Money Diaries

Money Diaries: Midyear check-in 2020

2020 feels like a gap year; I have very little memory about the past six months. I remember a service at church with sanitizers, and then it’s all about online meetings at home. For three months, I have stayed home and only go out for a grocery trip.

Spending wise, I had a hard landing. I have to come to terms with lifestyle habits over the years. Things like morning coffee, to-go bubble tea, happiness ice-cream, on sale shoes. These habits give a feel-good factor but make little impact on my life priorities. Frankly, I enjoy noise-free life more than the what-to-buy, what-to-save life. At the office, I am like an imposter, where I try to wear better shoes, eat better meals without spending much. At home, I am in a pajama shirt and do what my heart wants.

Nevertheless, it seems I am the odd one out. I have visited a few shopping centers, and the shopping spree surprises me. People are buying carts full of new things, furniture, restaurant waiting time is one hour (at least it’s in PJ/KL area). Perhaps, the idea of living minimally and careful spending is not as compelling to others. Or perhaps, what’s concerning me financially doesn’t necessarily translate to individual situations (and rightfully so). Yes, there are job losses and pay cuts, but there’s still a lot of people with money and more money to buy sketchers and keep the economy going.

I have now spent thirty-five thousand for the year, attributed by Jan-Mar working cost and Apr-May donations. Most of my expenses are down trending and I really hope it stays so. Early this year, I have four financial goals in mind, and all of them have fared differently from what I expected to happen:

A. Housing: Eliminate rental (Hold)

# Instead of getting an affordable house, I have the 2nd housemate moving-in, reducing my rent by RM550. Being single is so much more expensive. Co-sharing is still the best way to save costs.

# The electricity bill shot up to RM200; when energy prices are at years-low. -.-

B. Food: Meal prep with simple recipes (Checked)

# I don’t miss eating out as much as I thought I would. With some planning, home-dining is as experiential as store-dining. The trick is to clean out the table, use ceramic plates, light a scented soy candle, and turn on Spotify. I still eat out but only for gatherings or to convert reward points.

# Figured that I could get a bunch of free groceries with credit card sign-up rewards. If there are no significant changes in how-things-work, I can plan my way to RM200/month of free groceries, forever?

# I could do better in keeping the grocery list basic, avoiding novelty food products. I used to love things that sound homemade or artisan like mayo with truffle, fruit jam with glitters. They mostly turn out to be a waste of money. New in no-buy list: Novelty food products.

C. Investment: Continue to grow for financial independence. (Progressing slowly)

# I miss the KLSE dip, and then I miss the Apr-May gloves bull-run. Meh. Seriously, don’t learn investment from me.

# As the rate hit a low of 1.5-1.8%, I am withdrawing fixed deposits into better returns investments.

# Office is under pressure to cut costs, and I might get a cut in payroll. I did think about what I’ll do in the event of job loss but I have not considered how I will cope with a pay cut. How have any of you cope if there was a reduction in your pay?

# I been saying I want FI, but perhaps what I want is financial stability + slow lifestyle upgrade.

D. Growth: Take action that creates value (Procrastinating)

# Trying startups involving data analytics. The learning curve is enormous since none of us can do programming. And I tend to procrastinate, so this is not very promising.

# Working with a friend to take on the world of healthy food. Find us here.

# Back to more consistent giving and tithes, at least twice a month. Giving break me from the bondage of money hoarding and see God’s hand working in my life.

# Set up a chillax area in the 2″x 10″ balcony space with a tea table and stool for RM50.

#Grow my first ginger pot. I am looking forward to adding some indoor plants. Can anyone give me a free plant?

# Reading with Singapore national library online (from a friend, and if you are reading this, Thank You!). Their selection is so much better curated than our library.

How are your financial goals checking-in this year?

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