In my late 20s, I finally decided to act on something I’ve been self-conscious about all my life – fixing my crooked teeth by wearing braces. The treatment took one and a half years, and I took it off for good last January 2019.
Now that the braces are off, it feels like a distant dream. In a, ‘wow, I can’t believe I went through with it’ way. I thought I’d jot down everything I spent before, during and after my braces journey before I forgot all about it.
I hope this article will help everyone planning to do braces (or going through it now) to plan your budget, and perhaps help in choosing tools to buy/avoid. I’ll divide it into three sections – things I paid before, during and after wearing braces.
Things I Paid for During My Braces Journey – Before
Right. Let’s start with this. My name is Suraya. It’s an obviously Malay name. Even though technically I am of mixed parentage, I am 100% culturally Malay.
This is embarassing to admit, but when I was younger, I went through a period of being ashamed of my own race. I wanted to erase that identity. So much that when I was living in Japan, I went by Aya. When I was studying in the UK, I took the name Sue.
I’m no longer that person. I’ve learned to accept my Malay-ness. I love my name. In fact, I insist on it – always call me Suraya, not Su, not anything else.
But why was I embarassed of my Malay identity in the first place? How did I eventually accept it? I wanted to pen this essay to just kind of, dive deep into this complicated, complex psyche, through the lens and intersection with personal finance and money management.
Here we go. These are all reasons why I detached from my Malay identity. Read until the end – this article only makes sense if read as a whole.
I love my clients. They are freaking awesome. The best. They pay AND treat me well.
I feel like it’s time for me to be forward with my experience working with great clients, because if social media is to be believed, well-paying and respectful clients are supposedly hard to come by.
But let me just say – they’re not. I’ve had the odd bad apples, but in my four years (so far) working in self-employed capacity, the majority of my clients were nothing but absolutejoys to work with.
(Note: I have two types of clients. Those who hire me in my capacity as Suraya the communications consultant and corporate writer to write reports and stuff, and those who hire me in my capacity as Suraya the blogger from Ringgit Oh Ringgit to promote their products and services. Both are amazing).
This post is a jumble of self-reflection – how and why do I get these amazing clients? I still don’t know for sure, but here are my theories.
It’s still a little bit surreal. Like many of you, I grew up thinking that 9-6 working days is the default. It’s even more surreal when I remember that this work from home thing was an accident. The plan was actually to do a bit of freelance writing to make some extra income while I find myself a new, stable job.
Then somehow work turned to more work and I just never stopped and here I am? Sometimes I still catch myself thinking ‘ah how nice would it be to work from home wait Suraya you do work from home you dolt’.
I describe myself as frugal, but once in a while often, I cross the ‘cheap’ line.
And I don’t want to be cheap. Being cheap puts me in a scarcity mindset, as opposed to the abundance mindset. You can’t be someone who is both ‘I believe I can earn as much as I want’ and ‘why buy the better option when the cheap option exists’. They’re contradictory of each other.
In May 2019, I started a 30-day decluttering challenge with the following objectives:
Recently I saw a Twitter thread on bad personal finance confessions and I must say I love it! It’s so nice when personal finance gurus admit that they’re not perfect themselves. We all do things that are not necessarily good or ‘optimal’ for our money!
So I wrote a list of *my* bad personal finance confessions and it came up to, uh, quite a few. Some were not ‘bad’ per say, just random, so that’s what I’m calling it. Here there are – don’t judge me too much!
I grew up fat. Or as my family calls it, ‘sihat’. I was the biggest in size in primary and secondary school. At my highest, my weight was almost 100kg. I was 20 years old then.
Now, 10 years later, my weight hovers around 75-78kg. My lowest weight ever was 72kg, right before I stopped keto diet. I think it takes this long because half the time I’m still unlearning bad habits accumulated over the years.
I’ve been taking fitness and weight loss seriously for about 3 years now and lost the bulk of the weight during this time. I have to stress that even before that I was non-stop dieting and trying to lose weight, but admittedly my attitude towards it was just warm-warm-chicken-shit. Now, I’m happy with my progress, but I know my fitness and weight loss journey is far from over. Someday I’ll hit the 60s range, just you wait.
To be honest, the slow progress frustrates me. I just want a nice body and be ‘the hot girl’ already. It takes all my willpower to consciously stop all the negative self-talk and remind myself of the progress over the years. That was also the main inspiration behind the [Personal] I Never Imagined Exercise Would Help My Career and Income, Until It Did article – I reread this piece every time I need a reminder of how far I’ve come.
I’d like to introduce to you one of my favourite books in the world, New Aging: Live smarter now to live better forever by Matthias Hollwich with Bruce Mau Design. Found it at the Big Bad Wolf Booksale some years back for RM12. One of the best purchases I ever made.
New Aging is a guidebook to optimising how we live, how to design our lifestyle so that we encourage lifelong happiness, productivity and self-development. I used to fear the ageing process (as we all), but this book helped me reframe that thinking, and even develop a positive attitude towards it.
Received a request to write about the topic of dating and money (thanks for the suggestion, Carrine Yap!)
This is an interesting topic for sure, something I haven’t done before. Rather than talking about how I manage finances in a relationship, I thought I’d go one step further and talk about how money affects my dating life.
First of all, a disclaimer. This is how money affects *my* dating life. I’m not telling anyone how *they* should date. I’m just saying, due to my background, privilege and money mindset, this is how I choose to go on dates and get into relationships.
So with that in mind, if you view yourself as a bit of a traditionalist or conservative, I ask you to skip this article altogether, or read with an open mind. Comments like ‘men should be the one to do X’ or ‘you should be more Y’ will be deleted.
*You* can do that, go ahead, nothing’s stopping you. You live your life, I’ll live mine. I don’t attack you, you don’t attack me. Fair right? 🙂
Dating and Money Approach #1 – Like money, personal relationships are private matter