Moving to university is an exciting time- meeting new friends, experiencing new things and for most, living on your own for the first time. Whilst this may seem like a dauting new venture, it doesn’t have to be! Living away from home is an incredibly rewarding experience, when you can be your own self and learn life skills and become responsible. However, living away from your family comes with a lot of challenges; particularly money. If you’re wondering how to cope on your own handling your own finances, here’s my Top 5 Money Hacks For Students!
Create A Budget
I’ll get the boring one (but the most important one) out the way first. Calculate your income for the year (or term if this is easier to calculate). This means adding up all your student loans, grants, bursaries and part-time job salary (if you have one). Then estimate your fixed expenses, like your rent or student housing, books, bills and groceries.
Try and estimate what you have leftover. If you have a surplus, set aside a portion of this (maybe 20%) for entertainment & travel (university trips and holidays are a great way to bond with uni friends!) and the rest you can save for future needs.
2. Join The Student Union
The Student Union (SU) is a great place to have fun on a budget! Join a club or society for a small fee and these clubs will organise events all throughout the year. Most of these clubs have a budget set aside for these members’ events…minimising the cost for you! They’ll be movie nights, sports events, quizzes and maybe even meals at the SU for you to attend! *Bonus tip- food at the SU tends to be a lot lot cheaper than going to other pubs or restaurants.
3. Do A Big Shop
Studies have shown that doing a grocery shop once or twice a month is a lot more cost-efficient than once a week. But, how do you do this effectively, without over buying? First, write a list; try to include a lot of dry items that you can use for multiple meals, such as rice and pasta. I’d also recommend including tinned ingredients to your list, such as tinned tomatoes and different pulses and beans. These can be the base for many meals, such as pasta sauces, chilli or curry. Secondly, buy frozen vegetables or items that can be kept for a long time in the fridge or freezer. This minimises the chance of your food going off and you wasting good raw ingredients. Check your cupboards and fridges before your shop, whilst making your list, to avoid duplicating anything. And of course, shopping in large supermarkets is a lot cheaper than shopping at corner shops or convenience stores. Try and shop at these places as little as possible, unless you run out of milk or loo roll!
4. Be Conscious Of Your Electricity & Gas
I wish someone would have told me how expensive gas and electricity was! To minimise my bills, I seldom turned on the heating (blankets in student accommodation and cosy pyjamas are a must!), and make sure that lights are switched off when you’re not using them. It sounds like a pain but it really does help keep your energy bills down.
5. Second-Hand Is Awesome!
Especially for books! I remember my first week of university, I was told I needed to buy a specific biology textbook. I went straight to my local bookstore and bought a brand new one for a whopping £60! I used the textbook twice my whole university studies…a lot of my classmates bought the textbook second-hand for about 20 quid! From then on, I stuck to buying all my textbooks on eBay; it really saved me a lot of money.
These five tips are simple, but if implemented well, can save you a lot of money at university! Remember, having fun doesn’t mean having to spend a lot of money!
Every year, Mercer rank the world’s most expensive cities to live in; the criterium is based off of things like rent, transportation costs and food. This year we’ve had a lot of volatility in the economy, exacerbated by the war, inflation rate and interest rate hikes. So, how did this affect the listings this year? Let’s take a closer look:
Beijing is still a lot more affordable than the other cities on this list, but the main reason it has become increasingly more expensive is due to its population size. The city’s increasing population has caused rental prices to double over the past ten years.
Tokyo is in this list year after year. Japan in general is a country with high cost of living expenses, such as rent, owning a car and transport in general.
Here we are, Singapore. No one is shocked to this here- over the past year rental prices have shot up astronomically and the lack of land will always mean that property purchase is expensive in comparison to other countries. Speaking from personal experience, going out for food and drinks can be particularly expensive, taxis, whilst cheaper than the UK, have increased over the past year and we all know owning a car is pricey in Singapore.
7. New York City
NY has always been more expensive than other places in the US, particularly rent. If you haven’t read my article, ‘Sex and The City, and Broke’, please do! I have always been baffled by how people on low to mid salaries can live comfortably in this city
8. Tel Aviv
A common theme on this list is rental; this seems to be the main reason cities land here, and the same goes for Tel Aviv. Whilst the city has a tonne of stuff to do for tourists, including bars and restaurants, this comes with a price tag. This means that rent for a one-bed, on average, is about 1725 USD a month!
We’re getting to the part of the list now where most of the cities are in Switzerland. A week-long holiday to the capital city would cost a family of four approximately $6000!
This city has a great art and history scene; Switzerland’s oldest university city is home to beautiful modern architecture and the world’s biggest art fair. This comes with a whopping price tag of living expenses of approximately $3000 a month.
Similar to the previous Swiss city on this list, living in the luxury city of Geneva would cost you approximately $3500 a month. Very pricey!
The financial capital of Switzerland sits at the second spot. It’s the most expensive Swiss city to rent, and the city itself is choc a block full of high shopping and decadent restaurants, so it’s very difficult to escape the high cost of living in Zurich.
1. Hong Kong
Are we shocked? HK has over 7 million people living in the city, meaning that the demand for housing is incredibly high. Not only that, food, transport and nightlife is also very expensive in Hong Kong. One thing I will always remember is watching a documentary showing people in HK living in literal cages, with a bed, TV and all their stuff. These types of housing have a shared bathroom and small kitchenette and can cost about 500 USD a month! That’s so expensive for such a small, cramped space.
In my opinion, I’m not shocked that the vast majority of these cities are European (40% of this list are in Switzerland!) and I’m actually surprised that London wasn’t now in the top 10 (it’s 15th). I did think that where we live, Singapore, would be higher because of the high cost of alcohol & rental, but I guess our lower taxes and the fact that the government are able to stop inflation and utility bills from getting out of control helps. All in all, this list is very useful when it comes to someone making a decision to move overseas.
Did this list shock you? Is your city an expensive place to live?
I wanted to write this article because I’ve been seeing lots of posts on Instagram (mostly) of influencers promoting different investments, often suggesting they have made a lot of money using them (and it’s mostly involving crypto), and I have a problem with that.
Social media influencers have boomed in the past few years and, what was once a farfetched and trivial job is now a very feasible full-time career that many are choosing to pursue. People can now make a living by posting review video and content…especially if those reviews are sponsored. A recent study showed that 37% trust the opinion of social media influencers over brands, with Gen Z and Millennials twice as more likely to trust influencers over Boomers. I think that this statistic isn’t shocking or dangerous overall; watching reviews of products you are thinking of buying is a good way of practising your own due diligence. But it’s when paid promotions of investments start cropping up where it becomes an issue.
Speculation is a term used in investing, whereby groups of people try to guess how a trend, portfolio, or stock will perform in the future, normally with just surface-level knowledge or research. This investment strategy is very risky and can be a factor to why monumental crashes (like the Great Depression) happen. If you watch any influencer’s video that is promoting a particular investment, trading platform, NFT or cryptocurrency, you will start to notice speculation. They will start hyping the investment up, usually stating that it has earned them X amount of money in a short period of time, or make bold claims that it will continue to grow, despite market conditions being down. This is incredibly dangerous for young, impressionable consumers, who trust whatever product these influencers are selling.
The truth is, yes, these investments have probably made these influencers money…because they have been paid to talk about it. It is highly unlikely that they themselves invest or trade the product they are pushing, on a regular basis. Or worse, they may be using a pump and dump method; whereby them hyping up the investment may make lots of people buy, and drive prices higher. They then have the opportunity to cash out, making money for themselves but making the stock crash, leaving you, the consumer, sat with a bad investment that’s lost you money.
Believing these kind of posts and videos are so dangerous because usually the influencer does not have enough knowledge to be promoting such a product. These products are normally a lot riskier than most people’s risk appetites, and the influencer is probably unaware of all the fine print. In all honesty, the only people that should be giving advice on financial services are licensed professionals, and even then, it is not a one-size-fits-all situation. A doctor wouldn’t go on YouTube and tell everyone to start taking antibiotics, regardless of whether they are sick or not. The same goes for a financial advisor. Any videos giving financial advice should be taken with a pinch of salt; not everyone’s finances are going to be planned the same way and not everyone is going to be investing in the same thing. Investing should be tailor made to the individual, based on goals, time frame, budget and risk appetite.
Of course, I’m not saying that any social media influencer that posts this sort of stuff is a bad person (everyone needs to get paid), but be cautious when you watch people pushing investment strategies that they are probably not implementing themselves. If in doubt, always ask a professional.
We have a long weekend! So, I thought I would do a quick post on fun activities you can do with the whole family! Hopefully you can check these out and have a great time.
This indoor playground is perfect for kids- it’s Pororo themed and has a wide range of attractions such as rides, a sensory digging pit, a ball pool and a jungle gym! I’m sure the kids will love the small train that takes you around the park and the little theatre. There’s even a toddler’s area for smaller kids.
Airzone is a suspended play area inside City Square Mall. It covers 4 floors and has slides to connect each level. This is great for kids and parents; you can walk across the nets in giant inflatable balls, swim around in the suspended ball pit and explore the 3D maze. A great day out for all that’s sure to leave you worn out by the end of the day!
Marine Cove Playground
If you want a day outdoors, you can head down to East Coast Park and enjoy the scenery, rent a bike or check out the Marine Cove Playground. This fairly new playground is sure to keep kids entertained, with its many climbing frames and slides.
Located in Orchard, this indoor trampoline park is sure to be a fantastic weekend activity! On top of pretty much the whole floor being trampolines, they have a climbing wall, dunking nets and a dodgeball battlefield! Not only is this great for kids, this is sure to bring out your inner child for the day.
Jacob Ballas Children’s Garden
Jacob Ballas Children’s Garden is a children’s garden in the Singapore Botanic Gardens. Named after Joseph Ballas, the garden was the first children’s garden in Asia. Bring your family closer to nature and educate them about plants and the environment. The Garden offers children a space for exploration, adventure and play, with a farm, an orchard, and a forest with its own stream and ponds. A tranquil and peaceful day out.
Super by name, super by nature! This modern complex in Suntec City has tube slides, pedal cars and obstacle courses. Think Takeshi’s Castle, Ninja Warrior and The Floor Is Lava all rolled into one…. but safe and child-friendly. There’s even a skate park and a street basketball arena! For those brave enough there’s even a flying fox zipline!
Singapore has plenty of great places for families, but I hope these give you some ideas for fun new activities. Happy long weekend!
There have been some new updates to Integrated Shield Plans (hospital insurance) in Singapore you need to know about. The MediShield Life Council reported that spending on cancer drugs has been increasing by 20% a year; a stark contrast to the 6% spending increase for other drugs. To curb these rising costs, MOH has come up with a Cancer Drug List.
The Cancer Drug List contains drugs that are effective and cost-efficient drugs and treatments that insurance companies will cover. If the drug is effective but not cost-effective, insurance will not cover it. Not only this, even if the drug is very cheap, but does not improve the cancer treatment, insurers won’t cover.
Those with Integrated Shield Plans, will not allowed to be covered for treatment not on the list, even if they are still on treatment. Although this sounds very daunting, MOH has stated that close to 90% of current cancer drugs and treatment in Singapore are on this list.
While this isn’t ideal, and of course may affect many people, it does mean that your insurance premiums won’t skyrocket up and up each year. Medical inflation is already very high in Singapore; this is one way the government are stepping in to stop it from going out of hand.
But what does this mean for insurance moving forward? I would strongly suggest adding a cancer coverage to your portfolio, to cover the shortfall of possibly having to pay for a drug not on the Cancer Drug List. Receiving a lump-sum payment can help pay for monthly cancer drug expenses, which can be approximately $2,300 a month.
I’ve been living in Singapore for about four years now, and whilst I’m very grateful for my life here and I’ve adapted well, there are some things that I wish people would have told me as a first-time expat! I feel like if I could go back in time and tell myself these tips, my integration would have been a lot easier and smoother.
Co-living Condos Exist!
When I moved to Singapore, I knew no-one. I heavily relied on my work colleagues when it came to hanging out and making friends, which of course was great, but it didn’t help much in terms of expanding my circle of hanging out with many locals. I really wish that someone had told me about Figment or Hamlet properties; that way I would have moved into a co-share apartment with like-minded people and I could have met new friends that way.
I also wish I knew this when I first arrived so it would have made my renting experience a lot better. When I first arrived in Singapore, my employers put me up in a hotel for a week and in that time, I had to find an apartment and move out. If I had known about co-living, this would have been no problem. However, instead my employers only told me about certain rental websites and Facebook groups. I ended up renting from someone who claimed to be a ‘landlord’. I am now fully aware that this was an illegal sub-let, with no proper contract and the experience almost becoming unbearable. My ‘landlord’ installed CCTV without making me aware, would often move my laundry and keep it in his own room, and would constantly act inappropriate towards me, even though he had a wife. Had I have rented somewhere with good agents that were used to short-term rentals for expats, I’m sure I would have had a much better experience.
No Alcohol Past 10:30!
In a bid to minimise public disorder, Singapore doesn’t allow you to purchase alcohol in a shop past 10:30pm. This was even before Covid! I remember madly rushing to 7/11 to buy a final bottle before the time is up! Yes you can still buy alcohol in bars, but if you’re hanging out at home, it’s best to stock up before 10:30!
Join Facebook Groups!
Going back to what I previously said, I wish that I’d have put more effort into making friends outside of work when I arrived. I feel like in the UK, not as many people use Facebook anymore. But here in Singapore, Facebook groups are awesome for meeting new friends and joining groups full of likeminded people. Of course, it’s sometimes hit or miss who you end up meeting, but still it’s a great way to get yourself out there.
Which Hawkers Are Good!
There’s not just Newton Food Centre or Lau Pa Sat! There are so many other good hawker centres across Singapore with delicious food you may never have tried before! Check out my two articles about Hawkers For Expats for some great ideas and cool places that you can check out.
Avoid Over-Priced ‘Expat’ Brands!
Might be a controversial one, but there are so many companies that market themselves purely to expats just so they can jack up the price. I was recommended a few of these places when I first arrived to Singapore and I slowly realised that are a lot more local shops that you can get your hair, nails, alterations, anything done at a local shop that won’t cost you a fortune!
What I Should Have Brought Over from the UK!
There’s a lot of super weird things in Singapore that are expensive for no reason, and if I’d have known, I would have brought it over from home. I found that bedsheets, towels, toiletries and tanning products were super expensive here. All of these things I could have gotten really cheap from back at home and brought over with me. Especially tanning oil, that absolutely pains me to pay what they charge here when I could have gotten it cheaper from Home Bargains.
Hopefully this can help some new expats who come to Singapore with a few helpful tips!
With travel restrictions opening up and it being easier to travel, you might be overwhelmed with how to kickstart your travel bug again! You may be worried that travel is now incredibly expensive post pandemic, but fear not! I have some travel tips for you so that you can successfully travel on a shoestring.
Of course, all travel planning starts with buying the ticket. You may think this is the most expensive part of the trip, so here are some ways you can save on ticket prices.
First of all, always check the flights in Incognito mode. Those cookies are going to track all your searches for flights otherwise and jack up the prices. I often find that using price comparison sites such as Sky Scanner, means that I get the cheapest flight possible, even cheaper than booking directly through the airline! One thing I really like about these travel comparison websites, and it’s even possible to do through Google is a price alert. Here, you input your email address, and the website will alert you any time the price goes up or down. This way you can try and get an even cheaper price. Some days of the week tend to be cheaper than others, monitor your alerts and see what works best.
Flying direct can often work out quite a fair bit more expensive than if you have any connecting flights. Whilst connecting flight might be a bit of a pain, they could save you hundreds of dollars off your tickets. If you don’t mind, and are travelling through countries with multiple cities and airports, consider connecting flights to save a bit of cash.
Here’s an idea, if you’re not sure where you want to travel to, but you still want to travel on a budget you can use comparison websites or Google to search for flights, and choose the starting location of Singapore. In the destination you can choose anywhere, and search for price lowest to highest. That way, if you’d like to try something new and exciting, you can make sure that it’s within your budget!
Do take note of travel restrictions, some countries have completely dropped all of their Covid restrictions, such as the UK. Whereas some countries, like Hong Kong or Macau, have still got very strict rules implemented. This may mean further costs for you. If you want to save on swab tests, you can choose a country that has a little bit more lenient restrictions.
Next, I want to talk about preparation. Fail to prepare, prepare to fail! There are some things that you can do that will minimise your spending costs whilst you are on holiday. Of course, the most important thing is to make sure that your passport is still valid. Generally, you can only travel if you have at least six months validity left on your passport. At the moment, after the pandemic, there is quite a backlog on renewing your passport, so make sure to get this sorted quickly!
When it comes to currency, there are a couple of great hacks that I frequently use whilst travelling, to make sure that I don’t get ripped off with exchange rates. First of all, change your currency in Singapore before you leave on your travels, avoid changing your Singapore dollars in your travel destination country, as this exchange rate will not be favourable to you. Lots of currency exchanges overseas choose their own rights of exchange, and can often take advantage of unsuspecting tourists.
You may have heard people say that if you travel to anywhere in Southeast Asia or South America, you can use US dollars as your spending money. Respectively, you can use euros in any non-EU country in Europe. I would strongly discourage listening to this advice. Yes, it is easier for you to carry one currency, and you can definitely use those currencies abroad, but unless you are going to America or somewhere in the EU, other countries that use these currencies can massively rip you off. Because it is inconvenient for them to hold onto this foreign currency, the exchange rate is normally very much at a disadvantage to you, meaning that you are paying a premium just for the convenience of having one type of currency with you. In my opinion, this is not worth it. For example, when I was in Laos, I only had Thai Baht with me. It was accepted in all shops and restaurants, but when I converted back into dollars, I realised that it was a lot more economical for me if I just changed into Laos Kip instead, I saved a lot more money this way.
If you ever get stuck and have run out of cash whilst in a foreign country, it’s always a good idea to have an international bankcard to hand. Most ATMs abroad will charge you for withdrawing using a foreign bank card, so if you use your DBS card overseas, you could be charged a fortune! I use a Monzo international bankcard, it is linked to my UK bank account, but I can withdraw from any ATM overseas and will not be charged. There are similar companies that you can get a bank card from in Singapore like Revolut or Wise, these cards are so handy to have a new, and work by topping up from your main bank account. I think this is great because if you keep your bank account on these cards quite low, it’s not so risky if you lose them overseas. They also come with very useful apps that you can access with ease, meaning if you lose your card whilst on holiday, you can freeze it without having to visit a bank branch or calling an international hotline.
Speaking of hot lines, a lot of people will often buy a Sim card in the country that they are visiting, and use that for the duration of their holiday. Instead of doing this, I recommend renting a Wi-Fi box. This little portable device comes with you during your whole trip, and works almost like a little router. You can connect multiple devices to it, so if you are travelling in a group you don’t need to rent more than one! This works out to be a lot more cost-effective than everyone buying their own Sim card. And I don’t know about you, but I feel a nervy taking out my Sim card whilst I’m abroad, it would be just my luck that I would lose it!
Of course, nowadays, we need a lot more extra paperwork then we previously did when travelling. So, from my experience, I would say it’s best to have all these documents, such as your vaccine certificate to be notarised and printed out when you travel. Most airlines will except soft copies on your phone, but I always think it’s best to carry a hard copy in case your phone battery runs out or you have no signal. Generally, you will need your vaccine certificate, boarding passes, proof of travel insurance with Covid coverage, and a passenger locator form for the country you are travelling to. You may also need to print out your proof of swab tests.
My final tip for preparation is a small one, but it can actually save you some money every time you travel. I would recommend bringing with you your own travel blanket, travel towel, and travel pillow. Reason being is that you can find these things very cheap in stores such as Mustafa‘s or even value stores across Singapore. A lot of airlines will charge you for using a blanket or a pillow, especially if you’re travelling on a budget airline like I often do to save money! Some hostels that you stay at might not even provide towels and things like this, so it’s always best to have your own. This means that you don’t have to keep re-purchasing every time you go abroad.
I want to tell you ways where you can save money during the itinerary of your trip.
Instead of hotels, hostels are of course a much cheaper option, and come with the added perks of meeting new people whilst you are travelling. If you don’t like the idea of sharing a room with strangers, most hostels will have private rooms available, that are still a lot cheaper than if you were to book a hotel. Something I love about hostels is that you can generally book a lot of trips and excursions through the front desk staff. They often have tie-ups with a lot of travel companies, meaning that your trips out and about maybe a lot cheaper than if you were to go and source for these things yourself. A lot of hostels I have travelled to also put on free events for the people staying there, like parties, quizzes, free drinks at the bar and different kinds of meet up activities. Not only is this a great way to meet like-minded people, but it also means that you can have very fun cheap night out or nights in at the hostel itself! Not only that, you may also meet people at the hostel that you decide to go travelling with further, enhancing your backpacking experience and meaning that you get to meet people from all walks of life.
Hostels may also be able to organise drivers and transportation for you, but if they don’t, try and find the local version of Grab or Uber and download these apps. This generally works out to be cheaper than hailing a cab, and in some countries is a lot safer as well. For example, when I lived in Vietnam, you could hire a Xe Om, or motorbike taxi from pretty much any corner. However, as soon as they noticed you were a foreigner, they would charge you triple the price of a local, and you may not feel 100% safe. At least with Uber and Grab, the motorbike fares were at a fixed rate and you were certain of your safety.
If you’re going to be travelling to multiple locations in the same country, or even cross country, like Europe, instead of booking flights in between each location, consider getting coaches or trains. These work out to be a lot cheaper and definitely an enriching backpacking experience. I would definitely recommend if you ever get the opportunity to do so, to take an overnight train to your next location. It’s definitely a memorable experience, with beautiful views and the chance to meet and mingle with locals. When I travelled around Myanmar, I got overnight coaches to most of my destinations. Even though the journeys were sometimes 16 hours, it was incredibly cheap, the locals travelling with you were super friendly, and included food. At the time I also thought it was great value for money because it saved me booking a hostel for that night.
Now that things are starting to feel like they used to, I hope this post can inspire you on your next trip. Enjoy travelling on a shoestring! Remember, it’s about the journey, not the final destination.
I don’t claim to be a health specialist, nor a doctor, nutritionist, or even one of the healthiest people around. However, due to the nature of my work, and having had a bit of a health scare before, I’ve embarked on a journey of trying to be a healthier person, who eats better, exercises more, and tries to educate herself on these topics. Through my research I’ve found that there is a lot of misinformation out there when it comes to health (hello TikTok pretending that lemon water cures all ailments). So, I thought I would debunk a few of these myths.
Myth: You Should Drink 8 Glasses of Water a Day
While drinking water is of course in no ways bad, as it helps with hydrating your body, prevents gallstones and is good for your skin, the idea of drinking 8 glasses a day is not scientifically supported. If you think about it logically, we don’t just get water and hydration from drinking plain water. Many fruits, vegetables and of course other drinks provide our bodies with the hydration it needs. So how do we know how much water to drink? Well, every individual is different, so simply drinking water when you feel thirsty is sufficient.
Myth: MSG Causes Cancer
This myth is actually fraught with racist stereotypes. Known as ‘Chinese Restaurant Syndrome’, many people reported feeling sluggish and unwell after eating food that contained MSG, and the public were led to believe that this ingredient was unhealthy, higher in sodium than normal salt, and even contained carcinogens. Research has found that the vast majority of people, even those claiming a sensitivity to MSG, don’t have any reaction when they don’t know they are eating it. Essentially, this myth was created out of people’s fear of ‘exotic food’. In actuality, unlike regular table salt, which is 40% sodium, MSG contains only 12% sodium, and is safe to eat- free from carcinogens.
Myth: Microwaves Zap Nutrients Out of Food
Another myth that has no scientific backing, many people believe that cooking with microwaves is a bad cooking method. While cooking microwavable TV dinners, I agree, has little to no nutritional value, using your microwave to heat up leftovers, or even steaming veggies, does not decrease the nutritional value. In fact, microwave cooking is actually a better way to retain vitamins and minerals as compared to other cooking methods, due to the fact that lesser nutrients are lost from shorter heat exposure, and the minimal amount of liquid needed for microwaving food simply stops nutrients from leaking out.
Myth: Diet Pills Don’t Make You Lose Weight
There are a lot of miracle products on the market. I admit that most don’t work, but unfortunately, many work so well, that they have lasting consequences. These fat burning pills can decrease your appetite, or speed up your metabolism, causing you to lose weight. The problem is that once you stop, all the weight will go back on, or even worse, you can end up heavier than when you started. This leads to a dependency on these products, and can cause nasty side effects, such as rapid heart rate and higher blood pressure. It’s best to just avoid these pills as a whole.
A funny thing to note is even these ‘natural’ pills have horrid side effects. I used to frequently take Sena tablets to help control my weight, but as soon as I stopped taking them, I had constant constipation and abdominal pain, to the point where it was difficult to move comfortably.
Myth: Drinking Through a Straw Stops Food Staining Your Teeth
Regrettably, drinking coffee through a straw doesn’t prevent coffee from staining your teeth. The only thing that will stop staining is not having a prolonged contact with coloured food, rinsing your mouth frequently and not drinking an excessive amount of tea and coffee.
There are so many more myths I stumbled upon, but that’s for another article! What are some health myths you’ve debunked?
Anyone that knows me, knows that I love The Simpsons; it’s probably my all-time favourite show, I quote it almost on a daily basis and Homer Simpson is probably my most loved character. He means well, he’s hilariously ignorant and he has some of the best dialogue in the show. Not only that, Homer seems to have the most blissful life- where in some episodes, money is a huge worry (Lisa needs braces, Santa’s Little Helper needing surgery, Homer and Bart conning people to pay for Homer’s broken car), this is always resolved by the end of the episode and for the most part, Homer enjoys a great lifestyle full of relaxing, eating and drinking and going on holiday. So how did Homer do it? How did Homer Simpson beat capitalism?
First, I’d like to discuss the Simpson’s house. 742 Evergreen Terrace is a pretty big home, with 4 bedrooms, a large garden, basement and attic. If you look at Homer’s annual salary (in Season 7 Homer opens the mailbox and complains that his pay is low) of $24,395 ($37,791.72 when adjusted for inflation), this doesn’t seem enough to run a large household with 3 kids on one salary. However, many people believe Springfield to be based on the Springfield in Oregon, where the median household income is $39,756, putting Homer in the lower middle class income bracket. Looking at this makes it a lot more plausible for the Simpsons to be living comfortably in this home. Not only that, like many Americans, Homer has had some help from his family. In Season 4, Episode 10, we find out that Homer had asked his dad, Abe, to give him $15,000 to buy a house. Abe sells his house (which he won on a 50s gameshow) and writes Homer a cheque. These two factors make it pretty clear how the Simpsons can afford this house.
Let’s talk about Homer’s job as a safety inspector at the nuclear power plant. We all know Homer hates this job, so surely capitalism has a firm grip over Homer in this sense? I disagree. First of all, Homer doesn’t have a university education; in Season 5, Episode 3 he is forced to go to university as he is unqualified for his job role. But in true Simpson’s fashion, the episode ends almost at a reset, with no degree earned and Homer still working at the power plant. He is able to continue working in a graduate-role, unqualified, where he sleeps most of the time at work, and leaves it up to other things (like a dog or a drinking bird toy) to do his work for him. He is literally being paid to do nothing, taking his salary from the personification of capitalism himself, Mr Burns- Take that! He even takes over from Mr. Burns in one episode, disproving the capitalist idea that the harder you work, the better your salary.
This leads me onto my next point, Homer’s long resume. Take into consideration how many jobs Homer has had; astronaut, boxer, food critic, mob boss, inventor and missionary to name a few… these jobs have put Homer all over the economic spectrum. But the highest paying jobs all seem to be at the nuclear power plant where he currently works. His current job has funded his passion to be able to do whatever he wanted, with almost little to no experience and qualifications. Most people feel that capitalism has beaten them, as they are unable to pursue their passions, either because they don’t get paid enough, or they don’t have enough time around their 9-5. Not Homer…he follows whatever job he desires.
Homer’s frivolous spending is also a common theme on the show. He’s bought a tonne of high-ticket items; a pool, a gun, a plough, Snake’s car, a caravan, a Tomaco Farm to name a few. Not only that, his constant blunders have cost the family a staggering estimated $333 billion dollars over the years (especially because of Bart not inheriting Mr Burns’ estate). This kind of bad money management would have sent most into masses of debt, spiralling down towards bankruptcy and an inability to move on. Not Homer Simpson- over the past 33 years, despite all of this, his income, living situations and conditions have pretty much stagnated, not making him worse or better off than he was before.
If you’re an avid watcher of The Simpsons, like I am, you’ll know that they’ve travelled a lot. Not only have they visited many places in America, they’ve travelled to exotic locations such as Australia, Japan, Morocco, Italy and China. Most of these countries the average American would class as a once-in-a-lifetime trip, not a once-in-a-season trip like the Simpsons see. Since the show debuted in 1989, they’ve travelled to more than two dozen countries and about two dozen U.S. states. Considering that he’s a lower middle-class American, Homer’s travel history is enviable, and he definitely doesn’t let his monotonous 9-5 supress his holiday bug!
I think the main (and final) point that proves that Homer triumphs in the battle against capitalism is comparing his life to other’s in Springfield. Did you know that Carl Carlson and Lenny Leonard both work in the powerplant and have college educations, but Lenny lives in a completely dilapidated home in comparison to Homer’s big house. Moe and Barney as portrayed as low-lives, with nothing much going for them, often envious of Homer’s life…even though he is an alcoholic just like Barney, but hasn’t frittered all his money away. I think the character that shows this contrast the most is Frank Grimes. Grimes was a colleague and self-proclaimed enemy of Homer. He is infuriated at the fact that Homer has it so good on little-to-no effort, but Frank has to slave away to make ends meet. This frustration leads to his demise (RIP Grimy). He saw Homer’s possessions as satisfying yet undeserved for an incompetent person like him; Homer had a comfortable life, a polite family, an adorable baby, a genius daughter, a beautiful wife, a son who owned a factory (at the time), a dream home, two cars, could afford lobster for dinner, won a Grammy, toured with the Smashing Pumpkins, was friends with Gerald Ford and had even been to space. In comparison, Grimes had to struggle for everything all his life, was working a second job at a foundry, and yet all he had to show for it was his briefcase, his haircut and a one-room apartment wedged between two bowling alleys (the latter of which impressed Homer). He declared Homer a “total fraud” who leeched off hard-working people like himself, being undeservingly rewarded for a lifetime of sloth and ignorance while he himself had few material possessions.
“I’m saying you’re what’s wrong with America, Simpson. You coast through life, you do as little as possible, and you leech off of decent, hardworking people like me. Heh, if you lived in any other country in the world, you’d have starved to death long ago. You’re a fraud, a total fraud.”
I totally disagree with Frank Grimes Sr…Homer is proof that with the right mentality, we can overcome capitalism. Living life as a communist, socialist or hippy doesn’t beat capitalism, but Homer’s sheer indifference does; he has a wonderful home, family and leisure-life, funded by his less-than enthusiastic career, where he swindles a rich billionaire to pay him to do nothing. Homer is an icon.
Chinese New Year is coming up! And one of my favourite things about Chinese New Year is the food- it also coincides with one of the durian seasons throughout the year in Singapore. I think I must be one of the few Ang Mohs I know that LOVE durian…it’s also gotten to the point of almost addiction/obsession; if I pass a durian stall I simply have to buy some. Which, is not ideal…this girl has expensive taste!
Price point is normally one of the main reasons why people don’t want to try durian; if you buy durian and don’t like it…you’ve wasted your money. So that’s why I decided to do this crash course of durian…my favourite to my least favourite. Disclaimer- I actually love most types of durian!
I love this type of durian the most for many many reasons. The first being it’s appearance; the flesh looks a lot more appealing than the smaller and paler XO or D24. It’s bright yellow and pretty meaty looking. It has small seeds in comparison to the amount of flesh on the fruit, which is always something I look out for when buying durian. I would say that this durian is a lot ‘fruitier’ that the others- I don’t find the smell too overpowering and it has a very fruity sweet initial taste. The aftertaste is bittersweet, leaving an overall pleasant durian-eating experience. Black Thorn (or Black Gold as I’ve sometimes seen it labelled) is my favourite durian due to its overall pleasant mouthfeel and satisfying taste. To me, it’s the most enjoyable durian experience.
Mao Shan Wang
The Cat Mountain King is the most famous and expensive durian type. It’s price-point is on par with Black Thorn. I really do feel like the expensive durian types are so for very good reason; like Black Gold, MSW has a very good flesh to seed ratio; you definitely get your bang for your buck with the amount of creamy fruit you get. Its texture is amazing- I often thought that a creamy fruit would be gross, but it is so satisfying, and hard to find with any other kind of fruit. MSW can be sweet, bitter, or bittersweet. I tend to like the sweet ones the best.
Wang Zhong Wang
This type is so good that it made it to number 3 in my list even though I’ve only had it ONCE! It is called the ‘King of Kings’, and for good reason. It’s so bright in colour, with a texture that is smooth but still with a tiny bit of bite. It’s also a perfect balance of bitter and sweet. It’s just as expensive as the other two- told you I had expensive taste- and I will definitely be eating more of it in future.
Cheap and cheerful and does the job. This bright, sweet durian’s flesh is so creamy to the point that it’s sticky. It has that classic durian smell (i.e., it stinks) but the flavour is ideal for me because I like it super sweet. It’s not my first choice but it’s definitely nicer on your wallet and does the job of being a tasty fruit!
I would say that this type is really good for beginners; it’s not as expensive as the A Grade brands, the seeds are very small in comparison to the flesh, and it has that classic bitter-sweet taste. The only reason it’s not higher on my list is because I sometimes find it a bit underwhelming in comparison to MSW or Black Thorn. It’s also not as creamy sometimes as I would like it to be.
I think the main reason XO is my least favourite (but still great!) is that it looks a bit gross- it sometimes looks super pale or almost like it’s gone off, and almost like deflated-watery flesh. This actually is purposeful; XO has a longer fermentation period to give it more of an ‘alcoholic’ aftertaste. Don’t get me wrong, even though it’s bottom of the pile for me, I would still 100% eat it, especially if I’m on a budget.
*New Bonus Never Tried* Green Bamboo
I saw this new ‘brand’ of durian advertised recently at a fruit stall by my place. I was super excited to see it, apparently it is very sweet at first with a slight bitter aftertaste.
Durian is not something I thought I would ever like, mainly because of its smell and notorious reputation. But the main thing I like about durian is that it’s special- it’s an experience and it’s a fun thing to share with friends. I hope this list gives some novices a clue about where to start on their durian journey!