How to be penny and pound wise for the golden years

A little goes a long way: From choosing to resume work to spending prudently, Malaysians say it’s the little things that help cut expenses, especially in the long run. — ART CHEN/The Star

PETALING JAYA: With living expenses on the rise and inflation hanging over us all, those edging towards retirement are using all means necessary to save a buck.

From choosing to resume work to spending prudently, they say it’s the little things that help cut expenses, especially in the long run.

On how much savings are sufficient for a comfortable retirement, they say the RM1mil mark previously stated by the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) for those retiring in 20 to 30 years is just the bare minimum, barring medical emergencies.Finance manager P. Selva, 60, said RM2mil was the new standard when it came to retiring comfortably in Kuala Lumpur.

“This is the bare minimum to maintain your current lifestyle or live comfortably, especially if you’re talking about the nation’s capital.

“We slogged throughout our 20s and 30s to enjoy the lives we have now, and our lives beyond retirement shouldn’t be any different.

“There are always ways to cut costs, but smart financial decisions leading up to retirement are crucial to allow us to retain our lifestyles once we do not have a fixed income anymore,” he added.

Selva said his savings plan took into account situations that could arise 25 years down the line.

“My family members and I all have medical insurance on top of coverage provided by our companies. It gives us peace of mind to know that medical expenses can be sorted out if the need arises.

“For those in their 20s and 30s, my advice would be to at least have a medical card on hand. It does not cost much and gives so many benefits,” he said.

Malay language instructor Siti Zubaidah, 56, said she was hesitant to fully retire due to the uncertainty of living costs and price hikes.“Despite having (some savings), I am still concerned about whether I can enjoy my golden years. By continuing to work, I would at least have a constant income source,” she added.

Siti Zubaidah said she would also look for the best deals at supermarkets while making price comparisons across different outlets.

“Bringing our own bags is essential as the small charges for plastic bags can add up to big amounts in the long run.

“We also cut down on entertainment so we have enough to get through the months,” she said.

“Ehailing rides used to be a cheaper alternative but since the price has increased, I try now opting for trains or buses,” she said.

Housewife C. Chan, 52, said she also brought her own bags when shopping and compared prices.

“Keeping an eye out for sales is a must. We do occasionally make compromises on food items but we prioritise better quality products,” she said.

Despite having enough savings, the mother of two said she had to cut down on overseas holidays.

Client manager P. Devi, 58, said she was fortunate to have adequate savings to retire in two years.

“My husband and I saved up over the past decade for this. We have enough to cover medical and living expenses at least for the next 25 years.“We have some property and by renting it out, we at least have a consistent income. We also cut down where we can. But for essentials such as groceries, it is not realistic to cut costs,” she said.

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living expenses , inflation , EPF , retirement


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