Spend-thrift

The word “spendthrift” has always been confusing to me. It describes a person who is the exact opposite of “thrifty”. Without further investigation one would not know that the meaning of “thrift”, as used in the word “spendthrift”, was prosperity or wealth, which is to say that a spendthrift is someone who spends all his wealth.

I’m going to hijack this word for my blog to share what i spend money on, and how i try to be thrifty while spending. You get double the thrill when you spend, while being convinced you’ve spent the least amount possible, right? It sounds ironic, but, spend to save!

Taobao product recommendation – automatic coffee machine

This is one of the most expensive items I have purchased on Taobao. As with most things on Taobao, it is cheaper than the equivalent coffee machine sold in the stores. The closest competitor is the De’Longhi Magnifica S which sells for around S$900. At 2980 Yuan (S$605), the Thermos is a no-brainer choice. The pricing fluctuates, but the 2980 is about the lowest i have seen so far. You might want to purchase from the official Thermos Taobao store if the price is the same.

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Taobao product recommendation – household ozone sterilizer

This is another product recommended by Dr Tom Wu. I felt it delivers a big impact for a fairly low cost. Food is becoming less safe in this age when there is tremendous pressure to drive the cost of food down. This inevitably implies widespread use of chemicals in agriculture.

An ozone sterilizer is an effective and convenient way to mitigate the problem. It is convenient because it runs on electricity and does not involve any consumables. It is also actually quite effective in killing bacteria and removing pesticide.

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Taobao product recommendation – high speed blender

I never thought i needed a blender until i was introduced to Dr Tom Wu’s nutritional approach. He advocates consuming the Phytochemical found in plants, and he suggests that the best way to get them is to break down the plant cell walls using a high speed blender. This is a very subjective matter, and nobody has a conclusive say on whether Dr Wu’s claims are true. Nevertheless, i was sold on trying out the blender. For one thing, i know i will be consuming more fruits and vegetables when i make it a point to put something into the blender every now and then.

Another valid point is that when food is already chopped into tiny bits, the nutrition is more easily absorbed. Also, unlike a juicer, you will consume the whole fruit or vegetable, which allows you to get more out of it. It is definitely more filling too, so you can make do with buying less food. Good for mother earth.

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Taobao parcel forwarder review – SGShop

I never expected to have to try yet another Taobao parcel forwarder after i have already gone through Taobao official shipping, ezbuy and 86of. I had to ship a piece of phone battery, which is obviously a sensitive item. Taobao official sea shipping does not allow it. Ezbuy still does not work (and probably won’t for the foreseeable future, unless you use VPN as suggested by Aber). As for 86of, i can’t get a definite answer from them whether they can ship a phone battery.

I have actually registered with SGShop for some time, but didn’t find their rates attractive. Anyway, since the other options are not available, i decided to check them out, and I discovered a major advantage they have over the others: instant response local chat service (ezbuy has chat service too). I was able to get confirmation (they verified with the Chinese counterpart) that they can ship the phone battery via sea shipping.

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2019 Cashback Credit Card Strategy

It’s been a long time since i did a check on the ins-and-outs of the world of cashback credit cards. Things have changed tremendously. For the longest time (more than a year), i’ve been relying on the OCBC 365 Credit Card, but they put a stop to the benefit i needed the most from the card and i probably have to kiss it goodbye.

Nevermind if the minimum spending was raised from $600 to $800, the 3% cashback for online transactions (unless it is travel related) was removed. There’s no way i can hit the minimum spending of $800 if i can’t accumulate online purchases towards the $800. So, what’s next?

There are two cards that look like suitable candidates for replacement: OCBC FRANK and Standard Chartered Unlimited.

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Another ezbuy fail – eBay forwarding

Update: Not sure what happened, but i don’t get that error message anymore. So my post below does not apply anymore, and yes, i’m back to using ezbuy for USA forwarding.

I have used ezbuy to forward eBay purchases from the US countless times, but when i tried to checkout my cart today, i encountered this error message: “This item cannot be purchased because this item cannot be sent to your shipping address.”.

Scratch my head.. the address has never been changed and it is correct. I tried to register a new eBay account, and then i discovered the reason – a mobile number must be paired with the shipping address. A landline won’t do. I guess this almost means goodbye to ezbuy, because i can practically ship nothing through them anymore (i haven’t tried their latest China forwarding address though).

Instead, i might turn to SGshop or vPost or comgateway. I have done a Taobao sea freight forwarding through SGshop and will post my review very soon. Now, i might try to forward my eBay purchases through them also. Their USA shipping rates are almost the same as ezbuy – S$3.99 per 500g, plus a clearance fee of $0.98 for each parcel (which also applies to China parcels, lame). ezbuy is still the cheapest, with no per parcel fee, and there is an option of charging by actual weight, at S$3.99 per 500g. Unbeatable. Hopefully they can supply a mobile phone number in the future.

By the way, i am not endorsing SGshop, not yet at least. They seem to be just a “reseller” for uclick2buy, because the warehouse address is exactly identical, and “UCB” is part of your forwarding address, and it obviously refers to uclick2buy. Interestingly, uclick2buy charges S$13.50 for the first 500g and every additional 500g costs $4.25, which is a lot more expensive.

The Google results also show that sellers have been scammed when sending to freight forwarded buyers – the recipient receives the products but they claim they got an empty box and refuse to release payment. Sellers are probably quite wary when they see freight forwarding addresses, so you probably need to have a credible purchase history for them to trust you.

Taobao product recommendation – UHF wireless audio transceiver

I have previously tried Bluetooth as a means of transmitting audio wirelessly, and it was unreliable. Bluetooth 4 is just not good enough (i didn’t try the Bluetooth dongles that supported apt-x though and maybe those work). I have yet to try Bluetooth 5, but it is quite a bit more expensive. Instead, i decided to try UHF wireless transmission (these cost less than half that of the Bluetooth 5 implementation). UHF had been in use for a long time for on-stage wireless audio transmission (microphone, electric guitars and such).

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Taobao product recommendation – Midiplus X6 Pro keyboard

Midiplus is a Taiwanese brand that’s been around for some time, and they have a range of budget Midi controller keyboards. No, don’t compare them with the likes of Roland, Nord, Korg or Yamaha, but having read the reviews for their competitors like m-audio, Nektar Impact, i chose Midiplus.

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Qoo10 product recommendation – Imex CR-100 coffee bean roaster

Doing home coffee bean roasting isn’t so popular in Singapore, so it’s not easy to buy a home coffee bean roaster machine. Thanks to Qoo10, we have access to Korean made machines, and Imex is an established brand. Specifically, the CR-100 is a good entry level bean roaster. It is a fluid bed roaster (hot air keeps the beans moving while roasting), which is supposed to produce an even roast.

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Taobao product recommendation – Bluetooth earpiece

I still remember I bought my first Bluetooth earpiece more than 10 years ago for around S$70. Fast forward to today, it cost just 15 Yuan (S$3). The M8 is the best selling product of this category.

Pairing the earpiece with the phone was simple, as expected. The sound from the earpiece was a little soft, but if you just need something no frills, it works. I guess sometimes being able to cut loose the wires is more beneficial than not having to charge a wired earpiece.

Those who are into music can consider getting a set of stereo earpiece. They do actually cost much more, but are still reasonably cheap – this qcy one is among the cheaper ones around at 100 Yuan (S$20).

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