MichMusings

6 Ways to Save Money When You're a Malaysian Young Adult

22:06

Sometimes I feel like I'm fighting a losing battle against the ringgit (Malaysian currency) when it comes to fulfilling my dreams of travelling overseas for at least 15 days each year.

Wanting to rest, relax, and take in the sights of another country in 15 out of 356 days isn't such a big deal, right?

Right?

While my salary has gone up in the past few years since I started working (thank you Universe), the ringgit has also taken quite the beating. This is how the ringgit currently stacks up against 5 other countries.



*deep sigh*

The worsening ringgit is good for Malaysian tourism, but it's not so good for my preferred kind of travelling. While my username may say michxwanderlust, it's only because michxfirstworldcountries isn't as easy to type.

So, what do first world countries have in common? Well, mainly currency that is much stronger than the Malaysian ringgit.

Some say the solution to this is to prefer travelling in countries that are much more affordable, for example, such as my own country, Malaysia, or the surrounding South-East Asian countries (apart from Singapore, because if I'm going to go to Singapore, I might as well pay a bit more to go to Australia instead).


Others say this is a millennial whining and why, back in the day, they didn't even get to travel to the next state in Malaysia at my age, and so on.

Me, I say that I am determined to overcome this ringgit problem to STILL be able to afford to travel to countries like Japan, and so this year I've come up with EVEN more ways to save money than I used to before.

Here are 6 of those ways, and may you, dear reader, find this useful.

1. Consume Less (Outside) Food and Non-Water Drinks



Apart from Writing, Reading, Sleeping, and Travelling, Eating is one of my Five Greatest Loves.

Yet out of all the five, food is the one that takes the least importance, if I have to budget my time and money that way.

Since 2017 began, my weekday meals have been, in the middle-class sense, quite sad. I'm not starving or anything, but I have been eating the same weekday late tea meal for almost three weeks now.

You see, I decided to invest in a sandwich press last month. I've been making full use of that sandwich press almost every weekday now, to make myself a late tea/ dinner meal.

I've basically cut down my food expenses to less than RM10.00 per week (sometimes I am weak and crave snacks ahem) on average thanks to the sandwich press, so yes, it's done its part in helping me save money.

Of course, this means I'm having a sandwich for dinner from Monday to Friday with no changes, but beggars can't be choosers.

I'll just munch on my sandwich and pretend it's this, or some other similar coping mechanism.


T_____________T

This whole having a sandwich for dinner on weekdays makes me really look forward to the weekends. Even if I'm just cooking at home to save money (and to be healthy!), at least it's something different to a sandwich for dinner, two evenings a week.

It is lucky I like sandwiches, and do not mind eating them daily (if a bit wistfully while thinking of other food products).

Then there is my preferred beverage of choice, which is usually water, or tea. Lucky I like these two too. Water is the best. Ain't nobody got too much extra cash (or metabolism) to spend on soda, alcohol, milkshakes, and the like right now, because THE GOAL IS TO TRAVEL!!!

Alternatively I suppose you can still have nice food if you have someone who is willing to pay for you, but apart from being a money-saving measure, this money-saving tip number one is also a weight-maintaining measure.

Win-win for me, I guess...?


2. Get Experiences, Not Things 

This tip was also mentioned in my resolutions I made for this year, but it's being repeated here now in a money-saving sense.

Naturally, I think, some experiences are way more expensive than the things you buy. A trip to a good hair salon can set you back by a good RM300 - RM500. You could get three quality outfits out of that!

In the money-saving sense, however, I am referring to experiences that are free, or at least cheap-ish.

Yes, people, there are experiences to be had for free! It's what all those "free things to do in *insert city here*" guides are for, after all.

In my personal life, the kind of experiences I give myself on the weekends doesn't usually involve going out. Instead, I tend to stay at home to stream dramas, read books, clean, exercise, listen to Spotify, play games, blog, write, and so on.



And you know what? I love my weekends indoors, and don't think I'm depriving myself of anything this way just to be able to travel to the countries I want to travel to. Perhaps this is related to tip three?

3. Be an Introvert

If I have to force myself to be extroverted in order to move up the social/ career ladder, people can definitely learn to be more introverted for the sake of their wallets.

I have had people asking me if I ever get bored not having anything to do on Friday nights, because my answers to the "what are you doing on Friday night?" question are usually around the same theme.

"I AM GOING HOME TO SLEEP." 


I say this with as much excitement as someone saying "I'm going out on a date!" or "I'm going to go clubbing with my friends!".


This^ over clubs any day for me... and I don't have to pay a cover charge, pay for drinks, or pay for the Uber to take me home when I'm too tipsy to drive.

Money-saving win? Money-saving win.

I honestly don't get people who say they get "soooooooooooooo bored" just staying at home. I love staying at home. I pay rent, I SHOULD utilise that rent as much as I can in person.

4. Have Less "Friends"

It seems like my tips to saving money means being an asocial, misanthropic, and homebound nerd, also an alternative title for my blog name. Being all those things can certainly be kind to your wallet (unless you order a lot of things online for the things you nerd out for, then good luck to you), but I don't mean that you should purge ALL your friends.

I don't have a lot of friends. 

I say this not with sadness, but as a statement.

No, the friends I choose to keep company with ARE ~friends~, the kind that I already know would be willing to support my dreams, are not judgmental of my lifestyle behaviour or choices (but will totally offer much-needed advice without beating around the bush), and would be willing to text me past their bedtime if I really need them to.

Bedtime is really important, so I appreciate those who do.


Most of all, have the kind of friends who do not judge you for not going out to meet them every week (once a month are how often my friends and I actually meet each other), who do not judge you for being "poor", who do not laugh at your phone that is now three years old, who do not ask you why you always wear the same clothes, and who understand that you are saving money for something that is important to you.

These... are friends.

5. Use Electronic Devices for as Long as You Can 


I feel like some people cannot see that constantly upgrading their electronic devices will take a major toll on their wallet. Maybe they're just so financially fabulous that they don't have to worry about changing their phones/ laptops/ cameras every year or so, but... the people I know who like to upgrade every year or so aren't actually that financially fabulous.

My current phone is 3 years old, the laptop I am typing this on is 7 years old, and my camera is also 3 years old.

I have no intention of changing my phone, no matter how fast the battery drains. My home laptop is extremely slow, but also useable. My camera still works; it may not take the best pictures compared to, say, the Sony A7, but it serves its purpose.

I mean, I won the camera in a lucky draw, so no complaints there.

Of course, if you must have the best equipment due to work purposes, this is unavoidable. However, for the average person, there is really no need to upgrade your phone. Even if you decide to join one of those annual upgrade programs to get a new phone every year, you're still paying more to get a mildly better version of a device that was working perfectly in the first place.

I'm quite fond of my iPhone 5s, and will probably use it until it is complete obsolete. One of my friends used an iPhone 3Gs for almost 6 years - I guess we're the sort to be attached to our devices once we get them.

This, as you can tell, has been doing wonders in terms of saving money, and I intend to continue. To me, travelling triumphs over acquiring new electronic devices anytime, but if it's the opposite for you, feel free to continue (and cut back on travelling instead).

6. Before You Buy Anything, Ask Yourself: "Will I Use This a Year (*insert other appropriate time amount*) From Now?"



Nowadays, I try to maximise value out of the products I buy. Let's take makeup as an example. For makeup, I just wear the same brands over and over again, making sure I buy the ones that I know I will use constantly.

As a result, I guess I am not adventurous in terms of makeup at all, but hey, I don't have to be adventurous. I'm not a beauty blogger or writer.

In the past year or two, every time I've been attracted to buy something,  I've tried asking myself if the product will see continued usage for a long amount of time. I'm happy to report that what I bought is still being used, whether it's bags, accessories, clothes, and whatnot.

This style of asking myself several times if I really do ~need~ something has probably helped me survived through the brief four months of unemployment I went through last year. I was forced to use whatever was left of my savings to pay for bills, and luckily, I did not have to ask anyone to lend me cash for my commitments.

It is also the uncertain economic times that necessitates this sort of behaviour in young adults earning the ringgit. For someone who magically lost a job last year just because the company decided it did not need a writer anymore, it has only pointed out to me the necessity of being more prudent in my spending, and to prioritise exactly what I want to spend most on.

This year, I have decided travelling is my first priority out of my Five Greatest Loves, tying with Writing at first spot (since it is Writing that gets me an income). I can buy less books, sleep less in order to write more, and even starve myself to save on money, if it means that I can travel to the places I want to go to.


I guess there'll be no more Kobe beef-like meals purchased by myself for a while...

I don't recommend totally depriving yourself in your day-to-day life just to save money(I certainly don't), but if you have something to save up for, these 6 tips may come in handy, just as practicing them have been useful for me.

Here's to being able to travel overseas safely and securely (physically, financially, and otherwise) in the countries I want to go to for at least 15 days this year.

x
Mich

MichMusings

7 Resolutions for 2017

20:17

It's been 7 days since 2017 started.


To be honest, I've gotten over the whole concept of "new year, new me" a long time ago. In fact, attitude-wise, I'm more of a "different year, same crap" kind of person, which is also why I don't feel an urge to go out and celebrate New Year's Eve.

I do, however, like the concept of resolutions for myself. Reflecting and making new resolves are two things I do all the time, but the urge to do so get stronger around December and January. 

New Year's resolutions are a calendar-easy way to keep track of your resolutions... as long as you ARE keeping track. Here's my first blog post of 2017 to keep track of those resolutions, and may I not wince when I read this again on 31st December 2017.

7. Buy More Experiences, Spend Less on (Material) Things

In my early 20s, I adored shopping on blogshops. I was ALSO cheated of money on blogshops, but when I found the trustworthy ones, I was a loyal customer, and easily spent RM150 a month on average in these shops - shoes, clothes, accessories, bags, the whole shebang.

Then one day, I stopped.

I unfollowed all the blogshops on Instagram, got rid of them from my tabs, and occasionally visited their websites without buying.

What happened? 

Well, I had to pay more bills, for one thing. It turns out that in the grand scheme of things, data plans, Internet, running water, and the like are more important to me than accumulating my favourite non-essential fashion items.

Also, the Malaysian currency grew weaker every year #thanksNajib, and my desire to be able to travel to countries where the currency was much stronger than the Malaysian one outgrew my retail therapy needs.

I found myself throwing out a huge amount of stuff I accumulated during my annual spring-cleaning... and consciously or subconsciously, I decided that spending on experiences was much more worth it than accumulating things I either used only once or twice, OR had to spend my time moving about to make room for more things.



When I talk about experiences, I mean experiences where you may not necessarily get a material thing out of it, but you feel satisfied or enlightened afterwards anyway.

Trips to aquariums. Pampering yourself at hair/ nail salons. Sitting in a park and breathing in fresh air. Visiting dog/ cat cafes. Cooking/ language/ calligraphy lessons (well, okay, arguably you'll have something material to bring back from cooking/ calligraphy lessons). Having photoshoots with friends.

These are the experiences I want more of, which I will look back fondly on and remember, instead of things that I've purchased and then forget about soon after.

6. Blog More Posts 



I've been blogging sporadically on Dayre last year, but this year, I hope to write more on this platform, where it's easier to upload and keep images, as well as to type out longer stories, and to ruminate over most topics.

5. Travel (to) More Places



My preferred username on the Internet is a pretty good indicator of why I hope this is so. Last year, due to a year of not working full-time in 2015, I only went to Singapore for a weekend as part of my travel plans. I hope to travel and see more different sights in 2017, and from now onwards. Wait for me, my travels!

4. Read More Books


In 2016, I read a surprisingly low amount of books, and gave up on more books halfway than I dare to count. T_T

That did not stop me from buying more books, though... and now my TBR pile is overwhelming to me (at 30+ or so).

It's not that I stopped liking to read - I still do. Yet I always seem to find something else to do, than to sit down and quietly read, even though I know I love the art of reading (I read Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones in one sitting last year, for example ^).

I must fix this strange habit of "buying books but not reading them" that appeared in 2016.

This year, I will read 50 books, at least!

3. Write More Fiction



For someone who wants to be a published novelist, I also did too little writing for my personal projects, having given all my writing juices to my full-time job instead.

This year, I WILL squeeze out more writing juices for my personal projects, and come up with passages that will thrill readers, just as the above made me happy.

Someday, I will sign my own copies of my published novels for my readers too, as Sarah Maas has signed hers for me last year. Hopefully in a few years' time?


For now, I will just stick to the small goal of actually writing 500 words a day for my stories. This, I hope, is an achievable goal.

2. Stay Healthy and Safe All Year Long



In 2017, just as I have every other year before this, I hope I remember that my good health is paramount to everything else I want to have.

Therefore, I hope I remember to exercise, to eat good healthy food, to make sure that it's not just my physical health that is important but also my mental health, and that I remember to take time for myself every day and just... rest and relax in peace.

I also wish for good health for everyone I know, so that they may healthily chase the dreams they have.

1. Decide to Rise



I was looking for a new phone wallpaper on Line Deco, when this caught my eye. I downloaded the image, and it is now my phone's wallpaper.

These three little words spoke to me, and I decided that it would be my motto for 2017.

2016 has been a whirlwind year for quite a few things, including my career, certain friendships, and my bank account.

I have been despondent over certain issues that happened in 2016, but I tried to pick myself up after I was done feeling sorry for myself.

Somehow, I must have succeeded, because I'm quite satisfied with where I am now - though I will not remain so if I remain stagnant like this throughout the year. There are many things to be improved on still.

Therefore, this year, I hope that I am up to the task of fulfilling all the resolutions I wrote out today, including this one. I hope I greet 2018 knowing that I rose up to the challenges and goals I set for myself throughout 2017.

May you, reader, also rise up to the challenges that 2017 will have, that negative people don't get a rise out of you, and that you will rise up in the world.

Happy New Year.

Bring it.

x
Mich