We entered 2021 hopeful, but cautious. Hopeful because there’s a vaccine on the way, and things were slowly starting to feel normal again. Cautious because if there’s anything we learned from last year (other than just how important mental health and hygiene are), it’s to always expect the unexpected.

We were given less than two weeks to revel in the glow of a new year before going back into lockdown. Businesses were barely surviving, unemployment rates were rising, and mentally, everyone was trying to “hang in there”. Now here we are, two weeks later and a week closer to another month. As relieving as pay day is, it has recently left some of us wondering if it may be our last, or the beginning of pay cuts.

If you haven’t already, it’s time to start keeping track of your finances, and prepare for any uncertainties. Taking charge of your expenses can seem intimidating at first, but it will allow you to adjust your spending habits for reduced incomes, and plan out your savings in case of an emergency. Here’s how you can start tracking your finances to cope with the current climate:

  1. Organize your finances

First and foremost, you’ve got to face the ugly truth. Gah! Head to your bank account and download your most recent bank statements. Start by separating your expenses into two categories: Fixed Costs (Needs) and Variable Costs (Wants). Your fixed costs are essential recurring costs, such as rent, car loans, phone bills, groceries – these are all necessities. Variable costs are those you can do without, like eating out, buying clothes, subscriptions and memberships.

  1. Develop a budget

Now that you know how much your fixed expenses are, you can calculate how much you’re able to save, and spend on variable expenses. Divide the spendable amount by weeks, or days, to give you a better understanding of how much to spend. We recently found out that a majority of our followers don’t have a budget because they don’t believe they have enough money – it’s not about having excess cash, it’s about tracking your finances and making sure you spend within your means. You can learn more about budgeting from HeyAlfred, a personal finance app, here.

  1. Create a table

Get into the habit of tracking your finances daily – it makes it easier for you to remember what you’ve spent on. A spreadsheet will allow you to see how much money you have left to spend, and help you decide which variable costs to reduce or eliminate. You can follow our example below:

Email us at contact@wildginger.my for the editable and automatically-calculated template!

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Happy Malaysia Day 🇲🇾 We sat down with a few East Malaysians (@elenalaurel, @_llyshae, @aniqdurar & @sam.tzes) to understand them better and how we can create a more inclusive environment for our fellow Malaysians. Don’t miss the good food recommendations at the end! #BreakingByWildGingerMY

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For the first episode of Breaking! – a series that aims to break stigmas, stereotypes, boundaries and barriers through simple conversations, we invited four East Malaysians to share the disconnect they’ve been facing in West Malaysia.

Although Sarawak and Sabah are the biggest states in Malaysia, their physical separation from the peninsular has them often overlooked and othered by their own country.

“There’s definitely a disparity to me,” says Ellysha, a student from Sarawak, “especially with the culture”. She noticed that people are more segregated in West Malaysia compared to the multicultural and multi-religious Borneo.  “I got really shocked when people were really interested in my religion or race.”

Samuel, a fresh graduate from Sabah, was also startled by the ignorance that still exists. He shares that “do you live in trees?” continues to be a common stereotype. “Yeah, we even have WiFi on the tree”, is his comeback to the off-colour joke.

Stereotypes are used to oppress minorities. Elena, a freelancer from Sabah, asks West Malaysians to recognise their privilege and use it to help East Malaysians. She worries that because of their lack of access to good education and reliable information, ” When some Sabahans don’t know better – I really hope West Malaysians won’t take advantage of that”.

How can we improve this cultural incompetence? Aniq, an actor from Sarawak, simplifies the solution to “stop talking and listen to us”. He sees media as a powerful tool and calls for more representation both in front of and behind the camera to help amplify their voices. “Redefine what Malaysia looks like to you … There’s more than just this one narrative – it’s diverse.”