budget update january 2021
Suraya's Monthly Budget Update

Budget Update: January 2021 – The Start of MCO 2.0

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!

January 2021 was the start of MCO 2.0. Obviously I, along with millions of other Malaysians, am bummed out by it. Whatever hope I had for a short lockdown period vanished as the days went by – it looks like its going to last a while, folks. I soon settled into my WFH lifestyle and busied myself with work and hobbies.

My biggest creative challenge of the month was figuring out how to churn out personal finance content that isn’t tone-deaf – the last thing I want to do is talk about aggressively investing, while some people are struggling to get by. However, I also get a lot of questions about investing, so I’m conflicted.

So tell me, dear readers – should I or shouldn’t I cover investing topics? (And which ones?) If not investing, then what do YOU want to read? I need ideas.

Budget Update: January 2021

In January 2021, I spent RM5,315.19. The top 3 top expenses were:

  • Utilities & Rent (RM1,262.75) – That’s lower than usual. Hmm, it appears I have not paid my water nor aircon bill. Must get to that
  • Donations & Gifts (RM1,101.50) – Mostly for my parents’ electric bill
  • Groceries (RM912.22) – Higher groceries cost than usual, even after husband picked up ~RM250 of the tab as we stocked up on frozen fish, frozen berries, and ground coffee for months to come (we are limiting our groceries run to once a week)

My Spending Breakdown in January 2021

Here’s what I spent on in the whole month of January 2021, in their respective categories and from highest to lowest amount:

Yay of the Month:

#1 – Abundant work

Word of mouth truly is the best way to get jobs. In January, I received multiple work offers, some of which I had to turn down as it was over my capacity to deliver. The opportunities I couldn’t take, I shared around – that is a source of joy for me as well.

Thank you everyone who thought of me for communications-related work. You know who you are and you are wonderful.

#2 – Learning about DeFi (Decentralised Finance)

I’m sure you, too, have heard about the whole GameStop thing.

Companies siding with the hedge funds and calling it part of requirements/guidelines doesn’t surprise me – the wealthy understand class solidarity very well. The whole fiasco (which is still playing out as I’m typing this) only convinced me to speed up my efforts in self-learning DeFi.

I like the way DeFi democratised finance. For me, it is one way to feel less scared of the future, as the concentration of wealth and power continues.

Related: I Am Self-Learning DeFi (Decentralised Finance). Here’s Why.

#3 – Finally grew enough courage to start opening submissions for Money Stories from Malaysians: Volume 3

Despite having done it twice. Despite turning a profit both times. Despite all the kind reviews from readers. It’s still scary.

I would love to read your money story submission 🙂 Full details at: WANTED: Your Personal Finance Fiction/Non-Fiction Stories for #MYMoneyStories! (PAID CONTEST)

#4 – Worked on my balcony garden project

Having a balcony garden is one of my 21 for 2021 List. It’s going on well – some of the kailan and lettuce seeds have already sprouted 🙂 Let’s see how far I can do this! #aspiringgreenthumb

Expenses related to this goal: a new IKEA shelving unit, soil, gardening tools – cumulatively around RM100

#5 – Collaboration with Her Duit

BIG thank you to Her Duit for having me on the Her Duit podcast! My topic was Controversial Money Topics, covering savings, spending, debt and investing. You can listen to the episodes on Spotify here.

Listen to a snippet below:

#6 – Misc

  • Read two books: The Psychology of Money: Timeless Lessons on Wealth, Greed and Happiness by Morgan Housel (amazing book, gifted by Aaron Tang aka Mr Stingy) and Happier at Home: Kiss More, Jump More, Abandon a Project, Read Samuel Johnson and My Other Experiments in the Practice of Everyday Life by Gretchen Rubin
  • Bought a paint-by-numbers kit. Have always wanted to try doing one, and I have a lot of time to kill, so I got it.
  • Watched a lot of TV: Harry Potter (all 8 movies), Bling Empire (it made me empathise with super-rich people. Am not sure how I feel about that), Bridgerton and Call My Agent! (French series on Netflix, about a talent management agency)
  • Somehow I lost weight? I don’t know why or how but I hope this effortless weight loss continues!!

Nay of the Month:

#1 – Pets-related unexpected expenses

Had to buy new bedsheets because the cats ruined them with their ‘presents’. While at it, I also bought a new cat litter box, scrating post and catnip. Total damage: almost RM200

I’ve said it before and I’ve said it again. Nasib korang comel.

#2 – Covid-19 and family

Everything is better now, but we had a couple of Covid-19 infections among family members. It was scary and very much anxiety-inducing.

Things to Look Forward to:

  • First Valentine’s Day as a married couple <3

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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