Strong greenback a welcome sign for some Malaysians

GEORGE TOWN: With the dollar at a more than two-decade high against the ringgit, Malaysians working in the United States of America are elated as the value of their earnings would be more when they send money home.

Educator Felicia Chen, 27, said that with the strong US currency, she would be able to increase the usual amount of money she sends back home by at least 10%.

“With the same amount of US dollars, I am able to increase my savings and the money I send back home by at least 10% to 12%. That makes a lot of difference.

“In terms of investments, this 10% to 12% increase is also much better than putting my money in fixed deposits with only 2.2% to 2.85% interest annually,” she said.

Chen added that her family did not depend on her financially.

“However, I do send some money back on a quarterly basis to pay some bills,” she said, adding that she usually sent home an average of between US$200 (RM913.50) and US$400 (RM1,827) per month.

May Lee, 56, said the high exchange rate was timely as she had to pay for her mother’s healthcare expenses.

“My mother, who is in her 80s, had a bad fall last month and we are planning to put her in a nursing home to get better care.

“However, it is not cheap at all, and it will cost around RM4,000 to get her a single room,” said the kitchen helper who went to the United States in the late 1990s and got married there.

“My children aged 21 and 23 are still studying here and I have to pay their fees (in the United States), so I might have to stretch my money.

“With the high exchange rate, it will make it easier for me to pay for these expenses,” she added.

However, psychologist Dr Chooi Weng Tink said the US dollar hitting an all-time high might pose financial difficulties for some Malaysian students, especially those from non-affluent backgrounds.

“I hope none of the students on a tight budget tries to cope by eating instant noodles every day.

“A healthy body breeds a healthy mind, and students need a healthy body, healthy mind and well-being to thrive and study well,” she said.

On the brighter side, Dr Chooi said students could see the high conversion rate as an opportunity to learn how to be smart consumers.

“Students on scholarships are likely to have meal plans and accommodation covered by their sponsors.

“Even so, I think they should start to learn to spend prudently – for example, shopping at affordable supermarkets but without compromising on quality, especially when it comes to food.

“Now is the best time to learn how to cook and make simple, nourishing meals at home during the weekends,” she said.

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