Month in Review

Month in Review: January 2020

Every month, I track my spending and openly share them here. In my Month in Reviews, I go over notable (and often discretionary expenses) for the month and reflect on some key areas of life tied to money, either directly or indirectly: career, health, relationships and personal growth.

Writing these updates gives me helpful insights into my own life, and I hope it does the same for you as well. By sharing my experiences with money, I also hope to encourage you to feel comfortable approaching your own finances and keep the conversation around money transparent and alive.

Spending Breakdown

Table 1: Singapore expenses for January 2020

Barely a month into 2020 and my budget has gone into a tailspin. January saw some pretty big one-off expenses owing to some WANTS and NEEDS that I’ve been holding off for a while.

Insurance – S$654

I finally did the responsible thing and bought medical insurance in Singapore. For a year, I cruised on my company’s minimal medical benefits package without any major problems. Obviously, I can’t go on for the rest of my life without proper medical insurance, especially since I’ll be living in Singapore for the foreseeable future. So, I got in touch with an agent, worked out the best plan for the long-term and I paid a lump sum for my yearly coverage.

Food – S$566.38

This year, I want to maintain my food budget below S$400 monthly. It’s not a concrete goal for the year but I’d like to try. In 2019, I spent S$430 on average every month on food, so it’s definitely doable. In January, as you can see, I blew the budget. Try again next month?

Investment – S$1,500

I will also invest more regularly this year into my various portfolios, so you’ll see this as a consistent expense every month.

Table 2: Malaysia expenses for January 2020

Therapy – RM192

In January, I used The Help Talk, which is an online counselling platform, for therapy. The service is affordable, costing RM48 per week (or RM192 a month). The counselling is done via chat and you’ll get to message your counsellor as many times as you want and at any time of the day but they’ll reply to your messages once a day. This is a good option if you don’t have time for therapy on a weekly basis, or if you’re living remotely like I am, or if you don’t feel comfortable with face-to-face therapy. But it’s not without its limitations, of course. Personally, it was good to try out but I much rather talk face-to-face with a therapist. It’s likely I’ll look for therapists in Singapore going forward. Sigh, so expensive. If any of you know of affordable therapy options in Singapore, I’d love to hear from you!

Tattoo – RM2,000

I got my first tattoo last year (that one cost me RM350), and now, I guess I’m starting a collection. Hah. This second one cost a bomb, but I anticipated the expense so I already saved up money for it. Considering how expensive this hobby (obsession?) can get, I’ve got a sinking fund set up for future ink.


The huge drain in my expenses in January was anticipated. I knew they were coming but it still stings to see a large amount leaving my bank account. However, I’m plotting my budget a little more carefully over the course of the next few months. I hope to stabilise the expenses and make them more predictable. I also need to carve out more time to assess my investments every month.

January passed by in a blur and I was playing catch up with writing here. As mentioned in the last review, I’m doing some internal work to address some of my deep-rooted psychological issues. It gets exhausting, on top of juggling work and social life, but heck, it’s better to do this now, than never.

On another note, my writing might become more frequent, not to get my own hopes up. I’m still grappling with the content strategy (or lack thereof) but heck, if I haven’t lost you yet, I guess you’ll probably stick around when I go off in weird tangents.


I read and watched a lot of good stuff in January, here’s a list of my recommended reads and videos:

How’s 2020 treating you so far? Come chat with me in the comments or on FacebookTwitter or Instagram.


  • Jiji Muslien

    Hi Nicole, thanks to Suraya Zainudin, she suggested to check out your website. Basically I’m just starting to learn to manage my financial however I’m having confusion since I spent my money in SGD & MYR. I lost on how to trace my expenses. Should I combine them or do separately.

    • Nicole

      Hey Jiji! Thanks for dropping by to read my reviews 🙂

      Personally I track separately. I earn in SGD and then I create an expense category for how much I convert back to RM for expenses in MY.

      For instance, I might convert SGD500 to RM1500. Then in my RM account I have RM1500 to use and then I track how much I spent from that RM1500 based on each category.

      It’s not the most effective method of tracking but it’s what’s working for me at the moment.

      Hope it helps!

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