Suraya's Monthly Budget Update

Budget Update: March 2016

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March Budget Update Summary

I don’t know why, but this post was hard to do. It wasn’t like March wasn’t a great month, because it was. I guess there was so many things, and my brain just wants to nope out of the task of organising itself out.

If I can describe March in a couple of words, it would be this – back on track. Almost exactly 6 months ago, I moved to Ipoh. It was a great learning curve. I tried to open a business – that failed. I tried looking for local jobs – salary sucks + not much opportunity in my field. I tried to reach out to my contacts and made a few calls to friends of friends. In one instance, I cold-called a contact given by my uncle – not technically but I practically grew up with him, he’s my father’s friend since his uni days, a really nice guy – and broke down crying at the end of that call because I felt so pathetic, like I was begging.

That was the lowest point, but what went down must come back up again, and it did. I became a freelance writer (related: read my guide on expenses and incomes of this trade). Now I make more that my old job’s salary, back in KL. And people have been approaching me for writing projects. I have a lot of opportunities, and even turned down low-paying jobs because I can.

Now I’m at that point where I feel like I’m back on track, life and career wise. It’s a good feeling. I’m very thankful.


Yay of the Month:

  • I doubled what I made in February. And I’m working on projects that I really, genuinely enjoy. From home. Life is good.
  • Worked out a lot. I became a regular gym-goer – at least twice a week. At RM5 per visit, this is an expense I’m happy to pay for. I also got myself a MiBand to track my steps and sleep.
  • Read some really good books. I highly recommend The Invention of Nature. It’s about Alexander von Humboldt, arguably the first person who talked about man-made climate change and its negative effects. He’s a household name in Europe, and I’m ashamed that I didn’t know about his great contributions to science before reading this book. It’s like that time when I was 17 and met a German girl and she referenced the Holocaust and I went ‘what?’ and she’s like ‘you’ve never heard of it??’ and I’m like ‘no, we didn’t learn about it in school’ and she’s like, ‘here’s a website about the genocide. With pictures.’ and I finally knew about this important part of history for the fricking first time.
  • Took a Facebook ad – something I was always curious about and wanted to try. Here’s everything I learned about it.

Nay of the Month:

  • Spent a lot this month. Almost RM3k. Granted it was the unexpected insurance premium and zakat that made March so costly. And perhaps I spent a bit too much on groceries. In my defense, a new Jaya Grocers just opened in Ipoh!
  • Speaking of zakat… Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind the expense. I just don’t like that I feel obligated to support JAKIM and JAWI by giving money to them. Did you know that by paying zakat, I don’t have to pay income tax (or rather, its completely tax-deducted)? I want my money to go towards, say, scholarships fund. Or health care. But no, it goes to the religious body that I don’t even support. I don’t know what to do about this, I feel like my hands are tied. They issued a fatwa about how it’s a sin to give zakat outside of these institutions and I feel religiously pressured. Suggestions for me?
  • This is totally selfish, but I hate that RM got stronger slash USD got weaker. I’m losing a few hundred ringgit from the exchange rate (because I get paid in USD).

Things to Look Forward to:

  • Working on all the projects that I love.
  • Learning and applying more productivity hacks. Time is valuable. I finally learned how to automate my Twitter!
  • I need to be more strict on myself with this keto diet. I cheat all the time, even though it makes me feel horrible.
  • Spend more time with friends and family. I think I got too side-tracked because of work, but they are supremely important to my life. If I know you in real life and I haven’t met you in a while, please know that I love you and I miss you ;_;

Have a good April, you guys!

To read about my past monthly budget update, click here.

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  1. Came here from Reddit! Happy that you got your job thingie sorted out 🙂

    Gonna start following your writing – it’s very clear, concise and quite informative. You go, girl!!

  2. Hi Suraya,

    Great blog! I enjoyed reading your posts and very inspiring! Re zakat, you don’t necessarily pay through the “institution.” What I did was pay to Sekolah Tahfiz etc. Make sure the calculation is right and there must be akad (or else it’s just a charity). (I read the news link and funny language– “sah tapi berdosa” ??) Keep up the good work!

    1. Hi Nad,

      Ala, why you so sweet like that? Thanks!

      As for zakat- Really? I’m interested to know more about it. What is ‘akad’?

      1. Well, I meant to say donation/sedekah (not charity–technically I think zakat is a form of charity?) Set your intention to pay zakat and you need to convey your intention verbally to the other party and the other party must acknowledge/accept it– that’s akad.

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