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Sunday, 5 January 2014

Making ends meet - somehow

Social media webpage called ‘Cheap & Good in Penang’.

Social media webpage called ‘Cheap & Good in Penang’.

We can protest until the cows come home, but the high prices look like they are here to stay. It’s time to buckle up for the rough ride.

LIKE other Malaysians, Penang businessman Yeap Ban Choon is feeling the pinch of the ­rising prices of goods and services in the country.

But unlike others, the avid Facebook user has channelled his grouses on social media by starting a page called “Cheap & Good in Penang” to share with other Penangites the best deals on the island and other tips on pinching pennies.

Vowing to post daily on how to stretch our ringgit further, Yeap says he also wants to help promote all stalls and eateries which are still giving customers value for money.

For now, however, parking ­charges are his main concern.

“Local council parking outside my office block has increased from 60 sen to 80 sen per hour. Besides, there’s the hassle of putting coupons or risk being compounded. So I’ve decided to park at a free parking area 500m from my office and cycle from there.”

Lecturer Cheryl Withaneachi, 30.
Withaneachi: Struggling with parking charges in Kuala Lumpur.

Homemaker Alexis Mark, 36, recommends moving to an area where the cost of living is lower. Mark shares that her recent move to Seremban where landed property is still affordable and the price of food and necessities is much lower has made a difference to the quality of her life.

But to those who will not find it as easy to uproot to another place, they can try a tip from another Penangite, Loke Thean Meng. Loke suggests bringing your own 3-in-1 coffee or Milo mixes and order plain water at the coffee shop.

“It is time we sent a message to those coffee shops that have hiked up their prices unreasonably,” he says.

Those who prefer a more hassle-free time at the mamak can opt for the guaranteed measures: cutting down on foreign travelling, like 36-year-old lawyer S.L Ham who is bidding goodbye to Europe holidays; going for less branded stuff; and only buying things that you really need.

Thirty-something professional L. Lee advises consumers to not only look at what you spend but how you spend – for example, using Touch & Go when you park will cost extra while using credit card rather than cash when you shop will allow you to get “Cash Back” on your credit card account.

Yeap Ban Choon, Penang Gerakan
Yeap: Has channelled his grouses on social media by starting a page called‘Cheap & Good in Penang’.

Here are other cost-cutting ideas to cope with the rising prices from Sunday Star readers on Facebook.

WE are selling one of our houses. There’s no way we can maintain two houses, not at this point walaupun sayang gila! Now I am aiming to pay off my credit card bill so that I’ll have less debt there. And from now, I will follow my husband on motorcycle to work instead of ­driving there.

Magazine editor from Petaling Jaya and mother-of-four Anida Salwani Abdul Hadi

LESS of foot reflexology and cut down on cosmetics. Buy only necessary food items. Eat less and exercise more.

Senior professor of Inorganic Chemistry at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) Dr Yang Farina Abdul Aziz

WILL eat out less and bring home-cooked meals to work as Kuala Lumpur is expensive. Avoid tolls as much as possible by waking up earlier. Be thrifty about elec­tricity. I don’t go out much anyway so there’s nothing else I can cut. As it is, am struggling with the cost of driving in KL, my parking charges alone cost about RM200 to RM380 monthly. I used to take public transport but stopped as it is unsafe at night after work.

Lecturer Cheryl Withaneachi, 31

FOR me, it’s going to be less entertainment, shopping and ­dining out, especially at expensive or exclusive restaurants. Control on electricity usage and reduce aircon usage despite humid weather. I am growing my own vegetable garden using recycled containers to cut daily expenses. I am sure I will have to find even more ways to cut cost in the coming months. I will work harder, perhaps even triple my effort to help more people buy insurance. Even during previous years, it was already a challenge to get people to commit to monthly insurance premiums. People will be more wary to commit now with the higher cost of living.

Insurance agent Liza Sharif, 36

EAT in more, eat out less. Choose and ­patronise places where the qua­lity and ­portion of the food is worth the price. I’m particularly annoyed when they charge ­coffee at exorbitant prices and give you a diluted concoction of watery-tasteless-so-called-coffee when you need a strong cuppa to start your day!

Cost of living according to cities in Malaysia

Legal officer Yuen Darren, 36

ONE word: freelance.

Civil servant Nooryesmin Pawan Jalaluddin

NO more cinema outings. More downloading of movies. No more posh dining.

Copywriter who only wants to be known as Viery

CUT down on meals in the restaurants. Fifteen-year-old single malts instead of 18. Wanted Benz, but will settle for a Mazda.

Bryan Yong

HAVE instant Nescafé instead of paying RM8 for latte. Buying wine from the supermarket instead of going to a bar. Streaming movies online instead of going to the cinema. Leaving my credit card at home.

Manager who only wants to be known as Princess Fiona

WORK out and lose weight – belt tightened.

Reporter Bernard Cheah

I DO a mental checklist before I buy stuff. Do I already have it? Do I really need it? How often will I use it?

Reporter Winnie Yeoh

MAKE more money.

Bank employee Eric Poh

COOK dinner instead of having dinner outside, do my own laundry on alternate days (no more every day), no more online shopping, hide my credit cards.

Teacher Sylvia Seow, 36

CUT down on expensive food, think twice before buying ­unimpor­tant stuff and recycle whenever possible.

Sue Tan

GO to pasar tani twice a month instead of the usual four times a month. Not bad, the savings. Usually I spend around RM170 a week there but if I go twice a month, I spend around RM220 for six in my family including my mum and maid.

Engineer Luqman Mohd Nor, 30

CUT down on expensive or branded clothes and shoes, buy fewer toys and instead make them for my son, eat more home-cooked food.

HR practitioner Mae Lee, 38

Tags / Keywords: Lifestyle , hike


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