My actual monthly budget with RM3,500 salary a month

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I love that more people are talking about their monthly budgets!

One of my favorite Malaysian PF (that’s personal finance in case you’re not familiar with the jargon), Mr Stingy aka Aaron Tang recently published an article where he outlined his monthly budget when he was earning RM3,500 a month in 2010. His article was inspired from this Pakdi.Net article written by a fresh graduate who said that his RM3,500 salary wasn’t enough!

I was earning RM3,500 until a few months ago (in communications/NGO line, that was considered a decent salary okay), so I would like to share my own monthly budget then.

FYI I enjoy tracking my expenses and I have data of every. single. transaction. For the sake of this article, I will be taking the average spending during 1 year period, October 2014-September 2015. This means that I will be dividing each category by 12.

Here are my tallied expenses for that time period. Notice that not all months are created equal – I definitely overspent in May, June and July 2015. But for the most part, I was doing okay.

I heart February 2015.


This was my spending by categories during the same time period. Don’t worry, I’ll explain each of those categories. Read on.


My top 8 spending were:


Wow, my top spending from October 2014-September 2015 was Donations & Gifts! #humblebrag Let’s break it down:

1) Donations & Gifts. RM5,357.33 / 12 months = RM446.45 per month, on average.

I gave out zakat, helped my sister’s engagement, gave presents, contributed to charity.

2) Utilities & Rent. RM4,926.83 / 12 months = RM410.57 per month, on average.

Necessary spending, includes rent, internet, utilities bills. Read how I managed to pay only RM150 in rent for a master bedroom in KL in this article.

3) Misc Needs. RM4,896.63 / 12 months = RM408.05 per month, on average.

Misc Needs is a category that I created for random, unavoidable expenses. Home repairs? Misc Needs. Fixing shoes? Misc Needs. I suspect the amount is high because I needed to replace my old laptop (it was still running on Windows XP, that’s how old it was!).

Yes, as a young professional, a laptop is a required work item, okaaay.

4) Loan Repayments. RM4,659.75 / 12 months = RM388.31 per month, on average.

This is to repay 2 loans: PTPTN, which I successfully paid off earlier this year (and took advantage of the 20% discount!), and an investment loan.

Sometimes I kick myself for not taking a bigger investment loan, but I admit that’s my greedy side talking.

5) Groceries. RM3,435.47 / 12 months = RM286.29 per month, on average.

Gotta eat. I cook a lot and always bring lunch to work to save money on food.

So far, 1-5 are all ‘responsible’ expenses. That’s about to change, I’m not a boring person 🙂

6) Misc Wants. RM2,466.03 / 12 months = RM205.50 per month, on average.

Misc Wants is a category for things that isn’t strictly needed but would be ‘nice to have’. This includes new clothes, or just generally pretty things that I wanted.

Significantly, I was smoking during this time – that’s about RM80 I was burning (literally) away. I’ve since quit.

7) Dates. RM2,400.99 / 12 months = RM200.09 per month, on average.


8) Social. RM1,840.85 / 12 months = RM153.40 per month, on average.

Going out with friends. Friendships are investments, too.

The next 8 categories!


9) Insurance & Medical. RM1,446.51 / 12 months = RM120.54 per month, on average.

Primarily for my Medical card. And the occasional band-aid and panadol.

10) Food. RM742.97 / 12 months = RM61.91 per month, on average.

Ooooh this is bad. This is food that I bought that wasn’t part of groceries or dining out with family and friends. In short, this is pure glutton and the reason why I’m fat -_-

My appetite is very healthy lol.

11) Business. RM658.16 / 12 months = RM84.85 per month, on average.

For my small business (Kotak Koffee) stock and items.

12) Petrol. RM500.69 / 12 months = RM41.72 per month, on average.

I don’t have a car, but I use my friend’s car all the time. Of course I have to refill the tank, I’m a good friend.

13) Public transport. RM474.58 / 12 months = RM39.55 per month, on average.

Low, isn’t it! My (ex)office allowed us to claim back on public transport, up to RM100 a month!

14) Mobile. RM337.80 / 12 months = RM28.15 per month, on average.

I subscribed to Umobile’s RM28 per month plan, it satisfied my needs.

15) Parking & Tolls. RM84 / 12 months = RM7 per month, on average.

Pffttt peanuts.

16) Website. RM58.03 / 12 months = RM4.84 per month, on average.

This category was deleted since I was a nO0b and didn’t know that you have to pay for hosting plans! GoDaddy wanted USD200 from me to recover the lost data, so GoDaddy lost my business.

If I add up all the average monthly spending, it totals to RM2,888.03.

  • Salary: RM3500
  • Minus: Spending (RM2,888) + EPF (RM385) + SOCSO (RM14.75) + tax deductions (RM33.60)
  • Total left from salary: RM178.65

No wonder I didn’t manage to save much during this time period!

So yeah. I know that we like to hate on the people saying that this ‘high’ salary is not enough… but for a person who was actually living on it, it’s kinda true. I can only imagine how people get by with a lesser salary.

What do you think of this breakdown?

P/s – check my maths in case not correct, can?



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  1. I love this entry as I also trying to be as frugal as much as I can, I do enjoy recording every single transaction that I made, hopefully, this will be the last semester for me as undergraduate student and need to pay the PTPTN when I start working, but as a fresh graduate basically with low salary, how can i survive the world nowadays? and may I ask how to get the 20% discount?
    Thank you.

    1. Hey I’m so happy to hear that you like the entry, I enjoyed writing it 🙂

      Re: PTPTN – usually you start paying 6 months after graduation, not when you start working.

      This post explains how to get the 20% discount:

      Mr Stingy has awesome posts on PTPTN: and

      Re: making it as graduate with low salary. There’s no magic to it. Keep learning more about increasing salary and streams of income and reduce expenses. You have time, you can put measures in place to survive and yes, thrive.

    1. This app is called Money Lover. I have used quite a few apps so far, and this one is the best. The others would hang, or hard to navigate, or simply not available for Malaysians (example: Mint)

  2. I count groceries+dining out as food – and I think I have dine out too much last year. I wonder what insurance plan you take – seems to me it is rather high for medical card – but then again I have no insurance right now.

    1. I decided to separate groceries and food to make myself accountable to any extra, unjustified food costs I may have 😛

      Re: insurance – I only have a medical card, but I take a good one. Thinking of getting a PA soon.

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