April 2018
Suraya's Monthly Budget Update

Budget Update: April 2018

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Budget Update: April 2018

In terms of my budget, it’s alright. A big chunk went to my business. A portion went to travels. A sudden request from my dad shot up the Donations category. Rent is the usual amount. These four things make up 80% of my total expenses, a high percentage. But all in all, nothing I can’t manage.

…Can I just say that it’s really freaking strange – coming from a self-confessed frugal person and all – to see your monthly expenses shoot up to five figures?? This is the third time my expenses went above RM10k per month in the last six months. I’m freaking out. Have I just been in denial, all these while?

These high expenses really should worry me, but strangely I’m not. Even now that I’m mostly living off the income earned from the past months and year, I’m not. I told myself that it’s okay, I have savings, work will come (I’m choosy nowadays), plus I need the time to work on my own projects anyway. The patronising part of my brain nags though: it said if I’m smarter, I would have just taken on whatever projects I can WHILE working on my own projects. Cut me some slack, brain.

Being self-employed means many things. There are ups, there are downs. But no matter what, you have to constantly create tasks for yourself, or you’ll be stagnant, and THAT is a downward spiral I’d really like to avoid. For the most part, creating tasks is fun to do. There’s a lot of personal agency behind it, so much control.

However, here’s something they don’t say: when life events throw you curveballs – and I had some of those in April 2018 – you get disoriented. Even when you force yourself to make a tasklist, doing them is not as enjoyable. At one point last month, I even started to crave office life, where your tasks for the day are sorted out for you. It’s a strange feeling. When I caught myself thinking it, I was stunned.

How strange, too, writing and confessing this to the world. Well, you did come here for personal finance content. I delivered, didn’t I? It’s futile to pretend our life experiences doesn’t impact our financial life in any way. By writing this, I understand my internal mind a bit more, and therefore my financial habits, especially things I do on auto-pilot when I’m mentally spent.

Go on and share your internal mindworks in the comments section, too. Let it off your chest. I assure you it’s very cathartic.

Yay of the Month:

  • Ringgit Oh Ringgit is now AI-enhanced! The ad parts, that is. Who knew there was a service which can test multiple ad combinations and optimise that for you, so you can earn more money from ads? That’s exactly what Exoic does. The integration process was not hassle-free – it took a few days and at one point, my website was inaccessible – but now I can see it’s consistently earning me ~USD5+ per day. That’s higher than what I was earning with Google Adsense.
  • Published a sponsored content I’m proud of – this article on designs on gold bars and gold coins. A world I didn’t know existed!
  • Went to Hong Kong. 5 days, 4 nights trip. I’m glad I went there, even though it’s not my favourite country, not by a long shot. Now I understand more about the financial hub. A budget travel guide to Hong Kong will be published in RoR later 🙂
  • Was reorganising the closet. Turned a pair of pajama pants into pajama shorts, and a dress into a skirt. I didn’t do that great of a job cutting/sewing them up, but they’ll work as house baju. Re-purposing makes me feel good. I should do more of that rather than just throwing out stuff I no longer use.
  • Gave away some stuff I didn’t need. Offered it to the Beli Nothing Project community on Facebook.
  • Decided to put more effort into Ringgit Oh Ringgit. Will try my best to post 2x a week now. New posts will be out on either Monday/Tuesday and Wednesday/Thursday. Why those days? Google Analytics say those are the highest-traffic days. #datadriven
  • Finally decided to buy new earphones. So I’ve been using my old one – missing one earbud and all – for close to 6 months now. Kinda ridiculous, and I told myself enough is enough, you cheapskate. Lucky break: the one I wanted, JBL CS100i, was listed as RM26.90 on Lazada. Then it appeared on Lazada flash sales for RM20.90! Quickly cancelled the earlier purchase (refunds from Lazada ewallet is easy and fast) and bought the same one for cheaper price. Win!
  • Read 4 books: The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling; Sway: The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behaviour by Ori and Rom Brafman; Dear John by Nicholas Sparks and The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. It seems that recent events in my personal life are drawing me towards fiction. Escapism, perhaps.
  • Attended a Wordpress KL event. Love these guys, they are super helpful. One of those communities where they share information because they’re so passionate about it, you know? I love that culture of sharing. Find them in this FB group.
  • Watched 2 movies: The Avengers Infinity War (on IMAX 3D some more!) and Ready Player One. Both were great. I wonder how it’s like to be part of the script-writing process. Can just imagine writers shooting about ideas with each other. What a great environment to work. I want that. Any idea how to get into it?

Nay of the Month:

  • Disappointed my parents. My parents – love them and all – are both retired, and now dedicate themselves to only one thing: religion. And it comes up a lot when they remind me of their mortality, and the job they still have to finish before they pass on: turn me into the perfect Muslim daughter, then eventual wife and baby bearer. I wish they have other passions, something else we can talk about. But no. Every other conversation turns into religion talk. It’s draining, but worse of all I know it doesn’t come out of a bad place. It came out of love. I’m working to repair our relationship.
  • The trust/wasiat thing is STILL not sorted out.
  • My apartment’s stand fan gave up on me. Had to replace it. Thankfully it was cheaper than I thought – just RM95.50 from Lazada, including delivery.
  • This crushed me – a client gave me bad feedback on my writing work. No excuses. I have to perform better. Going to look for business writing classes to improve.
  • I’m dating around again. Downloaded Tinder – I like it, it’s a cost-effective way to meet people. But finding someone I like enough to keep going on dates with is proving harder than I thought. My last relationship was ridiculously easy – instant connection, lasted years. I wonder if Tinder can give me that. Guess I have to keep using it to find out.
  • Lately, I feel self-conscious that many of the stuff I own looks… old. Result: some clothes shopping. Mixed feelings. On one hand, I like being the type of frugal person who stretches her belongings to its full potential. On the other hand, I want to look presentable too, I’m not immune to peer pressure.
  • Bought a couple of books from MPH. I forgot to double-check the receipt before payment 🙁 They charged me RM52.90 for a book, instead of the sticker price RM45.90. MPH helpline is not helping, so I shot them an email. Let’s see if they will honour the price and refund.

Things to Look Forward to:

  • Growing Ringgit Oh Ringgit. It simply fits my plans: passive income; location-independent. I’d like to submit more guest articles to high-traffic sites, and make a digital product to sell.
  • Puasa is comiiiiing. Half excited, half dreading.
  • Putting more effort in my skincare and appearance in general. I want to look and feel my best. My confidence took a hit lately and this is one actionable way to go about it, since I have no mood to continue my exercise routine (I really should though).
  • My birthday. Turning 30 on the 15th.

Isn’t it weird that a third of 2018 is already over? Isn’t it also weird that you always think of the time that’s passed?

You know, I want to be the kind of person who’s like, yep, time passed. Wasted or not, it happened, move on. Can I learn anything from it? I can? Cool, let’s use that lesson for the future. This mindset is not automatic yet – there was some unlearning involved – but sooner or later I do hope to be the kind of person who lives her life on her own terms, and not of others’ expectations. I can handle society, but parental expectations… that’s the tough one.

Goodbye, 20s. I learned a lot from you. It’s been wild, I had a great decade, did more than I thought I was capable of. Even though no one knows what the future will bring, I know that the best parts of my life are still yet to come. Can’t wait.

To read about my past monthly budget update, click here. Graphs are taken from my expense-tracking app Money Lover (review).

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  1. Hey Suraya,

    Stumbled on your blog/website while searching for ways to make money online 🙂

    I believe i’ve seen your site before previously while searching through some websites but did not looked through it thoroughly.

    I must say, the budget expense tracking is really awesome which brings me to wonder on a few things:-

    1) You mentioned you’d gonna be 30 which means you’re same age as my brother!

    2) Did you have a full time job prior to working on your own ? Superbly curious of your journey after SPM till present your 8 golden years! (Only discovered that you were doing your own business fulltime until i browsed through your budget updates since Dec’17.)

    3) Give Tinder another go, be strong! actually dating an awesome woman from Tinder for almost 9 months now 🙂 #Superproud

    4) Would love to get some advice from you or any insights for that matter 🙂

    I’m an Overseas Accounting Graduate, in my late twenties, single, Male, had some startup experience previously but switch over to corporate mainly for stability. Never worked in Audit before.

    I know that working for people would never ever be the same as self-employed. The FIRST Step or rather, working on something part time until it makes more or equal money to your full time job then working on your own business would be the ideal way to go.

    So my finance question is:-
    I currently have a “capital preservation mindset” but wants to start a business which is a conflict. Any advice?

    PS: Sorry for the ridiculously long ramblings.

    Appreciate it and keep on writing!!


    1. Hey back Kim,

      Welcome back to RoR 🙂 Glad you like the whole expense-tracking thing, I love it

      Before going the self-employed route, I worked full-time, mostly in the NGO sector, until about 2014. Maybe I’ll share that in an article!

      On your question, I can’t give advice – I did the sink-or-swim thing. Literally living off savings until the writing business took off. Understand what you mean though – it’s hard to spend for a new, risky business when you want to keep what you already have. It’s actually a brain thing – neuroscientists termed this ‘loss-aversion’, or the tendency for people to take minimal risks with money if its theirs.

      The rational way is to allocate yourself a set amount of capital – ie ‘I can use this RM5k for the business. In x months, depending on how it goes, I may put in another RM5k or cut my losses’.

      Implementation is another story, but this is a good start, no?

      Hope this helps, and all the best in your business!

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