“So before I decide to go somewhere, I take into account the cost of travel there, parking charges and toll charges.
“I am considered a senior citizen this year and I get half price when I take the LRT, bringing extra savings for me,” said Ho.
Ho’s tips to spend money prudently are:
• Live within your means and only buy what you need
• Try to car pool or use public transport to save on travel costs. Work out the cost of driving to a place
• If you see something you like, keep an eye on it and see if it’s available on sale down the line
Associate Vice President of Sabah Economics Development Authority (SEDIA) Iwan Hermawan, 40, and his teacher wife works and lives in Putatan, Kota Kinabalu, and they take home a monthly joint income of about RM4,000.
They have three children between the ages of nine and 11 and they say Kota Kinabalu has a fairly affordable cost of living in terms of food items.
“It is the prices of cars and houses which residents here find rather expensive, with prices of about RM250,000 for an apartment and between RM500,000 and RM700,000 for a three bedroom terraced house.
“Each month, we spend about RM500 on household products including fresh food and non-perishable goods.
“We don’t really go out of our way to look for the cheapest place to buy things, as convenience is a big factor for us since my wife and I both work,” he said.
“So we go to either Giant or Survay hypermarkets as it’s easy to get parking and we can get all our household needs under one roof in one outing.
“My wife and I also feel it’s a safer environment for us to bring our children along.
“We save on our monthly spending by making lifestyle choices which means we spend less money as a family,” he said.
So for example, he said they don’t spend much time around in shopping malls, preferring instead to have picnics on the beach or go to the parks as a family.
As for clothes, he said they buy them in the shopping malls when the sales are on.
“We have bought clothes from the pasar malam before, but I found that the quality is bad and it doesn’t last as long, although it’s much cheaper.
“For me, I think it’s better to spend slightly more money for something which lasts longer,” he said.
Iwan Hermawan’s tips to spend wisely are:
• For the smokers, stop smoking. I have quit smoking for one year now and I have managed to cut expenditure by a huge margin.
• Try not to buy newspapers so that I have more money to buy books. I can read the news on the Internet or at work.
• Go somewhere else with your family like the beach or the park which doesn’t involve spending money.
Abang Noraffian Abang Haji Ibrahim, 40, a civil servant with the Natural Resources and Energy Ministry, and his clerk wife have four children between the ages of two and nine and they live in Bandar Baru Semariang in Kuching and take home a joint salary of about RM5,000.
“I like to compare prices at the different shops before making my purchases.
“For me, supermarkets with best prices are H&L and Choice Food, both close to my home.
“Their prices are comparable to Giant in Kuching, but the latter is quite a distance from where I live,” said Abang Noraffian.
He said the kind of items he buys from H&L and Choice Food are dry goods and non-perishable household items including milk powder and diapers for his children.
“I would also buy chicken from the supermarkets where it costs about RM7 per kg.
“I also shop at independent traders – usually villagers who come to the city to sell their produce.
“Their prices are very good. I would buy fish, vegetables and fruits from here. One of the fish I buy most often is ikan kembong which costs about RM4 per kg at the stalls,” he said.
Generally, he said his weekly shopping menu is dependent on what is the cheaper fish or vegetables on offer.
“In general, my monthly spend for household necessities are between RM500 and RM600.
“As a family with two cars, we have to be careful about our fuel costs.
“In order to save on this, I drive a vehicle with a diesel engine and my wife drives a compact car below 1,000cc.
“We do eat out once a week but we keep it affordable at about RM80 per meal,” he said.
Abang Noraffian tips for prudent spending are:
• You must keep your expenditure within your budget, and prioritise according to your needs.
• You need to cut out unnecessary expenditure.
For example, if you have a smart phone and you are on a data package for your phone and broadband at home, consider cutting the broadband. I did that and it has brought me an extra RM150 savings.
• Consider changing to a smaller car or diesel engine vehicle.
Living within a budget can be a strain if not managed well.
The four households interviewed have made smart lifestyle choices in order to make some savings and reduce their financial expenditure.
This includes not eating out often, using public transport or vehicles which use diesel instead of petrol and buying clothes on sale.
Comparing prices between different stores and markets is the main means by which mindful consumers make wise spending decisions.
Some have a group of friends who compare notes and share information while others may go from store to store themselves to gather the data they require.
Recently, the portal www.1pengguna.com has made it possible for consumers to compare prices from the comfort of sitting in front of their computer.
The website which is maintained by the Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Ministry, gives consumers a means of comparing prices of various items purchased by the average Malaysian household at different stores in their neighbourhood.
It covers all states and a wide range of stores within suburbs in different cities and towns in the country.
For the average Malaysian household seeking to find ways to economise on their household spending, they should consider using the portal more often to arm themselves with the information required to make the best decision for them.
> Article courtesy of Ministry of Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism