Time to trim down


Fuel price hike spells the end of splurging on branded goods and elaborate holidays

LET’S put some petrol,” my mum said, glancing at the near empty tank and steering the car into the station.

Tired and cranky, I insisted that the car had enough fuel to get us home and promised that I’d fill up the tank the next day on my own.

The next day, fuel prices shot up at midnight.

Life certainly has a sense of humour.

“Have you put petrol?” my mum called in the evening, after the government has made its announcement.

An expert in procrastination, I had not. Feeling remorseful I didn’t do it earlier, I had no choice but to join the long queue of cars inching into Petronas.

After filling the car to the brim (I tried to put more than full tank, but for obvious reasons that didn’t work), I saved RM26.20.

That may not seem like such a significant amount of money, but it did pay for dinner for two.

With inflation on the rise and salaries remaining steadily stagnant, it is not surprising that most people I know, even the very affluent, were making trips to the petrol station despite the heavy traffic. After all, the bigger the car you have, the more you pay for fuel.

Short of robbing a bank, we have little choice but to trim our already slim budget to account for the spillover effect the rise in petrol prices will have on our monthly bills.

I have become more than comfortable with my current lifestyle. I work hard and enjoy my little indulgences in life.

I don’t think twice before catching a movie at the cinema every week instead of watching television at home.

I have no qualms about indulging in a cup of premium coffee every other day as opposed to making my own at home.

I cheerfully send some of my clothes to the laundry even though I could spend some time to carefully hand-wash them myself.

The same could be said for my car. I am very fortunate to have men in the house who willingly clean, vacuum and polish my car for me. If that weren’t the case, I would definitely be making regular visits to the car wash.

My two biggest costs, however, are food and petrol. Needless to say, the increase in one will heavily impact the other.

Eating out used to be a treat, therefore I have always treated myself to dining out. For the past six months, since our domestic helper has left and taken her cooking skills with her, eating out has become a necessity.

I don’t splurge on branded goods or elaborate holidays, but without even realising it, my day-to-day expenses are still way above average.

Average is the lifestyle that my parents are leading. I can’t remember the last time they had a holiday and eating out at a nice restaurant is considered a luxury.

Since I entered the workforce, I have been trying to change their perception.

“It’s okay to indulge,” I tell my mum and dad. I buy them spa vouchers and clothes for birthdays and Christmas because they never seem to willingly spend money on themselves.

I am now very aware that my parents have always been economical in their spending not because they enjoy doing it, but because it is a way to make ends meet.

I now wonder if I am spending money that I think I have when in actual fact the increasing prices of goods and products have greatly diminish the value of my dollars and cents.

For some, this recent increase in fuel prices is only a wake-up call. For others, it could be a difference of a good warm meal or a roof over their heads.

My friends and I joke about riding the bike to work, but perhaps there are people in this country who may have to do just that.

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