Month in Review

Month in Review: February 2019

Hello, readers! Hope you’re all well. I took a bit of a hiatus (unintentional) in February, mostly to deal with a stressful workload.

Truthfully, I was also feeling uninspired, having a dreadful writer’s block. Consistency has always been a struggle for me, especially when my attention is spread very thin at the moment. How do some of y’all do it? Like, how do you juggle a job, all these side-hustles, write blog posts, exercise, meal prep, read, and have a social life without having a fucking burnout from doing too much? Please message me your secrets, I’ll pay good money for ’em.

I apologize for the social media absence as well. Some of you have messaged me privately with questions and I’ve tried my best to engage with you as much as I can. I hope you can be patient with me while I work through this.

Money

Onto the meat of this post. Let’s take a look at February’s expenses.

Malaysian Expenses
Malaysian Month-on-Month

A lot of extraordinary expenses in February. In case you didn’t know, “extraordinary expense” is an actual accounting term. What’s ironic is in writing, “extraordinary” tends to have a more positive connotation. Instead, in finance, it’s a chunk of money flying away from your pocket. I’m digressing.

This surge in spending is a given in February as it is Chinese New Year season. As you can see, shopping (bought new underwear!) and personal care skyrocketed by over 1000% comparatively to the month before.

Another notable spending last month is an increase in education expense. I spent about USD35.97 (or RM148.48) to sign up for three data science courses on Udemy during a Valentine’s Day sale. What’s more romantic than gifting yourself an online course, amiright?

I forgot to renew my business registration on time, which cost me an extra RM40 in a penalty fee. People ask why don’t I just go for the 5-year option but like.. how would you know if I’ll be in business in the next 5 years?

And finally, I added RM1,000 into Funding Societies P2P lending (referral link) in February. This is a recent venture, so I’m going to wait to see how the investment performs.

Singapore Expenses
Singapore Month-on-Month

As we cross the border, not many changes in terms of overall spend. I still had another SGD1,000 to repay my friend and I cleared my debt in February. Besides the loan, personal spending in Singapore also grew about 1000% because I dropped some dough on some concert tickets.

One of the major draws about living in Singapore as a personal finance junkie is an increased ability to control spend based on the choices I make. For example, to accommodate for the concert cost, I reduced my food and travel expenses. It might not seem like a big deal but these two expense categories I struggle with the most when I lived in Malaysia.

Career

Hectic af at the workplace in February. I worked through most of Chinese New Year pushing myself to do as much as I can at the office. Looking back at it, I would have been better off not exerting myself like that. I don’t know about you but it’s so weird, on one hand, to thrive in stressful environments but on the other, suffer the effects on your physical and mental health as a result. It’s a weird masochistic situation we, Asians like to put ourselves in.

Do you think Asian companies like to promote this “work hard” culture way too much? While I’ve been strict about sticking to fixed working hours, the time I spend at the office often feels very draining. The system put in place at work doesn’t necessarily help you flourish when it’s designed to get as much measurable productivity (ie targets) out of you as possible.

How do you guys balance workplace expectations with your sanity? Kasi share sikit.

Health

February has been physically exhausting. Some days, I have a hard time remembering what I did during that day. That’s not a good sign.

I’d like to think I’m keeping good on my health. Walking everywhere helps keep me active. It’s both a curse and a blessing that I don’t have a car. It forces me to not be lazy but sometimes I just wanna be super lazy lah.

I’ve cut down significantly on meat consumption (still in the process of eliminating meat and dairy entirely from my diet). People have asked me why I’ve become vegetarian (or vegan, I’m flip-flopping between the two right now) all of the sudden. Initially, it was out of principle. The meat industry is one of the biggest contributors to a multitude of environmental issues. Knowing how animal bodies are being commodified for our consumption also led me to this decision.

The problem is, I like eating meat. I’m a big fan of bak kut teh, chicken rice, mutton curry, rendang and.. basically every single Malaysian dish. What started out as a moral decision has now turned into a personal battle with willpower. It seems that all those moral reasons are not a strong enough deterrent for me. But the notion that I don’t have the discipline to follow through on my moral decisions? Yeah, that’s what’s keeping me on a roll right now.

Personal Growth

That last bit there is a nice segue into this section.

Not having a routine workout? Not knowing how to play a musical instrument? Not posting on this blog consistently? Not sticking to a diet? Willpower and discipline. Most of my inner battles always came down to these two traits.

This gif is the most accurate representation of myself

At this point, my mental health has improved tremendously and my anxiety is manageable. Now that I have more control over my life and the capacity to follow through on things, why am I still having a hard time doing just that?

I have this fear that I’m basically a fraud because my attempts to pursue goals and passion seem like hangathangat tahi ayam.

However, I am going to take a step back to reassess and tick off things that I have achieved lately. That way maybe I won’t feel so defeated.

Recommended

I miss having time to read stuff. What I did manage to read last month, I’m linking ’em down below.

  • Article: What the ‘meat paradox’ reveals about moral decision making. In line with what I mentioned earlier in this post, this article speaks about how we deal with dissonance in our moral decisions and what our brains try to tell us to keep us feeling at ease with our decisions. Enlightening stuff.
  • Article: My Struggle with Work/Life Balance. I found Elizabeth’s article extremely helpful and I’m going to try to implement micro relaxation moments throughout my day to regain some balance in my life.
  • Article: 6 Reasons to Pre-Order Money Stories Vol 1. Suraya’s book is finally on SALE! Get your copy today. FYI, one of the stories submitted was written by a friend of mine (hint: ciggies). I’ve read a little bit of the book during what little downtime I had and it’s GOOD! Pre-order ends March 8, which is tomorrow. So, tunggu apa?

This post was a convoluted mess of thoughts but here we are. I hope you all have a great March ahead (hoping the same for myself as well). Find me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to say hi.

2 Comments

  • Suraya

    Hang in there Nicole, you’re doing good! Getting ‘the balance’ is a lifelong journey for all of us but we can see that you’re trying and that’s what matters 🙂

    Also, thanks so much for the shoutout to my book 🙏🙏 It’s funny that your friend is in there haha it’s memang a small world after all

    • Nicole

      Thanks for your kind words, Suraya! I’ll keep working on it.

      Small world indeed! I am sooo happy to help promote the book in my own little way. Congrats!

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