Will it be possible for someone working and living in Klang Valley to stick to RM500 budget for a month? Follow my #30DaysBudgetHero challenge here.
It’s back to the daily grind for most of us after the recent extended break. Post Ramadhan, with Hari Raya celebration, and the long weekend for others, we may have stretched both our waistlines and our budget. How do I plan to get my finances back into shape? By going through a financial detox and embarking on a RM500 budget.
When I started college at 18, my parents gave me a monthly RM500 allowance. The money was to cover expenses when I eat out, entertainment expenses and my car petrol. All other expenses such as phone bill, car maintenance, and other utilities bills was paid for by my parents.
I decided to embark on a RM500 #30daysBudgetHero challenge to see if it is still possible for me to do so for my variable expenses. OK, you may think it’s absurd for me to set that budget for myself, especially since I work and live in Klang Valley. Will it be possible for me to stick to the budget? Only one way to find out. Follow me on my #30daysBudgetHero challenge, and stay tuned as I’ll be posting updates on a weekly basis.
My Game Plan
The RM500 budget challenge will be for my variable expenses. This means, similar as to how my expenses was limited to RM500 when I was 18, I’ll be adhering to the same amount for a month. RM500 will be to cover for my petrol, eating out (including daily lunch at work) and entertainment expenses. It will exclude my monthly commitments like bills, student loan repayment, and all other fixed expenses.
Week 1: 1st July – 8th July
Challenges and Lessons of the Week
Failing to plan is planning to fail -Benjamin Franklin
1. It Pays To Plan Ahead
The biggest challenge I encountered was my food expenses. I set myself a maximum lunch budget of RM6 for weekdays, which will be food only without drinks. I quickly realised that I will get better value for money if I prepare my own food. I was charged RM5 for nasi campur which only consisted of rice, vegetables and potatoes. It will take more effort to bring my own food, but I’ll give up some form of convenience instead of being ripped off by KL’s food stalls. I was also not fully prepared for the first week, and I ended up eating instant noodles and other junk food most days for my lunch to stay within my budget. I am hoping that planning my meals next week can help me to stick to my budget better, and at the same time eat healthy, wholesome food.
2. Maintenance Helps You Save Money
I learned that paying attention to my car is important if I want to ensure safer rides and to potentially avoid from having to pay more than I need to. At the end of the week, I noticed that I was driving around with an under-inflated tyre. RM60 worth of petrol usually lasts me 1 and a half week. But this time around, it only lasted me a week, and I suspect this could be due to my under-inflated tyre. I was told that properly inflated tyres will last longer and helps with fuel efficiency. This is because when a tyre pressure is too low, too much of the tyre’s surface area touches the ground. It will then increase friction between the road and tyre, and as a result, causes more fuel usage and tyres to wear out faster.
3. Free Food Always Taste Better
I managed to save money on food expenses during the weekend by honoring invitations I received, and free meals. My food during the weekend was mostly kenduri food and being treated for lunch and dinner. However, I know this won’t be feasible for the rest of the month, as I don’t think I’ll get free meals every weekend. But, in Malaysia, we celebrate Raya for a month which means I’ll still have a few more open houses invitations. So my plan is to make the most of the free food while it lasts!
Entertainment wise, I did not spend any as my entertainment of the week consisted of functions and invitations. I have RM372 to last me until the end of the month. I’m feeling the pressure, but I’m still optimistic that I can get through the month within the RM500 budget. We’ll see how I do next week.
Week 2: 9th July – 15th July
Challenges and Lessons of the Week
1. Financial Discipline is Hard
I’m not going to sugar coat it, being financially disciplined is hard, more so as I have set quite a strict limit to myself for this budget challenge. I noticed that there are small habits that is costing me money, which I may have been taking too lightly before. For example, during the weekend I was spending small amounts here and there (stopping by the news agent to buy drinks, buying kuih and snacks) whilst telling myself it’s just a few ringgit. But when I sat down to tally my spending, it can really add up!
Last week, I spent RM78 on food, while this week I spent RM75 on food even though I was bringing food from home everyday to work. Certain habits such taking small purchases lightly is costing me, even if I only do it on the weekends. What I should have done is be more conscious with my spending even if in my head I think it’s a small amount, and be more economical by bringing my own water.
2. Spread Out the Spending
Another lesson I learnt this week, is that I cannot be spending recklessly on the little things, and at the same time reward myself whilst I am on a budget. I have to be smarter at spreading out my purchases and spending. If I want to go for a movie this week, I should have been more careful with my other spending. I believe that I can have it all, just not at the same time. I think the key for me is to keep a steady pace with my spending so I can get through this challenge.
As a quick recap, I spent RM180 this week, and I only have RM192 left to last me for 2 more weeks. I’ll have to make some sacrifices to make sure I can survive with less than RM200 until the end of this month. Keep a lookout for my update next week.