How to save money in your late 20s.

One of my big resolutions in 2014 is to have my targeted saving come true.

I was not a saver when young. I bought things (some even expensive things) based on my wants more than my needs. I wish someone could’ve taught me the word ‘discipline’ instead of just telling me to stop doing this and that. I have chronic case of wanderlust, so traveling is absolutely one thing that I couldn’t and wouldn’t skimp on. But to make it fair, I almost never took a repeating trip eversince I started my traveling journey – cos my goal is to see and learn new things.

From my first paycheque up till today (6 years that is), I’ve taken trips to Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia, The Philippines, Indonesia (overland Java – Lombok), Hong Kong, Japan, Europe and have moved around in 4 countries including opening up a business. So how much saving do I have? Go figure.

They say it’s never too late or too young to start saving. I guess I’m just right in between when I already have most of my travel dreams came true (err.. not true actually! the more you travel the more you wanna travel! but!!). Anyhow, here are some of my 10 tips to save money. Not to say I’m an expert, heck i’m far from one, but I hope you can find it useful.

This post is somewhat inspired by this writing.

10 Tips To Save Money ala Me!

  1. Buy something only because you really need them, not because “who knows if I’ll need it in the future?”, or “but it’s on sale!”. Why spend money when you could’ve not spent it.
  2. But reward yourself with something you’ve yearned for once in a while. For example, for being able to save $100 a month?
  3. Invest, invest, invest! There are many ways to invest, including buying high-quality stuffs that last really long time. For example, rather than buying several mediocre cheap lipgloss-es, buy 1 Chanel Allure lipgloss (oops! obsession revealed!)
  4. But of course there are many other ways to properly invest – gold, mutual funds or stocks. Start small, now you can buy even 1 gram of gold online anytime you like. Before you know it, by the end of the year you could’ve had a virtual goldmine :D
  5. Take care of your health. Drink mineral water, eat whole food, rest well, take it easy, and lastly, exercise. If ‘exercise’ makes you shudder, it’s no different from what I’m experiencing. But i’ve tried my best to take my dogs out for walk at least 2km a day. And if you’re worried about gym budget, you can always look up for ‘short exercise at home’ on YouTube. Why? Because it costs more when you’re sick. 
  6. Prioritize, prioritize, prioritize. Some people prioritize their study, while some other prioritize their family, or parents’ healthcare. Write them down in one piece of paper and plant that in your memory each time before you start spending money.
  7. Homecooked leftovers VS processed food? Of course homecooked leftovers! Not only it helps you save by cooking, but it guarantees you health. I’m gonna touch on “homecooked food” topic in the next posts.
  8. Cook whenever possible, even if it’s just simple stir-fries. Cooking is just one of the basic skills all people have, just like singing or drawing. It trains you to be confident and reward you with self fulfillment.
  9. DIY if there’s an option. Not only most of the times it cost cheaper, but the satisfaction that it offers is often times beyond measure.
  10. Why do you need to save money? Because nobody ever knows what tomorrow can bring.

Don’t know what to do in life?

Oh well who hasn’t been there? Wandering lost in a huge circle of life being intimidated of not knowing what to do with it? Can’t have it all figured out? Sounds familiar? I’m so glad I chanced upon this post on Facebook.

As soon as I posted it many of friends started sharing it. I guess it’s something very familiar for almost everyone. Including myself.

Let me share with you my story of how I finally found my soul in what I’m currently doing after 7 years of crying and sweating being in something I didn’t like. I took up Graphic Design/Advertising back in college and graduated with a BA. After that I worked my ass off (though I didn’t know why) prettifying my resume to get a job. Well so I finally managed to land some decent jobs at advertising agencies and I stayed for a good 3 years doing those. Needless to say, I was not that very happy while at it, there were moments I shed tears in the train. When Sunday evenings came, i would start to sweat it and when Monday mornings eventually came, I would instantly turn very sad while parting ways with the boyfriend in the MRT (back in Singapore, at that time). Actually the companies I worked for weren’t all that bad (except for one of them!). I maintained good relationships with my ex-colleagues and even bosses up till now. It’s just that, I didn’t feel accomplished while doing the jobs. Like something’s missing. Like I was meant for something more.

Unlike my friends who still stay in the industry, I really didn’t get why I should stay till late to do up something for other people’s advertisements. So what if your logo is not big enough or too big? So what if the green you’re using is only 98% accurate to what your company policy says?

Thank God I found baking. It was a remedy for me back then, eventhough most of my trials failed. Then one day after my frustration piled up, I decided to pursue for something totally different. “I like cooking, I like eating. I even have a blog about it. Maybe I should try and see how I fit in the baking business.” i said to myself, with the mentality that even if I failed, I still had Advertising as my last resort. As soon as weekend came I started searching for baker jobs across the country. How to look for a job when you have no experience at all? Being a foreigner and zero background in the F&B industry only made me look like a loony. I was rejected pretty much everywhere, face-to-face, via emails, via phones, you name it. But one day there’s this international-chain restaurant that replied to me with a good news. I went for a trial and they loved me! Based on my performance, they even almost sent me to Europe for training! Though lasted only half a year before i moved country, I really enjoyed that job of mine despite the 12-hour working hours daily and much lower salary compared to Advertising. From there on, I slowly built my confidence and finally managed to run a baking business for almost 2 years now. And I haven’t been any happier every day.

It wasn’t a walk in a park at all, especially when I came out to my folks about it. From a prestigious office job to a junior baker job in the kitchen? You’ve gotta be kidding! Where did our money of funding you for university go to? It definitely wasn’t easy explaining the ‘why’s to people, ‘coz not everyone can accept the concept of ‘passion’. When I first ran my business, I also got the same look-me-down gaze, but I just gotta shrug it off. It wasn’t till publicities about my business came out that people started to consider what I’m doing is real deal.

And now, I’m almost 28. While most of my friends have probably earned way much more than I do, I’m still here, struggling to magnify my dreams. But, people, I’m happy. I was shortlisted to work for Google before. I doubt if I could be as happy if I really worked for them.

Your past or background doesn’t have to imitate who you are. And the people around you don’t have the rights to say anything about your future, not even your parents. Every day I still have to remind myself why I’m doing what i’m doing, because otherwise no one else would. I haven’t reached my ultimate goal with my business, and I always have to remind myself to work harder. It’s okay to not have any backgrounds, you just gotta have the gut and real reasons of doing it. And it definitely is okay to have made wrong decisions in life. Make a u-turn, and go elsewhere. You’re never too old to dream.

I hope my simple story has helped you if you’re ever as lost as I was. :)

It’s always better homemade.

I’ve been missing my grandma a lot, especially since she left us forever in August last year. She’s just so fun to be with, and being with her I wouldn’t ever have to worry about my stomach. It’s always filled with good food. The matriarchy in the kitchen department of my family has always been strong, and I’m so glad that I chose to carry on what I’m doing.

This homemade burger was made a long time ago for my beau and I. I hope I can carry on home cooking our food till the rest of our lives.

No-fancy homemade burger: homemade pork patty inside lightly toasted burger buns, roasted potato wedges with salt, pepper & herbs, & little basic green salad on the side. 

Happy Monday

Monday is usually the day where everyone in the lab feels lethargic and sore from what’s apparently not a very happening weekend either (:P). Usually we leave work earlier with some sunshine still left outside the window.

The weather again hasn’t been very pleasant. One minute it’s hot, and then pour like nobody’s business, definitely not the perfect weather to macaronnage (the crucial process of making macarons). At days like this, I just wanna stay home and binge on mango crostatas.

Today I made Kasutera, a Japanese spongecake that involves lots of tears in making it. Unlike the western counterparts, kasutera requires no butter nor margarine nor oil, BUT 1 hour of whisking the eggs with hands. That’s right, manual baby. And unlike any other cakes, this cake should be chilled while still warm to maintain moisture. I so can’t wait how it’ll turn out, right now they’re still cooling down in the chiller.

Chocolate chip with roasted pistachios & smoked sea salt. Totally an adult cookie. Coming right up in our menu.

Toblerone

The heat in Jakarta was unbearable today. But amongst many other unpleasant things, this toblerone of 400gr was offered by a nice girl friend. When people throw lemon at you, you make lemonade, well I’m gonna make some toblerone cheesecake weeeheeeee!

On a happier note, I just got Mary’s Pastry Lab registered for a bazaar that’s taking place in May. :) More details to come.

may you have an éclair day!

One that oozes sudden happiness each time you bite into it. Your bedroom that’s filled with shy sun ray as you wake up, a cup of warm cappuccino and breakfast someone lovingly makes for you.

After much deliberation, I’ve finally decided to give my long-lost love for blogging & photography another go. I used to be a solid writer in class. I love to get all moody and plunge into a pool full of alphabets. Recently I’ve found great joy in editing pictures, sort of a stress breaker… anyway. May you have an éclair day, just like what we all did in the lab today!

What morning is made of.

A perfect morning to me is one that you can wake up to with 1 spare hour spent doing nothing but reading, preparing breakfast, or just listening to music. :)

Strawberry Scones in the afternoon

Summer… forever it will remind me of strawberries. In my previous gig during summertime, we made everything with strawberries and put it on the menu – strawberry shortcake, strawberry crepe, strawberry pizza, strawberry shake, strawberry anything. Fun time.

It’s a shame that strawberry here isn’t as nice as those in the western hemisphere. It’s sour and tends to have darker shade of red, which doesn’t make pictures look too great. LOL. But I think I’m already a convert, when it’s summer, I just have to make something with strawberries. Hence, this strawberry scones. Oh, have I told you that scone is forever my comforting staple food?

fresh out of the oven

going into the oven

Don’t you just love golden hour?

Strawberry Scones recipe

  • 1 cup strawberries
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1.5 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup butter cold & cubed
  • 2/3 cup half-and-half
  • 1 egg
  1. Sift together all the dry ingredients (sugar, flour, baking powder, salt)
  2. Lightly whisk egg and mix into half-and-half
  3. Rub butter into the dry ingredients till it forms a coarse meal
  4. Mix in the wet ingredients, knead for about 20 times on a floured surface
  5. Chill in the fridge if it already gets mushy, for about 20 mins.
  6. Take the dough out and roll it to 1cm of thickness
  7. Spread the strawberries on top of half of the rolled dough
  8. Fold the other half dough on top of the strawberry and seal the side
  9. Chill for another half an hour and cut it into your desired shapes
  10. Spread some sugar on top of the dough and bake for 15-20minutes at 200˚C
  11. Enjoy it with clotted cream or whipped cream, or like me, with my 3 months old doxie on my lap. He’s precious.

This post is part of the 2LC Challenge:

Egg in the middle of the toast

It’s been long since I last made a proper breakfast. This morning as I woke up, my acute love for egg just kicked in. That, with a toast. Or that, with a fried noodle. Or that, with only soy sauce and white pepper. Yums… and then I decided.

Egg in the middle of the toast. How perfect with those crusts on the side and runny egg in the center…

This is how to make one.

Too easy no? Shred some cheese on top, or cut some slice of sausages. Perfection.

Have a nice day y’all. Oh, have you checked out my online cake shop in Jakarta? ‘Cos that’s the main reason I’d been away… but now i’m back. =)

Opera Cake, who are the lucky ones?

As I said before, I’d give out FREE samples every now and then on this blog. I feel happy when I can share. So for this time, residents in Jakarta are having some luck. I’m sharing out a fresh homemade Opera cake. Many might have not known what’s an Opera cake. It’s a delicate French cake made of Joconde (almond sponge) soaked in coffee syrup, slathered with coffee buttercream and chocolate ganache.

Here’s what mine looks like.

Lovingly made of pure almond, slathered with pure espresso buttercream and 70% dark chocolate. Garnished with 23-carat edible gold leaf. Wow. I can’t believe i’m giving this out rather than secretly munching on it in my room. Hehe…

I’m looking for 3 lucky Jakarta residents, preferably located in the Central or South… They’ll each get 2 slices of this cake, with FREE delivery too!  Yums away!! Any ‘Like’ on my Facebook page will be much appreciated, or any RT on Twitter, or any follow on Instagram (maryspastrylab). Haha!