Month in Review

Month in Review: January 2019

A new year bears a lot of significance. A turning point, a change, a fresh start. We start the year vowing to work towards a better version of ourselves. And then reality sets in.

While there are some fine cracks reappearing in parts of my life, at least I’m on track when it comes to my money goals this year.

Here’s how I fared in January.


The biggest expense in January was a loan repayment to a friend who kindly helped me out during my first month trying to settle in Singapore. I’m always grateful for people looking out for me because, well, call me a pessimist but I never expect people to do things out of generosity and goodwill. I’ve worked in finance long enough that I’ve become jaded and always skeptical of the “free lunch”.

Some interesting patterns are beginning to emerge from my daily spending. As you can see both travel and food has been fairly consistent the past two months. As I settle into a new norm here, it’s good to know what to expect every month on average. This is why expense tracking is a crucial part of budgeting. You will know how much you need to set aside for the next month (not including emergencies). If there is a fluctuation in your expenses, you will also know where that additional expense comes from.

I find it amazing that on average, I am only spending SGD10.00 daily for food (or to break it down even further, SGD3.50 per meal). If I don’t consider the conversion rate to MYR, I am saving a lot in the food department!

I mentioned that I wanted to cut down on my travel expense but sadly I keep indulging myself by travelling in a Grab rather than taking a train or a bus.

Overall, I’m quite happy with how I managed January money-wise. Aside from the loan I paid back, I managed to reduce my living cost by about SGD100.

On the home front, things are as expected. Car, insurance, and other fixed expenses I’m still incurring in Malaysia are as above.

Big reduction on expenses as I only traveled back to KL on one weekend in the whole month.


I’m getting into a nice groove at my new job. Things are starting to fall in place and I’m getting along well with my colleagues. I’m making more effort to be sociable in the office as well. It’s not really my forte but I’ve been given KPIs to actually cultivate workplace relationships. Can you believe that?

When you join a new company it takes some time for you to really understand the work culture and how things are done. Luckily I managed to pick things up quickly and learn some neat tricks along the way. One part that excites me about this job is I get to learn a whole new aspect to digital marketing that I never knew before. It’s a good skill to acquire when I decide to change my path again in the future.


So, January has been really up-and-down. Mentally, I’ve been struggling but the good thing is I have a routine now that keeps me in check. I am much more attuned these days to my moods so I recognise the signs of a “bad” day much faster than I used to.

It’s still an uphill battle trying to recover from those days. It’s a balance between trying to be positive and acknowledging that you feel shitty. Shifting your mindset when you’re in a bad place takes one thousand times more effort than when you’re in a normal state. At the end of it, you’re just exhausted, which is probably the reason why this post is so late.

Personal Growth

I’ve been toying with the idea of taking up a new course. At my new job I get to work with some martech tools, looking at data and how it’s being used. Not gonna lie, it’s actually quite intriguing and I want to know more. Though, I have to pace myself and don’t take on more than I can chew. I’m already having a hard time with the CFA material, I rather not add on to that stress for now.

But it’s in the back-burner, so I hope somewhere down the line I get to work with data or take up a course.


I’ve come across some interesting stuff in January:

  • Article: I’ve been reading The Stockmonger’s case studies religiously. If you want to learn more about stocks and how to read a company’s financial results, this is such a great, GREAT, place to start.
  • Article: How Money Affects My Dating Life. This article is such a GEM! I love the way Suraya handles dating and money. I share a lot of the same principles when it comes to how I approach money with my partner. Ideally, I hope to have open communication with a partner when it comes to finances. A lot of relationships tend to fall apart because money puts a strain on it. So for me, it’s “no money talk, no talk”!
  • Article: Investing Ideas That Changed My Life. Ever wondered what advice you wish you got before you started investing? Or what you can do to invest better? Or what thought process goes into making an investment decision? Read this article.
  • Video: Feel good about feeling bad. This video encapsulates what I mean when I say I struggle between trying to stay positive and acknowledging my pain. Anna shares her technique for managing pain and bad feelings. I hope this helps you in some way as well.
  • Article: The Malaysian’s Guide to CNY Angpau Rate. This article was posted right before Chinese New Year and has some great infographics from a survey about angpau rates. Are you over-giving? Or are you under-receiving? Find out here.

How did your January go? Are you still on track with your resolutions or have you already said heck it? Comment below or find me on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

Image via Unsplash.


  • Lisa

    Interesting article! I have an on and off relationship with my expense tracking app so right now I can only admire your tables and look sadly at how empty my tracker is.

    I also like your recommended section. I actually checked out all of them (even the video and CNY article) and thoroughly enjoyed Suraya’s article, and ‘investing ideas that changed my life’ is such a good read, I’m bookmarking it. I’m gonna take my time going through the case studies from The Stockmonger. I don’t know much about stocks and hopefully this will help.

    I’m happy things are going well for you at your work place! I’m also kind of bulk reading the articles you posted on your Facebook page and there are so many! Something’s been holding me back from writing what I want to write. Working through it right now and hopefully soon enough I’ll be churning out some articles as well. You keep doing you 🙂

    • Nicole

      Hi Lisa,

      Sometimes, if expense tracking is causing you more distress than good, then it’s a good idea to step back from it. Don’t worry bout it 🙂

      Thanks! I really enjoy reading all of those articles as well, they’re really helpful. I’m glad you also liked them.

      Writing needs time and a right headspace. I try not to pressure myself much when it comes to content, so I can only say be kind to yourself and go at your own pace.

      Thanks for stopping by & good luck!

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