Fact: Covid-19 pandemic accelerated the heck out of e-commerce, by ‘forcing’ businesses to add or improve its distribution. Nowadays, you can get more things delivered to you than ever before.
The variety nowadays is crazy. I have bought things that I’ve never bought online before, like Harumanis mangoes from Perlis, organic salad and frozen Rotiboy buns (I still don’t know if this was a good decision but God was I happy). One time during the MCO, I even bought red onions and flour on Lazada (I was desperate).
However, now that things somewhat settled down, and our online purchases are no longer needs-based but rather wants-based, I am back to my cynical self.
Online shopping used to be fun, but now I’m skeptical of everything 😭 I know how often fake reviews are commissioned, how ‘growth marketers’ create fake profiles to give’user testimonies’ in social media and forums, how online sellers use psychology hacks to encourage sales 😭
So let’s talk a bit about this, about doing online shopping in Malaysia. It’s part of life now. Its convenience is both a feature and a bug, in relation to my personal finance, and I just want to take this opportunity to hash out my own boundaries with it.
After all, spending is fine. It’s necessary, the economy runs on consumer spending. But mindful spending – ah, that’s the challenge.
#1 – I don’t trust reviews on websites and shopping platforms
Sometimes, abstract concepts float around in my head, and once in a while I’d catch it with a metaphorical net and write it down in a jumble of intelligible notes, until I come across the exact literature that describes what the concept is.
The mind-blowing part comes from ‘oh wow, someone articulated this before, this is exactly it’ (slightly compounded if the writer already passed away, and I feel like I’m communicating with the dead), and my only hope here is to share it with you, in the hopes that these concepts appeared to you abstractly as well, and finally you know the name or term for it.
And investors went crazy. Like moths to a flame, the (price) action attracted a lot of attention. This phenomenon isn’t unique to stocks; the same thing happens to other commodities, too – you’ve seen the long lines at gold jewellery stores when gold price broke RM300/gram.
(P/s – Never think you’re immune to FOMO, best to stay humble. Having an ego and thinking you’re more rational than the crowd could will be your downfall.)
So… you want to start exploring stock investing in Malaysia, but don’t know where to start. Here are 7 articles, to read *in order* that will help you in your stocks investing journey.
Apparently, the rule of the internet states that XKCD has a comic strip for ANY topic. Here’s the strip for Investing. I dedicate it to everyone who’s trying to invest their money without trying to increase income, either through salary or side hustle.
“Wow, so lucky you do wedding planning during Covid-19. Can save cost!”
Generally speaking, that’s true. Not denying the cost-saving aspect of it. My wedding, scheduled in Nov 2020, will be significantly downsized.
Additionally, I have extra money to re-allocate towards the wedding as my tunang event, which was scheduled during MCO, got cancelled.
I don’t know how much everything will cost yet, but I doubt it will reach RM50-70k originally planned.
If I’m honest, I am… 80% happy and 20% sad about all this. Happy because, yeah the cost will be lower than projected. But I can’t ignore the 20%, which comes from OH I DON’T KNOW PEOPLE DYING AND BREADWINNERS LOSING JOBS AND INCOME AND STUFF. And also, seeing deals I can’t take advantage of.
Nowadays banyak wedding-related deals. Venue, photography, baju etc. Understandable, they do it for cashflow reasons
But no matter how good the deal is… I can’t take now because all plans up in the air 🙁
So I thought I’d write a post about it, to both organise my thoughts and also find people in the same boat (in my experience, writing about it attracts people in the same predicament). I’d like to share how it was like to plan a wedding when you have Covid-19 rudely interrupting the process.
Note: This is written from the woman’s perspective. I’m not responsible for a few expenses, like rings and mas kahwin and stuff. You can check out BalkoniHijau’s wedding survey for the guys’ perspective.
If all of us were a Homo Economicus, we’d never make a single financial mistake. Not one. The ‘Economic man’ is an infinitely rational human being, who makes decisions purely on the pros and cons of options provided.
But alas, we’re not. We’re Homo sapiens, humans. Hormones released in our brains affect our emotions and decide on our behaviour, almost all the time. Being aware of it helps, but not as much as we’d like to think.
What I’m saying is, everyone makes stupid financial decisions. And sometimes we do it even when we know the decision is objectively stupid.
It’s like… being aware that binge-eating is not good for you as you’re stuffing your face (hello dis me). Or continuing an extra-marital affair despite knowing your life will fall apart when you’re caught cheating.
Oof that got dark. Anyway, going back to personal finance.
Being an adult is accepting, and preparing for at least one major expense per month.
You can’t escape it. If it’s not paying taxes (my biggest expense in July 2020), it’ll be something else – home maintenance, car repair, replacing broken appliances, buying ‘smart’ upgrades (like a nice mattress so you’ll get a good night sleep, or noise-cancelling headphones to work better), medical treatment, whatever.
Once in a blue moon, you’ll get through a month without incurring a major expense, but later you’ll find that some months will incur multiple major expenses, so it averages out.
I’ve read somewhere that the only way to break this cycle is when:
you’ve successfully upgraded all your essentials to high-quality versions, so they break less and therefore need replacing less often
you put the payment on an instalment plan. You’re still paying, just not in one BIG chunk. Obviously this is cheating because you still end up paying the same amount
you can afford to pay for longer terms instead of shorter (ie paying for 5 years of driving licence instead of renewing annually). But yeah this is still delaying, not eliminating
I wonder if there are other ways to stop the major ‘Misc Needs’ or ’emergency’ expenses. How can one even FI/RE if we have to deal with this wildcard, forever? If ‘just budget it in’ the best answer?
Once in a while, you’ll come across an EXCEPTIONAL article, and this is one of those. I loved it so much, I wrote down the 11 rules in my journal, so I can quickly refer to them:
Take one small step
Change your mental maps
Struggle is good. Scary is good.
Instant judgement is bad
Remember the end of your life
Be useful to others
Perfectionism = procrastination
Sleep, exercise, chill out, eat. Repeat
Write it all down
You can’t get it all from reading
Here’s another hack, if you’ll take one from me: find a mentor who exhibits the behaviours you’d like to emulate. Can be formal, can be informal (ie a public figure). It is helpful to find people who can show you the way it can be done.
‘No’ is a complete sentence, but I also understand its nuance within the context of Asian culture: rejection. A social faux pas in our ‘save face’ culture.
Therefore, learning how to say no without actually saying no is something that I had to learn organically, through observation and experience. My (Western-centric) reading materials certainly didn’t teach it.
And combine that with my natural leaning towards ‘agreeableness’ trait (as per Big 5 Personality Trait), which values harmony and peacekeeping over being confrontational – if I didn’t learn how to say no, I would have just agreed to almost every financial request out there. Women take note, because many of you tend to have this same trait too.
Obviously that wouldn’t have been a good financial move. So I’ll just go ahead and say this: to be good with money, you have to learn how to say no.
Financial requests you should learn to say ‘no’ to
Obligatory disclaimer: This article is for SHARING purposes only! NOTHING in here is a recommendation, so don’t say ‘Oh Suraya say must do like that’ HELLO I NEVER SAY THAT, LATER I BABAB ONLY YOU KNOW
When Mr Stingy posted his How I Invest My Own Money article, where he gave the complete breakdown of his investment portfolio, I knew I wanted to write out my own version as well.