february 2018
Suraya's Monthly Budget Update

Budget Update: February 2018

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Budget Update: February 2018

February 2018 was testing the limits of my willpower.

This blog is about personal finance, yes. But if you really go deep into the whole ‘health is wealth’ mentality, you’ll see it’s related. Interwoven, even. All the money in the world can’t buy me adventures that only a healthy body can give. If that is the case, what good is my money for?

With that in mind, I chose to start a severely restrictive diet (Keto) AND quit smoking at the same time in February 2018. For good measure, I also decided to pick up habits like drinking apple cider vinegar every morning and re-starting my exercise routine. Admittedly, progress for the latter is slow.

To be honest, I am miserable without my go-to drugs, sugar and nicotine. I have also fallen off the bandwagon many, many times. But still, I want to go on. Like Celine Dion’s heart.

But damn. Willpower. What a hard thing to control. What a hard thing to understand. Have you heard of that ‘willpower is finite’ theory? This theory says that no one has perfect, unlimited supply of willpower and everyone starts the day with a limited amount. Every conscious decision you make reduces the supply of willpower available. Once you run out of willpower for the day, you are at higher likelihood of making easy (read: bad) decisions. This is why, they say, visionaries like Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerburg choose to wear the same thing every day (among other things) – to reduce as much unnecessary decisions they have to make, so they can conserve their willpower for other things that matter.

It’d be interesting to see how this personal experiment on willpower will affect my spending and expenses. So far, I can see it reflected heavily in the Groceries category.

Back to you: what habits are you learning/unlearning currently to be a healthier, wealthier you?

february 2018

Yay of the Month:

  • My high school friends and I completed Skytrex Shah Alam’s Extreme Challenge Course. Lived to tell about it. Hell yeah.
  • Spending Chinese New Year with good friends and family <3
  • Donated to the Home for the Elderly Transgender People via NGOHub.Asia. Mainly because I was pissed off at #donedakwah Muslims on social media. From now on, I decided that if I was angry at something, I’ll turn that anger into donations.
  • Ran out of face wash, decided to just use only Micellar water for morning/night routine. A month in, turns out my skin likes it, no breakouts. Cool.
  • Treated myself to The Nail Parlour’s multi-award-winning Zenspa pedicure. Really enjoyed the experience 🙂
  • Went to FRIM’s waterfall and had a nice chill day in nature with friends.
  • Read four books. Taliban Shuffle: Strange Days in Afghanistan and Pakistan by Kim Barker (damn witty account of a journalist who covered the wars. If you always read world news and you like behind-the-scenes, you’ll like this book. Highly recommended), New Aging: Live Smarter Now to Live Better Forever by Matthias Hollwich with Bruce Mau Designs (re-read before I went to World Urban Forum), Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert (lived up to the hype, beautiful writing) and Moody Bitches: The Truth About the Drugs You’re Taking, the Sleep You’re Missing, the Sex You’re Not Having, and What’s Really Making You Crazy by Julie Holland, MD (most medical research-backed writings use males as test subjects, so reading this and learning specifically about the female psyche was refreshing).
  • Made SurayaCoin for fun rofl.
  • Had fun viewing My Think City‘s microhome prototype during the World Urban Festival. Love the idea of urban co-housing. I think it’s completely doable in Malaysian cities. Here’s a business idea: convert a couple of shoplots (even in shopping malls – we have an oversupply of those anyway) into small homes, around 600 square feet or less in size. Each of the homes will have their own private areas (toilet, kitchen etc) but they also have access to a common area to encourage community living. Wouldn’t it be awesome if we have thematic co-housing solutions? Like this community housing area focuses on sustainable living; they share an edible rooftop garden and a chicken coop. Or that community housing area is IOT-focused; they have weekly tech hangout sessions. Sounds cool, yes? Personally I want to stay in a frugality-focused community rofl.

Nay of the Month:

  • Spent a lot. Top expenses: RM2.9k for business-related expenses, RM1.2k for rent (as usual), RM1k for will/trust-writing services, and RM500 each for donation and LLP setup.
  • So my Surface Pro 4 had this flickering issue going on. Reached out to Microsoft support – we tried remote trouble-shooting but in the end the issue persisted and I ended up getting a replacement laptop. I am SO glad I got a total of 5 years’ warranty. Putting this in ‘Nay of the Month’ because sorting everything out was crazy mafan. Microsoft Support team was good though.
  • OMFG that high groceries bill though. RM782 a month!! Stocking up on keto-friendly food is very expensive. I need to lower my cost-per-meal amount, stat. Spending almost RM30 per day for HOMEMADE meals is unacceptable.
  • I am one of those people who sold bitcoin when the price plunged to $6-7k. It went past my internal stop loss, my personal ‘will sell if price went down to X amount’. It’s hard not to regret the decision, now that the price is back to around $11k. #traderproblems
  • Ringgit Oh Ringgit website traffic went down 🙁 I think it’s due to Facebook’s new algorithm – at least that’s what the digital marketers are theorising right now. Many content creators also suffer the same fate. Oh well, I guess I have to step up the quality of posts so people will naturally share my content.
  • Raised my Personal Accident insurance from RM300k to RM500k. The monthly commitment is RM53 now, or RM20ish more per month.
  • Still in the process of doing my will/trust. It’s taking a while :/ I really want to write about it already.
  • Decided to not proceed with my NGO donation platform idea and promote NGOHub.Asia instead. I feel a slight shame over this, but at least I’m free to pursue other things I’m interested in.

Things to Look Forward to:

  • Getting more control of my willpower. I fought a lot of ‘I want sugar’ and ‘I want to smoke’ thoughts in February 2018. It’s a lot easier now, although those thoughts are always there. I understand that unlearning habits take time, but like, brain, can you speed it up a bit?
  • Actually losing weight on this keto diet. Wtf I’m still the same weight one month on. The first time I was on keto, I practically melted the fat off. Wtf is going on.
  • Doing talks and attending events. Write more. Being productive instead of busy.
  • Planning a show! Registered Suna Productions, a theatre productions company. If you like my writings and have always been curious about creative arts and the business side of it, follow us on FB!

While I have you here, can I ask for a favour? I’m looking for an event location. Budget: RM10k for 2 weeks (Thursday-Sunday, plus bump-in bump-out days). Ideally the event space must have high ceilings, beautiful architecture and available in Q3 2018. Can you help to suggest? If you have anywhere in mind, let me know in the comments!

Have an awesome March, you guys 🙂 It’s tax season again. Here’s to getting it over and done with, like ripping off a damn annoying band-aid.

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. I google back the Finite Will Power Theory…. Guess what i found…


    What’s the Latest Development?

    New analysis seems to overturn the now-popular notion that willpower is a finite resource, scarce and subject to rapid depletion. Instead, according to a 2010 study at Stanford University, belief in your own willpower makes it a stable fixture. In the study, “only people who believed that willpower was limited (according to an initial questionnaire) showed evidence of depleted willpower in tests of self-control given after a mentally challenging lab task. Subjects who believed that willpower was unlimited did just as well on follow-up self-control tasks as control subjects facing the task fresh.”

  2. Hey Suraya!

    I’m a fan of your writing & noticed you were looking for an event venue. This post may be from a while ago, but if you ever need a unique venue that can hold about (300 pax) at a time, do check out Pandora Spring Villa. It started out as a vacation rental, but a lot of people do come here for the tropical experience – so it’s a holiday attraction on it’s own!

    1. Hi Shahadah,

      Wow, what a beautiful place! I’ll keep it in mind if I ever need 300pax venue location, thanks for the tip!

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