Month in Review

Month in Review: May 2020

Every month, I track my spending and share them openly 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 they help 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 alive.

Spending Breakdown

Table 1: Singapore expenses for May 2020

Here’s how I spent my money in May:

Groceries – S$338.68

My grocery bill exceeded $300; almost 3 times more than usual. What caused this? Well, I bought more alcohol (heh) in May and started experimenting with new recipes that called for more ingredients, which largely attributed to the higher bill.

Personal Care – S$185.19

T’is the season for acne breakouts. Sigh. I can’t believe I’m on the cusp of my 30s yet I still have to deal with acne. Like wtf, seriously.

Whenever I break out, I’m more susceptible to impulse buying skincare products. To give you an idea, here’s a list of some of the products I purchased and how much they cost:

  • Pixi Retinol Tonic – S$24
  • The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%* – S$24
  • Cetaphil Gentle Cleanser* – S$15
  • Neutrogena Salicylic Acid 2% Cleanser* – S$16
  • Avene Hydrance Aqua Gel – S$50 (!!!!!!!)
  • La Roche Posay Anthelios Shaka Fluid sunscreen* – S$30
  • Simple Light Hydrating Moisturiser* – S$16

I’m using 5 products in the list regularly (as indicated by the *), which means I wasted money on at least 2 products (there’s more that didn’t make this list). I even got suckered into buying 2 (TWO!) bottles of the Avene Aqua Gel! The salesgirl at the pharmacists really pushed that product hard on me with a buy one free one deal. Under normal circumstances, I wouldn’t have caved but I was in a vulnerable state, worried about my skin. And, I get uncomfortable when someone aggressively tries to sell something to me. It was a perfect recipe to get me to spend money on something that ultimately wasn’t useful for me.

The lesson here is that brand, companies and salespeople prey on your insecurities. “Buy this and your acne will go away!”. In a split second, I bought into that notion. And all it took was a split second. Being a vigilant and thoughtful consumer means actively resisting the emotional appeal brands make to get you to spend impulsively. Easier said than done.

Table 2: Malaysia expenses for May 2020

Car Instalment – RM825

So much has happened in the last couple of months that we all probably forgot about how the banks U-turned on their car loan moratoriums. It was all very confusing and upsetting. Whether or not the moratorium will continue to be in effect, I paid up my car instalment as usual because I didn’t want to get saddled with extra interest.

Goals Progress

Table 3: Goals progress for May 2020

Here are my thoughts on how I did on my goals in May:

Reading

I’m extremely behind on my reading goal. Last weekend, I spent time identifying ways to improve my progress on this goal. My struggle with reading boils down to two things: 1) I haven’t properly set aside time to read and 2) I read too slow.

I honestly never thought being a slow reader could turn out to be an issue. I now realise that reading too slow is part of the reason I become frustrated and lose focus easily. So, I’m experimenting with some techniques to pick up the pace (without losing comprehension). Let’s see if these experiments yield better progress on this goal.

Writing

Now that I’ve tracked my goals for almost half a year, it’s interesting to see patterns developing. For instance, I’ve consistently published 2 posts a month, which isn’t so bad. But it does make me wonder: Are 2 posts a month the most I can produce? I hope not. I want to keep pushing myself to produce content on a weekly basis.

But realistically, where the hell am I going to pull out an extra 1 to 2 hours a day to write and edit if I’m working, exercising, reading, meditating, cooking, showering, shitting, sleeping? Maybe stop wasting so much time on social media.

Reflection

May passed without fanfare. Not much changed in my daily routine in my second month of lockdown.

Last month, I wrote about my struggle with motivation. Since then, I found a couple of new ways to impose some discipline in my habits, especially with work and with some of my goals. First, I use an accountability app called Focusmate to keep me focused on my tasks throughout the day. And secondly, I plan my day more thoroughly now; blocking and dedicating time for each task, even the small tasks like making my bed, or doing my laundry. It may seem rigid but I feel like it’s necessary to keep on track with my work and my life. Considering that I’m likely going to be working remotely for a while, it’s best that I keep myself in check now so that I don’t let everything in life spiral out of control later.

On a separate note, there’s a lot going on in the world right now (pandemic notwithstanding) and it’s quite difficult to make sense of it all. It isn’t my place to speak on some of the issues plaguing the world right now but that doesn’t mean I should stay silent either. Rather, the ongoing discourse is a chance for me to reflect on my own actions, listen to people, understand their plight, learn, ask questions and set an example for others. And be a better human. I encourage you to do the same.

How did your May turn out? Let me know in the comments, or hit me up on FacebookTwitter, or Instagram.

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