income and expenses
Suraya's Monthly Budget Update

My Total Income and Expenses in 2017

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income and expenses

In January 2017, I posted My Total Income and Expenses in 2016 article and was blown away by supportive comments – you guys actually liked reading an analysis of my personal income and expenses for the whole year.

So here’s how 2017 turned out for me, based on my financial data. Incomes are recorded via a Google spreadsheet while expenses are recorded via my expense-tracking app Money Lover.

Income in 2017

Total income in 2017: RM170,718.33 or an average of RM14,226.53 per month. Happy to report that I significantly increased my earning. Last year, it was RM76,151.19 or an average of RM6345.93 per month.

My second year of self-employment was a profitable one. That’s good, because I went on an all-out ‘earning mode’, so to speak. It was exhausting, and I came close to burning out a few times, but it was worth the effort. I’m also glad I took the time to optimise this website as a passive income stream – all the Google Adsense and referral links really do add up.

Can’t believe this all started by just offering my services online. Here’s how you can start earning online too.

In 2018, I don’t actually want to ‘earn as much as I can’. I want to take it slow, earn where I can, but mostly focus on personal projects and self-development. Will share those plans in later articles 🙂

Expenses in 2017

Every month, you guys get to see my spending breakdown via these reports. I love doing these, because I get to assess where I spent my money. A diary of sorts, except it’s not conveyed in words but in spending data.

Zooming out to the year view, a different type of analysis can be retrieved. What you spend on is an indication of your priority. It gives a deeper insight of who you are as a person. I want to get this message across because I want you to find out who you are via this method, too.

Total expenses in 2017: RM102,820.26 or an average of RM8,568.36 per month (rounded up to RM8600 per month). In 2016, I spent a total of RM58,154.24 or an average of RM4846.19 per month (rounded up to RM4900 per month).

Holy mother of dragons, that translates to 76% increase! That is a big increase! Huge! What did I spend on in 2017?

Breakdown of expenses:

income and expenses

And here it is sorted by categories, from highest to lowest:

income and expenses income and expenses

Breakdown and comments on each expense category

1) Business – RM21,651.24 or RM1804.27 per month, on average

Not surprised. I wasn’t stingy with business expenses in 2017. The whole ‘you have to spend money to make money’ thing, that’s true.

Things included in this expense category:

  • Virtual assistant
  • Books
  • Professional proofreading software
  • Transportation to various events, meetings and networking opportunities
  • New phone and laptop (Related: 4 Best Tips I Got From You Guys When I Wanted to Buy New Laptop)
  • Website hosting and domain name renewal
  • Facebook advert for the Budget 2018 Lepak Session
  • Entrance fees to conferences
  • Memberships to trade organisations
  • Exam fee to get Certified Bitcoin Professional
  • Online courses
  • I also had to absorb some losses from a non-paying client

It’s high, but I ain’t mad. These expenses helped me earn the highest annual income I’ve ever had in my life.

2) Donations and Gifts – RM15,225.41 or RM1268.78 per month, on average

This category took first place in 2016, but I’m glad it got second place for 2017 🙂

Aside from the usual zakat contribution, there’s a definite increase in gifting activities. Looking at my data, I bought and paid for a lot of things for my loved ones and friends.

P/s- If you’re a friend slash acquaintance of mine and reading this – you have helped me a lot, from telling people about this blog, to giving me feedback and advice on my work. I’m very, very grateful for your support. Thank you.

3) Utilities & Rent – RM12,781.83 or RM1065.15 per month, on average

No surprises here. Gotta stay somewhere.

I’m kinda sorta considering buying a property for own stay – lots of incentives to boost the property market in 2018. Do you guys have property recommendations? My requirements:

  • Budget: RM600k and under, preferably including renovations (or if not, a semi-furnished place)
  • In Klang Valley and well connected to business areas
  • Walking distance to public transportation and amenities like groceries and banks is a bonus
  • Freehold or leasehold I don’t care
  • Have a balcony (and ideally have a nice view)
  • Ideally 1000 square feet and under. I don’t really want a big space.

If you have suggestions, share in the comments section 🙂

4) Dates/Travel – RM10,077.32 or RM839.78 per month, on average

Almost doubled from last year! Crap, I’m getting too used to paying extra for better services and experiences. Gotta scale back in 2018.

In 2017, I went to Langkawi, Ho Chi Minh, Rainforest World Music Festival and the Maldives.

5) Insurance and Medical – RM8,5670.31 or RM713.36 per month, on average

I have medical card and PA insurance – wrote about them here. Additionally, I got braces in 2017, so that added a chunk to this expense category.

6) Misc Needs – RM7,240.79 or RM603 per month, on average

Misc Needs is a category for random ‘must pay’ things that don’t really fit elsewhere. I have to pay these, or I’ll either go to jail or will pay for it in some way or another. For me, these include:

  • Tax payment
  • Personal grooming like facials, sunscreen, shampoo and makeup
  • Stationaries
  • Clothes, shoes and underwear
  • Clothes alterations
  • Haircuts
  • Phone cases
  • Passport renewal
  • Devices like hair dryer, washing machine, waterpik (water flossing thingy) and vacuum cleaner
  • Replacing kitchen stuff like water filter, chopping board and kitchen scissors
  • Replacing home stuff like bedsheets
  • Home and laptop repairs
  • Sports equipment and accessories
  • Cat scratching post

7) Misc Wants – RM6,902.89 or RM575.24 per month, on average

Shit, I bought a lot of things that I strictly didn’t need. A category to improve on in 2018, definitely!

I bought:

  • Steam and mobile games (Dream Daddy ftw)
  • Tobacco
  • Clothes and shoes that I strictly didn’t need
  • Face masks
  • The biggest waste of money was the derma filler for RM3,600 – cosmetic fix injections to reduce my eye bags. It lasts only for like a year or so – not something I plan to continue at this price. Why did I do this. Why.

8) Groceries – RM5,096.04 or RM424.67 per month, on average

Not that big of an increase from last year, good. I try to buy good-quality products for health reasons, and make meat consumption a treat rather than an everyday thing.

9) Loan Repayments – RM5,028.78 or RM419.07 per month, on average

Monthly deductions for my 25-year ASB loan and paying off the remainder of IKEA instalments for home stuff bought when I moved back to KV in 2016.

Technically I’m still paying instalments for my laptop, but that’s in the Business category and not included here.

10) Social – RM4,502.62 or RM375.22 per month, on average

Paying for meals with friends. Sometimes we split the bill, sometimes I just pay for the group. If I can still afford this in 2018, I will continue. It makes me feel like Santa.

11) Public transportation – RM2,074.95 or RM172.91 per month, on average

Gotta go places. This mostly goes to Grab and Uber.

12) Petrol, Parking & Toll – RM1,550.11 or RM129.18 per month, on average

When I use my friends’ or family members’ cars, I fill ’em up.  No 11 and 12 combined is still cheaper than car ownership, I’m okay with this.

13) Mobile – RM1,118.70 or RM93.23 per month, on average

It got higher because I switched to Maxis postpaid (the RM128+GST per month one) around the middle of the year.

14) Food – RM969.27 or RM80.77 per month, on average

The reason why I’m no longer losing weight. These are not groceries, not makan sessions with friends and family, not dates, just pure lack of discipline to resist snacks when I’m out and about. At least it’s the last one in the list.

Conclusion and self-reflection

I’m effectively saving 39.77% of my income. I’m happy with that savings rate. Let’s just call it 40% and call it a day 🙂

50% of my expenses in 2017 went to Business, Donations & Gifts and Utilities & Rent. That’s alright. I don’t think Business costs will go up in 2018 – on the contrary it’s likely to go down. No plans to buy new gadgets and some things I’ve already paid in advance.

Categories I need to reduce expenses are: Dates/Travel, Misc Wants and Food – they cumulatively make up almost 17% of 2017’s spending.

The rest of the categories, I just need to be mindful of them and make sure 1) No one is taking advantage of me and 2) The expenses are worth it and provide value to my life.

Well that’s it folks! Thanks for reading until the end. Now the big question is – what kind of person are YOU, according to your financial data? If you don’t have detailed info, just share with me what you think are your top expenses 🙂

Related: My Total Income and Expenses in 2016

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  1. Hi Suraya,

    I’m also currently using Money Lover after reading your review in this site not so long time ago, its about 2 years now I guess been using the app from free version to paid. Just wondering, do you use the Linked Service function in the app where you can link your bank accounts with Money Lover. How do you differentiate the utilization of your money in hand and bank transfer.


    1. Hey Deen, I don’t actually use the linked service feature so can’t say much on this unfortunately. Leaving your comment here in case others can chip in.

  2. Awesome sharing. You get to indulge and still save quite abit.
    I need to improve on this part as I indulge one too many times.

    I’m sure when you include profits from investment and crypto it’s going to shoot way higher in the earnings.

    Btw, you repeated 10 and 11 twice,not that it matters.

  3. Hi Suraya!

    Been an avid reader of your blog close to two years now and you certainly inspires me to start blogging about personal finance myself. Always enjoy your financial review kinda of thing. There’s an odd satisfaction in seeing other’s financial, lol.

    Anyway, happy new year!

  4. Hi Suraya,
    I would like to know how you manage to record your expenses? I mean like do you usually record it everyday or once in a week?

    Btw, great sharing 🙂


    1. Hey Irwan,

      I try to record every purchase right after I made it 🙂 Easy through the app.

      Thanks for swinging by 🙂

  5. Hi Suraya!
    I read through your blog just new. I’m most attracted how you doing great managing your expenses/finance. I’m starting to use the Money Lover soon, but I’m not sure how should I categorise them? I really need your help to help me managing my financial. Anyway, you are awesome!

  6. Hi Suraya,
    I just stumbled upon your blog. Love it, btw would like to read more bout your cryptocurrency trading. Where did you get the cert from as I saw it was part of your expense?

    1. Hey Audrey,
      Thanks for swinging by, happy to have you here 🙂
      I got the cert from Cryptocurrency Certification Consortium –

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