Suraya's Monthly Budget Update

Budget Update: December 2022 – Happy New Year! (How to Earn Money in 2023?)

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Happy New Year and Welcome to another edition of my monthly budget updates, where I break down my expenses by category and share the highlights and lowlights of the month.

So how was your last month of 2022? Was it good, bad or meh?

For me, I’m ending 2022 with a deep sense of melancholy. I like what I do, and I earn alright, but I’ve been slowly thinking.. what else? As a personal finance content creator, what else can or should I do?

That’s not a hard question to answer. The way I see it, I have 2 obvious paths:

But somehow, both 1 and 2 doesn’t excite me. But I don’t know what does, so logically might as well do one or both of those until I figure it out, right?

I don’t know. Still in thinking mode. Only I can answer what I want to do, and to be fair I am grateful I have the full agency and autonomy to decide. Let’s get on to the budget part.

Budget Update: December 2022

In December 2022, I spent RM16,572.97. The top 3 top expenses were:

  • Dates/Travel (RM6,233.84) – Total used for Vietnam trip, paid in advance Yogyakarta trip
  • Donations & Gifts (RM3,938.95) – Parents TNB bill, zakat for 2022
  • Misc Needs (RM1,408.62) – Luggage bags and travel items, new shoes, towels and yoga mat

Cumulatively, the top 3 expenses make up 71% of my total December 2022 expenses.

Note: My spending for December 2022 was actually a bit unusual and very much circumstantial. I don’t foresee Dates/Travel, Donations & Gifts and Misc Needs taking the top 3 spot again anytime soon. Just so happen these categories required a lot of expenses this month

(My belief is, if you want to save money, trim first from the top 3 expenses rather than cut out a few ringgits from other already-low expenses)

My Spending Breakdown in December 2022

Here’s what I spent on in the whole month of December 2022, in their respective categories and from highest to lowest amount:

Spending notes:

  • I calculated my groceries total for the year and it turns out, we average around RM750 in Groceries per month for 2 people which isn’t bad! Assuming 200 meals made at home per month (for 2), that’s just RM3.75 per meal on average!

Yay of the Month:

#1 – Bergaji & Pokai Book hit NUMBER 1 BESTSELLER

In November it even made the MPH weekly bestsellers list!!

To say I am happy is an understatement. I am ECSTATIC!

If you haven’t gotten a copy and want one, you can buy Bergaji & Pokai book online at or at bookstores nationwide 🙂 Keep the receipt because you can use to claim tax relief* :))

*for 2024

#2 – Went to Vietnam

We went to Da Nang and Hoi An, Vietnam for 6 days 🙂

I usually do a budget breakdown article for my travels but this time around I don’t feel like it. It was an alright trip but not amazing. I kinda wish I allocated the money to a better location. Still glad to have went though.

#3 – Paid zakat

I pay my zakat at end of December every year because my income isn’t salary x 12, it’s combination of incomes:

  • sponsored/brands
  • speaking engagements
  • affiliate incomes (multiple platforms)
  • IPO profit
  • vending machine income
  • Money Stories from Malaysians and Bergaji & Pokai book sales
  • Plus the RM10k EPF withdrawal is also zakat-able

Remembering the first few times I did it and I felt sayangnya to pay zakat. But now its just, ok just get it done, its my obligation plus there are other people’s rightful allocation in my money, so.

#4 – Upgraded insurance

After procastinating on it (for 10 years…), I finally reviewed and upgraded my insurance plan.

Btw, here’s your reminder to re-review your plan every 5 years or so, or after every life major event (marriage, death, new job, new child etc). Old plans can suck and you’re better off switching to the newer products.

Btw re-reviewing your insurance plan is your agent’s job, if you have one. This service is part of the reason why they’re paid commission. If they’re not doing their job, it might be a good idea to get a better, more attentive one.

#5 – Went to therapy

Am battling some personal inner struggles and suffered panic attacks twice. The second time it happened, I told myself this can’t go on, I need help. Objective help, not from (well-meaning but biased) loved ones.

Total spent was only RM120 for one session but it was so, so helpful. I’m happy. Generally speaking my mental health is good but in 2023, I plan to get help whenever I feel like I need it.

#6 – Appeared on..

#1 – Private personal finance workshop organised by WOMEN:Girls

#2 – Leveling the playing field – the social & youth narrative organised by Malaysia Women and Girls Forum 2022

#3 – Helping you navigate money step-by-step by BFM Ringgit and Sense show

#7 – Misc


  • Fifty Things that Made the Modern Economy by Tim Hartford
  • Baby Proof by Emily Giffin
  • The 5 Essentials: Using Your Inborn Resources to Create a Fulfilling Life by Bob Deutsch, PhD

Bought for myself:

  • Luggage bags to avoid AirAsia’s check-in baggage fee
  • Travel adapter
  • Face masks
  • New towels (to replace old ones)
  • New shoes (to replace old ones)
  • Yoga mat (to replace old ones)
  • Duvet cover
  • 2 dresses, 2 leggings/pajama pants, 1 top

Nay of the Month:

#1 – Phone screen glitch

After 2.5 years of using my current iPhone, the screen now suddenly got glitch – there’s a couple of lines that should not be there.

It’s a minor annoyance. Will still use it for at least 2.5 years more (hopefully will last), only then will consider getting a new phone.

#2 – Problems with my Maybank Debit Card

In the previous month, my Maybank Amex card stopped working. That got sorted out (after some frustration).

In December 2022, my Maybank Debit card expired but never arrived. Had to go to the branch to sort it out. All done now but sigh, wishing no bank visits or calls anytime soon.

Things to Look Forward to:

  • Trip to Yogyakarta (managed to get 5 nights at 5-star hotel for approx RM300 per night??? I’ll take it!)
  • Writing my 23 for 2023 list (done: bolded what I achieved in 2022)

Well, that was my December 2022. How was yours? What’s your yay of the month, nay of the month, and something you’re looking forward to? Tell me in the comments section 🙂

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

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