Favourites: January 2017

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It’s been a month since I’ve written here! A couple of my weekends in February were burned on an out-of-the-job-scope work (I had a last minute column to write), had lots of Spring cleaning to do, and without knowing, time just zipped passed us all—we are now in the second week of March! Can you believe that we are almost done with the first quarter of the year? Yikes.

As I mentioned in my last post, since January this year, I’ve embarked on a 10-months of no spending journey and so far, I’ve been pretty good at sticking to the plan. Of course, I’ll be lying if I said this wasn’t a difficult challenge—we are living in quite a materialistic-dominated world after all, and there will always be something that we desire to own immediately and I am no different.

So how did I conquer this?

I suppose other than constantly reminding yourself on your purpose of doing this challenge (are you: getting out of a debt, saving for a holiday, saving for the future, et cetera), one of the other things that I did to prevent myself from being tempted to spend was to take a step back at the end of every week and reflect on what I had enjoyed—using and/or doing.

Of course, it was hardly surprising that this action helped me better appreciate the things that I currently own (hence this post’s title). But as someone who is quite a sentimental fool, this self reflection ended up helping me to decide what are the things that I shouldn’t be hoarding any longer and I was pleasantly taken aback at my ability to let them go easily now.

So without further ado, here are some of my favourites in January!

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The Body Shop muslin cloth
This isn’t the first time I’ve heard of a muslin cloth. It’s quite a handy piece of fabric because of its multiple uses—from making dresses out of it, to becoming cheap green screens in film, and even as a diaper to help toddlers wean of wearing diapers altogether (that’s what my mother did for me). But perhaps the best use of it all: for your face.If your skin is a combination of sensitivity and spottiness, then this might be something you should try! The muslin cloth made cleaning more thorough and I don’t experience as much clogging or breakouts like I once did (damn you puberty!). Every evening, I’ll pair this with my Neutrogena Deep Clean Cleanser* and I do find that it’s very helpful in getting rid of those pesky little surface bumps. Of course, there are also other brands that makes muslin cloths but I find that size from The Body Shop is the most ideal for our face.

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ROOTOTE canvas tote bag of Mount Fuji
Unfortunately, this design was specifically made and sold only in Japan, and I bought this late last year, at the Tokyo Haneda Airport—after running back and forth through the duty free shops, trying to decide if it was worth getting!And yes it was worth my money because, aside from the clever incorporation of  Mount Fuji (can you see it?), it’s huge! I’ve been using it ever since for almost everything possible—from bringing all my travelling outerwear to be washed at one of those coin-operated Laundromats (I don’t own dryers at home), to using it for work because it is large enough for me to put my lunch in. Best of all, it has a hidden exterior pocket that’s large enough to fit in my house keys and transport card—now I don’t have to dig around the main compartment for these small objects like a lunatic!

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Japan Flag Mug*
It’s a bit strange to say this, but this is actually the first mug that I’ve ever purchased on my own and only because (a) I love the wide mouth of it because it’s perfect for dipping in biscuits and I’m actually excited to drink water out of it, and (b) the incorporation of Japan’s flag is actually one of the cleverest designs that I’ve seen, compared to the other countries.

Well, I suppose that’s the end of this post; I wish I had a film, book or music to include but I couldn’t really recall any. I think I might have some for February’s Favourites (which I should be posting next week!) so I’ll see you then!

Meanwhile, I’m curious to know what were some of your favourites in January? Well, if you remember of course—this was a pretty late post after all!

10-months of Not Spending…?

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Chanel’s Little Black Jacket Exhibition (2013)

It’s pretty retarded how I’ve made this experiment sound as though I’ve a great revelation of sorts, but it isn’t. It’s obvious that I’m also not the first person to be writing about ‘not spending for x-amount of time experiment’, yet posts like this still intrigues me to no end.

The truth is that our excessive spending behaviour is a modern-day illness that requires curbing. Discipline it enough and there’ll be lesser financial advisers around to help us manage our money issues (incidentally, the first step you’ll need to do is to pay for consultation…).

When topics regarding ‘cutting back on spendings’ are written on a weblog platform, most people pigeonhole it to just fashionable items (clothes, shoes, bags) that only happens to fashion bloggers, but in actuality, it’s really everybody’s problem, because we all spend: food, books, art, furniture, etcetera.

And suddenly you realise that you, though just another face in the crowd, is not off the hook either.

So here I am, a nobody-famous-on-the-world-wide-web, facing my spending demons because I’m broke, again. Though this time round, it is not for the same reasons as to why I was broke many years ago. I’ll spare you the details because this matter-of-fact statement encapsulates that mindless period of my life fairly well:

“A lot of young people try to impress the world and buy too many things,” the doorman said. —Fight Club (Chapter 5)

But yes, I’m broke again. And the reason is really all because I, obviously still a complete child with no sense of reality, decided that since my parents have never set foot on an aeroplane (despite the first commercial flight starting in 1914) that I would do the honours of sending them on an all-expenses-paid family trip to Japan for 2 weeks at the end of 2016…

While it’s an endearing move from a child to her parents, it’s not quite sensible, is it? Because this bold action meant that I ended up emptying out every single cent from my bank to make the trip happen.

The alarming thing, however, is that I’m not the only one (not that stating this fact makes me feel any better). Because of our impatient nature, our money attitude is such that we would only save up to the exact amount that we would require (for a trip or to make a purchase), stop and then spend it all away, almost immediately, resulting in a very dry bank. For most parts, unless there’s an actual goal, we usually just don’t bother with savings, because it’s just too difficult, and frankly, a “terrible waste” (all that savings for an elusive uh-oh situation and you don’t get to touch it before then?!).

“If you don’t know what you want,” the doorman said, “you end up with a lot you don’t.” —Fight Club (Chapter 5)

Needless to say, I did not look forward to 2017.

Just to be clear: while this money behaviour I had was terrible, I don’t regret my decision of the trip; not many people are so fortunate to have both their parents healthy and still happily married. Sure, my money vaporised within 2 weeks, but it was worth the smiles on my parents’ faces, and the gurgles of the excitements in their voices.

Anyway, 544 words later, I’m still broke and so this experiment stays. The rule is simple and is exactly as stated in the title: ‘10-months of not spending’. Yes, this experiment also stretches towards taxi rides and junk food (guess I’ll have to drink more water during my hormonal cravings days) but excludes experiences (I’ve never joined a night-time marathon before!).

I have to stress that the point of this experiment isn’t to be a scrooge and deprive myself of spending my hard earned money (pretty certain I’ll be using a different currency in my afterlife), but rather, to be wiser with my money; not to spend frivolously, to save as much as I can for 10-months, and allocate these savings carefully into sensible sections: e.g.: rainy day funds, to purchase gifts for loved ones, bill payments, etcetera, so that I’ll never have to face an empty bank account again. I know, I know… Saving, especially if it’s for emergencies and not that new Gucci loafers, is rather uneventful, but I don’t really want to risk another episode of panic attacks because I haven’t saved enough for my upcoming annual insurance payment.

Being an extremist when faced with a challenge, I’m quite stubborn determined to have a successful experiment. Below are 5 additional things that I’ve done:

  1. Assigned a separate email account that functions solely as a receiver of e-mailer subscription and discount codes
  2. Placed a fixed amount of money (food) in my purse that will last me for one whole month and leaving my bank cards at home
  3. Immediate payment of bills once my pay arrives
  4. Immediate transferring of money into specific savings account once my pay arrives
  5. Saving 10% of my pay for the end-of-10-months purchases (necessities)

The nice thing about this experiment is that when it all comes to an end, it’ll be November; that’s when the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales comes in and that’s where I’ll be able to make purchases with a good bit of discounts! Of course, if I do need to replenish necessities within the 10-months, I’ll just have to do it. But for most part, this experiment would see me finishing some long bought products, shopping within my room, clearing out things I’ve been hoarding and re-evaluating my general needs/wants.

I do wonder if I would miss shopping during this experiment and if this no-spending behaviour would carry on naturally once the 10-months are up. And though I’m determined to succeed, will I really or perhaps I might just fail… Who knows?

Meanwhile, here’s to not spending, I guess. Cheers!

In case it wasn’t obvious, Chuck Palahniuk’s 1996 novel, Fight Club*, is one of my favourite books to read—especially when I find myself in a desire to consume materialistic goods. I’ve also always insisted that my friends watch the movie* (for those who are too lazy to read have limited hours in a day) because of the stellar cast.

Now you should, too.

2017, Year of Sacrifice

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For money, that is. But what’s new?

Before I begin on the topic, I’m apologetic for the lack of updates here (my last post is a clear fail). I’ve been wanting to revive this space for a while now but haven’t done so because… the whole idea of blogging has changed drastically.

In the past, its function was to be like an e-diary, and it was so straight to the point that I didn’t have to explain what that means when I said “Oh yeah, I’ve a blog!”. However today, majority of the blogs are created solely just to become another way of doing advertorials and creating desires in people to own things that they don’t need.

But on top of that, these days, blogs are all full of images and very little text and that isn’t what I’m used to. But I suppose times have changed, and images are more exciting to look at than chunks of text. I do admit that I’m slightly lazy to be taking photographs—the whole process is so troublesome: You don’t just take an image and upload it; you have to composite the shot, take the pictures a thousand times before finding the ideal shot, upload it onto your computer, edit the picture and then rename it before uploading it for the world to see.

Good grief, that whole process felt like I just went for a run and I’ve not even begun addressing the topic of this blog!

So to end this digression, I’m going to be more diligent here. It’s really the only place I’ve got to rest my mind after a damn long day at work. I don’t know how this blog will alter as I continue but I hope it’ll be entertaining for all to visit, and I hope to have a conversation with all you strangers!

Now back to the topic on money sacrifice.

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Long story short, I’ve really got to get my shit together and listen to what the financial gurus have advised all along: keep some cash in a bank and make sure that one is prepared for the worse (retrenchment? illness? computer breakdown?) and always remember that these money aren’t meant for travelling or that Céline box handbag I’ve got my eyes on.

Earlier this month, I went ahead and did some book balancing. It doesn’t look very good, I have to say (I still require a fair bit of time to finish repaying my university loans), but still, I managed to set aside some monthly deposits to be done—all to ensure I’ll be okay if an unfortunate event should happen, and frankly, so should you.

This is how I’ve done it:

  1. what exactly I am saving up for
  2. just how much money I need
  3. the deadline for me to achieve
  4. when I would like to start (preferably this month, of course)
  5. divide it up to see how much I’ll need to save per month!

One of the reasons why I’ve decided to do this is because I’ve been very inspired by Maria Van Nguyen’s post where she imposes a 6-month shopping ban on herself after shopping consciously for 6-months earlier.

Unfortunately for me, I’m really not at the stage of my life where I can justify spending as and when I please (hello pathetic pay), so I’ll have to take it a step further by not spending for a good 10-months instead. Yes, I am quite the extremist when a challenge is presented in front of me, and I know that there will always be temptation around me (us), but it should be quite fun to see just how much I could abstain.

During these ten months, I’ll be evaluating the things I want and the things I need. I do foresee lots of mending and disposing of fast fashion garments, so that should keep me occupied and prevent my desire of shopping from happening. And I suppose if that happens, there’s always the painting of my nails (speaking of which, I really need to dispose quite a bit of nail polishes).

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There are further things that I’ll like to elaborate on but this has been quite a lengthy post and I’m exhausted, so I ought to stop here now.

Another post, another day soon, I promise!

Death of a Wallflower

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Hello again.

Guess who’s back to write here again?

I didn’t mean to disappear for so long, but how does one even start writing again after the death of Robin Williams, one of the greatest actors in the world? Granted, I don’t know him personally, but you still feel the whole 5-stages of grieve and I was just hoping for the grieving to end and then pick the right moment to start again. It never came. But then, the funny thing about death, famous or not, human or animal, is this: The world just carries on moving forward—nothing stands still; once death happens, it gets acknowledged, and then, the moment passes.

I realised then that there’s no right moment to start picking yourself up after grieving… and perhaps I’m also the only one who makes such a big deal out of the world’s apathy on death.

But yes. I’m back to write again because I’ve missed writing and I’ve missed doing something nice just for myself. For the past year or so, I’ve been busy with “my life”—graduating from college with the grades I wanted (finally, good God!), looking for jobs (interned and then moved on to a full time job), salvaging my dead HDD on my MacBook (goodbye savings) and trying to make ends meet (bloody college loans). Most of my precious free time were either spent freelancing or out drinking with myself in pubs because I needed some solitude but mostly it was because it was just the weirdest period of my life—the whole year just felt like it was standing really still, and I kept wondering if this was all that there is to my life as an adult.

An acquaintance once asked me if I go out drinking every Friday night and that really made me considered my nightlife choices. I suppose I did, because I had nothing worthwhile to do once I had finished my freelance projects. I mean, what do you do when you have some time left after work–and on a Friday night no less? I probably should sleep, like any normal tired working adult, but I’m essentially just lying there doing nothing productive (indeed in my crazy mind, resting = wasting time). I wanted to savour my freedom out of the office! I wanted to enjoy my night out! I wanted to watch the orange street lamps aglow in the night as I whiz through town in a taxi.

I wanted to do something, anything—just not float around and exist, I suppose.

Anyway, I don’t know where this entry is going. I’m really just trying to channel my inner chic Carrie Bradshaw, seated in front of a window, smoking and thinking aloud while click-clacking away on the MacBook, but in reality, I’m without a cigarette and I feel my contact lenses shrivelling up in my eyes while I click-clack away on my MacBook with only 15% battery life to go. Even though I’m still not sure what this bloody weblog of mine is about (and I’ve already written 14 entires here only to delete them away), I suppose it’s really just a ‘thinking out loud, living my life to the fullest’ platform and here’s the thing—as of late last 2015, I’ve ended all freelancing projects, stopped drinking and stress fagging, online mindless shopping too, etc.

It is my first step to being nicer to myself.

Stop my wallflower persona nonsense.
I’m going to start living.

It’s cliche, I know.
Cheers to a new beginning.

Now time for bed.