How to survive with RM500 a month

I need money.

Let me rephrase that…

I need A LOT of money.

If you know me personally you would have known that I am embarking on an epic journey in 2013. Yes! 12 months on the road, living from my backpack 🙂

Being the spendthrift that I am, it shouldn’t come as a surprise when I say that I am far from achieving my financial goal for this epic journey of mine. Which is why I have to save as much as I can within this 10 months for my travel fund.

Thrifty living is an art. Before I was exposed to thrifty living, it didn’t cross my mind that I’ve wasted so much resource on a daily basis. I stocked up way too many canned food in the kitchen cabinet, I would buy the same shirt/tank top/blouse of various colors, I go gaga over stationeries (like pens, color pencils and notepads) and I buy way too many lipstick and eye shadow palette that I don’t use.

To save money, I had to put a stop my lavish lifestyle and make do with RM500 every month. Though this amount does not include phone bill, rent for my apartment, electricity and water, insurance and monthly contribution to my parents. For instance, I used to spend RM16 every morning for a Starbucks tall size triple shot soy caramel macchiato, about RM1000 on shopping, (dresses, shoes, bags, DVDs, books, everything Starbucks) and often time, RM20 – RM50 on a meal. (Crazy I know!)

Some people say that it’s impossible to live on RM500 a month. And now I am going to prove to you can be done!

Make a mental note of what you own that can still be used or consumed. The purpose is to use and consume whatever you have before spending money on things that you already have. I have coffee power, pasta, instant noodles, canned food laying in the cabinet that comes with an expiry date. Not forgetting, stationeries, notepads and way too many clothing, accessories and make up that I don’t wear.

Making a mental note of what you already have will prevent you from buying things that you already have.

Find a hobby that doesn’t require you to leave the house on weekend.When I have nothing better to do over the weekend, I would hop on a train to KLCC. Very often end up in Zara, Mark & Spencer, Uniqlo and Kinokuniya Bookstore.

But ever since I’ve decided on my 12 months backpacking trip and started blogging (again), I spent more time at home planning my route and the drafting up content of my blog.

So depending on what your hobbies are, find one that doesn’t require you to step out of the house to minimize spending.

Buy house-brand products.Our perception about a brand is determined by how much we can recall seeing an ad and the feel good factor that comes with it. And because house-brand like Giant or Watson are not being advertised, we tend to perceive that they are of low quality.

Truth is, a lot of products are being sourced, rebranded and repackaged by not one but many brands in the market. Therefore don’t judge a brand by it’s marketing spent, but the ingredient stated on the product label.

Besides, house-brand products are usually cheaper!

Cook and pack food for lunch at work. One of the easiest ways to reduce on spending is to cook your meals and pack your lunch to work.

There is a misconception about cooking for singleton is more expensive. What I usually do is to cook a pot of rice that for 1 week’s consumption. And cook up various dishes with the same ingredient like Cabbage, celery eggs, baked beans, tomatoes and mushrooms.

For example:
Toast and fried egg

Fried rice with cabbage, celery and tomatoes

Rice with baked beans, cabbage with mushroom and oyster sauce

Lucky for me, I am the kind of person who can eat the same thing over and over again for a week.

nasi lemak
The best nasi lemak for only RM1

Don’t carry more money than you actually need.I used to carry a few hundred ringgit in my wallet which resulted in unnecessary spending. Now, I only carry RM50 with me, which is more than sufficient for daily usage.

Carrying a fix amount of money would also likely train you to eat cheap, drink cheap and travel cheap.

Plan your budget for the week or month.
When you get your salary at month end, set aside RM500 for your monthly expenses. And save up the rest in a separate bank account without Internet Banking (this is to prevent money transfer via the internet whether its for online shopping or bill payment).

When you see your savings multiple in the other bank account, it will motivate you to save more!

Take the cheapest mode of public transportation.If you don’t own a car (like me) and when you have excess money laying around, it’s becomes natural just to just hop into a cab instead of taking the train and bus.

A one-way trip to KLCC on Putra LRT from Taman Jaya cost RM2.40. Where else a cab cost approximately RM15. That’s 7 times more!

So, travel smart 🙂

Now here’s a monthly breakdown of my spending, I hope you are inspired for thrifty living.

Item Description Total
Transportation RM4.20 a day<br
– Travelling on Putra LRT to work and back
Food & beverages RM30 per week for grocery shopping
-Cabbage, rice, long beans, eggs, celery, tomatoes, mushroom bread
I pack food for lunch at work and have toast bread and egg for breakfast
Junk food
-Twisties, Jack & Jill potato chips, Cadbury chocolate
3 in 1 coffee (30 packets) RM30
Soy Chai Latte or Soy Caramel Machiato (1 per week x RM13) RM52
Internet and Telecommunication Voice and SMS RM50
Broadband Internet RM48
Extra RM64

Good luck!

3 Replies to “How to survive with RM500 a month”

  1. btw Tesco has some really grinded good coffee beans under their Tesco Choice house brand. get a reasonable French press & brew ur own coffee! hope it make sense. 🙂

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