life has always been sneaky to say the least. ada saja plot twist yang bagi suasana lagi menarik.
While pressures from most life aspects (eg:emotions & workloads) were manageable, i found that financial challenges trickier thus fun to interplay with.
There was a time when the monthly allowance from my gradstudent dayjob got stuck for 7 months. While my living expenses are fairly low since I lead a simple single life and all my regular points is located not far from each other, it's still hard sustain normal living without your major source of income for >half of the year. Evenhough I have 2nd source of income as a tutor for a tuition centre, I primarily reserve that one to finance my hobbies and travel/backpacking plans.
So the 7-month period went quite well i think, with new survival strategies rediscovered & improvisation skills polished. I would like to share some things I did to make sure I didn't fell miserable through that time, the keywords are two; Cheapskate & Opportunist.
1) I've never been a fashions & trends person anyway so I do not succumb to the desire for shopping clothes & stuffs. In fact i can't remember the last time I bought myself new clothes. The running & outdoor events that I regularly joined however, always come with the ever-attractive, sports-branded event tshirt so that's how I compensate in the obligation of renewing the wardrobe. In fact,got too many of them.
2) There are 3 priorities when the cash are low. The rent, the gas/petrol, and then food. Other than that will have to wait.
3)Though we may become technically (and hopefully temporarily) broke, but be a health-conscious kind of broke. Limited money to spend doesn't mean you have to compromize your body's right to be well-fed. I refrain eating instant noodle and other junk stuffs though there are the most economic, price-wise. Gotta love your body.
4) Identify the cheap food options that were available around you, and hold to those that have the value for money and still have reasonable nutritional value retained in it. A rm4/5 meal which allows you to have a lot of rice(carbs) and a huge piece of chicken (protein) plus some vegies is always better than a packet of rm 1.80 maggie. One mapley here gives a generous amount of white rice,huge fried chicken breast, with some vegies and mixed gravy for just rm4.50. I normally bought this as take-away and have them splitted for 2-3 servings. So the dispersed cost would be around rm1.50 for a still-reasonable serving of nasi campur, eaten 3x.
5) I've also identified several other target menus in the vicinity that offer best value for every penny spent, portion,price & nutrinion-wise. A rm3 chicken kebab @ukm, a rm4 nasi kukus ayam berempah @seri putra, a rm3.50 nasi lemak ayam besar@sek1, rm4.50 nasi campur @azuralama and few others.
I also get my carbs & protein source quite largely on breads & eggs. have a nice breakfast of hard-boiled/half-cooked eggs with toasted bread. An array of eggs for ~rm10,and loaf of bread for rm~3, can last for weeks.
6) This done right can enable you to eat good for ~5-6 times a day for merely rm10.
7) It's like what Kevin Zahri has said; eat frequently but keep the portion small each time, instead of melantak sebukit nasi sekali hadap and then feel extra-full and bloated macam ular sawa. That's not good for your body. Indulge yourself with the pleasant taste, but bear in mind of the portion you eat. Hydrate well and exercise regularly. "You are what you eat"
8) make full-use of the facilities in the pantry at your workplace. They have microwave oven and toasters that are under-utilized I think. Plus there are many edible things that are left to expire because the individuals who initially brought them are very generous to buy large, with the intention to allow others enjoy as well, But most of the time people here were too busy with their work and hardly visit the pantry to prepare the foods. Not anything fancy, i'm talking about jumbo-sized breads and jars of peanut butter and jams. These are the most-left-to-expire items. In this dire-time of mine, it's me who become a somewhat timely scavenger, preparing a peanut butter toast topped with ice cream.
9) Yes, here we have weekly ice-cream session for us to unwind. And most of the time they weren't finished and the remaining ice-cream tabs are still stacking up in the fridge @pantry. Be experimental with all the available items, you can make quite a treat out of them.
10) It can be more economic if you can cook at home. But in my case, our kitchen isn't really functional. Fortunately in this idealville neighborhood where I live in the neighbours are close-kit and friendly. So I do get invitations to luch/have a tea at my neighbours house. Every time there's such calling I'll be like.."alhamdulillaaah~ *bersyukurlahh face".
11) The make the food-hunt more interesting, I occasionally visit the 'canteen corner' at the nearby grocery stores eg Giants and Tesco. I'm not talking about any food court which is located inside the complex. Well i don't know if you'd notice it but in these supermarkets they have a section ran by the company itself, where they sell on-the-go meals, they have different items for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Everything is in packagings, meaning it's only for take-aways. I kinda enjoy the experience browsing the menu over the counter; the have burgers, half/quarter-roasted chickens, chicken chop, breaded fish fillet, nasi lemak, sushi, and even rice with packeted sayur campur,ikan asam pedas (and other familiar local dishes too). Though the food presentations (and taste) may not score full marks, it'll do more than enough at least for me. Plus we can ask the cashier to microwave re-heat our meal upon buying. And most importantly, it is very cheap. All of the said menus are ~rm4, and usually I will time my visit there to be late-evening around 6pm, where the section has started to clear its bussiness for the day and all the prices were reduced to half. Every time I did these I feel like Misae, the mother of Shin Chan :-P
12) About getting around places. Yes for sure we have places to go everyday. I will carefully plan my to-do things and try my best to get the most things to be done in a one-way/parallel manner. I'll try to time my visits to places so that I can get them done only in one clean-cut outing. No fuss and back-and-forth travelling. Reason, to save up the gas/petrol. Yes I can be THAT particular in dire times.
13) Opportunistic. This is a confession. Quite a number of times I ride the KTM Komuter rail service without spending a penny. Well, there's weaknesses and flaws in their system, most of the gate/barrier in the station is not functional since forever, so one can pass through even without ticket. I've identified these station where I commonly use, and take advantage of them. Gotta save as much as u can yaw.
14) If you really know me in real-life, you would notice my activities and whereabouts. In the 7-month broke period, I travelled to Thai, Singapore, and Indonesia as well as some other local places in Malaysia. How can I pull such a feat? The answer is meticulous timing, smart utilization of resources and well-planned trips. You don't have to be rich to experience the world. If you wait for the right time, it'll never come. Make it happen. You can do it backpackers style; and don't be a tourist, be a traveller ;-) Maybe I'll elaborate later about my wanderlust and travel life in another post.
15) Boys dont ask money from their parents when they're broke. Even on wit's end. Not anymore. So embrace the hardship of life with high-spirit. Feel the thrill and find a way. This can be a good experience that adds another chapter in your book of life. It's one of those kinda stories that you'll be smiling upon when you reminisce in your old days.
16) I guess it would all come down the attitude you have. Stay positive and calm.For me,I'm never a money-person. I don't really put money up there on top of anything, in fact i don't really worry about anything. I can tolerate the whole ordeals of getting my payment stuck for friggin 7 months. I didn't get worried and anxious that much when I only have few notes left in my wallet. Don't worry, there's always a way to get around all these.
17) Looking from the brightside, it's a way to forcibly save my money. Kind of like auto-saving. I didn't get to spend my salary for like half a year, and when I eventually get it it's in a whole accumulated bulk.
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