Hope it’s not too late to wish you a happy new year! We’re finally passed 2020 but looks like the pandemic is still here with us. Ahh, I’m not sure why I had this notion that once we hit 1st January 2021, the pandemic was going to end. Guess not.
One thing sure came to its end, which is my…… NO BUY YEAR! Phew after 12 months, TWELVE LOOOOOOOOOOOONG months of not going shopping or buying anything at my whims and fancies, I have finally completed this no-buy year. Finally! Ahhhh I’m so happy because I didn’t know that I had it in me to complete this whole personal challenge of mine, but look at where we are now! *happy tears*
Before we do a proper spending review for 2020, let’s go through the last update of my no-buy year – December update.
December 2020 was a month of giving. I didn’t have any urge to spend money on myself. Instead, I spent money on other people, family and friends, especially as I had a few close friends’ weddings and newborn babies (#babyPKP) in December. So I was giving out gifts like Santa clause ho ho ho
Anywho, 2020 has been a year that opened my eyes to the importance of maintaining good relationships with family and friends. Firstly, as I believe many can relate to this, we have spent so much time in isolation that we crave human connections. It made me realize how technology, despite its advancement, can never replace the physical interactions and face-to-face meet-ups with family and friends. Second, my partner and I lost someone dear this year; it was sudden and unexpected, which made me appreciate life and those who are still with me even more.
Geez, suddenly this becomes gloomy.
Percentage-wise, 25% of my spending in December 2020 went to giving. So I would say I ended the final month of my no-buy year strong!
And with that ladies and gentlemen, WE HAVE SUCCESSFULLY COMPLETED MY NO BUY YEAR OF 2020!!! Look at our bumpy journey:
- Bye-Buy: No Buy Year 2020 – where I set out my intention and rules
- January Update – that month when I was being tempted by so many cobaan
- February Update – that month when I could start feeling the shift in my money mindset
- March Update – that month when I talked about skincare and beauty
- April Update – that month when I did online window shopping by adding items to my carts then removing them
- May Update – that month when I
failedrelaxed my rules by buying books (update: the ‘read one, buy one book’ doesn’t happen. I went crazy on books-buying spree afterwards)
- June Update and Mid-Year Review – that beautiful month when I hit MY FIRST RM10k EVERRR, largely thanks to myself for resisting the urge to shop
- July Update – that month when I struggled with hoarding books and I bought baju raya (which was allowed by my rules but on hindsight, quite unnecessary)
- August Update – that embarrassing month when my heels tercabut in public that I bought new heels as replacement
- September Update – that month when I finally did this whole no-buy thing on autopilot mode
- October Update – that blissful month when I shared my perspective on how my no-buy year affects others around me
- November Update – that annoying month because there’s 11.11 shopping spree!
What an amazing, beautiful journey.
SPENDING REVIEW OF 2020
Now here comes my spending review of the year! I didn’t buy things, but I did spend my money.
However before we dissect that spending part, let’s talk about my savings. After hitting my first RM10k before the midyear of 2020, I didn’t manage to keep up with that monthly savings rate because Covid-19 forced me to be on a pay cut. My monthly spending remained the same, so what took the hit was my savings department. Anyway, I would still say 2020 has been a successful financial year for me as a beginner as back in 2019, I didn’t have any savings.
Back to my spending review. Here’s my overall spending outlook, taaadaaaaa-
I tracked my money using Money Manager Expense & Budget apps.
The breakdown from highest to lowest looks like this:
1. RENT & FIXED BILLS – 23%
Out of all this, I wish to reduce my phone bills expenses. Celcom’s connection line is unstable and disappointing, considering that its price is on the higher side. I’m still on the lookout, do you have any recommendation for the most reliable telco line for phone calls, Internet and hotspot?
And I’ve terminated my gym membership soon after this pandemic hit us as it has become quite risky to continue. (Read more: 10 Things to Consider Before Joining a Gym)
I generally have no issue with this category. I believe it is justified for me to say that my spending on fixed expenses is ideal and reasonable.
2. FAMILY – 23%
I still give a monthly sum to my parents (they don’t ask for it but I feel obliged), I treat them and my family members here and there, and I pay for my parents’ phone bills.
Whilst I’m thankful that I have a family to spend money on and I have money to treat others apart from myself, seeing this category forming a big chunk of my spending makes me wonder whether one can be considered as spending too much money on one’s family, as a single person. Note that this spending was not for any dire or emergency needs etc. (another reason to be thankful); but purely treating them, just because.
Geez, I know that even asking this question would make me be seen as an ungrateful child. Trust me, I’m so very much grateful for everything and everyone I have. But I’m just curious. Hmm, something to ponder.
3. CLAIM/LEND – 10%
I wanted to do without this category, but I spend so much on this that I should track them. ‘Claim’ is when I advance my money for work purposes, and ‘Lend’ is when I lend money to people. I always get the money back, so all’s good.
4. TRANSPORTATION – 10%
I believe this could be way more if not because we spent much time on lockdown and most months I was working from home. This transportation chunk is all good.
5. MISC WANTS – 7%
I’m satisfied with this category, all thanks to my no-buy year.
- Travels is for the interstate road trips and staycations that I took this year with family and friends (some expenses during the trips are put in the Social or Family category), and one budget vacation trip to our neighbouring country in January 2021 before Covid-19 hit us in full-blown (excluding some expenses like flight tickets and accommodation that had been paid in 2019).
- Books – oh well read my no-buy year updates, and you would know my struggle with books-buying. This includes my Kindle purchase (Read more: From Physical Books to Kindle: Why I Finally Go for e-Books and Kindle Paperwhite in Malaysia: Unboxing, Review, Tips, and Tricks).
- Apparels are for the baju raya that I got in July and those heels that I bought in August.
- Activities include spa trips and facials and a couple of outdoor activities.
Oh my God, can you believe that I didn’t spend money on unnecessary material stuff this year?!
But…. that baju raya.
6. MISC NEEDS – 7%
I’m satisfied with this category.
- One-off includes car insurance and road tax, flight ticket to visit my extended family (which got postponed due to Covid-19) and gym termination charges (read about it on item #4 here).
- Beauty for skincare and makeup. Glad to say my routine and the products that I used this year are all figured out and my skin’s cooperating well.
- Health for the occasional pharmacy trips, contact lenses (not for aesthetic), sanitisers, face masks, lots and lots of face masks, and one dentist appointment. Thankful that I was at the best of health last year with no visit to the doctor.
- Fix/replace including replacing my worn-down heels, my broken USB cable, my old power bank that suddenly stopped functioning and my filled-up work planner, and repairing my shoes at the cobbler.
- Others is specifically for that one time in early January when I got scammed vide CIMB bank. I had to block my account instantly when I got many texts charging me for expenses that I didn’t make.
7. PROJECT – 6%
This includes the money I put in stock trading (both for learning and trading) and expenses to maintain this blog. I categorized this as ‘Project’ instead of ‘Investment’ because I don’t get my money back. Well, the hopeful and optimistic me would say – I haven’t gotten my money back yet.
Regardless, my 2020 has been a meaningful productive year in terms of learning and doing new things. Slowly but surely, I’ll figure it out and get this ‘Project’ right.
8. GIVING – 5%
This percentage is more than last year. Despite not buying anything for myself, I’m glad that I did spend for other people in the form of donations, treats or gifts.
And throughout the year, this situation happened to me a lot:
9. FOOD – 4%
I find it ridiculous when so-called financial experts give us, the millenials, advice that we should stop buying fancy coffee daily so that we can become a millionaire one day. I naively bought into this idea at first that I often restrained myself from getting freshly brewed coffee but looking back at my spending, the advice is totally absurd.
Food makes up a very minuscule part of my spending in the grand scheme of things. It’s just 4%! My coffee falls within this category, so I can’t see how cutting out my coffee would make me a millionaire.
Anyway, I have to admit that I spent more on fast food (Wants) than proper meals (Needs). Ish. Now I know where the extra baggage on my tummy comes from, sigh. For health reason, I will cut down on fast food.
10. GROCERIES / HOUSEHOLDS – 3%
I’m proud of this category because I did buy groceries and learn cooking simple basic meals throughout last year #adulting101.
11. SOCIAL – 2%
I never had any issue with socializing part even before the pandemic because I usually do this cheaply. Fancy outings are quite rare for me. Can say we’re low maintenance group, me and my circle.
12. MODIFIED BALANCE – 0.27%
This shouldn’t be a category. It’s annoying that this showed up but there were just times when I couldn’t trace the money that went out, especially when I used cash and there was no receipt. So they became modified balance.
ALL IN ALL, MY 2020 WAS… (pandemic aside)
A unique year where I challenged myself to do things that I never thought I would do, including a full no-buy year, learning all about stocks trading, and keep blogging here (albeit very inconsistently). I was also exploring personal development more in an attempt to find ways to optimize my time management so that I can grow as an individual. Oh, and do you know I read 38 books last year? Ah, that’s the most books I’ve ever read in a year as an adult.
Financially, I’ve grown and improved oh-so-much. I managed to have a positive shift in my money mindset; I found ways to tame my spending urge; I broke the bad habit of taking out my spending; I got into the habit of paying myself first; and most importantly, I finally have that mental peace having known my exact financial state.
Of course, there is always room for improvement. But at least, I got somewhere this year. I mean just compare this 2020 review with my 2019 financial review – my financial state has improved and the tone I used in talking about money is no longer all pessimistic and hopeless.
Thank you 2020 (but not for the suffering Covid-19 caused to everyone on Earth).
So now, let’s continue figuringgitout in 2021!