Suraya's Monthly Budget Update

Budget Update: December 2018

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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?

Yay of the Month:

  • I’ve quit smoking, after being a heavy smoker since my early 20s. I want to say it feels good, but honestly I feel like crap. I have trouble concentrating on work. I gained 2kg, probably due to increased appetite and food intake after quitting smoking. But this is still a ‘yay’ moment because I’m proud I didn’t light up, despite really, really wanting to.
  • David from ClickWP gifted me the best Christmas gift – fixed a bug on mobile version that’s been bothering me forever! Thank you so much, bless <3
  • Organised a personal finance bloggers and thought leaders meetup. 13 people turned up, and we had a great chat about our plans in 2019. It was lovely meeting everyone!
  • Coincidentally ‘discovered’, ‘Malaysia’s largest marketplace for buying & selling secondhand clothes‘. The prices are much steeper than thrift shops, but the items are of good quality and most are branded too. I like that (1) I don’t have to sort through mountains of clothes to find something that both fits and in good condition, and (2) I get to be a bit more zero-waste. Bought: a RM19 halter-top black dress, a RM39 GAP tan hoodie and a RM39 long flowy black cardigan. So much for no new clothes before 2019, lol. But technically they’re not new, so 😉
  • Utilised my gym membership well. The pay-per-entry fee is RM15. I went at least 8 times in December 2018. Keep it up, Suraya!
  • Some progress made for my upcoming book compilation. Commissioned an artist to add some illustrations – 10 short stories, 10 images. Can’t wait to have it published and printed!
  • Lower-than-usual public transportation costs. Didn’t go out much. I also tried my best to schedule meetings and errands on the same day – that seems to work so I think I’ll continue this approach.

Nay of the Month:

  • I wasn’t a good daughter. No excuses. I have to do better.
  • Lost one of the security passcards for my apartment. The replacement card costs RM50. Shouldn’t have happened, but it did, so I have no choice but to pay up.
  • A couple of months ago I applied for a RM200k ASB loan. Found out that it was rejected. I don’t understand, my credit score is high (see below). Perhaps they consider me high risk because my income is irregular? I can’t help it, that’s the life of a freelancer 🙁

  • Holy cow my grocery bills are high. RM800! I know why though – keto-friendly ingredients are expensive. Sadly, unlike the first time around, I’m not losing weight on it this time, so all that money is kinda wasted. Maybe my appetite increased too much after quitting cigarettes, maybe I’m eating too much protein for muscle growth, maybe I’m not drinking enough water, who knows.
  • Only managed to read one book – seriously lacked concentration and focus. It was a great book though – Around the World in 50 Years: My Adventure to Every Country on Earth by Albert Podell. He went to every. single. country. I didn’t realise some countries are THAT hard to get into! Such an enjoyable read.
  • Bought a grammar software called WhiteSmoke. It’s crap, I hate using it. That’s RM285.80 down the drain!
  • Did I forget to pay my bills? I did! Oh fish, better get that sorted out ASAP!

Things to Look Forward to:

  • Taking off my braces in January 2019. The end is near! Halleluyah! I can’t wait to bite into an apple!
  • Working hard and feeding on your energy. I love Januaries. It’s just.. the vibe is magnetic. Many people really do try their best to start the year right, and that motivates me to do my best, too. Let’s do this.

Aside from that, I’m also looking forward to make 2019 better than 2018. Here are some goals I want to achieve in this year.

Financially, I want to:

  • Max out my ASB fund
  • Achieve >25% savings rate (percentage of money saved after deducting all expenses)
  • Work towards one more source of passive income
  • Finally hire an accountant
  • Survive another year being self-employed

Lifestyle-wise, I would like to continue:

  • Weight training 2-3x per week
  • My no-smoking streak (2 weeks smoke-free now!)
  • Tracking my expenses
  • Eating mostly home-cooked meals

And I would like to improve on:

  • Mindfulness/meditation practice
  • My water intake
  • My relationship with food (why does feeling stuffed feels so comforting?)
  • My relationship with my family
  • Selling/getting rid of clutter

What are your goals in 2019? I’m particularly interested to hear your financial goals – share with me in the comments section!

Protip: don’t say ‘get better with money’ (or the classic: ‘save money’). Instead, give yourself actionable goals, like hitting a certain amount, or getting a specific job, or making a new lifestyle choice. You can even go on money challenges and see where you end up.

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

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  1. Love your breakdowns and spending details. Do you use an app to keep track of everything? Or just the old fashion notebook? What app do you recommed?

  2. HI Suraya,

    Thanks for the info! 🙂
    May i ask where do you check the credit score? Is it FOC?

    Thanks Suraya! 🙂

    1. Hey Lun,

      I used imoney’s free tool, and yes it’s FOC (have to give up some personal data though – and they’ll probably ramp up the marketing to you)

  3. is it possible that your loan got rejected because you already have some money parked in ASB? ASB savings capped at 200k, i think.

    1. Hey yuyu,

      I applied through an agent, who assured me he knew what he was doing, so I don’t think it was that. I do have some money in there, and I also have an existing RM50k asb loan. We talked at leangth about the process, and he seems experienced.

  4. Hi Suraya,

    I love reading your post and I literally track your post every single day. There is a lot of information that I can gather from here. Kudos

    Speaking of which I am working in accounting/audit firm specialize in tax. If you want I can refer you to my colleagues (or me myself if you permit lol) to help you out with your accounting and tax.

    Looking forward to reading more post from you! Happy 2019 🙂

    1. Hi Risz,

      Thanks for swinging by and introducing yourself! I’ll send you an email, let’s see if anything happens 🙂

  5. I’m in keto diet since May 2018 and the result has been amazing, but I had to give up so many food. Then I went to Japan having 11 days of full carbo diet (e.g. rice, soba and dessert) thinking that I would gained at least 3kg, but I lost weight instead. Now that my weight is stable, I eat everything but limit my carb intake. I find low carb diet fits me better. 🙂

    1. Hi Cheryl,

      Ooooh that’s a nice feeling, good for you! I’ve yet to find a diet and lifestyle that really works for me. My problem is overeating, sighhh

  6. Hi Suraya,

    Great post! As a newbie in the blog-writing and FI world, I really enjoy reading your honest and relatable articles. Thanks also for the link to Refash – I’ll definitely be checking them out!

    I recently de-cluttered my entire wardrobe using the KonMari method ( I had to make some hard choices, but totally recommend it! Reducing my carbon footprint and decluttering was a big goal for last year, so happy to share more tips! Keep up the good work 🙂

      1. Ya, a bit sakit hati right to get rid of some stuff. Oh well, it’s a journey for all of us!

        Thanks so much for the add to your list, much appreciated! 🙂

  7. My 2019 resolutions:

    1. Move back to Malaysia. Fingers crossed for everything going to be smooth. Please pray for me.

    2. Start budgeting. I mean a REAL BUDGET, to every single cents. I have tried for the last few months in 2018 but not to minute details. I found out that I have eliminated buying many unnecessary things by doing a budget, especially FOOD. I have started using a budget app from Bank Negara Malaysia since December 2018, and it’s kind of cool. I have started to list down every singgle penny spent in the app.

    3. Continue to reduce waste, especially FOOD. I use to overbought food, especially veges and fruits, that actually I didn’t really like to eat. Those ended up in garbage bin. I have started to buy things that I really wanted to eat. It works, and the feeling is AWESOME!

    4. Being really aggressive in saving for my retirement. My aim is to retired early, by the age of 40, of which not so far away from 2019, lol. I can proudly say that it is on track. Please pray my dream comes true 🙂

    1. Hi Am,

      Praying for you. Hopefully your move, early retirement and everything else will go well. Thanks for sharing about BNM’s budget app – didn’t know they had one!

    1. Hi King,

      ASB investment is the mutual fund only available for bumi folks. It’s popular because the returns are consistently high, at least 7% and above per year.

      Knowing this, banks offer ASB loans. You can borrow an amount, up to RM200k, at 4-5% interest rate per year to put inside your ASB. You can’t touch the money, it’s only for ASB. The borrower makes monthly payments as usual according to agreed schedule (mine is RM50k for 25 years).

      The idea is, because ASB generates more returns than the loan interest, it’s a no-brainer financial move

      However we have reasons to believe that ASB can no longer sustain the high returns in the future. In which case one might pay more in loan interest than the return on investment

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