health issues and with my daughter's sleep issues and snowstorms, I didn't get a whole lot done from my goals. I did focus a bit more on cleaning my kitchen and dining table everyday (which gets very cluttered) and trying to contain my daughter's toy explosion. Also, I have been doing more cooking than I've done before.
  1. Lose 12 lbs: My weight machine still is not working. I need to buy batteries for it but because I've been over-eating this month, I'm almost scared to check myself. So I've gone backwards in this goal. 
  2. Learn swimming: I need to fix my vertigo issues before I can try to learn swimming. My vertigo is because of inner-ear issues and I don't want to make it worse. 
  3. Read 12 books this year: I finished Should I Be A Stay At Home Mom and read The Total Money Makeover
  4. Do 12 craft or knitting activities this year: No time for this. 
  5. Introduce a new experience to AGirl once a month: Couldn't get to this mainly because of the weather and my health issues. Hopefully, I'm going to make up for this in March.
Hopefully, I'll get more done next month. 

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Book Review: The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey

About a few months ago, I discovered Dave Ramsey through his podcast of this radio show - The Dave Ramsey Show. After listening to his podcast many times while driving in my car from work, I had a good handle of many of his concepts and these same concepts are the ones that I grew up learning from my parents in India.

"Debt" was considered something really bad in India at that time and most people saved money and bought stuff. (I honestly don't think this is still true in India anymore - times have changed there). So when my husband and I bought a house, getting into so much debt was very very scary to me. However, I adjusted to the idea over time. And probably here in comes the problem - you get used to the idea of being in debt. 

I'm so grateful to have had those money lessons growing up and for us having had good jobs that we don't have much debt - mostly just our mortgage. And after listening to Dave's podcast, I've been inspired to get out of even that debt. While I don't always agree with what he says, I do like most of his no-nonsense style of breaking through problems. 

So after listening to his podcast for a few months, I had heard a lot about his baby steps and his book - The Total Money Makeover. I saw the book at my library a few days ago and decided to pick it up. 

The book was a really interesting read. There were quite a few things I learnt from the book. Dave's style of getting out of debt is more behavioral. His way uses small victories to fuel your enthusiasm to get out of debt. He emphasizes that it's not easy to get out of debt - you have to make sacrifices and work hard. In short, do whatever it takes whether it be working more to get more money or spending less to save more money for putting into debt. One of his favorite lines which he repeats a lot - "If you live like nobody else, later you'll live like nobody else".

Dave Ramsey's Baby Steps to getting out of debt:

  1. Save $1000 for an emergency fund
  2. Get on a budget and every dollar not towards necessities goes towards paying off the smallest debt you have. Once you pay that off, you pay the next biggest one. You don't spend  money on any luxuries, any vacations, etc. Everything is on hold till you pay off your debt. If any emergency comes up during this time and you have to use any part of $1000, stop step 2 and go back to step 1. 
  3. Build up an emergency fund of 3-6 months of expenses. 
  4. Put 15% of your income into retirement (IRA or 401k). Don't count your company's match - that's just icing on the cake. 
  5. Put money in a college fund for your children.
  6. Pay off your mortgage. This step will take time and most people may be so used to having a mortgage payment that this may seem weird and the mortgage is so huge that it may take us so long to pay it off that we even give up at this point. Getting a 15-year mortgage with lower interest rates and making extra payments is the way to go for paying off your mortgage. 
  7. Build wealth. Have fun, invest and give. Do all three and live a happy life. 
The only thing I probably disagree with is that he uses a 12% return on any investing in mutual funds. In my past 10 years of investing in a 401k, I've never received 12% interest on even a single year. It might be that I'm investing in wrong funds (but I'm limited to what's provided by my employer) or my investing method might be wrong. And he does state that it's 12% historical average - not every year. But still, I feel 12% extremely optimistic and I would probably use a lower number like 8%.

Slid off again!

The last few weeks have been extremely busy and I have not spent much time on the computer at all. So I have not been blogging much - hope t...