No Buy Month (Update)

Image via Pic Jumbo

Image via Pic Jumbo

Exactly 30 days ago, I shared an article about buying absolutely nothing for 30 days. The challenge was to spend money on necessities ONLY. Cut down on monthly expenses, use up whatever we already have and hopefully end up with more savings after the 30 days. This is an update on how I got on with it, how much did I spend and my final verdict. If you still have no idea what this is, click below for more information.

In the previous post, I did mention “not buying bus tickets, not going to town, no takeaway coffee for the month” however, I went out to town for a day because my mask supply was running low. During No Buy Month, I’ve finished my toothpaste, shower gel, face moisturizer and a bottle of hot sauce. Just a disclaimer, I know how long each product lasts so I’ve purchased replacements prior to this (except the hot sauce). Since company covers my meals and I’ve done my main food shop prior to No Buy Month,  food & groceries expenses would be lower than usual. This is what we spent on and how much was spent for each category:

  • Food & Groceries : ¥321 (RM193)

  • Transportation : ¥117 (RM70)

  • Extras : ¥221.90 (RM133)

    Total : ¥660.20(RM396)


What I did during No Buy Month:

  • Reorganized off-season items. Sweaters, outerwear and light layers are now tucked away. Just 4 coats waiting to be taken to the dry cleaner.

  • Reorganized and clean up pantry. Coffee, tea and cereal are now arranged neatly. Wiped down the entire cupboard and threw out two expired energy bars.

  • Up-cycled an old top into a shoe bag. Cotton top that pilled so bad even my de-piller couldn’t save the situation.

  • Picked up German. Guten Morgen, bis spater! (Good morning, see you later!)

  • Signed up for Vietnamese. người phụ nữ muốn uống nước ép táo (The woman wants to drink apple juice). Let me tell you, I do NOT sound sexy.

Final Verdict

Without restrictions during No Buy Month, I would have bought:

  1. A pair of room slippers. Toes were sticking out way too much and was touching the floor.

  2. A high stool for the office. To lift my plant off the ground.

  3. An umbrella. Umbrella broke and can’t draw back completely.

  4. A vision board for the office. To display postcards collected.

I love No Buy Month and would take up the challenge again soon! I’ve managed to re-organize my space, learn new skills and save extra cash for the future. My toes are still touching the floor and my umbrella still pisses me off but I now see the value of delayed gratification. What is the longest you have gone without making a purchase?

5 Ways To Be Better With Money

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The internet can tell you 100 ways to be better with money. From drawing a budget to spending on the necessary (i.e $100 pumpkin mask isn’t logical) and different ways to increase your income (i.e. walking your neighbour’s dog or baby-sitting their child or vice versa). The biggest mistake I’ve made throughout the years was “sticking to a structure” and comparing my bank account balance with Kim Kardashian. By “sticking to a structure” I mean, excessively-obsessing over my Ideal Budget Pie Chart. Till date, I still find spending $100 on Peter Thomas Roth pumpkin mask necessary and my neighbour still doesn’t own a dog and/or a baby.

Ideal Budget Pie Chart: 30% Household, 20% Food, 20% Clothing, 20% Savings, 10% Transport

I am sharing this partially as a joke but mainly to tell you how I followed my IBPC and failed miserably. Not literally, but I could have spent less and saved more at the earlier stage. Here’s why IBPC did not work for me:

  • 30% Household : Aside from giving ‘home allowance’ (like most asian kids), I had no other expenses that has relevance to the household. Excess are then spent on overpriced coffee, gel pedicures and shopping (Sephora anyone?).

  • 20% Food : -

  • 20% Clothing : When I just started making money, this was presumably a normal expense. I pretty much spent 20% on clothing (and shoes) because apparently, it was the right thing to do. I wonder who spends 20% of their income on clothing every month!?

  • 20% Savings : -

  • 10% Transport : -

From the above, you can tell that aside from food and transport, other aspects were unfit for my lifestyle. Since I have budgetted 20% on clothing and with the excess from household, I allowed myself to go shopping which ended up spending way more than necessary! Ideal Budget Pie Chart wasn’t ideal for me after all. Two years into IBPC, I noticed:

(one)    I’d intentionally spend more;

(two)    I was using my savings for travelling;

(three)  My ACTUAL savings end up dwindling;

 (four)    I did not budget for debt repayment; and

 (five)    I could have saved at least 50% of my income.

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Pies aside. So…how can we be better with money?

If you are reading this, you probably want to be better with money. Here goes a few tips under my sleeves.

  • DO bake your own pie.

    Bake and cut slices to your fancy. Have a thing for fitness? Budget that in. Love travelling? Budget for that too. Design a bespoke budget that is relevant with the now yet reflects your future goals too. Do keep check and adjust where necessary. I did not budget for debt repayment which was a mistake!

  • DO think think think think think (alright that’s enough) consciously before making a purchase.

    “The quickest way to double your money is to fold it in half and put it in your back pocket” -Will Rogers-. Rogers said it all.

  •  DONT compare your finances with others.

    Kindly suggest not to compare the size of your pie with other’s (how rude did that sound). Level of income and expenditure varies. It is important to acknowledge that higher income doesn’t necessarily mean more savings. Remember that everyone is different, work with what you have.

  • DONT benchmark your savings with the Golden Savings Ratio.

    Depending on your lifestyle, determine savings % that best suit YOU. If liabilities take up a huge portion of your budget, tone down on savings. Nothing worse than setting unrealistic goals. If you are debt-free or have lesser liabilities, I encourage you to go all out. Most importantly, be honest to yourself.

  • DONT think of ‘upgrading’ so soon.

    It is human nature fo want better things in life. By experience, one common mistake is to go for an upgrade immediately after a payrise. We will share more in another post.


This post focuses on being better with money you already have. Everyone has a personal take on managing their own finances therefore what suits me might not float your boat. I can’t say that I’m GOOD with money but I’m certainly not BAD with it. I have learnt the hard way so I hope to share my experience for those who are trying to not burn your bank account. Are you good with money?


3 Lifestyle Changes in 2018


3 lifestyle changes

YEAR 2018

2018 is coming to an end. Early this year, I did not set out ‘Goals-for-2018’ because what I practice daily pretty much leads me to the ACTUAL goals I want to achieve this year, or even years to come. With that said, I made 3 huge lifestyle changes this year. Thanks to my family, supportive af partner and two good reads.

(one) More Financial Planning

I’ve started financial planning (starving and eating moulded bread) since 18 but back then it was mainly to fund my travels and finance bigger purchases. More ‘earning and saving’ than ‘earning, saving and investing’. Since graduating from university, I took baby-steps by investing in funds, precious metals, foreign currencies and shares. Eggs were scattered. It was due to calculated risks that I ended up with more investment gains than losses. So why change Viviene? Because it’s time to level up.

Fast forward to now, my priorities have shifted to creating additional income source(s), building a solid emergency fund, keeping reserves for opportunities and drawing my retirement plan. The usual investment groove continues but my whole financial plan has broadened its spectrum into what future Viviene would be proud of.

(two) Zero Collection(s) Zero Backup(s)

It took me 26 years to understand the meaning of a collection and how my idea of collection has shifted from Shoe Collection and Candle Collection to Experience Collection and Memory Collection. I’m grammatically at fault but you know what I mean. Since 2016, I have gotten rid of at least 70% of my wardrobe and other belongings. It was through decluttering and simplifying my lifestyle made me realize that collecting NOTHING makes me the happiest :) Currently wheezing through my perfume stash (5 in total, 2 finishing soon) and progressively downsizing physical obsessions that are now a collection of dust (no pun intended).

Part of my childhood teachings was always having back up(s) for just-in-case moments or when ‘it’ stops selling in the market. The idea of having backups made me spend more money in advance for items that end up sitting in the drawer waiting to be used. but honestly when? The only back-up I have now is a back-up plan for when I lose my job or decide to start a business.

(three) More Conscious Spending

Back in those day, I would go out (or online) shopping searching for great deals or just to look out for what’s new in the market. Sounds reasonable until I had 50 pairs of shoes and clothes that could last me at least 3 months without repeating. Then, I made a promise to myself to only buy things that I truly love. That curbed my shopping habits, but it wasn’t effective enough. In 2016, I took up the ‘5 Piece French Wardrobe Challenge’ and that made me see how much unnecessary money I was spending. Conscious spending has grown deeper into my roots since then. Fast forward to 2018, how I perceive ‘shopping’ has changed drastically. However, mistakes were made early this year and we know it still is a learning process. or a lifetime process :)

A year from now, you will wish you had started today.

- Karen Lamb -

It’s currently 21:30 and the night is starting to get chilly. I shall leave it here for now, go make myself a cup of ginger tea and start packing for tomorrow! T-minus 50 days till Christmas.