Getting $$$ under control

Let me be honest, I have always been having trouble getting my spending under control. I tend to over spend month after month and that is slowly but surely chipping away at my savings. Last month I have decided to embark on a strict spending diet.

My first step is to lay out what are my annual expenses:
- Road Tax
- Motorcyle Insurance
- Insurance payments on yearly cycle
- Online services that are on a yearly cycle

This amount I divide it by 12 so that I know how much I need to put aside to make these payments when the time comes. This way I know I won't be scrambling when a huge bill comes.

Then lay out my monthly fixed expenses:
- Pocket money for my parents
- Insurance payments on monthly cycle
- Charity giving
- Phone bill (Each month might fluctuate but it is mostly +/- $10)
- Money that I am setting aside for fixed yearly expenses.

These are done using Soulver on the mac so that I see the numbers right away. Once I have those numbers I will start divding my remaining cash into different categories:
- Food
- Petrol
- Savings
- Debt (if any)

Don't forget to add categories for any specific expenses that are coming up for that month. I added a Kickstarter category because I know a project I have backed is due to be funded next month. Any money that is not neatly assigned to a category will be placed in the miscellanous category, that is effectively your slush fund.

Then once that is nailed down. I enter my budget for the various categories into Back in Black on my iPhone to keep track of my expenses. The amount that you assigned for each category is not exactly set in stone you can adjust them as the month goes. The idea is to not ever needing to withdraw money from your savings.

In addition to the planning that I have done above, I also maintain a few bank accounts. I would have one for savings - this account is only meant for input and never output. This is the rainy day fund. I would also have one for my daily spending. Then I have the 3rd account where I transfer money into for every credit card purchase I make. That way I would not mistake the "excess" money in my spending account as extra money. It is money that is already spend but not taken away from you just yet. If you have any debts, it would be good if you can seperate these into their individual accounts if at all possible.

Check out Standard Chartered Bank's e$saver account if you are interested. With no minimum sum to maintain and no debit card issued to you, it makes it perfect for my purposes.

As much as I can I would plan my budget for the next month as soon as I can, that way I can view ahead and decide if I need to save more for any particular month. One example, my pre-order game is due to be pay up in November so I can set money aside for it in November or earlier if I can. Regardless, with the help of my plan, this month has been within my budget so far. I will check in again and let you know how my plan went.

UPDATE: I have successfully kept within my allocated spending budget for 2 months running. Here's to continued success in financial control.

The danger of being too good at what you do

Why is it that it seems to me that if you are good at what you do, you don't get rewarded? You might be recognized but it seems that it just causes you to be stuck at where you are. You are stuck doing what are you so good at. You are not given the chance to move, to try or experience new things. Instead the boss needs you to stay where you are. You are so good and effective a cog in the machinery that giving you new duties will impact efficiency. Or so the boss thinks so.

I would think any boss would nurture a good employee by keeping us challenged. An employee not challenged is a bored employee. This just lead to most sane people moving onto greener pastures. This is almost like we are being encourged to coast. I guess this ties back to one of my older entry - Comfortable is dangerous.

It is my belief that everyone has to take responsibilty for their actions and inactions. Nobody owes you or me anything. As an employee if I coast, that's my fault. I don't deny that I have done that before or might still be coasting but that's my choice. However, as employers, the bosses of companies rewards good behaviour with more of the same work, that just doesn't make any sense. That's like the bosses being comfortable and that's dangerous for everyone.


Twenty nine isn't old right? It's almost three decades but thirty isn't that old either right?

As I stand on the threshold of my 3rd decade in this world, I really starting to feel my age. I need my full 8 hours of sleep every night no matter it is a weekday or a weekend.

I am also getting very forgetful or maybe I am just easiler distracted now. Just take for an example, I realised my motorcycle's starter isn't working properly. I was kind of irritated by that turn of events, knowing that I have to spend money on it. I made a mental note to myself to add that to my to-dos. I got home which was just 5 minutes away, I promptly forgot all about it. All I was left with was this vague sense that I was supposed to be angry about something and I had no idea what.

This is bad. Is this what I have to look forward to? Is this what aging is? No graceful white hair on my head, no slow acumulation of wisdom and wrinkles at the same time. Just one moment you are able to do it and the next moment it's the hardest thing in the world.

This isn't the slow decay of life that I had imagined at all.

Comfortable is dangerous

This blog post is inspired by Dan Benjamin’s QUIT!

I have been working more or less on a full time basis since 2004. I stayed at my first job for 5 years. It was 4 years longer than it was good for me but I was too comfortable there.

Comfotable? Isn’t that what people want out of a job? A comfortable job that you are vaguely compentent at with a comfotable salary in an okay location with vaguely compentent colleagues and boss?

Those things are all nice and good but being comfortable is the silent killer to your growth in your professional life. You stop learning because you have stopped moving. You’ll stagnate and stop growing. You will be dead from the inside out.

I didn’t leave my first job after the first year because the money was good, the yearly increment was even better. And there were challenges coming in the form of a high turn-over rate which required me to train and re-train people constantly. Though the situation wasn’t exactly prefect but I had put roots down and I buried myself in the work. 5 years went by I popped my head up and realised what had happened. The world has passed me by. I have missed many opportunities so I tendered my resignation and moved on.

Quit if your job sucks. Quit if your pay is bad. Quit if you are too comfortable. What if you are in the prefect job?

Ask yourself, is it really the prefect job or are you just too comfortable?

Are you who you want to be?

I want to be better with my time. I want to spend more time with my family, not just be home physically. That’s just being present but not really being there. I want to put in my 10,000 hours and be good with my guitar. I want to hone my craft and be better at editing. I want to learn more about editing by doing a diverse range of work. I want to finish my story. I want to read more, see more and understand better. I want to earn more money and accquire more material possessions. (Yes I know that it’s just more stuff that I have no space for.)

Though, I know all that. I recognise that I am not forwarding myself on some of those fronts. I would like to think that knowing and acknowledging that fact is a step forward in and of itself. It’s hard but necessary. And with recognition of this fact, I hope I would move out of my comfort zone and pursue the things I want on all fronts. For me, the first step forward is my guitar lessons.

Are you the person you want to be? Are you doing anything to become that person? Food for thought.


The Onion has just recently published an article that truly speaks to me. The article talks about finding the one true thing that you love and doing it in your free time, in between all your work, life and family commitments. I don’t want to rehash what has been covered very well by the article.

What I want to talk about is my motivation. The things that I do to fill all the spaces between my commitments can be split into 2 rough categories.

Things I do as a pasttime: - Console gaming - Reading (Fantasy novels, manga and graphic novels) - Watching movies - Watching drama serials.

Things I do because I love them: - Writing - Making noise on my guitar - Blogging - Photography

I realised the motivation to do the things that I love is to leave a legacy behind me. I don’t consider myself old. So this is not mortality creeping up on me and I suddenly realised I had wasted my life. This is a desire to leave something behind after I am dead. I want people that come after me to know that I existed. In a way, what I do in my day job is in a way contributing to my legacy. The words that I churn out on my keyboard and released to the world via my blog is my way of leaving a piece of me in the world.

I have been trying to write a decent novel for years. I have never got a story to where I thought was good enough for the world to see. But one day, I would like to have at least one book printed with my name on it.

However, if I would to drop dead before the day ends, I think I have something that has my name on it. A Indonesian movie that I have edit some years back. Check out Pirate Brothers if you are interested.

At the end of the day, I want the world to know that ”this”, whatever it maybe, was made by me. I want to be able to say “I made this”