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Big Kid, Little Adult Posts

Recipe: Fish (Zucchini) Noodle Soup

Every Friday, I aim to share a recipe that I use that uses very few and simple ingredients, while also enabling you to cook in bulk without the boredom of ‘yet another spag bol’ meal. So welcome to the first Frugal Food Friday! Disclaimer: Not all meals will be suitable for bulk cooking.

I should start by saying I am not a chef nor a food stylist. I love and enjoy cooking but I am not a chef. My recipes are not the most original; I usually come up with them after reading lots of different recipes and then combining what I like through experimenting in the kitchen. But I love what I do, and I do also love to share.

I thought I’d start this off with a very simple but oh-so-tasty Fish Zucchini Noodle soup.

 

 

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Fish Zucchini Noodle Soup

A simple fish noodle soup made with Barramundi and Zucchini for a simple yet tasty dish.

Course Main Course
Cuisine Modern Australian
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Servings 1 person

Ingredients

  • 150 - 200 grams white fish (eg: barramundi)
  • 1/2 - 1 zucchini
  • 2 leaves iceberg lettuce
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 5-6 coriander leaves
  • 1-2 chilli optional

Instructions

  1. With a vegetable peeler, shred zucchini into flat long noodle-like pieces. 

  2. Tear iceberg lettuce by hand into bite-sized pieces and wash well.

  3. Bring chicken stock to a boil. Once boiling, set it to a low simmer.

  4. Put fish in and cook till soft and comes apart with a fork.

  5. Take fish out, put iceberg lettuce into the soup, allowing it to soften. After a minute or so, add zucchini noodles in. It should be ready to serve in 30 seconds to 1 minute later.

  6. To plate, shred fish with a fork. Put everything into a bowl and garnish with coriander and chilli.

You can easily alter the size of the portion by altering the amount of fish and zucchini you cook.

 

I did an estimate on how much this dish would cost per person and this is a very generous estimate. Prices are based on Coles Online although we normally buy our produce from farmer’s market and local grocers. I also make my own chicken stock so it wouldn’t cost me $1.15 for that, but not everybody is as in love with their kitchen as I am.


Cost

Fish (Barramundi): $2.25

Zucchini: $0.82

Iceberg lettuce: $0.25

Liquid Chicken Stock: $1.15

Coriander: $0.30

Chilli: $0.10

Total: $4.87


 

I actually think it cost me closer to $3 to make this dish as commercial stock is just so expensive and not tasty at all. Maybe one day I will share my stock recipe.

And there you have it – till next Friday for the next recipe!

 

Notes: This recipe can be easily made P2 (HCG and Changing Habits Protocol) compliant by reducing the quantity of fish to 100g and Zucchini to 1/2 a zucchini. You will also need to make sure your stock is compliant.

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The start of my PF journey: Is it ever too late?

I wish we learnt more about personal finance in school. These days there is some kind of basic education with regards to personal finance, understanding the stock market etc but when I was going through school, there was nothing. Coming from a really traditional salt-of-the-earth type family as well meant that “You must work hard and save!” type of advice was the extent of my financial education. (It wasn’t till much later on that I found out that my parents are actually quite active in stock investing and the dividend game and the big question I’ve had since finding out was “Why wasn’t I taught this!?”)

I’ve always hustled hard. I had multiple part time jobs all through university and ran a variety of different small-scale businesses. As mentioned before, I was even a semi-professional blogger at some stage. I started blogging in 2003 and watched the blogging world explode through the years. But still no matter how much I hustled, I was always broke. I had no financial knowledge and was a spendthrift.

It wasn’t till 12 years after hustling and forever hustling, that I felt something wasn’t right. I worked hard, so why did I feel like I was running on the spot? I had dreams of property investments but the scary part is that when I purchased my first house, I didn’t even think of hunting for the best package, best interest rate or best loan provider. I merely walked into my usual bank and signed the first loan that was offered. Yowzers. (I found out last night that I had signed myself up for a 5.87% loan at that time, thankfully I had followed my dad’s advice and gone with variable. Can you imagine if I had fixed that crazy rate!?)

The lightbulb moment came maybe 9 months ago. I was going through a lifestyle change, and that involved cutting back on eating out at fancy restaurants to really concentrate on what food was going into my body. While I nursed my physical and mental health, I noticed that my bank account was also getting healthier. A lot healthier, in fact. I also noticed how much I had missed travelling after coming back from my first European holiday. I’ve always loved travelling – when did I stop doing it? Oh wait, that’s right. I stopped because I never had the money for it. I was also starting to grow tired of the 7 day slog. Surely there were better ways to get ahead?

Anyways, I have been rambling. The point of this post is actually to list out the resources I have been using to educate myself as I don’t want to believe that it is too late for me. I’m only 32, so while I am now aware of the power of compounding interest (and how late I’ve left it), I think it is better to start now than to never start at all.

Eternal Learning: The PF way

Structuring finances

  1. Barefoot investor: While I did do some reading prior to reading Barefoot Investor, Scott’s book was actually what ignited the PF fire in my belly. Funnily enough, a financial advisor (the one who said I was too poor to be his client) told me to read this book, after I had actually finished reading it. Scott had some really common sense way of dealing with finances and for the absolute beginner (me!), it was perfect.
  2. Reddit: Reddit has everything. Including multiple forums about finance and investing. I’m a lurker, not really a participant but it has been an invaluable experience as often the questions you are asking are also questions other people ask.
  3. Blogs: So many blogs! Once I started digging, I was faced with mountains of information. Truthfully it was a bit overwhelming at first as I had to dig through and find information that was actually relevant to me. But again, an invaluable source of information. One day, I will talk about the blogs I really love.
  4. Moneysmart: I think I’ve been hanging in the wrong circles as not a single person around me knows of this website or speaks about it. There is actually so much information that is super useful on a government website – who woulda thunk?
  5. Facebook: This sounds odd but facebook groups such as Simple Savers and Barefoot investors group has been paramount in educating me further. Much like Reddit, many people from all walks of life and also from every experience level comes forward and the sharing of knowledge is absolutely wonderful.

 

I am fairly happy with how I am tracking along so far. The restructuring of finances made a huge impact especially when I completely disengaged our joint expenditures from my personal expenditures. Before this whole movement, I would pay for all our joint expenditures with my own personal accounts and we would run a complicated spreadsheet on who owes what money to each other. Crazy town! It actually meant that I was constantly paying for our joint expenditures instead of just my own and therefore never had any money to save let alone invest. Learning about all these also made me much more aware of the things I am paying for – I literally just found out 2 minutes ago that I was paying for handset insurance ($15 a month) through my plan and I didn’t even know. What in the world!?

How about you? What got you started on your PF journey?

 

 

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May Round-up

Booyah! My first monthly round-up of sorts. I haven’t quite decided how I want to approach these monthly series just yet. It’s been awhile since I last had an active blog (I used to be a semi-professional blogger in a past life), so am still finding my ‘voice’ as they say.

Tracking spending will be interesting as my partner is not quite onboard this PF train as I am. The good side of it is that despite not quite being on the same page, he is not a spendthrift. The bad side, is that he is also not earning very much, nor is he motivated to push for more. But it is what it is!

May Spendings

In May, as a couple we spent a total of $3863.18 excluding utilities. That looks like a huge number! But let’s break it down more.

We had relatives come and stay and we have a rule just between the two of us that no relatives of ours should need to spend a cent when they are staying in our city. This obviously doesn’t work for all families out there, but we have small tight knit families who do the same for us when we visit. So we spent $1345 for that in May.

We also did some minor renovations that made up $832 of the total expenditure.

So if you take out both of those major expenditures, we spent a total of $1686.18 over 4 ish weeks for groceries, entertainment, and other day-to-day expenses.

Personal expenditure

Item Cost Commentary
OnePath $496.94 Usually half this amount, but had to pay this twice this month.
House and Contents $559.67 An annual amount of $1559.67.
Acorns $47.83
Private Health $151.80
Bookdepository $15.93
Kickstarter $133.58
Layby $160
Work Resources $60.46
Mobile Phone $98.18 This should be the last time I pay this obscene figure.
Total $1724.39 Holy shit

Well.

One of my PF goals is to cut spending. Given that I’ve only just started tracking, I guess I can’t really compare how well I have done on that front. I still need to figure out how I am dealing with the annual / half yearly / quarterly / monthly type bills, plus as I’m typing this I’m starting to think that my figures aren’t right. Ah well, it’s a start I guess!

Hopefully I will have a much better thought out process next month. At the very least, I will be able to compare how I did in spendings!

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Acorns: First month review

 

Have you heard of Acorns? It is an app available for both android and iphones that allows the every day person dip their toes into investing without knowing too much about investing. Which is probably not a great way to be investing but if you are like me and want to do some investing while still learning and reading up on all the literature, this is a great way to go.

I will be doing (roughly) monthly Acorns review to see progress. There are many reviews out there in the world wide web. But frankly, they are quite bipolar and being a hands on person, the only way I will truly be satisfied is if I try it out myself. And hopefully not get burnt in the process! If you are interested, here’s a referral link for you try it out: Show me the money! (Disclaimer, you and I both get $2.50 if you sign up through my link.)

The way Acorns work is that it ’round ups’ your spending and uses your change to invest. You can also transfer money directly into Acorns. It then takes this money and invest it into a range of ETFs depending on your choice of portfolio.


The details | Aggressive portfolio

I started my Acorns account on 19th of April 2017.

As of the 31st of May, I invested $109.47 through a combination of direct transfers and also ’round ups’

The exact breakdown:

Direct Transfers: $90

Round ups: $19.47

Note: there was no rhyme or reason to the amount I decided to transfer across. I was playing with the app and wanted to test its capabilities without sinking too much money in.


Growth or not?

 

This is what the mobile app UI looks like. This graph shows the changes in the last 31 days while the change in value reflects the changes since the last time I checked. All up, I have a net gain of $1.50, which is  an increase of 1.37% from my initial investment. The highest I saw my value reach was $111.66 but as is the nature of the stock market, that didn’t stay there. (At the time of writing, the market has opened on 1st of June and it has gone back up to $111.05.)


What has Acorns done with the money?

One thing I do like about Acorns is the web interface. It provides significantly more information than the app such as a breakdown of where the money is going. I have added a screenshot of what the interface looks like for interest sakes. I can see that majority of my money is going to ETF (STW) which gives me a tiny, tiny bit of the pie of our major companies.


Is Acorns worth the investment? It’s a little hard to tell at this point as ETFs are a long term game. But with Acorns’ monthly fee being $1.25 for balances under $5000, most of this month’s gain would then go towards the fee. Many reviews have said that the fee is exorbitant for what it is. I don’t think it would be fair at this point to agree as my initial investment was quite low.

Moving forward, I plan on using Acorns for at least a year. I will add in an investment of $100 (+ whatever roundups I end up with) per month and dutifully track how it goes for the year. If nothing else, it would be a $15 lesson (assuming no losses to my investment) on micro-investing.

 

If you use Acorns, I’d love to hear from you!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I spoke with a financial advisor. Twice.

I spoke with my first financial advisor at the start of my ‘adult’ journey. By that I mean, soon after I signed my life away for a mortgage in return. She suggested I purchase TPD, Trauma and Life insurance. I didn’t realise it at the time, but she was precisely the type of Financial Advisor I would later learn to avoid as her only agenda was really just to flog insurance policies. No wonder I didn’t have to pay for her!

Fast forward 5 years or so, I then made an initial appointment with an independent financial advisor. This time I was confident I had made the right decision as their site boldly proclaimed not to flog any products. And true to their word, they didn’t. They also told me that I was too poor to be thinking about using their services and to come back when I had at least $25k up my sleeve to burn. The meeting ended before it really started.

Okay.

Either I am sorely mistaken as to what services a Financial Advisor provides, or I am really bad at finding good financial advisors. After all, what I am after is investing advice, wealth creation and personal finance advice. I think I will stick to online blogs and reading books from now on.

 

Any advice for the really quite clueless person? Would love to hear if you have found any use for Financial Advisors!

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Growing up – Let’s talk about money. (And my personal finance goals)

Source: www.andertoons.com

Growing up means taking on more responsibilities amongst other things. Gradually, you go from just worrying about how to spend your pocket money, to making sure that all your bills are paid. And from there, you start trying to figure out how to save up enough money to fund your retirement.

But how exactly are we thought to deal with money? From young, I was told “You need to save.” And while that is a sound advice, I’m starting to realise that saving is not the only way to wealth. Hell, it’s not even the best way. For the longest time, I thought hard work was the best way forward. And boy did I hustle. I was forever coming up with new business ideas, trying to buy low, sell high. It took me around 10 years to realise that while it was a viable income strategy, it was a fairly lousy wealth strategy.

So here I am, at the ripe old age of 32, greatly regretting my 20s. Not that I spent my 20s partying, but rather because I had no interest, no knowledge and no wisdom to look ahead, to learn about the world of investing, to learn about compound interest and even worse, always thought that “the stock market is not for me.” But hopefully, it is not too late.

I did a fair bit of reading before I got started on any sort of strategy plan. It was actually Scott Pape’s book The Barefoot Investor that really got my fire going. Suddenly, it seemed achievable! I was tired of living pay cheque to pay cheque with barely any savings. What in the world was going on? My income is definitely not within the low-income classification, so how come I can’t seem to get ahead when I’m not even spending that much? (I did track.)

It’s still early days, but patience is a virtue. I have put Scott’s advice into action (with some modification) and am now trying to learn as much as I can about investing while I am saving my pennies. Meanwhile, here are my Personal Finance Goals for the near foreseeable future.

BKLA: Personal Finance Goals v1.0

1. Short term goal: To cut spending.

Let’s face it. I was a spendthrift in my 20s. I would have way more savings to boast of now if not for that fact. But we all make mistakes. Mine was not realising that investing for everybody and how compound interest was powerful. Never mind. My goal for the next foreseeable future is to cut down the splurging. So by that I mean anything that is a non-necessity like groceries. I will track it here monthly so you can see how I went!

2. Mid term goal: 3 months of emergency funds

Ideally, I want 12 months. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. I have no debt barring mortgage, so I really should be building this up. I do have income protection insurance and all the other grown-up insurances, but you can never be too sure, right? I do think that before I started on this whole personal finance journey, this was the part causing me the most anxiety – not having an emergency fund.

3. Long term goal: To pay out my mortgage within 20 years.

My loan term is 30 years. I’m aiming for 20 years, less if possible. By doing so, it would save me around 75k in total, so the incentive is definitely there!

 

For v1.0, I think that’s enough. It’s hard to bring it back to basics and only list 3 main goals, but I think I need to focus, and not spread myself too thin. Let’s see how I go!

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Why the name?

I’ve often pondered about the fact that I am a 32 year old adult, and yet I feel like a child still. When exactly do we ever feel like an adult? Truthfully, I just feel like a big kid with more responsibilities.

Do we really feel like an adult when we turn the legal age of 18 or 21, depending on your location?

Or perhaps it’s when we get our first full time job?

Or our first utility bill?

Growing up seems like such a wonderful thing when you are young.

“I will be an astronaut when I grow up!”

But when exactly is that? When exactly do we grow up? Or perhaps it is when we have a young life that we are then responsible for? Is that when we grow up?

So this is why I have named this blog such. Other than wanting the freedom to write, I also wanted to document my own journey of growing up. What is it that defines growing up, adulthood or perhaps it’s just adult-ish?

 

 

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On internet anonymity.

The good thing about restarting your blogging journey, is that it can be as fresh a start as you want it to be. Do you want complete anonymity, or will you use your current social media accounts that have your face and identity clear as day linked with a blog that will house the pourings of your soul?

I have actually chosen the mid-ground. I did announce to a select few that I was returning to the blogging world, but I have chosen to keep my name and face off this blog. So for those who do know me in real life, my name is Pia. Haha!

But why the anonymity? I already know the arguments against anonymity. From things like accountability, to you will never be able to keep it a secret for long, it’s the internet after all…. there are many reasons as to why bloggers these days have their face front and center of their blogs and do not write under a pseudonym.

There is but one word that explains it:

Freedom

The freedom to write about anything I want, where nothing is taboo. I don’t mean writing up controversial blogposts and mouthing off irresponsibly but instead, to be able to write up posts with regards to personal finance, true and honest opinions on world issues, and not suffer through the judgemental looks in real life. There is, however, a difference between freedom of speech and just being a troll so if you do think that at some point I start to grow a gnarly skin and emit a strange green hue, then do feel free to tell me so.

I don’t know how long this yearn for anonymity will last. I do tend to trip myself up so we will see.

 

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Staycations, a mental detox.

There is a certain serenity when you first step into a hotel room. The quiet surroundings that bask in warm yellow light, overflowing from the bedside lamps. If only the walls could talk, the stories they could tell of the travellers that had came before us…

I didn’t believe in staycations. I used to shake my head and question why people would pay good money to stay in a hotel in their own city where their own bed resided. I never thought I’d become one of them.

As it turns out, staycations are a great way to detox mentally without the actual physical stress of travelling. Our homes are sometimes the most stressful place. While it is the place I feel most at ease, it is also the place that reminds me constantly of all the chores and errands I still need to do. Taking a mere 18 hours away from real life, checking into a hotel and spending the night relaxing into the arms of a loved one… the mental reset it affords me is worth the price tag it comes with. (Or hunt for a good package deal, which is the other good thing about staycations, you can wait for a good deal to come around.)

While not everybody’s cup of tea (and it certainly wasn’t mine even a mere 3 years ago.) I have come to appreciate it and indulge in a staycation once in a blue moon. The older I get, the more I realise the importance of mental health and if that means removing myself from the source of stresses, then so be it. It can also be a great way to reconnect with your partner. I know that taking my husband away from all the screens and devices is vital for both of our health, be it physical or mental!

As of current, my favourite Adelaide hotel is Crowne Plaza. (I have also stayed at Hilton hotel: very old and dated, Intercontinental: again with the dated look but somewhat better than Hilton, unimpressive breakfast selection, Stamford Plaza: simple and functional rooms, but really ordinary breakfast.) I have my eye on Mayfair Hotel though – praying for a good package deal!

 

 

 

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A fresh beginning

We all deserve fresh beginnings. It’s been awhile since I last wrote, a long while since I last enjoyed my written words. I have missed it dreadfully.

Like a flower emerging shyly from its bud, I am stretching my creative pen once more with a wildly beating heart. What will we write about? The possibility is endless. I do not know where this journey will take me as my interests and passions are wide and varied, but what I do know for sure is that I will never again be caught up in the rat race. I will never be caught up again in the blinding lights that call and beckon. That bitter word popular that always seem to taste so sweet when you chase after it for a taste. Never again.

I will admit my mistake.

And learn from it.

 

And that’s why we are here. With a fresh beginning.

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