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Suraya’s Monthly Budget Update

Suraya’s Monthly Budget Update: See how I budget my money while living as a young adult in Malaysia.

Budget Update: March 2019

march 2019

Budget Update: March 2019

My expenses in March 2019 scared me. The number was so high!

The top 5 expenses in March 2019 were Business, Dates/Travel, Utilities & Rent, Misc Needs and Groceries. Together, those made up 82% of last month’s expenses.

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Budget Update: January 2019

budget update january 2019

Budget Update: January 2019

Wake up. Brush teeth. Make coffee, have breakfast. Check my daily to-do list. Anxiety. Take out phone, scroll online for hours for distraction. Tell myself to get back to work. Anxiety. Find food to eat. Repeat until midnight. Repeat for days on end.

January 2019 should have represented a new start and a new beginning, but it didn’t, at least not for me. For much of the month, I was stuck in a destructive procrastination mode. I’d spend hours mindlessly scrolling the web and eating comfort food, knowing that those behaviours are my unhealthy coping mechanisms.

Guys. I want to do so many things. I want to achieve so many things. But they’re overwhelming and I fear failure and instead of rising up to the challenge, I… get anxious instead. When I feel that way I just want to distract myself (phone) or feel comforted (food).

Does this happen to you? What do you do to break yourself out of that spell?

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Budget Update: December 2018

Budget Update: December 2018

Happy new year! Welcome, 2019! Thank goodness I didn’t go out on New Year’s Eve, or I would’ve spent more than RM6000 in December 2018 for sure!

December 2018 was… alright. A mix of extreme happiness and extreme apathy; a strange, emotionally confusing month. I pushed the limits of my mental strength, and found it. In the same month, I tried to: go to the gym regularly, maintain a strict diet and quit smoking, all on top of my regular schedule and work. It exhausted me. I felt like I was not really ‘there’ most of the time.

I’m glad I found my limit though. Now I know what I can and cannot do, and be more careful when implementing multiple challenges at once (even though they’re all technically good for me). As of time of writing, I’ve decided to stop the strict diet (keto btw) because it’s beginning to be quite damaging to my mental health. At one point, my cravings got so bad I spent an afternoon making a list of food items I that I ‘cannot’ have but really want. It came up to 37 items.

Any of you tested your capability to follow through a strict self-development routine? How’d it work for you?

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Budget Update: November 2018

november 2018

Budget Update: November 2018

Spent under RM6k in November 2018. Top 3 categories were Business (no issues there), Utilities & Rent (ditto) and Dates/Travel (… I think I need to talk to the partner).

Anyway, hey, I want to talk about something else in this section. Martech. Do you know this word? It’s short for marketing technology, and companies love it because it helps them rake in more sales. In fact, companies love martech so much that Chief Marketing Officers are now spending more on martech tools rather than human marketers.

In November 2018, I attended a digital marketing bootcamp where I learned about the many types of martech tools. For example, chatbots which reply to people who type ‘pm’ in Facebook posts. Platforms connecting companies with influencers. Automated video creation tools. And more – I’m barely scratching the surface here.

Martech is fascinating to me for a few reasons:

  • It’s quite fun to go to a company’s website/platform and see what kind of martech tools they are implementing. Last time, they used to prioritise collecting emails. Now, I’ve received promotional updates via Facebook Messenger too! (I hate this btw, so invasive, any company that does this will not get my money)
  • Which martech tools can *I* use for my own websites? I’m constantly trying out new ones, hoping to find the perfect free+good combinations. Many martech services use subscription-based models, and they can get pretty pricey.

Learn about martech. If you’re a business, it’ll help you make/save money. If you’re a consumer, you’ll be more aware and therefore less susceptible to strategies companies use to part you with your money.

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Budget Update: October 2018

budget update october 2018

Budget Update: October 2018

I spent RM21,407 in October 2018. It sounds like a lot (it is), but almost three-quarters of that was a gift to my parents. I’m sponsoring their umrah trip.

When I was growing up, I heard how my parents – then newlyweds and financially struggling – saved a portion of their salaries every month. They told me the bottom of their car had a hole in it, and they didn’t even buy a bed until much later and simply slept on a thin mattress on the floor. They saved aggressively so my dad could afford to send his mom, my late grandmother, to hajj.

My parents have already completed the hajj, but they constantly talk about going back to Mecca so sponsoring their trip has always been in my bucket list. In October 2018, I transferred over RM15,580 so both of them could go for their umrah next year, in January 2019, under Tabung Haji. My mom was so touched, she cried. I feel happy knowing that my money can give them this kind of happiness.

What do you save up for your parents? Is there something you know for sure they’ll appreciate?

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Budget Update: September 2018

september 2018

Budget Update: September 2018

Confession: My bank account was dangerously low all throughout September 2018, and I almost had to dip into my savings, if not for payments from clients that arrived at the end of the month. If I ration it out properly, it should support me until the end of the year.

Now, what I really want to do with the money is invest it. I want to add more gold to my investment portfolio – the price seems great now. I saw a property in the RM500k range that looks promising as rental unit. I want to take another ASB loan to max it out.

But no action was taken yet. My excuse is that I don’t know when is my next big paycheck, so I should just leave all the money in my bank account ‘just in case’.

Isn’t that a stupid excuse for not investing? Rationally, I know I can just set aside a small amount of money every month – small but regular contributions are better than no contributions – so why do I still have this ‘go big or go home’ mentality? Why do I stop myself from investing when I can’t commit large amounts like RM3k and above in one go?

Does anyone else do this? How do you overcome the mental barrier and force yourself to invest anyway? Got advice for me?

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Budget Update: August 2018

 august 2018

Budget Update: August 2018

August 2018 was kind of a chill month. Spending-wise, I did good – RM6.2k was my lowest monthly spending since January 2018. I can’t wait to shave off around RM1k by the end of the year – that’s when both laptop and braces repayments will be fully paid off!

This is random, but just felt like sharing: I currently stay in a commercial area, as opposed to a residential area, and absolutely love this living arrangement. It’s just so convenient, most of the amenities I need are so near. At the place I’m renting now, I can walk to the bank, the groceries, the dentist, convenience stores, the mamak, the cinema, Starbucks, restaurants and more whenever I want (when they’re open la).

There are downsides, like paying more for utilities (I pay commercial rates) and facing the crowds during events, but overall, it’s pretty damn nice. I know for sure now that if and when I do decide to purchase my own home, I will get a place that will give me a similar lifestyle. Maybe a residential unit attached to a mall, to get the best of both worlds?

Those of you renting right now or living with your family. Have you thought of what kind of place you want to get? Or do you decide to just continue renting by choice? Let me know in the comments, I’m curious to hear your opinion about this topic.

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Budget Update: July 2018

july 2018

Budget Update: July 2018

What a full month! It was full of intense emotional experiences – from the low of my grandmother’s passing to the high of Good Vibes Festival to everything in between.

I shot my first video campaign (details coming soon!). Got angry at morally-righteous LGBT haters that I made a personal finance guide for LGBTs. Decided to visit my Japanese host family and splurged on a very-costly RM1765 flight tickets just because I want to fly off from Chubu Centair International Airport in Nagoya instead of cheaper airports like Osaka. I went on shopping sprees, both online and offline. I went on dates (good, bad and GREAT) and attended many events.

All this while working my ass off – I squeezed for that brain juice so often and so hard, I’m surprised it’s still working. Thank you for being reliable braiiiin.

Despite everything, my spending was… alright? Almost RM7k for this kind of month is okay. My spending is the lowest since January 2018. In the upcoming months, have to keep it even lower – have to save money for that Japan trip in September.

I have no complaints, only gratefulness that my income can sustain this lifestyle. How was your July like?

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Budget Update: June 2018

june 2018

Budget Update: June 2018

More than half of my June 2018 expenses went to Donations and Gifts. RM1250 given out as duit raya, and a whopping RM2500 given to a friend to help her out.

Might as well tell you what happened. A friend (someone really dear to me) was driving and got busted for having recreational drugs in her possession. The police demanded RM3000 in bribe money. My friend was not able to negotiate it down and didn’t have enough in her bank account. She had to find the money asap, and came to me.

I was pissed off. Pissed off at the friend, pissed off at the police blatantly asking for bribes, pissed off at myself for giving the money anyway thus contributing to this stupid corruption culture in Malaysia.

Never again. I will never do this again. This is not the kind of person I want to be.

Tell me your bribe stories. Everyone has one. Tell me what I can do to protect myself if this happens again. 

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