Budget Update: December 2019

budget update december 2019

Budget Update: December 2019

Note: My expense-tracking app, Money Lover got a new visualisation update. I like it fine, except it removed the ‘biggest single expense of the month’ segment in the above graphic. I miss it πŸ™

So I spent RM5,444.39 in December 2019. Top 5 expenses were: Dates/Travel, Rent & Utilities, Business, Groceries and Social. More about the breakdown below.

As I write this, New Years Day have came and went. It’s 2020 y’all! It’s still surreal, but I’m sure we’ll all get used to it soon enough.

Lately, I’ve been thinking of the ways that the environment shape our money behaviours. One concept is Nudges, a term popularised by Nobel Prize in Economics winner Richard Thaler. Nudges are measures implemented to gently guide society members to pick one decision over another.

The simplest example is the items positioned at eye level in grocery stores – you still have the freedom to buy whatever you want in the aisle… but you’re more likely to buy the ones positioned at eye level (that’s why companies pay for that space btw).

One powerful nudge is social pressure. For example, studies show that people in a neighbourhood are more likely to recycle if they know that all their other neighbours recycle, too. You don’t want to be the odd one out.

If your new year’s resolution is to save more money or make more money, then use this information to your advantage. Increase your exposure to nudges that work to your advantage.

For example, increasing your exposure to personal finance content creators in various social media (websites | Twitter | Instagram | Youtube). If your feed is telling you that it seems that everyone is trying to get better with money, you will too.

Likewise, try and recognise when for-profit companies are trying to take your money by nudging you a certain way.

That’s the end of that thought process for now. Let’s continue to be better. All the best in 2020, fam.

budget update december 2019

Yay of the Month:

  • Travel made up the biggest expense category in December 2019 but that’s okay because I went to Bali for a holiday and had a great time! Related: Under-RM2000 Travel: 6D5N Budget Bali Trip
  • Treated people I love and care about to meals (under Social). Investment in relationships is good investment πŸ™‚
  • Concluded the Ringgit Oh Ringgit XMas Giveaway 2019 – congratulations to all winners!
  • The realisation that I have pretty good relationships with my fellow personal finance content creators πŸ™‚ It’s nice to be liked by your peers!
  • Got interviewed on BFM89.9’s Ringgit & Sense show for the second time! You can listen to the podcast here (registration required)

    • Made the grown-up decision to self-contribute RM4k to my EPF account even though I don’t really wanna. But you know, getting the tax relief is good for my tax submission in 2020 so it had to be done. Last minute decision, too – transferred on 31 December 2019.
    • No longer going to chiro sessions for the time being. My chiropractor returned back RM500 without much fuss, so that’s good.
    • Finally got my Tabung Haji sorted out. I’m going to hajj in 2139 y’all
    View this post on Instagram

    Done: hajj registration under Tabung Haji. The process used to be automated under Bank Islam, but now upon RM1300 deposit you still have to manually visit TH counter for separate registration . Mixed feelings because yes hajj is compulsory for the able-bodied Muslims but also I hate the idea of giving money to Saudi Arabia, a huge violator of human rights . Edit: since we’re on this topic. Saudi govt is funding war in Yemen, killing as many as 100000 people so far. There is a famine and medical crisis going on, affecting millions. People are literally dying of continuous air strikes, starvation and preventative diseases. Muslims doing that to other Muslims, sigh . #tabunghaji #daftarhaji #muslims #hajj #haji #humanrights #yemen

    A post shared by Suraya Zainudin (@surayaror) on

    • Read one book: The Hollywood MBA: A Crash Course in Management from a Life in the Film Industry by Tom Reilly. It was better than I expected – the business/management side of filmmaking makes really interesting case studies! I didn’t just learn management tips, I also learned to appreciate the huge amount of work that goes behind making a feature film. Will never watch movies the same way again!
    • Booked accommodation in Bangkok for Wordcamp Asia event in February!
    • The Sony Controller that I bought and cancelled the previous month still arrived, but I ain’t mad. Had fun playing Harvest Moon!

    Nay of the Month:

      • I have RM950 stuck in BigPay due to dispute case. Basically what happened was I tried to withdraw money from ATM in Bali but the transaction failed, yet it recorded as valid. It’ll take up to 60 days for the money to be returned back to me. So annoying.
      • Not just that – did a mistake with Touch N Go card and was charged the maximum amount allowed for PLUS highway toll – RM53.90. I’ve submitted my claim form online, hopefully the money will be returned soon too

      • Well, nothing new but I indulged in so. much. food. Not the happiest about the weight gain but at the same time, my body is healthy and strong despite the viruses going around, I really have nothing to complain about.
      • This still hurt tho

      Things to Look Forward to:

      • Continue working on Money Stories from Malaysians: Volume 2
      • Continue working on Money Stories from Malaysians: Volume 1 (Malay edition)
      • Working on the Ringgit Oh Ringgit Podcast with ClickWP! Season 1’s theme will be: SOLOPRENEURS. Watch out for updates!
      • Working on my financial goals. I’m so pumped!

      Another thing to look forward to – writing my annual income and expenses report for the 4th year. Complete transparency – I’ll share where my incomes come from, and the top expenses sorted by amount. Look out for that post soon πŸ™‚

      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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      8 comments

        1. Hey James,

          When I cook at home, it’s mostly meat-free or very little meat. That helps to bring the cost low, but I’m not doing this just for costs – I feel better when I eat less meat. When I do get craving for them, then only I buy or go out to eat.

          When at home, my usual protein sources are beans, tofu, tempeh, eggs and even protein shake. Works well!

            1. Hey Ahmad,

              I’m still working on this, but if my habit gets out of hand, I’m prepared to uninstall them all (even Grab!). Perhaps using a ride-hailing app that ONLY offers ride-hailing isn’t a bad thing!

      1. I’ve started using Money Lover since last year and decided to pay for the premium. I started to record every expenses correctly(previously put wrong categories) in Dec, so far so good.

        I have almost all the e-wallets available to fully utilize the benefits or promos. When it comes to Money Lover, i get confused to record it. Eg. You top up Rm100 on TnG for toll purposes but you will scan & pay for food due to promotions. So my question is do you record how much you reload into e-wallets or only record the spending from that e-wallet.
        *Of course won’t be recording every single toll passed.

        Hope my question is clear. ha…

        1. Hi Ivan,

          To answer your question, I mentally record how much I reload into ewallets, but only officially track the amount *spent*. If you don’t want to record every toll, may I suggest earmarking one tng card just for tolls and never using that for other things, like food etc? Makes your expense recording easier πŸ™‚

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