Suraya's Monthly Budget Update

Budget Update: March 2019

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march 2019

Budget Update: March 2019

My expenses in March 2019 scared me. The number was so high!

The top 5 expenses in March 2019 were Business, Dates/Travel, Utilities & Rent, Misc Needs and Groceries. Together, those made up 82% of last month’s expenses.

Looking at the data, I can see why expenses were high – there were many lump-sum one-off purchases. For example:

  • Book printing – paid off the remaining RM1950
  • Book delivery and packaging costs – around RM1500
  • Good Vibes Festival 2019 tickets and accommodation – RM700
  • Bought a new fridge – RM899

Lump-sum one-off purchases throw me off. They are the business expenses (important!), the replacements for important gadgets and tools, the events you book so you look forward to the future, things like that. They’re all important.

I guess – and maybe this is a long time coming – that I have to come to terms that my expenses are never going to get as low as during my early 20s, when I could get by with RM2-3k-ish per month. Every month I beat myself up for saying my expenses were high, but I’m also a much different person since then. I have upgraded some areas in my lifestyle. For example, I’m paying RM1200 per month for the luxury of not having housemates.

Lifestyle upgrades. Money is finite, desire is not. How do we balance what we buy to make our life a little bit better and more comfortable but at the same time making sure the indulgences doesn’t get out of hand that we get into debt? Does anyone else have this worry? I’m sure some of you are battling the exact same personal struggle. Maybe that’s a post worth exploring.

budget update march 2019

Yay of the Month:

  • My book, Money Stories from Malaysians broke even within 2 weeks of pre-order sales! The long story, including expenses and breakdowns is at Selling Online in Malaysia: My Book Sold Well So Here’s A Case Study article
  • If there’s anything I learned during the whole book publishing process, where I curated short stories submitted by Malaysians, it’s that y’all have such amazing stories to tell. I’ve read books mostly from international authors all this while, and decided to consciously seek and read more books by Malaysian authors. Had a great start and bought 4 books during a GerakBudaya event during the International Women’s Day sales. Scored some really good titles, can’t wait to read them!
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  • Had Nasi Lemak with David Wang (of ClickWP), James Clear (author of Atomic Habits) and John of The Minimalist Baker ๐Ÿ˜€
  • Attended a time management workshop conducted by Ashley Suelyn and found out that I respond well to inner expectation (ie: keeping a New Year resolution or self-imposed goals) but resist outer expectations (ie: meeting work datelines or peer pressure). That means I need purpose to get meaningful work done – so I have to find purpose in things I don’t necessarily like to do, but is good for me. It was a great workshop, well worth the RM25 fee. Take The Four Tendencies quiz and find out why you act and (equally important) why you don’t act.
  • Managed to sell more items on Carousell and made a bit of pocket money from clutter.
  • Paid RM240 for another 3 months of gym membership at a local gym. So far, so good. I’m utilising it well. Went 8 times in March 2019. I want to aim for 10 in April 2019.
  • Read 2 books.ย Atomic Habits: An Easy and Proven Way to Build Good Habits and Break Bad Ones by James Clear (TL;DR – make small but consistent improvements every day) and Aini’s Railway Odyssey: An Exile’s 18,200km Journey Home from London to Kuala Lumpur by Nooraini Mydin (the 8-weeks budget trip costs her around RM27,500, including all the scams she fell prey to. Chinese scammers areย very unapologetic about taking money from tourists.)
  • Helping my dad sell his office at Phileo Damansara. If you have RM850k in loose change, hmu
  • Bought some tools to help me create more personal finance content!
  • Being interviewed at Leaderonomic’s The Pennywise Show ๐Ÿ™‚

Nay of the Month:

  • Accidentally poked a hole while chipping ice from the freezer and had to get a new fridge. RM899 in unexpected expenses, ughhhhhh. I was so annoyed I complained to everyone who would listen. In the process, I compiled everyone else’s unexpected expenses too… so at least I got something out of the whole experience. You can read it here: 24 Malaysians Share Their Uncommon Unexpected Expenses
  • Accidentally let a facial voucher I bought on Fave expire ๐Ÿ™ Wasted RM65
  • Went to Zoo Negara. It was horrible, I’m so embarrassed that this is what we have to offer to the world. It’s not just the dirty, rusted, unkempt cages and sad-looking animals. It’s also the fact that (1) they had the cheek to ask audience members to donate RM10 each to take pictures with the birds, DURING the animal show itself. Can you imagine watching a show with a picture-taking session in the middle of it?, and (2) there were many staff members whose job description is apparently to get you to pay for a picture-taking session at various checkpoints at the zoo. If you had plans to go to Zoo Negara, don’t. Until they get their shit together, go to Singapore Zoo instead.
  • Ate too much again. Spent RM140+ and gained weight. Stopped intermittent fasting because it just made me crave food. Sigh, this is quite the process.
  • 5 months or so ago, I ran out of my favourite shampoo, Kerastase. I love it but at RM200+ a bottle (lasting 16 or so months), it’s quite the splurge. So I’ve been making do with RM10-30 drugstore shampoo. Unfortunately, my hair is falling out more than ever. I decided to cut my losses and bought Kerastase shampoo, even though I have not finished all my existing shampoo yet. Sigh, I hate it when the product I love is so expensive!
  • No takers yet for this cat ๐Ÿ™ Do let me know if you or anyone you know is interested to adopt this cat. She’s a sweetheart. Area: One City USJ

Things to Look Forward to:

  • Will be reading an excerpt of Money Stories from Malaysians: Volume 1 at the Kuala Lumpur International Book Festival at PWTC on 7 April! Thanks again for the opportunity, Malaysian Writers Society <3 If you’re a writer – go join as a member. The community is so amazingly supportive.

  • Good Vibes Festival 2019. I know it’s hipster af but I did have a good time last year, so that’s why I’m going again
  • Collaborating on digital marketing with Nicole from I’m Funemployed. I do it ameteurishly, she does it for work. Excited to learn from a pro.
  • Testing out the digital marketing tools and services I bought. Wee I feel like a kid testing out different toys hehehe

A big challenge for April 2019 (and the coming months) is to find my ‘why’ for things I don’t necessarily like to do, but is good for me and my personal growth. I just want to focus on being a little bit better every day, because as James Clear says, ‘habits compound’.

To end this month’s budget update, here’s a fun call-to-action for you: take the Four Tendencies quiz, leave your results in the comments section, and let me know what you want to improve on (pick one: ticking things off your to-do list, beating procrastination, instilling leadership as a core value or to finally finish reading a book).

I’ll share with you a habit-forming strategy that works for someone of your tendency. The knowledge blew my mind – I hope it’ll blow yours away, too.

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

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  1. Taiping Zoo is pretty good though, animals is well taken care of, free locomotive ride to tour the place.

    If you found it too far, Sri Kembangan’s Farm in the city for petting zoo experience, does wonders to the children as well. KLCC aquaria for the no sweat experience.

    1. Hi Roti Kaya,

      Thanks for the recommendations! I guess I’ll be checking out Farm in the City next ๐Ÿ™‚

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