Money Management

Comparing My Average Monthly Expenses Before & After Covid-19

Did Covid-19 change the way you spend money?

Common sense said it did. Almost everyone has been affected by the pandemic, in one way or another (notably, following MCO rules to the best of our ability, correct not). Most people are spending more on groceries and online shopping, and less on everything else and offline purchases.

This is my guess based on what the media reported, but how true is that statement in my personal life?

So I thought, hey why not make a direct comparison of my spending pattern, before and after Covid-19 hit? In what way did my personal spending change, in each expense category? I can do this. I track my expenses. I have the data.

For the purpose of this article, I’ll be using,

  • Before Covid-19: My average monthly spending per category (as recorded in My Total Income and Expenses in 2019)
  • During Covid-19: Data collected since MCO started on 18 March 2020 until time of writing, (almost exactly 3 months worth of data)

Expenses Comparison: Before & After Covid-19

CategoryBefore Covid-19 (from 2019 Expenses Data)During Covid-19 (from 3 Months' Data)Comments
Utilities & RentRM1,292.96RM972.34Average reduced as landlady (bless her) waived one month's rent
BusinessRM1,271.90RM2103.79Coincided with #MYMoneyStories book printing & distribution
Dates & TravelRM1,240.16RM15.83What travel?
Donations & GiftsRM634.05RM2,957.35Biggest increase. Happy to do it
GroceriesRM495.32RM513.17Surprisingly more or less the same
Insurance & MedicalRM454.39RM166.33Maintained medical card and PA insurance. Reduced as no longer seeing chiropractor
Public TransportationRM377.44RM43.38Significantly reduced travel. Also used up SOCAR credit
Misc NeedsRM354.44RM340.37This seems to be my average, MCO or no
Misc WantsRM345.74RM36.66Didn't buy much non-necessaries
SocialRM354.44RM6.57Friends, I miss you!
FoodRM116.48RM141.63Increased non-groceries food expenses. Ok la, was puasa also
MobileRM80RM66.70Lucky enough to be able to generate enough referrals to offset mobile cost
Total average expenses per monthRM6,864.73RM7,364.12Roughly RM500 increase, but mostly due to Donations & Gifts category


As you can see:

  • Biggest increases are in categories: Donations & Gifts and Business
  • Biggest decreases are in categories: Dates & Travel, Insurance & Medical, Public Transportation, Misc Wants & Social
  • No or minimal changes in categories: Groceries, Misc Needs, Food (Non-Groceries) & Mobile
  • Overall, my expenses actually increased by almost RM500, if compared before and after Covid-19. Mostly due to Donations

Old me would be worried about appearing to be humblebragging, but new me embraces and – dare I say it – is proud of my own actions. I didn’t just encourage people to donate, I also put my money where my mouth is. Almost RM3k per month in donations is really stretching my budget but if there’s a worthy YOLO occasion, this is it.

How has Covid-19 affected your monthly expenses? Which expense categories significantly increased and decreased for you? Let me know in the comments section 🙂

5 Genres of Personal Finance Videos You HAVEN’T Watched

Like many of you, I, too, enjoy a nice round of YouTube binge-watching. I mean, who doesn’t go off to YouTube when procrastinating work, amirite? AMIRITE.

The purpose of this article is two-fold:

(1) to expand your idea of what fits under the category of ‘personal finance’. Too often, ‘personal finance videos’ mean videos about saving money and investing (how-tos, advice and motivation), but I think it’s broader than that. Many of the videos I’ve listed below are not ‘classic’ personal finance videos – usually they’re lumped under the catch-all ‘lifestyle’ and/or ‘parenting’ niche – but they’re useful as personal finance references.

(If you’re looking for the stereotypical personal finance Youtube listing: 8 Malaysia-Based Personal Finance YouTube Channels to Follow)

And, (2) make myself feel a bit better about the hours I spent watching them lol. At least I can tell myself ‘this is personal finance research’ as I click on the next suggested video.

Without further adooooo

(As much as possible I prioritised Malaysians in this list, because hell yeah support Malaysian content creators)

#1 – Grocery haul videos

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Best Ways to Use Your Economic Stimulus Money, Ranked

So you’ve probably heard all about the PN government’s RM250 bil economic stimulus package, designed to save Malaysia’s economy reduce the financial damage that COVID-19 and reduced oil prices will do to Malaysia’s economy.

(Well, it’s actually just RM25 bil in direct injection. You MakCik Kiahs aren’t getting that much. The loan deferments you still have to pay later and the EPF withdrawal is YOUR OWN MONEY, but I guess RM250 bil in total is *technically correct*, so let’s go with that.)

Regardless of the creative accounting, fact is that a lot of money will be freed up now, which can go back into the economy. Some of you will be getting a combination of the one-off financial assistance,

Some of you will choose to withdraw your EPF money, up to a maximum withdrawal of RM500 per month. Some of you may get your credit card balances restructured into term loans (36 months at 13% per annum). Some of you may be eligible for insurance/takaful deferment (not automatic, T&C applies, must apply).

Significantly, many of you will be getting your loan payment(s) deferred. Assuming you have a mortgage and a car loan, that’s at least, what? RM1500 in freed up money every month?

The moratorium is applicable to all Malaysian Ringgit-denominated loans/ financings held by eligible customers that have not been in arrears for more than 90 days as at April 1.

For individual customers, eligible Islamic and conventional products under this moratorium include ASB financing, home financing, auto financing and personal financing (express cash, cash plus loan and Awam-i) and for SME customers, the moratorium applies to all existing term loans/ financings and industrial hire purchase.

(side note: should you defer loan payments or continue to pay? Read here. )

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How to Avoid Polygamy in Malaysia: Add it in The Taklik

You already know that Islam allows a Muslim man to take up to four wives simultaneously in a practice called polygamy.

You may not know that Islam also allows wives the right to refuse husbands permission to marry more than one wife by adding it in the taklik.

This is a completely accurate, yet not that well-known piece of information.

In this age where the polygamy privilege is routinely being abused by irresponsible husbands – causing the wives severe financial and emotional distress – I hope to share widely the rights that women already have under Islamic laws, which she can exercise for her own protection.

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[SPONSORED] Verify Touch ‘n Go eWallet & 3 More 5-Minute Security Hacks

Let’s be frank here – ewallet and digital security is not the sexiest of topic to talk about. Therefore, let’s appreciate Touch ‘n Go eWallet not caring to be ‘sexy’ and choosing to feature it anyway in their educational video series, Cashless Confidentials.

In this article, we have brainstormed and came up with 4 actions you can do in 5 minutes that will significantly reduce your risk of losing money from scammers and hackers. It’s fast – you can do everything during lunch break. If you’re busy now, bookmark this article so you can pull it out later.

Note: If you consider yourself a Millennial or Gen Z, what you’re about to read below might sound like common-sense digital security practices.

However, keep in mind that they can be completely alien to your parents and grandparents, who are more susceptible to digital-based scams. I need you to read this so YOU can help them navigate this topic okay.

#1 – Activate Touch ‘n Go eWallet Money-back Guarantee Policy

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(At Least) 17 Money Calculations You’ll Make In Your Life

Throughout your personal finance journey, you’ll inevitably do some money calculations.

For some people, this thought stresses them – their immediate reaction is ‘I don’t want to do it! I’m not good with numbers!’

I blame high school maths. I think it made many people think that these money calculations are harder than they actually are.

I’ve compiled here some money calculations. Go through them, and tell me – how many are *actually* hard for you to do?

1. Home Loan Calculator. You do this calculation when you’re starting to shop around for a property, to find out the estimated mortgage / home loan repayments per month that you’ll have to make.

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17 Things to Include in Your Money Journal

Those who know me in person know that I never go anywhere without my notebook, which also acts as my de facto money journal.

My notebook is my primary organisational tool, my productivity hack. It’s how I keep track of my life, including my financial life. I jot down everything* in there. The way I see it, what doesn’t get written, gets forgotten.

(*Except for my passwords. I use a password manager for that. Security first kids)

Here’s a list of financial-related information that you can include in your money journal.

#1 – Your monthly income

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The Real Answer to ‘How Much Should I Spend On A Car?’

How much should I spend on a car? I’ve thought about this question many, many times.

The answer is simple: whatever is the amount, I should make sure that I can afford it. Like every other purchase.

But it’s also not that simple, because if it is, how come 1 out of 4 bankruptcies in Malaysia is due to car loans?

If you’ve been wondering how much you should spend on a car and avoid it being repossessed by the bank, here are some answers. Thanks to all contributions from the RoR audience!

#1 – How many % of monthly salary to go towards car payment?

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All the Financial Tools I Use for My Own Money Management (Malaysia-Specific)

The other day I was listing out all the financial tools that I personally use for money management in my notebook, and the list got kinda long.

That got me thinking – all of you must have your own money management system, right? Even if it’s in your head, even if it’s messy. You know, more or less, that the money in account X is for daily use and the money in account Y is earmarked for, say, retirement.

I did that list because (1) it’s good to know exactly what I have and what I use it for and (2) I don’t want to accidentally forgot about an account, which happens more often than you’d think (that’s why there’s over RM5.77 billion in unclaimed money???).

So here you go – an article compiling all the financial tools I use for my own money management. Please don’t @ me if any of them sucks for you – they’re just the best option for my situation right now – I’m not loyal to any of them and happy to switch to better solutions as and when it suits me. Also please don’t take anything here as investment advice.

The financial tools are arranged in this order:

  • Bank account
  • Credit cards
  • Debit cards
  • Pre-loaded/Loyalty cards
  • E-wallets
  • International money transfers/payments
  • Investment
  • Retirement
  • Insurance
  • Estate-planning
  • Accounting
  • Budgeting app
  • Other accounts with money inside it
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