The Winding Road to Financial Responsibility

I took a hard look at my finances when I decided to quit the law firm I worked at in 2016. I had one goal at the time: to save money because I expected no income for a while once I quit. Hence, major financial restructuring happened.

I have always tracked my spending, but nothing more. I recorded how much I spent, but I didn’t analyze it. Too much work for me. But then I found YNAB and it made everything easier. The app does most of the heavy job for you, but you still have to be disciplined. You must input every transaction you make to keep your budget up to date. Then you have to actually review your budget posts. Do you really need all of them or not? It took me the whole year of 2016 to start and maintain the habit.

In 2017, after having almost no income for a few months, I must admit that my saving was draining faster than I anticipated. I was more comfortable and familiar with budgeting then, and I was also armed with some knowledge on financial forecast from my years of running a business. For the first time in my life, I made a personal financial forecast. From a single sheet of paper, I could predict when I would lose all my money entirely. It helped me to decide when to look for a new job.

Now I’m entering my third year of attempting to be financially responsible. If I have to sum it up, the biggest financial takeaway from 2016 was budgeting is not scary at all. If I had done it sooner, I’d probably have a property right now. Takeaway from 2017: Uti, you always spend more than you earn. Now this, this is what makes me feel like an irresponsible adult.

I do have this money. It’s very valuable. But I don’t think I can use it to pay anything other than some fangirl love.

Analyzing my income vs expense report, in 2016 I had a deficit of 4%. Not a lot, but still a deficit. In 2017, I did earn more than I spent, but only by 1.9%. That’s hardly something to be proud of. Especially considering I had to liquidize some investment to get there. My 2018 forecast shows that I’ll have a deficit of 1.5% if I don’t find another stream of income this year. It goes without saying that I should still maintain the belt tightening as well to get that target surplus.

The second issue I’m tackling is I don’t have a financial buffer. If all goes to hell tomorrow and I find myself with no job, I wouldn’t survive the upcoming quarter. I can stay afloat for a bit further if I liquidize my investment, but it’s still not much. So now I’m working on that buffer. The first goal is to have a 4-month buffer. The next would be 12 months.

It’s hard to admit your shortcomings about money, because you fear you’ll sound like a failure. I know I do. I’m almost 30 and I’m barely making it, financially speaking. What have I been doing? I didn’t expect it would take me years to create this new financial habit and mindset. Sometimes I’m scared that I’m too late, that at this rate, I’d never be able to afford a house. I do want one.

Nevertheless, I’m starting slow. It’s liberating to know that you’re in control of your money, not the other way around. My goals are realistic: earn more than I spend and have a buffer. My roommate said I’m growing up too fast. LOL

By the way, if you want to check out YNAB, you can use my referral link. We’ll both get a month free. You won’t regret it. I wouldn’t be able to do this without YNAB.

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To Writing More 🍻

I’m grateful for writing in 2017, and I’d like to write more in 2018. I have been writing as far as I can remember, but the act still has a lot to show and teach me about myself. The despair in thinking that you’re not good enough, the discipline in finishing a project, the satisfaction in finishing that project, the exasperation of editing. I didn’t know that I could be that depressed or accomplished as a person.

My biggest writing achievement of 2017 was my musical. I’ve been writing it for many years. I finished the first draft, written and composed, last October. This project has become more than a creative project. It’s an ambition, a dream, and most of all: a consolation.

In the beginning of a 2017, I ended a relationship. As one does in the aftermath of a breakup, I looked for a distraction, so I could stop crying for a bit. But a lot of things reminded me of him. Except my musical. My musical reminds me of no one but me. It wasn’t inspired by anyone, nor is it written for anyone. It’s an embodiment of how I have grown and am still growing as a writer. More than a writer, but an artist, because I compose the music too.

Even if I don’t get to release the musical, it is still a personal and creative milestone that I finally reach after decades. And I can’t wait to arrive at future milestones.

I’m starting 2018 pretty good. My short story will be published this week. It’ll be my first professional fiction publication, so yes, that’s a milestone. I have never published anything professionally before! What have I been doing?

Watch this space! Click on the image for more info ;)

Das Sollen is also still waiting to be completed. The whole team is working on publishing it this semester. I spent a couple of months last year isolating myself in my writing cave to finish the treatment. The end result was an 11,000-word document. And I saw. I could do this.

When Das Sollen is done, I have at least a couple of writing projects on queue. Outside of the musical, I want to try my hands on film screenplay and novel. I have never finished a novel in my life. It’s such a daunting task for me. But if I could write 11,000 words in two months, I should be able to write 50,000 in a year.

So I have set up a writing tracker on my journal. The aim is to motivate me to write every day. It’s not about how many words I write, but about being consistent. Make it as constant as breathing. Bragging in my writing group helps too, because I finish something and they don’t haha

Here’s to a year of writing. 🍻

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#PrimatePeril, the Comic That Saves the Orangutans

I have to admit, I don’t know much about orangutans. And they’re native Indonesians! I’d always known that they’re in danger because of trafficking and their home is getting smaller and smaller as we cut and burn more forest. But how many of us know this? This is the exact issue that NaoBun Project is trying to tell us and more.

NaoBun Project, working with TRI Handkerchiefs, has published a comic series entitled Primate Peril in Ciayo Comics. The comic sports Neo, an orphan orangutan surviving in a burning forest. Not only humans, he also has to face future apes who go back in time to chase men away from the jungle. I’m proud to tell you that my friends make this comic. Bonni writes and Nin illustrates, and they’ve done a great job.

Read Nin’s account of their research trip here.

The comic is easy to digest. You can definitely recommend it to your kids, nieces, or nephews. In a simple manner, Bonni has highlighted our environmental issues and how orangutans are supposed to live. The trivia at the end of each chapter is insightful too.

Despite meaning it to be easy, Bonni doesn’t shy away from tackling the complicated stuff like morals. The apes do discuss the best way to punish men who damage their home, and that particular chapter is an interesting one to read. I like the solution they come up with.

I’m personally a collector of Nin’s art and I hope Primate Peril will be printed one day. In Primate Peril’s launching, Nin said it was difficult for her to draw animals, so she had to practice a lot. Now look at what she has made! These fluffy animals (except Kantan, he’s so bara) would make such cute dolls.

A lot needs to be done to save our forest. Early in my career, I was actively working towards it. But it was difficult. It will take a lot of team effort, and I don’t know how long we’ll have to do it. We can contribute our time, money, and energy; or at the very least we can educate ourselves. Thank you, Primate Peril, for giving us a cute starting point.

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Life After Law School

It’s been 10 years since my first day in law school. My batch is currently planning a reunion and I took the time to distribute a short survey. I want to know where everyone is now. The survey was filled by 108 respondents, which isn’t even half of our batch. Some of the results are quite interesting.

Surprise, surprise (not really)

My hypotheses was not a lot of us stay in law firms. Looks like I’m not so wrong. Only 30% work as lawyer associates and notaries, professions of which are commonly perceived as ‘very law-ish’. I’d like to know though how many of us have been in law firms, and for how long (before we give up working that hard). I know that a lot of our batch started in law firms, even if it’s just for a few years. I personally encourage every Bachelor of Law to work in law firms for at least 1-2 years. Law firms are where you’ll get the true essence of what it means to be a legal scholar and practitioner, then after that, you can do whatever you want. Maybe I’ll do another extended survey.

The rest are distributed in a number of fields, mostly still in a legal capacity. The major concern is though: none works in law enforcement. None. And only a few contribute to educational institutions full time. I shouldn’t be surprised I guess. When I was studying, I didn’t remember being encouraged to be a judge, prosecutor, police, or civil servant. Out of the kids I went to law school with, I only know one guy who went to become a judge. One guy. But who am I to judge? I’m a capitalist lawyer myself.

Such a concern.

This is also another personal concern of mine. The number of entrepreneurs seems small. Or is it just me? Did law school not prepare us to be entrepreneurs? Are we destined to be corporate slaves forever? Do we not have the capacity to make jobs for other people? I think something needs to change.

Another interesting result is turns out 44% have undergone graduate studies. Out of those people, 38% studied abroad. Now I feel even more pressured to get a master degree asap. #fomo

I’m still figuring out a way to get the whole batch to respond to this survey. I want to know how much the charts will change. Let’s see if I can get them to show up in our message group.

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The History of Our Musical

A lot of people know that I’m writing a musical. They know because I keep talking about it. I keep talking about it because I’ve been writing it since 2013 and it’s still not done!

It all started when I got cast into a local production of Les Miserables. Small, ensemble role, but I was glad to participate. Les Miserables is an epic production. It was so epic, the producer failed to produce it (money and management problems). But all that energy I had spent, I had to put it somewhere. And I was crazy enough to think there is no reason we can’t make a similarly epic production. So I started one.

Naturally, I got Pandji to board the ship with me. I can never make a musical on my own because I can’t play any instruments. There are four of us: Pandji, Nico, Sangeh, and me. For now, the main brains are still me and Pandji. Nico will help with musical direction, Sangeh will point out everything that doesn’t make sense.

For the last four years, the objective has been a simple one: finish all the fucking songs. Good lord I never expected it would take this long to compose songs for a relatively simple romantic drama. We made everything piece by piece, line by line, verse by verse. It was also a scheduling nightmare, because Pandji and I were busy. We work on wildly different jobs with wildly different timetable.

But we pushed through. I assume the role of project manager and I manage it with an iron fist. Not iron enough apparently, because it took four years. But no matter! Our labor has finally born its fruit. After four fucking years we did it: we made all the fucking songs.


Cannot contain the emotion for finishing everything.


My friends, I’m proud to announce that we have wrapped Draft 2 of the musical. Now we have a solid material to revise. I’ll be in charge of revising the story and characterisation, Pandji will start arranging the numbers. This weekend, we plan to record the whole thing, because we don’t even know if the whole thing is coherent or not. We have never played the whole thing from start to finish!

Fucking Draft 2 done!

When we have the record, we’d love to share the highlights with you. Please grace us with your comments. We hope you’ll like it!

Pandji said he’s gonna ink the musical on his skin permanently when we fly with it. Thanks for the idea, Pandji.

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