Month in Review

Month in Review: December 2020

Every month, I track my expenses and share them here. In this series, 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 also encourages you to get comfortable with your own finances.

Spending Breakdown

December 2020 expenses
December 2020 expenses

Happy New Year, folks! I’m sure a lot of us are happy to see the last of 2020. I’ve got one last review to kick out for 2020 and that’s December’s expense report. I spent a total of $3,752.85 in December. Some of my notable expenses were:

Gifts – $627.17

For me, December is always a predictably high-spend month because of Christmas. 2020 was no exception. 

I bought my parents a new microwave during 12.12 because their previous one went kaput. I also splurged on gifts for friends who helped me through the last quarter of 2020 aka the most suay 3 months I had this year (yeah, and I’m not counting the pandemic because that’s suay for everyone). 

Medical – $361.30

I had several medical follow-ups in December to evaluate my recovery. 

Personal Care & Shopping – $445.56

I also splurged on myself in December. I know I should have controlled my spending considering I forked out a lot of money in November for all my medical-related expenses ($7k to be exact). But the stress of my ordeal finally got to me. I just wanted to feel comfortable again in my body. To feel human again. To feel good. 

So, I..sigh..did a little…sigh..retail therapy. I pampered myself with a haircut and bought some makeup from Sephora. I also purchased a bunch of dresses on Carousell from a woman who was clearing her closet. Most of the dresses were new with tags still on them. And I got a great deal for the whole lot. 13 pieces for $100. That’s about $7.70 per dress! It was a no-brainer for me to take them off her hands. And since I don’t want to give my money to the fast fashion industry for ethical reasons, it works out for me! I get new dresses without contributing to those corporations. 

I don’t regret any of my purchases but I also don’t condone the habit of spending money as a way to make yourself feel better. If you love shopping, I suggest setting aside a shopping budget each year so you can still feel the thrill of browsing for pretty/cool things and unboxing the items you bought. In 2020, I set aside $1,500 for my shopping and personal care (haircut, essential toiletries like shampoos, etc) expenses. I’m happy to report that even after my December splurge, I still came under budget. 

Fees – $170 

I paid $120 in administrative fees for my permanent residency in Singapore. 

I also paid $50 (RM150) for a financial consultation with a financial advisor. Now, you might be thinking, “Eh, Nicole, you seem to know what you’re doing with your money, why pay for a financial advisor?”. To that I say: Even the best financial experts (and I’m not a financial expert) have financial advisors. That’s because everyone has their blind spots, especially when it comes to money. And we also can’t know everything. So, it’s good to consult an advisor who can offer us a different (and possibly better) perspective on our personal finances. 

It’s like seeing a doctor for your yearly check-ups, or seeing your therapist for your mental health. A financial advisor assesses your financial health, gives you directions, and equips you with the tools to improve and optimise your finances. 

Goals Progress

Goals progress for December 2020
Goals progress for December 2020

In December, I saved 21% of my monthly income, picking up the savings rate from November. I didn’t put these savings into investments because I was still replenishing my emergency reserves. 

I read 2 books in December: 

  1. Breast and Eggs by Mieko Kawakami
  2. Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, Al Switzler

I also managed to exercise and meditate every two days on average in December. 

And I published 1 post in December (yeah, this goal still needs work).

December Highlights

In December I focused on personal relationships, relaxation, and being charitable. 

Personal Relationships

Christmas season is a massive deal for me. Every year, I catch up with my extended family, and old and new friends over roasted turkey, mutton briyani, and alcohol. Though I wasn’t able to go home for Christmas this year, I still got to celebrate Christmas with my friends in Singapore. I feel very grateful and blessed for that 🙏. 

Relaxation

After I secured my next job and my permanent residency in Singapore, I was finally able to relax. I got a much-needed break. I used my break to meet with friends, meditate, read, be alone with myself, and process my trauma from a toxic work environment. 

Being Charitable

I will always stress that whatever success I have, big or small, isn’t possible without kind people graciously extending help to me, no questions asked. 

When I was job hunting, friends and acquaintances shared their network with me, vouched for me, and went out of their way to help. One guy (I never met him!) even researched available jobs and emailed me all the contacts to reach out to for those jobs. 

I was surprised and touched when a work acquaintance vouched for me 😭

There really are a lot of genuinely kind people out there. 

After all the help I received in my own job search, I was compelled to do the same for others. So, I hosted a little Christmas giveaway to help review other people’s resumes. 

And I don’t intend to just stop at resume reviews. In the coming year, I plan to help more people, more consistently. I haven’t figured out how I want to help just yet, but I’m definitely excited to get going. 

How did your December go? Did you set goals for 2021? What were they? Hit me up in the comments, or on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

4 Comments

  • Elizabeth Tai

    / am glad to read that things are looking up for you and that you had a good vacation. I also love reading your monthly updates. itInspires me and gives me lots of insights into life outside Malaysia and how other people handle their money.

    • Nicole

      Hi Elizabeth, thanks so much for the encouragement 🙂 I love reading your writings as well. Look forward to seeing your money diaries that you’re starting this year !

      • Elizabeth Tai

        I am so honoured that you’re reading my content! 😀

        PS: I’m also inspired that you’re tracking your goals. I have no idea if I will be able to do that, but I think it gives you a more focused way to approach life rather than autopilot it or winging it, so I may try to adopt the same 😛

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