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Friday February 21, 2014 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Friday February 21, 2014 MYT 9:24:25 AM
by lee mei li
Penny wise: With a baby to care for, Norhashidah Harmi and husband Muhammad Danial Adnan have had to cut down on trips to the mall as they can’t afford to eat out as often as before.
Norhashidah Harmi and her husband Muhammad Danial Adnan adore their 17-month-old daughter, but they will most likely delay having another child.
Taking on the responsibilities of being parents has meant changing their lifestyle. Their priorities have changed and so have their spending habits. It is mostly because this young couple is finding out just how costly it is to raise a child in Kuala Lumpur, especially with the recent price hikes.
Norhashidah, 25, is a company secretary while Muhammad Danial, 27, works as a human resource executive.
“When we first got married, our combined income was enough for the two of us. We even had RM100 or RM200 extra that we could use as spending money. But now, with the baby, we have to spend on milk and diapers.
“I was into expensive make-up brands but now I will only buy RM10 compact powders,” says Norhashidah who only shops for clothes once a year for Hari Raya now.
Saving money is a priority these days. They have worked hard to juggle their finances and make pragmatic changes.
With the increase in fuel price eating into the family’s budget, Norhashidah has stopped driving to work, and now depends on her husband for lifts on his 10-year-old second-hand motorcycle.
“Even on a motorbike, it takes over an hour for my husband to send me to work, and another 45 minutes for him to travel to his workplace. It’s definitely more time-consuming, but this helps us save at least RM200 to RM300 on petrol each month.
“We only use the car on the weekend when we bring our baby out, but we’ve been doing that less and less now. Each visit to the shopping mall will incur extra cost for food, so we limit our outings to only twice a month.”
The increase in electricity tariff has also affected them as they now have to fork out RM50 more for their monthly utilities. To accommodate this additional cost, Norhashidah downgraded her mobile data plan.
“My husband and I both use the same plan now and it’s been working fine for us so far. Of course, the Internet surfing speed is much slower, but who are we to complain? As long as I can still receive calls and messages, and view my Instagram and Facebook, that will have to do for now.”
The couple also make it a point to limit their grocery-shopping to once a week at the morning wet market, and the occasional hypermarket visit to buy toiletries or items on their baby’s checklist.
“All these news about price hikes have really kept us on edge. Just last week, I was buying some prawns and I got a shock when the price came up to RM30. Cooking at home helps with our savings, but still our grocery bill comes up to RM500 per month. For lunch, I can only afford to spend RM10. So, whenever I can, I’d pack my own meal to work.”
“Our income is not rising on par with the cost of living. Having to support a family in this day and age is hard work,” says Norhashidah.
The couple has been exploring other means of making money. For three months now, Norhashidah has been selling beauty products online, which generates up to RM200 monthly. Some day, they’d like to set up their own business to generate more income.
“We don’t want to be overly stressed out over our finances. For now, we’re just going with the flow,” says Norhashidah.
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