Back in April when we were all still stuck at home, I shared here my personal financial strategies during this pandemic. And I think it’s only right to do a follow-up on that plan considering that our daily COVID-19 cases in Malaysia are now back to triple figures. And I’m back working at home.
As a follow-up to my COVID-19 Money Plan, here’s my update:
My Financial Strategies
Oh the biggest goal is achieved! In my money plan I said I wanted to build my emergency fund and yas, I managed to save RM10k last May! Fuhhh. One less worry now.
1. Revisiting my spending
I said in April that once we’re allowed to be out and about again, I would enjoy life out there. And I did just that. I went out with family and friends and went for quite a number of staycations and road trips. Oh don’t worry, we follow SOPs.
Money is flowing out though, even on a budget. The bright side is I got time to spend time with family and friends and enjoying my days. However, now seeing cases rising up daily, it’s time to cut back on that.
2. Freezing gym membership
Initially, I only planned to freeze my gym membership. But then the gym takes extra precautions that you have to book your time slot 2 days prior, on a first come first serve basis.
I understand the health and safety measures behind it but it just doesn’t work for me anymore. Having to book my time slot 2 days before is quite a hassle, plus I won’t be able to take my own sweet time showering and resting after my workout session. It’s no longer worth it.
So I canceled my gym membership. The most ridiculous part is I had to pay a penalty because it’s considered a premature termination. Few hundred ringgit, poof gone just like that! So everyone, please look at your membership terms – does it involve you paying more just to cancel?
Anyway, I save a hundred plus every month now not going to the gym.
3. Reducing EPF contribution
To be honest, I forgot I opted for this. I never realized that I actually got few extra ringgit coming with my (already reduced) monthly salary. I planned to put those extra ringgit into my emergency fund but from my savings rate, guess that doesn’t happen.
In hindsight, I should have just maintained the 11% rate of EPF contribution for employees.
4. Taking up the car loan moratorium
As I have a 20% salary cut, it sounds practical for me to take up the automatic moratorium and not pay for my car temporarily so I can put the monthly loan into savings. Once the 6 months period ends (and hopefully I don’t use the money set aside till then AND my emergency fund is filled up), I will most probably just make a lump sum payment for the suspended 6 months payment holiday.Figuringgitout, in April.
Figuringgitout, in October: I did not take the moratorium, I continue paying for my car loan.
I’m happy because I still manage to do that despite taking a pay cut! That means my salary, even with a 10-20% cut, is actually enough to cover my necessities, so please my future self, you’re not fooling anyone complaining you are not able to save money.
5. Upskilling and improving employability
This one is a bit tricky. I don’t have any proper yardstick to measure my career progress. In this pandemic, promotion and pay raise are not proper measures anymore. Some companies can’t afford to do that while some others take this opportunity to not be doing that in the name of “cost-cutting”. B-s for the latter, but that’s the bitter reality.
I do consider changing jobs but not now, not yet. Currently, I’m enjoying doing what I’m doing and there are still new things to learn every day. And plus I need this stable environment as I’m trying to do other things on the side. See below.
Oh I’ve updated my resume though.
6. Considering side hustles
I don’t have any solid side hustles yet but I have things brewing. It’s a slow frustrating process but I got good feelings about this.
At this juncture, I am just going to salute everyone who has a full-time job, yet manage to have a part-time job, business, or side hustle. It’s not easy. It can be tiring. It’s even tiring when you’re just starting out and you haven’t seen the result yet (well I’m talking about me).
I’ll just work on it now, slowly but surely. Will share more later.
7. Postponing big life decisions
No worries, I’m not getting married yet despite having EVERYONE around me getting married and having babies. Not buying a house either. These two can wait.
8. Strengthening financial mindset
Oh I love this change so much! I’ve been taking extra conscious efforts to think about money positively. Before this, I thought about money in a quite pessimistic negative way. It was always about – I don’t have enough money, why don’t I have any savings, I can’t wait for salary, I want to buy this so much, I want to buy that, I want to buy everything, I want more money.
Now, my brain is like – oh yes I have savings, yes I pay myself first, I have everything that I can possibly need now, I don’t need more things, I’m in abundance, I can treat others, I’m all good. Oh that beautiful mind-shift!
I’m glad I took that first step 10 months ago.
If I can give you one advice (not a qualified person for this but) please know that changes happen internally. It’s from the inside, from your mindset. Once you shift your thinking to the more optimistic, positive, growth way of thinking, you can see results in every aspect of your life. Seriously. I’m Exhibit A. It’s not immediate results but just seeing little improvements in my life seems enough most days.
9. Switch to an emergency budget
I’m very mindful of my spendings nowadays, hence I don’t find it necessary (yet) to switch to an emergency budget.
10. Withdraw from EPF i-Lestari
Yeay, I’m glad that I don’t have to touch my EPF anymore. Learning from my lesson at #3 above, I guess I shouldn’t even considered this in the first place.
Hoping for the Best
In my original post, I was a little bit ashamed to admit that my strategies are simple, it’s not sophisticated at all. I have no magic plan, I’m just doing what I know. But today, I’m glad to say that my simple basic plan works. Admittedly, I don’t execute my plan perfectly, but I can see the positive results albeit small.
Of course, I’m still worried about my future, OUR future in this pandemic but at least I can work towards improving my financial state with one less worry, knowing that I have some emergency fund and… as narcissistic as this may sound, myself. Ahah!
I’ll continue figuringgitout. Join me.