december 2023 review

Month in Review: December 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

December passed in the blink of an eye. I spent the first part of the month vegetating on the couch because I came down with a very bad respiratory infection, the second half of the month was spent prepping for Christmas. 

Overall, I kept my expenses below my income in December and managed to save about $200. $200 in savings isn’t a lot of money, but I’ll still take it as a win. 

Falling sick and paying out of pocket

If you work for a company in Singapore, chances are they’ll have some form of medical benefit that covers GP and outpatient visits. 

Unfortunately, now that I work for myself, I don’t have those benefits. Thankfully the cost of GP consultation and medication is affordable in Singapore, so it doesn’t exactly break the bank. 

But it’s a consideration to factor in if you’re thinking of being self-employed in Singapore.

In Malaysia you only need to pay RM1 for a consult at the government clinic, Klinik Kesihatan Malaysia (KKM). But Singapore’s polyclinics are only subsidised heavily for Singaporeans.

Sidenote: If you’re interested in knowing more about how health insurance works for foreigners in Singapore, check out this interview I did with Money Abroad.

A busy festive season

I usually make a trip back to KL for the year-end holidays. However, this year I decided to stay behind in Singapore to save money and time. Flights were expensive and I didn’t want to go through the hellish experience of traffic by taking the bus. 

Christmas is a big deal for me so I was a little disappointed that I couldn’t celebrate it with loved ones in Malaysia. One evening, on a whim, my partner and I decided, why not host our own little Christmas gathering?

I texted some friends and before we knew it, we were hosting a Christmas Eve dinner. 

Our quiet end of the year turned into a frenzy as we scrambled to get everything sorted for the gathering. 

But hey, it made Christmas feel more like Christmas, so the expense was worth it. 

Planning for the new year

Every year-end, I get excited about setting goals for the year ahead, but this time, I’ve held off on goal-setting. 

In the past, I’ve been all about action – diving headfirst into goals without necessarily thinking about the processes and systems to support them. I’ve also noticed in myself an unhealthy habit – I keep living in planning mode. That is, I’m always planning what to do, but when it comes to actually doing the thing, I fall short. 

In 2024, I want to be more intentional about not just what I want to achieve, but how I plan to get there.

The past couple of months are proof that I can just get on with things if I want to. I don’t need goals or targets to get me moving. I wrote 3 articles here in December, which is impressive given that I have a bad track record of staying consistent. 

2020 Nicole would be utterly shocked at my current bias towards action. 

Something clicked. I don’t exactly know what it is but I’ve made strides in avoiding procrastination and just getting things done. 

But, of course, there’s always room for improvement. 

Now, I’m grappling with the question of how to set goals in a way that doesn’t set me up for potential failure or detract from the momentum I seem to be having at the moment. 

Something to figure out in January, I suppose. 

Did your December end on a high note? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments, or follow me on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

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  1. Hi Nicole, I’ve been following your blog for many years and always look forward to your posts.
    Thank you for posting more regularly now. 🙂

    I really resonated with the part about goal-settings in this post, so I hope you don’t mind me sharing with you what has worked for me in the past.

    Lately, I’ve been bingeing on Dr. K’s Youtube videos and found his content practical in different areas of mental health which includes goal-settings, how to set boundaries (you can’t if you’re not in the position of power), and why your brain works the way it does.

    Here’s a link for his content about goal-settings if you’re interested:

    1. Hi Lisa, thanks for following and leaving this thoughtful message. I’ve never seen his videos but will check them out. If you’re not goal-setting this year, what are you doing instead?

      1. I’m not sure if this counts as doing something, but I’ll give myself 1 – 3 keywords as guiding stars throughout the years.

        For example: One of my words this year is ‘Declutter’, so I’ve put all of my stuff into the a room and then I’ll spend 5-10 minutes a day just going through them. Another thing that fits the theme is no grocery runs until all the things in the kitchen pantry+fridge are used up.

        For career wise, I’m recovering from a burnout so the keyword I’ve given myself is “Pace”. I have a tendency to cram as much work as possible into a day, so I gave myself a ‘maximum target’ and once I’ve achieved that target, I stop working even if I still have the brainpower to do more.

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