This Unusual Budgeting Method May Help You Conquer Your Finances


So, it’s official: it’s the year of the personal budget and while budgeting means different things to different people, 2017 is going to be a period where we will have to tighten our belts a little.

Many Malaysians overspend when buying on impulse and many can’t afford to retire. Millennial’s are plagued with bad money management with a good amount living on high-interest credit cards. Retrenchments are predicted to increase…. It seems like the proverbial rabbit hole where the further you venture, the uglier it gets.

But, fret not, while there are many factors beyond your control, you could exercise a decent amount of prudent decision-making when it comes to your spending – and that’s where budgeting comes in handy.

There are many theories out there but here’s one that you may not have tried yet:

First expenses, then income

Imagine not earning enough to pay your bills or those unexpected expenses that come up every so often. It’s a common scenario that plagues many families. The usual solution is of course to cut your expenses.

However, there is an uncommon technique that may help you when cutting expenses no longer seem plausible. The first expenses, then income is not a typical budget method – and it can seem more difficult that trimming your spending, but if you are successful it will definitely make your life easier.

Here’s what you need to do: First, list down all expense you’d like to pay. Next, figure out what type of income should you aim for.

For example, let’s assume this is how much you want to spend monthly:

Broadband Internet
Season carpark at work
Car loan
Life insurance
“Fun” money (Starbucks coffee, snacks, restaurants, cinema, books, etc.)
Home loan
Savings for unit trusts, general savings, etc
Total monthly expenses

Let’s say your take-home pay is about RM4,500 a month. Automatically you’ll start thinking about: “How can I earn an extra RM1,280 a month?” and start working your way upwards to reach that budgeting goal.

Do the hustle

Seeing that retrenchments as well as living costs are expected to rise this year, a part-time job is a reasonable decision. There are a few ways to go about it.

Thanks to ride-sharing and Airbnb, Malaysians are never short of options when it comes to generating extra income. As Airbnb would require higher capital to get started, we’ll stick to ride-sharing.

Surveys have pointed out that car ownership in Malaysia at the third highest in the world, so you would probably own a decent car that takes you from one point to another.

uber driver

Image from YouTube

Turn that into a money-making machine by just working six trips and four hours a day, you can earn between RM2,248 and RM2,373 through GrabCar or UberX. In a year, you can potentially earn anywhere around RM26,976 to RM28,476.

If writing is your thing, you could also start a blog. On average, a blogger can bring in about RM4,000 to 5,000 a month. You also stand a chance to monetise your readers by turning them into customers if you have a product or service to sell. It could even be a launching pad to additional freelance writing gigs.

You can also offer your writing services on websites like Upwork or to earn additional cash.

What if you are jaded with your full-time job? Then look for one with a higher salary. Invest in your career and position yourself to get a job that pays more and offers perks such as a handsome performance bonus or raise.

You might also consider going back to school. According to online salary comparison site PayScale, employees with postgraduate qualifications earn nearly three times more than those with a bachelor’s degree.

Someone with a master’s in business administration with five to nine years of working experience can earn an average of 2.6 times more than someone with a bachelor’s in similar fields and with similar years of experience.

Apparently, employers perceive those with postgraduate qualifications as having better leadership qualities and decision-making abilities, hence the higher pay.

If you are turned off by the school fees, then note that you can withdraw from your EPF Account 2 to further your studies in local or overseas institutions.

Not forgetting, you could also generate passive income through renting out your apartment or even investing in equities. The latter is more towards the long-term but to get started, all you need is RM1,000.

But never budget for more debt

Though this unconventional budgeting method focuses on income more than expenses, it is important to ensure that expenses remain lean at all times. This method will only work if you are consciously spending within your means and being realistic in your income generating ability.


Image from US News

Prioritising your expenses should also come first. The goal is to always reduce debt. Overspending or mishandling credit are bad financial habits to pick up but that said, getting a handle on your finances and drafting a budget requires work.

Discipline is key and, sadly, there are no shortcuts. If any, you can make technology work for you, such as using the auto-debt standing instructions to transfer money into investments or your fixed deposit account. Or you can use an app to track spending and such.

But always pay down debt as quickly as possible, even on your credit cards. We’ve done the maths on paying the minimum and found the interest charges staggering.

So, what are you waiting for? Budget away!


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