Month in Review

Month in Review: November 2020

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

Writing these updates helps me gain insights into my own life, and I hope these updates encourage you to get comfortable with your own finances. 

Spending Breakdown

In November, I spent a whopping S$9,968.48. That’s ~400% higher than my average monthly expense. My two biggest expenses for the month were healthcare and insurance.

Healthcare – $5,597.59

In mid-October, I had an unexpected health issue. I spent most of November seeing doctors, undergoing treatment and medication. Thankfully, I was in the clear, healthwise, by the end of the month. 

However, my medical expenses all added up. 

For a time, I didn’t know how much my bills would add up to. I spent weeks living in fear that my medical costs would leave me utterly broke. Or worse, in debt. To make matters worse, I lost my day job too. Yeah, that happened.

In Malaysia, if I had no income, I could walk into a government hospital and pay only RM1 to see a doctor. That’s not the case in Singapore. Here, healthcare costs are subsidised through the CPF (a compulsory pension plan in Singapore), which means foreigners like me don’t get access to subsidised healthcare at all (foreign employees don’t have CPF). 

Fortunately, I have personal medical insurance. Though my insurance covered some of my medical expenses, I still forked out a hefty chunk of dough to pay off the full bill. 

I count myself lucky that I could still afford my medical bills. This goes to show that it’s so crucial to 1) protect ourselves with insurance and 2) build a safety net of savings, and 3) create multiple sources of income. Because we never know what’s going to happen tomorrow. 

Insurance – $2,332.30

In addition to dropping 5g’s on medical bills, I also paid the annual premium on my critical illness policy in November. 

These expenses burned a massive hole in my wallet in November. Believe me, I felt the pinch. But in the process of burning that hole, I learned something about myself: I don’t put a price on health.

Goals Progress

Savings and Investing

As a natural consequence of my double-whammy bad luck (i.e jobless and in a health crisis), my savings and investing rate suffered. In fact, my overall savings rate for the year fell to 12% of my total income. T_T

Would I have liked to achieve my 35% savings goal this year? Yes. But if there’s anything 2020 has taught me, it’s that I’m fortunate to have made it through the year alive, healthy, and financially stable.

Books

I read not one, not two, but THREE books in November. I’m giving myself a pat on the back for this 😀

Exercise

Unfortunately, life got a little crazy in the last few months, so I didn’t manage to get in as much exercise as I would have liked. 

Reflection

Losing my job was a weird and surreal experience.

In the aftermath, I’d play over the events that happened like scenes from a movie. And I’d think to myself, “Did that really just happen to me?”.

I definitely didn’t expect to get laid off in less a year at a new company. And in such an underhanded, unethical way to boot. Nobody plans for their career to come to a screeching halt like that. So when it happened, I was caught off-guard.

Obviously, losing my job came with the standard 10-in-1 value pack Emotional Turmoil. I felt rage and bitter resentment over how things played out. I also had fear, anxiety, and a bad case of Imposter Syndrome. Some days, I would laugh with disbelief at my situation. Other days, I’d just grieve.

In any traumatic experience, you’d want time to process your thoughts and emotions. I didn’t have that luxury.

Because losing my job didn’t just mean that I lost my main source of income. It also meant that my stay in Singapore was jeopardised. I had only a couple of months to job hunt, go for interviews, and get my work pass approved..all during COVID times….in a country that’s currently in a recession….and has tightened restrictions on foreign worker passes.

I sprung into action quickly. My weeks in November (and October) looked crazy. I’d spend my days sifting through jobs on LinkedIn, working on my resume, and calling up every contact I had to get a job referral. Then, I’d prep for interviews with a ton of research and practice. All while also keeping up with my doctors’ appointments.

As I shuttled from one job interview to the next, I took comfort in the fact that I knew that I was a damn good job candidate. I’m qualified, capable, and resilient, among other things. And the companies I interviewed with saw that. So, it was just a matter of time before I got a job offer.

Despite making all the right moves, I was constantly on edge. On the slow days, an endless stream of questions would creep to the forefront of my mind.

What’s next for my career? Will X company give me an offer this week? What if my work pass doesn’t get approved? Would I have run out of savings paying my medical bills?

So, I’d cope with the uncertainty by doing an If-Then exercise. When my brain starts to think of all the ways in which I’d end up homeless or dead, I’d take a moment to question what I would/can do in response to a negative situation.

This one simple technique shifted my focus to actions within my control. And it made a world of difference in my mood and emotions as I grappled with my challenges.

It also helps that I’ve trained myself to embrace the discomfort that comes with change.

I’ve leapt into uncertainty several times before – quitting a stable job without another job lined up, moving to a different country, ending a long-term relationship and so on. Whenever I felt anxious, I’d gently remind myself that the pain is temporary. I’ve gone through huge life changes before and came out the other side just fine.

Sure enough, my effort paid off. I ended November on a high note – with a new job.

Now, I get to breathe with some relief. I have some time off in December, which means that I can focus on nourishing my body and mind. I also intend to use my time to give back to the community and to people that have helped me. With all the goodwill that came my way this year, it’s only right that I pay it forward.

What are you looking forward to in December? What change – big or small – did you have to deal with in November? Hit me up in the comments, or on FacebookTwitter, or Instagram.

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