Month in Review,  Personal Finance

Month in Review: November 2023

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.

Spending Breakdown

In November, I managed to come under my budget for the month. Total expenses stood at $2,978, with the top three expenses being housing, vacation, and taxes. 

I initially reported spending about $3,200 on my Instagram post, but it turns out, I had made some double entries on my Excel sheet, which I caught while writing this post. 

Overall, it was a quiet month, which helped keep costs low. Let’s take a look.

Kept food expenses below $250

Food is one of the categories I tend to splash out on. So, it’s no easy feat to come under $250 for the month. It helps that I fully work from home these days, and food delivery options are scarce (and expensive) where I live, forcing me to cook. 

I’m not much of a chef, and I’ve always viewed cooking as a means to an end. The end, of course, is to eat. So, I rarely find enjoyment in cooking. 

But one of my goals during my career break was to recreate the dishes my late grandmother cooked when I lived with her during my childhood. 

Experimenting with her recipes has been a way for me to get excited about cooking.

Leftover vacation expense

My month-long trip to Europe ended in the second week of November. I had two goals on this trip – to visit family and friends, and to test out if the digital nomad lifestyle was for me. 

I went to Germany to visit my sister, and then to the UK to visit my partner’s parents. During that trip, I worked on the weekdays, and spent the weekends doing trips or activities with the family. 

While I understand the appeal of working remotely in different locations for a while, I found it difficult to keep any semblance of a work routine while I was away. I’d work at all odd hours of the day, so life felt a little… topsy-turvy. 

I’m not sure how other people do it. 

In any case, I spent a total of $3,100 on this trip including flights, which averages out to $81 a day. For most of my trip, my accommodation was free, save for a couple of short weekend trips to Brussels and Brighton. 

I did set out a $3,000 budget for the entire trip, so I am quite chuffed that I burst the budget by much.

Upgraded swimming gear

3 years ago, I bought a swimsuit from Decathlon for a mere $40. It served the purpose at the time because I only managed to swim once a week at the public pool. Now that I’ve moved into a condo with a pool, I’ve been swimming more regularly, and my swimsuit has started to stretch out. 

So, I was due an upgrade. I bought a better-quality swimsuit, and got a swimming cap and a pair of goggles to boot. The total damage done was $182.

Starting a business

Since I started my break, I’ve been exploring what I wanted to do with my life for the next couple of years. 

The thought of going back to corporate life doesn’t appeal to me at the moment. As much as I liked working collectively with others towards a common goal for a company, I didn’t like it so much that the companies usually don’t care about the people. 

Of course, I thought about the alternative to corporate life – starting my own business. I’ve had this thought for a long time.  But I had no idea what business to start.

More truthfully, though, I didn’t have the conviction or the risk appetite to go it on my own before. I was quite happy being a corporate slave and getting paid a steady wage for it.

But after gaining exposure to the startup world and being in a position where I was essentially in charge of running a business (but without the capital risk), I have more confidence in my abilities. 

So, this career break was the perfect opportunity to delve deep into my strengths, skills, and passions to uncover how I can bring that into a business and also to learn what problems need solving in the world that I can help solve.

To do that, I went to events, networked with other entrepreneurs, watched videos and read up on what other businesses are doing. How did they get their idea? How did they launch their business? What struggles did they face? 

When I shared with a friend that I wanted to give running a business a show, she said she had similar thoughts for herself!

We discussed what skills we can bring to the table – she is an expert in operations, project management, creative thinking, videos and social media. My strengths lie in content marketing, talking to people and selling. 

We decided why not combine our strengths to provide a service for businesses that need it. That’s how we landed on starting a marketing agency business.

It’s still very much early days, and I know it’s going to be HARD WORK. But I’m excited at the opportunity to build something for myself. 

Do you know what this means? Ya girl is no longer on a career break.

What are some highlights in November for you? Share with me in the comments, or come say hi on FacebookTwitteror Instagram.

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