january 2018
Suraya's Monthly Budget Update

Budget Update: January 2018

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january 2018

Budget Update: January 2018

After December 2017‘s spending massacre, I’m happy that my spending last month was so much more under control! I spent RM5.5k in January 2018 (a third of that is business expenses). There’s still room to lower expenses – specifically, food (read that as snacks-I-couldn’t-resist).

People say that January felt long. Was it? For me, January was very eventful – so the motion of time was kinda skewed. It felt both fast and slow.

What a strange concept, time. We all have the same amount, but we all experience it in different ways. Nowadays I treasure time a lot more than money, an opposite from before. This is a generalisation, but I think all of us will go through these stages:

  • Work; exchange our time for money (the sad thing is, some people never get past this stage)
  • Have enough money; use it to manage time more effectively
  • Have time; some people use their extra time well (they make stuff happen), some people don’t (they consume stuff)

Regardless of which stage you’re at, it’s worth thinking of what you want to do with your time, and how you want to spend it. In 2018, I don’t want to be merely happy, I want to be fulfilled. If I can do that while earning money at the same time, all the better.

What does fulfilment mean to you? What would you do if money is not an issue right now?

Deep la pulak. Sorry. Eheh.

january 2018

Yay of the month:

  • Went to an Orang Asli kampung and taught English. I only managed to stay for a couple of nights, but that was enough to fall in love with the village and her super hospitable villagers. Kampung Tual in Pahang has no phone signal; I’m not going to lie – being cut off from the internet for a few days gave me anxiety at first. But because of that, I absorbed everything – from the coolness of the morning mist to the creak of the bamboo-made longhouse to the sharp bites of tiny insects to the sing-a-long guitar sessions by the kampung boys to… this space is not enough to do the kampung justice. Let’s just say it was one of the best experiences in my life by far.
  • Read three books. Rich Malaysia, Poor Malaysians by Anas Alam Faizal – a collection of newspaper columns by the author on various topics, with the overarching theme of educating and inspiring Malaysians to do and be better; The Power of Habits: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg – the most important takeaway from this book is how to break bad habit loops and how to create good routines; and The Elegant Universe: Superstrings, Hidden Dimensions, and the Quest for the Ultimate Theory by Brian Greeneย – talks about general relativity, special relativity, quantum mechanics, string theory and how they work. Theoretical physics is fascinating, but I admit I really struggled to understand what the author was saying around halfway through the book.
  • Attended a 3-hourย Psychological First Aid Workshop. The instructor taught us a set of best practices usually given to field workers who are deployed to help people who just experienced a traumatic event. The knowledge is handy to have.
  • Completed two official Google exams, both related to my work and personal interest. I am now Google Adwords Certified and have the Google Analytics Individual Qualification ๐Ÿ™‚ The Udemy courses I bought for this purpose helped a lot (and I got them during a massive sale!)
  • The Power of Habits book deserves some credit for this one: I am trying to destroy bad habits and instil good ones. Ie I am quitting smoking, exercising more regularly and getting back on keto. There were days when my willpower would deplete and I’d binge on food or cigarettes, but I think the worse is over. Wish me luck.
  • Re-dyed two of my faded black jeans – they now look as good as new ๐Ÿ™‚ I’d count this as a frugal move, yay.
  • Received help offers for my NGO fundraising platform idea. Thank you so much. I’m still working on it –ย  am kinda stuck at the conceptualisation stage and need to figure out a few key elements. In due time.
  • A kind anon gave an amazing present – links to >100 free Udemy courses! I signed up for tens of courses (this time, greed is good!) and many of you guys did, too. Quick invite for you to follow my Ringgit Oh Ringgit FB page and my twitter page – I share money-related info and sometimes giveaway opportunities all over the place.

Nay of the month:

  • My grandmother was hospitalised. One weekend, I went back to the parents’ and found out my grandmother was just transported to the ER by an ambulance. We thought she wouldn’t make it, we really did. Thankfully, she’s a fighter. She spent a week in the hospital and was released with strict medical instructions. I’m happy, but I’m also mentally preparing myself for the inevitable. When that happens… guys, I will have to see my mom completely heartbroken. That scares me a lot.
  • I found out that my laptop, a barely 4 months-old Surface Pro 4 has flickering screen issues – it would overheat and cause different screens to leave phantom shadows. Investigated and find out many others complaining about the same thing. They even have a name for it – flickergate. Contacted Microsoft support and they say it might be due to applications I have installed. Uninstalled some of them and saw immediate improvement – so far, so good, but let’s see. Anyway, I love this laptop, but this is NOT what I expected from a premium device. I splurged for this expense, dammit.
  • Got new glasses. Attracted by the low initial price, then overpaid because of necessary add-ons -_- I gotta fix this weakness of mine and not be swayed by low INITIAL prices too much. I hate it when I try to be frugal but it backfires.
  • Bitcoin price plummeted by more than 50%. I try not to be, but I am nervous. Sometimes I forget how risky it is.
  • The will-writing process is more frustrating than I thought. I, a liberal Muslim, am trying to work within the frameworks of outdated Islamic inheritance laws. Am I bitter about this? Yes. Am I still going to follow it anyway because I have to, because itโ€™s my obligation as a Muslim and I have no way out of it? Sigh, yes. At least there ARE ways to ensure my Mom and Dad will get equal shares, not 1/3 and 2/3 respectively as per Faraid law.ย  I will share my will-writing journey in a future article, so stay tuned.
  • I got my eyebrows threaded but I don’t like the results ๐Ÿ™

Things to Look Forward to:

  • This year is the year of personal projects. I’m happy to say that I’ve decided to produce a theatre show, scheduled for Q3 this year. I’ll be working with an amazing director.ย I’ve never been a producer, but I’ll learn. It’ll be fun. More details to come <3
  • Am really itching to do some backpacking-style solo travelling. Haven’t done that in a while, I miss it. Will be keeping a close eye on the next AirAsia sale.
  • Purchasing some more insurance. I have a medical card and personal accident insurance – need to add critical illness, at least.

Chinese New Year is around the corner. This means no one will be in working mood, really – work will get done, but barely. Enjoy your quasi-holiday ๐Ÿ˜‰

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

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  1. Hi Suraya, I started reading RoR when I was googling for “freelancing in malaysia” early in January and your website was on the first result page (yay!). Subsequently spent hours and days reading the rest of RoR because not only have you made it very informational and useful in terms of the local context, but your writing style is also laced with wit and transforms this usually dry topic of PF to be entertaining, so kudos and hats off to you. =)

    I have been a silent reader/lurker but popped in to say Hi to a fellow keto-er! ๐Ÿ˜€ I acknowledge that it is not a lifestyle that is easy to ease into for many people, myself included, but it has done wonders for my constant state of brain fog and migraine (all anxiety/depression induced). It would be interesting if, once you have gotten back into keto, you could do a write-up on how to keto in Malaysia on a budget. In my experience, a lot of people share the misconception that keto is expensive because of all the ‘premium’ ingredients we need to get to stay in keto while substituting all the carbs ie almond flour, coconut oil, MCT oil, avocadoes, quality fatty meat cuts etc. And a lot of the Malaysian cheap eats will be out of access for us, like no more RM2 roti canai or RM3 nasi lemak! Spend more when having to dine out! And thus discouraged from trying out keto. But personally I find that while I have been spending more on food, I have also ended saving more (paradox!) because once in keto, I have successfully managed to curb all my random cravings, so I don’t feel tempted anymore to splurge on cafe cakes, bakery items, or mamak/kopitiam, simply because I end up eating less on keto.

    If you would like to collect info on my budget on keto and/or research on keto-compliant local foods here in Klang Valley, I’d be happy to lead you to other resources and share my own experience with you via email ๐Ÿ™‚

    Also congrats on the theatre production gig! ๐Ÿ˜€ Looking forward to reading more about your theatre developments in the future

    1. Hey Jessica,
      Omg, thanks so much for the love. You made my day!

      On keto, you’re in luck – I did write about it before ๐Ÿ™‚ Here: http://ringgitohringgit.com/keto-diet-malaysia/ That said I’ll happily take your email offer!

      Recently found out about ketojules.com too, so there’s another source for keto for Malaysians!

      I will do my best for that theatre thing ๐Ÿ™‚

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