Isnin, Disember 27, 2010

Many young adults seeking advice on debt management

By SHARIDAN M. ALI
sharidan@thestar.com.my


Financial knowledge crucial for youngsters
PETALING JAYA: Young adults need to be equipped with the essential financial knowledge to avoid them from falling into “financial trap” that usually snares them at a later stage in life.
Statistics from Credit Counselling and Debt Management Agency (AKPK) showed that 44% of its debt management programme (DMP) customers were 30 to 40 years old, mainly males (67.9%) and earning below RM36,000 nett a year. Only 16% of the DMP customers were below 30 years old.
Chief executive officer Akwal Sultan said many young adults aged 30 and above came to AKPK when they had lost control of their finances, which might have started at an earlier age.
Mohamed Akwal Sultan says young adults should take control of their finances.
“They could have taken control of things earlier if they were aware of the steps needed to lead a prudent lifestyle,” he told StarBiz.
Akwal said although there was a general consensus that young adults had issues in managing their money, especially when it involved credit card, the overall non-performing loan statistics of credit cards was only 1.9%.
“It is only pockets of young adults that have problems with credit cards, contributed mostly by a lifestyle issue,” he said.
Akwal added that only 9.4% of those under the DMP faced credit card problems while 73.5% faced difficulties in managing a combination of debt, which include car loans, credit cards, personal loans and housing loans.
Thus, Akwal said there was a need for a more effective financial education programme for the young generation.
“Although it is currently being taught in schools, it is still not a subject by itself and thus does not have the desired results. At the tertiary level, the need for an effective financial education programme becomes more critical as having graduates savvy in this area will better equip them to handle their finances.
“In short, financial education is a baseline education that all individuals, especially today's young adults, should have,” he said.
National deposit insurer Malaysia Deposit Insurance Corp (PIDM) chief operating officer Md Khairuddin Arshad said sound financial knowledge, particularly about savings and prudent spending, must be inculcated among the young generation.
“Knowledge about deposit insurance should also be part of this foundation, especially as our youths prepare themselves for working life.
Sound financial know ledge, particularly about savings and prudent spending, must be inculcated among the young generation.
“By the time they take up their first job and start a family, they should already be capable of making smart and informed financial decisions and continue to do so throughout their lives,” he said.
OCBC Bank (M) Bhd head of wealth management Ong Shi Jie said the younger generation needed to obtain basic money management skills which included budgeting, the use of credit cards and accounts checking, and the importance of savings.
“In the course of our lives, we will eventually need a credit card, mortgage or a savings account to manage our finances.
“In this regard, it remains strange that the basic skills of managing finances have not been institutionalised into our education system,” she said.
Ong said most young adults fell into the “financial trap” the minute they landed a job because the first thing they normally did was to apply for a credit card.
“This gets them into the vicious cycle of succumbing to all their wants, not needs. So, before they make their first investment or saving, they're saddled with credit card debts and a loan for a depreciating car value.
“It's no wonder why people worry about retirement plans 10 years too late. They're paying for the sins' of their early years,” she said, adding that such financial traps needed to be pre-empted by instilling sensible money management habits in children.
Although Malaysia has one of the highest personal savings rates in the world, Ong said this had been largely driven by Government policies as opposed to a higher level of financial knowledge like in other countries.
“There is definitely room for improvement as far as the current level of financial knowledge among our young adults is concerned,” she said.
In terms of programmes, AKPK's ongoing focus is to provide financial education to post-secondary and tertiary level audiences where numerous financial education programmes are already in place since its inception four years ago.
These include National Service interactive workshops and module infusion in 31 institutions of higher learning. Bank Negara has also recently announced that a new financial capability programme will be launched next year, to be offered by AKPK.
As for PIDM, it has implemented an education programme for secondary school and tertiary students throughout Malaysia as part of its ongoing initiatives to further enhance public understanding of deposit insurance.
PIDM MoneySmart project seeks to instil the habit of savings and prudent financial management among students in schools and higher-learning institutions.
For OCBC, one of its recent initiatives is the OCBC Mighty Savers. For example, its OCBC Mighty Savers Weekend offers basic banking products and services to children at selected branches on every first weekend of the month.

Khamis, Disember 23, 2010

Spend Wisely Though Consumers Can Expect Some Relief In 2011

Spend Wisely Though Consumers Can Expect Some Relief In 2011
By Melati Mohd Ariff

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 21 (Bernama) -- The year 2010 ends with a fair share of consumerism related issues, starting with a run for sugar at the early part of the year and ending with another round of price hike for fuel and sugar.

Malaysian consumers have a long way to go in learning how to value their money if the number of people declared bankrupt and those who fell victim to numerous ponzi schemes and other trickery are anything to go by.

Throughout the year, hundreds of consumers fell victim to scams and 4,651 of them were declared bankrupt due to credit card debts.

Nonetheless, the rationalisation of the fuel and sugar subsidies in 2010 was the main cause of concern for the average consumer.

RATIONALISATION OF THE SUBSIDIES

The rise in the prices of fuel comes of no surprise as it was already indicated in the 2010 Budget with the initial hike earmarked for May 1, 2010.

The initial plan was to restructure the fuel price based on the engine capacity and foreigners having to pay the market price.

As the plan was impractical to implement, on March 2010 the Ministry of Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism called off the plan and a subsidy rationalisation lab was established to review all government subsidies.

"On May 27, 2010 Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Idris Jala who is also the chief executive officer for the Performance Management and Delivery Unit tabled the lab's plan to eliminate subsidies in stages over a period of five years.

"This brought some relief to consumers for the time being, with many remaining sceptical looking at the rising cost of living that they have endure due to the inevitable hike in the fuel prices," according to Mohd Yusof Abdul Rahman, Group Communications Director, Federation of Malaysian Consumer Associations (Fomca).

As the subsidy bill for consumer necessities has ballooned to RM74.1 billion, with RM23.5 billion for energy and fuel, RM3.4 billion for food, RM42.4 billion for social development and RM4.8 billion for infrastructure, thus the consumers have to foot part of the bill.

BETWEEN SUSIDY AND ALLOCATION

Thus, on July 16 the pump price of the RON95 petrol went up by five sen per liter to RM1.85/liter. A second price hike came into effect on Dec 4 when the subsidies for petrol, diesel and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) were further reduced.

Thus the pump price of RON95 fuel went up by another five sen to RM1.90/liter. Earlier, effective 2 Nov 2010, the pump price for RON97 was increased 5 sen from RM2.10/litre to RM2.15/litre and on Dec 1 the price was revised to RM 2.30/liter.

The diesel and the LPG too saw the price increasing by five sen to RM1.80/ liter and RM1.90 per kg respectively.

"The subsidy figures provided by Idris Jala was a point of contention as there seemed to be some confusion over the definition of subsidy and the development allocation.

"The allocation for social and infrastructure development is for the well-being of the people and it is the people's right. It is unlike the subsidy for fuel and food to keep their prices at affordable level," said Mohd Yusof.

BITTER SUGAR SUBDIDY WITHDRAWAL

Meanwhile, once again consumers faced sugar shortage early in the year not due to limited supply of the commodity but due to hoarding and smuggling by those who want to make a quick buck.

A rise of 20 sen per kg on January immediately resolved the supply issue and consumers saw another rise of 25 sen on July 16, 2010.

Mohd Yusof pointed out the new price of sugar at RM2.10 sekilogram would not pose a problem for consumers if they practice a healthy diet

"Currently Malaysians are consuming more sugar than they should. If they consume sugar accordingly, the new price poses no impact on their expenses," he added.

No matter what Malaysians should count their blessings as the price of sugar in Malaysia is still far cheaper compared with RM3.50/kilogram in Indonesia, RM3.80 in Singapore and RM2.80 in Thailand.

IMPLICATION FROM PRICE HIKES

While the rise in the prices of fuel and sugar per se is still manageable but its far reaching impact on other daily necessities is what puts consumers in the losing end.

Mohd Yusof noted the rise pushes up the prices of food and beverages.

"It is hoped that the government will take action to reduce the impact.

Past experience show the rise in the prices of both caused the increase in the prices of other items in tandem."

Action to control the prices can be done through the Price Control and Anti-Profiteering Act.

2011 PROSPECTS

In 2011, consumers can hope for better protection of their rights with several new laws and amendments proposed to the existing ones.

Mohd Yusof pointed out among the new laws to come into effect in 2011 is the Competition Act to ensure healthy competition in business that at the end benefits the consumer through good services and products.

Commenting on the Price Control and Anti-Profiteering Act, he said the regulations enable the government to take action on businesses that set the prices according to their whims and fancies.

"The National Price Council will set the appropriate profit margins for the respective sectors. In the event the traders sell at very high prices, enforcement action can be taken against them," he said.

On the Advertising Committee under the Consumer Protection Act, Mohd Yusof said it is to monitor the advertisements in the mass media to ensure there is no misrepresentation or violations of consumer laws.

According to Mohd Yusof, the updated National Consumer Policy would be reintroduced as well.

"Fomca hopes that the National Development Plan also takes cognizance of the consumer rights in the country. This has to be integrated with other policies," he added.

HALAL

On issues relating to halal or the halal logo, Mohd Yusof felt that the proposed amendments to Trade Description Act would strengthen the role of Jakim and JAIN as the halal certifying authority in the country.

At present Muslims are confused on the myriad of halal logo and products used by manufactures and traders including the halal logo of Jakim and JAIN.

"Fomca hopes that the amendments will help alleviate confusion among Muslims.

"At the same time Fomca hopes that traders and manufacturers who sell their products to Muslims in Malaysia will apply for the halal certification before marketing their products.

"The same goes to restaurants and hotels. Muslims must put pressure on the manufacturers, restaurants and hotels by not buying or using services that has no halal certification," stressed Mohd Yusof.

CONSUMER OPTIMISM IN 2011

Despite the new challenges awaiting consumers in 2011, Mohd Yusof is optimistic that the government will try its best to avoid further subsidy cuts as there are indications the 13th general election will be held in 2011.

The indications are clear including the implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) that has been postponed from the original date sometime in the mid of 2011.

Fomca hopes that the government has its own plans and strategy to ensure the low and medium wage earners will not be left out in the government's effort to create a high income society and in withdrawing the subsidies.

"The allocation for education and healthcare needs to be increased so that the public is not burdened by the high cost for both.

"If the government pays attention to both sectors, that the education level of the people could be enhanced to create skilled workers and professionals. This will enable them to earn high income.

"A good healthcare system ensures the people's well-being which in turn ensures their work productivity is not disrupted," said Mohd Yusof.

-- BERNAMA

Rabu, Disember 15, 2010

Bijak merancang jimatkan kos

Oleh Siti Zarinah Sahib
TAMAN TEMA...bagi ibu bapa

yang kurang berkemampuan

boleh memilih taman tema

berhampiran untuk membawa

anak bercuti.
TAMAN TEMA...bagi ibu bapa yang kurang berkemampuan boleh memilih taman tema berhampiran untuk membawa anak bercuti.
RIADAH...ibu bapa perlu babitkan

anak ketika memilih tempat percutian

dan aktiviti yang diadakan.
RIADAH...ibu bapa perlu babitkan anak ketika memilih tempat percutian dan aktiviti yang diadakan.
PERCUTIAN indah keluarga bukan bermakna membawa anak menginap di hotel mewah atau melancong melangkaui sempadan kawasan kediaman, tetapi sebanyak mana masa mampu diluangkan ibu bapa untuk mereka.
Bagi mereka yang berpendapatan rendah, cukup sekadar membawa anak berjalan di bandar, pantai atau pusat perkelahan berdekatan sambil luangkan masa berbual, bergurau senda dan bermain-main dengan mereka.

Menurut pembimbing ibu bapa bertauliah, Zaid Mohamad, ramai ibu bapa berpendapat bercuti perlu ke luar daerah atau menginap di hotel, tetapi sebenarnya tidak.
"Membawa anak bersiar-siar di bandar atau taman sudah cukup menggembirakan mereka. Apa yang penting kualiti masa yang dapat diluangkan ibu bapa bagi melayan anak.
"Bagi ibu bapa yang kurang mampu, bersiar-siar di taman sudah cukup mengeratkan kemesraan bersama keluarga malah boleh dilakukan selalu kerana tidak memerlukan kos yang tinggi," katanya yang juga penulis buku Ibu Bapa Bijak, Anak Hebat.
Zaid memberitahu, terdapat tiga perkara penting yang perlu diberi perhatian dalam merancang percutian terutama bagi keluarga berpendapatan rendah iaitu kos pengangkutan, penginapan, makan dan minum.
Peruntukan bajet antara RM500 hingga RM1,000 tidak sekali-kali menjadi halangan jika ibu bapa bijak menanganinya dan memfokuskan minda untuk mencari jalan penyelesaian.
Daripada aspek pengangkutan, menurutnya, bandingkan kos pengangkutan awam dengan pengangkutan persendirian.
Mana yang lebih murah daripada keseluruhan jumlahnya? Jangan lupa mengira sekali kos petrol dan parkir. Bahagikan jumlahnya dengan jumlah penumpang. Biasanya, untuk sebuah keluarga, pengangkutan sendiri mungkin lebih murah.

Daripada aspek penginapan, cuba dapatkan tawaran murah di laman sesawang yang dipercayai untuk mendapatkan tawaran secara dalam talian.
Di laman sesawang smartparents.com.my, ada satu pautan laman yang menawarkan diskaun sehingga 70 peratus daripada harga biasa.
Pilih apartmen kerana ini adalah cara paling murah untuk keluarga besar kerana biasanya boleh memuatkan lebih ramai penghuni dan lebih murah harganya. Kemudahan disediakan juga sama dengan hotel.
Port Dickson misalnya banyak menyediakan kemudahan berbentuk apartmen. Alternatif lain ialah dengan mencari rumah atau banglo penginapan untuk disewa. Biasanya kos keseluruhan akan jauh lebih murah berbanding hotel.
"Saya sendiri pernah menyewa sebuah banglo sembilan bilik di Cameron Highlands pada kadar RM150 saja setiap bilik.
"Beberapa keluarga dapat menginap beramai-ramai untuk menghasilkan sebuah percutian meriangkan," ujarnya. Alternatif yang paling murah ialah berkhemah di tempat yang menarik. Cuma perlu ada satu khemah dan beg tidur untuk setiap orang.

Daripada sudut makanan dan minuman, jika menginap di hotel, tidak perlu makan di sana kerana kosnya agak tinggi.
Sebaliknya, boleh memandu sedikit dan mencari kedai makan yang agak bersih dan selesa. Jika menginap beramai-ramai, contohnya di banglo Cameron Highlands, anda boleh menempah makanan secara katering daripada warung berdekatan.
Rundingkan harga terbaik kerana anda akan menempah makanan dan minuman dari kedai itu sepanjang percutian. "Daripada pengalaman saya, kosnya hanyalah RM10 sehari setiap orang untuk makan pagi, tengah hari dan malam yang ringkas tapi memuaskan.

"Jika anda tinggal di servis apartmen, ia lebih menjimatkan kerana anda boleh menggunakan dapurnya untuk memasak sendiri. Misalnya ketika sarapan, anda boleh menyediakan roti, telur atau bijirin.

"Dalam hal ini, ibu bapa perlu membuat belanjawan mini khas untuk percutian itu terutama untuk makan minum, tiket dan cenderamata.
Kemudian anda boleh membelanjakannya tanpa rasa bersalah selagi di dalam lingkungan belanjawan itu," katanya.
Menurutnya, bagi ibu bapa yang anak-anaknya sudah bersekolah sebaiknya minta pendapat mereka dalam membuat keputusan.
Bincang bersama tempat yang ingin dilawati dan setelah bersetuju, biarkan mereka membuat kajian melalui Internet atau majalah berkenaan tempat menarik atau aktiviti yang boleh dilakukan.
Di bawah pengawasan ibu bapa, biarkan mereka membuat satu program lawatan yang menarik.
Dengan cara ini, ibu bapa akan mendapat kerjasama penuh anak sebelum dan ketika bercuti. Ini juga memberi peluang untuk mereka mengasah bakat kepimpinan dan bertanggungjawab menguruskan sebuah aktiviti keluarga. Di samping itu, ibu bapa boleh menjimatkan wang tanpa perlu mengambil pakej lawatan.
Menurut Zaid, bagi ibu yang memiliki anak lebih daripada empat orang, semua perancangan bergantung kepada kesediaan mereka untuk berjalan jauh. Jika mereka tidak biasa atau bersedia, ini mungkin akan menimbulkan tekanan bukannya keseronokan. Tetapi jika mereka boleh berkelakuan baik, jarak perjalanan yang jauh tidak menjadi masalah.
"Ibu bapa boleh melatih anak dari kecil dengan mewajibkan mereka memakai tali pinggang keledar supaya mereka akan lebih berdisiplin sepanjang perjalanan," jelasnya.

Kata Zaid lagi, memilih lokasi percutian juga bergantung kepada usia anak misalnya untuk anak di bawah usia setahun, percutian ke taman bunga atau melawat tempat perkelahan yang selamat dan semula jadi adalah sangat sesuai.
Ini kerana mereka dapat melihat langit membiru dan pokok menghijau seperti di Taman Tasik Perdana atau Titiwangsa, namun perlu mempunyai kemudahan asas berdekatan.

Bagi anak berusia dua hingga empat tahun, tempat yang mempunyai kolam air untuk kanak-kanak atau taman permainan yang menarik sesuai untuk mereka manakala pada usia empat hingga enam tahun sudah bijak menilai dan berfikir justeru kawasan yang sesuai seperti pantai, taman tema air, taman tema kanak-kanak atau taman haiwan.

Bagi yang sudah bersekolah, kawasan percutian sesuai ialah taman tema, tempat bersejarah atau percutian berbentuk mencabar. Bagi kanak-kanak berusia di bawah tujuh tahun, sebuah percutian yang mudah dan ringkas, contohnya menginap tiga hari dua malam di pantai peranginan, tanpa program yang terlalu padat sesuai dengan usia mereka.
Bagi anak bersekolah rendah pula percutian adalah masa paling sesuai untuk merapatkan hubungan kekeluargaan dan pembelajaran, sekali gus mendorong mereka menghargai dunia di samping mencipta memori indah yang kekal sepanjang hayat.

Untuk anak bersekolah menengah, amat penting bagi ibu bapa memastikan pendapat mereka diterima dan sesuai dengan minat mereka. Percutian terbaik adalah percutian yang seimbang iaitu terdapat masa bebas untuk mereka melakukan aktiviti kegemaran mereka dan masa indah bersama keluarga.
Tip merancang percutian:
1. Merancang dan menunggu sebuah percutian adalah separuh daripada kenikmatan. Sebaiknya percutian itu dirancang enam bulan lebih awal.
Jadualkan di dalam kalendar keluarga dan umumkan kepada anak-anak. Ini akan memberikan masa untuk kita mencari penginapan terbaik dengan harga berpatutan sebelum penuh.
Jangan lupa membabitkan anak dalam memilih lokasi dan aktiviti.
2. Buat belanjawan untuk menyimpan sejumlah wang contohnya RM100 hingga RM200 sebulan untuk dimasukkan ke dalam tabung percutian.
Pastikan anak juga tahu akan perkara ini dan jika mereka meminta untuk membeli sesuatu akan mengakibatkan percutian keluarga tertunda sedikit. Membuat tabung percutian juga dapat menjamin keseronokan yang maksimum kerana ibu bapa tidak perlu menanggung hutang kad kredit selepas kembali daripada bercuti nanti.
3. Pada saat pergi bercuti biarkan anak menyediakan dan membawa bagasi masing-masing. Ibu bapa hanya perlu memberitahu jumlah dan jenis pakaian (pakaian bersantai, berjalan-jalan atau tidur) yang perlu dibawa.
4. Buat senarai barangan yang perlu dibawa seminggu sebelum tarikh bertolak. Ini akan memastikan barangan penting tidak tertinggal.
5. Kemaskan rumah sebelum pergi. Ini penting kerana apabila balik nanti, keluarga akan merasa tenang melihat keadaan rumah yang kemas dan tersusun.
Untuk maklumat lanjut, Zaid Mohamad boleh dihubungi menerusi laman sesawang www.SmartParents.com.my.

Mensyukuri Rezeki Menambahkan Berkat


Hadith :
Rasulullah s.a.w bersabda, maksudnya:”Makanan untuk seorang mencukupi untuk dua orang dan makanan untuk dua orang mencukupi untuk empat orang dan makanan untuk empat orang mencukupi untuk lapan orang.”
Riwayat Bukhari dan Muslim
Huraian:
i) Setiap Muslim hendaklah mempunyai sifat qanaah iaitu redha dan menerima apa yang ada tanpa banyak menuntut perkara yang bukan keperluannya.
ii) Lawan bagi sifat qanaah ialah tamak yang menjadikan seseorang itu sentiasa cemburu dan dengki dengan rezeki yang diperolehi oleh orang lain.
iii) Kekayaan yang sejati adalah kekayaan iman yang tercermin dari kesederhanaan hidupnya dan kesederhanaan itu tercermin dari sifatnya yang qanaah.
iv) Salah satu cara untuk menanamkan sifat qanaah kepada diri dan keluarga ialah dengan sentiasa mengucapkan "alhamdulillah" di atas setiap perbuatan atau perkara baik yang diterima.
v) Rezeki adalah ketentuan Allah S.W.T. Untuk menambah keberkatannya hendaklah membiasakan diri dengan sifat pemurah dan tidak bakhil untuk bersedekah kepada orang lain kerana hal ini akan memberikan ketenangan kepada diri malah akan lebih disayangi oleh masyarakat kerana sesungguhnya, harta yang kita miliki terdapat hak-hak orang lain di dalamnya yang wajib kita tunaikan.
Sumber : Jabatan Kemajuan Islam Malaysia

Money Doesn't Buy Happiness Over Long Term : Global Study

LOS ANGELES, Dec 14 (Bernama) -- Raising a country from poverty to affluence does not necessarily make the nation's population happier, China's Xinhua news agency quoted a new study of 54 countries worldwide, as saying.

The study researcher Richard Easterlin, a professor of economics at the University of Southern California said: "Happiness doesn't increase with the rate of economic growth even in less-developed countries or transitional countries."

"We already know that to be true of developed countries, but now it's been extended to countries of lower levels of income," Easterlin said in remarks published by Livescience.com on Monday.

The researchers collected happiness data between 10 and 34 years from 17 Latin American countries, 17 developed countries, 11 Eastern European countries transitioning from socialism to capitalism and nine-less developed countries, according to the report.

They found no relationship between economic growth and happiness in any case.

Even in a country like China, where per capita income has doubled in 10 years, happiness levels haven't budged, the report quoted the researchers as saying.

South Korea and Chile have shown similarly astronomical economic growth with no increase in satisfaction.

"With incomes rising so rapidly in these three different countries, it seems extraordinary that there are no surveys that register the marked improvement in subjective well-being that mainstream economists and policy makers worldwide would expect to find," the researchers wrote.

"If you look across countries and compare happiness and GDP ( gross domestic product) per capita, you find that the higher the country's income, the more likely it is to be happier," Easterlin said.

"So the expectation based on point-in-time data is if income goes up, then happiness will go up. The paradox is, when you look at change over time, that doesn't happen."

The paradox seems impossible on the surface, but there's good reason happiness and income could be linked in the short-term and not over many years, according to Easterlin.

As people's incomes rise, so do their aspirations. When incomes fall, he said, aspirations don't, he said, adding that no one wants to give up the standard of living they've grown accustomed to.

"The higher your income goes up the more your aspiration goes up. Over time, the change in aspirations negates the effect of changing income."

"Economic growth may not be the way you get happier," he said, adding that there are other avenues that may produce more happiness.

-- BERNAMA

Isnin, Disember 06, 2010

Peruntukan RM2.68b disedia

ARKIB : 02/12/2010


MOHAMED Khaled Nordin melekapkan tapak tangan di atas skrin diperhatikan oleh Abdul Rahim Mohd. Noor (dua dari kiri) di Majlis Pra-Pelancaran Program Pembiayaan Ijazah Lanjutan di Putrajaya, semalam.


PUTRAJAYA 1 Dis. – Kementerian Pengajian Tinggi memperuntukkan RM2.68 bilion bagi melahirkan puluhan ribu graduan di peringkat ijazah Sarjana (MyMaster), ijazah Kedoktoran Falsafah (MyPhD) dan PhD Industri menerusi Rancangan Malaysia Kesepuluh (RMK-10).
Menterinya, Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin berkata, dalam tempoh lima tahun, kerajaan optimis dapat melahirkan 5,000 graduan PhD selain 40,000 graduan MyMaster, 500 graduan PhD Industri dan 9,700 graduan untuk Skim Latihan Akademik institusi pengajian tinggi awam (IPTA).
Katanya, sejajar dengan matlamat menjayakan transformasi ekonomi negara bagi mencapai status negara maju pada 2020, kerajaan perlu melahirkan modal insan berpengetahuan tinggi, inovatif dan kreatif.
“Menerusi program itu, kita dapat merealisasikan hasrat menjadikan Malaysia hab inovasi apabila hasil penyelidikan dan kajian dilakukan di IPT tempatan dan bukan lagi di luar negara.
“Dalam konteks PhD Industri pula, ia dilihat sebagai satu pendekatan inovatif untuk melebarkan penyertaan khususnya profesional dan pengamal industri untuk menyambung pengajian di peringkat PhD melalui mod pengajian bukan konvensional,” katanya pada majlis pra pelancaran program tersebut, di sini hari ini.
Katanya, pendekatan baru strategik itu bakal memperkasa lagi hubungan industri dan akademia khususnya melalui penyeliaan bersama, penggunaan kemudahan serta perkongsian kepakaran sesama mereka.
Mohamed Khaled berkata, sebanyak 15 IPT tempatan telah menyatakan kesediaan untuk bekerjasama menawarkan PhD Industri dan jumlah itu akan bertambah dari semasa ke semasa.
Beliau berkata, dari segi kaedah pelaksanaannya, penuntut disyaratkan bekerja dalam negara sebagai syarat kontrak dan perlu membayar balik kepada kerajaan jika didapati bekerja di luar negara.
Katanya, bagi MyMaster pula, tiada syarat dikenakan tetapi jika penuntut gagal menghabiskan pengajian, mereka perlu membayar balik pembiayaan sebanyak RM10,000.
Menurutnya, jumlah maksimum bagi pembiayaan MyPhD ialah RM24,000 manakala bagi MyPhD Industri sebanyak RM50,000 kerana ia melibatkan soal penyeliaan yang perlu dilakukan pihak industri.
“PhD Industri memberi tumpuan kepada profesional dan pengamal industri dalam menghasilkan inovasi dan meningkatkan daya saing melalui penyelidikan berasaskan industri,” katanya.
Permohonan dalam talian yang sudah mula dibuka hari ini dan terbuka kepada pelajar awam, kakitangan swasta dan pensyarah IPTS.
Antara IPT yang menawarkan tempat pengajian ialah semua IPTA dan IPTS berkaitan dengan kerajaan seperti Universiti Teknologi Petronas, Universiti Multimedia dan Universiti Tenaga Nasional.

Strong retirement plan poser

Saturday December 4, 2010

By LEONG HUNG YEE
hungyee@thestar.com.my

How to secure high enough returns in a low interest rate regime

HAVE you started to think about your retirement? Do you have a solid financial retirement plan? Do you know how much you need? Perhaps, you may think that you are too young to retire but any financial planner will tell you it is never too early to think about retirement planning.

According to AXA Retirement Scope 2010, Malaysians have become more concerned about their ability to finance a comfortable retirement experience. Only 37% consider their future income to be sufficient compared with 62% in 2007.

We all know how important planning for retirement is, but how do we plan for it in a low interest rate regime like in our current times.The low interest rate has taken its toll on savings sitting in fixed deposits. These factors negatively impact the retirement planning process, especially if you want to retire and live well.

The alternative way is to invest into unit trusts, bonds, equities or pay for insurance premiums. Financial planners say it is important to make the money work for you and make it work hard as a way to beat inflation in a diversified range of instruments and markets. It may not be sufficient to just save money in a savings or fixed deposit account, especially in this low interest rate environment, as money saved may not grow at the rate necessary to meet one's target, says Jeremy Wong, a financial planner with a local insurance agency.

Wong adds that the interest rate offered by banks' fixed deposits are relatively low. He says, for example, if you deposit RM10,000 for a 12-month fixed deposit, then the return on an annual basis that you are looking at is probably around RM350, which means less than RM30 return per month. RM30 a month is not even enough for your petrol for a week! he exclaims.

For those who save occasionally or regularly but not necessarily for retirement may fail also if they do not take into consideration the inflation and rising medical costs, Wong says, adding that the rate of return from the Employee Provident Fund of 5% to 6% may not be sufficient to offset inflation in the future.
 
Pension fund
Last year, the pension fund declared a dividend of 5.65%. The country's headline inflation rate increased to 1.9% on an annual basis on higher consumer prices. Another financial planner with a foreign bank, Sophie Lee, says fresh graduates who just joined the workforce are in a very good position to start investing. At their age, they have very few commitments and could afford to invest a good ratio of their earnings. And of course they must pick the good yielding investments, Lee says. She adds that those who have just started working will have a longer investing period and could afford to invest in slightly riskier assets such as equities.
She cautions that one should check that one's investments are growing at the rate that one intends, but not panic if there are short-term fluctuations, as this is part and parcel of investing.

Wong concurs with Lee. However, he says they should have some investments in bonds or unit trust in their portfolio in order to be diversified because the equity markets could go up as well as the tendency for the bond market to fall and vice versa. It will help to buffer or stabilise investments even when particular segments of the market are experiencing drastic movements up or down, he says. Both Lee and Wong remind us that while deploying the retirement benefits, one should not only worry about the interest rates but also ensure safety of the investments.

Rabu, November 24, 2010

Tangani kos sara hidup tinggi

KUALA LUMPUR 23 Nov. - Ekoran kenaikan kos sara hidup yang kian membebankan, kerajaan digesa mencari mekanisme yang tepat bagi mengurangkan impak terhadap kuasa beli rakyat khususnya golongan yang berpendapatan rendah dan sederhana.

Pensyarah Kuliyyah Ekonomi dan Sains Pengurusan Universiti Islam Antarabangsa Malaysia (UIAM), Prof. Madya Dr. Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki berkata, langkah tersebut boleh dimulakan dengan penubuhan makmal khas yang melakukan kajian spesifik secara menyeluruh mengenainya.

"Kenaikan kos sara hidup sangat membebankan rakyat di negara ini disebabkan kenaikannya terlalu pantas dan tidak seiring dengan kenaikan pendapatan rakyat.
"Fenomena ini perlu dikaji dengan teliti kerana melibatkan banyak faktor, bukan setakat harga barang-barang keperluan sahaja. Bagi saya, penubuhan makmal khas merupakan langkah terbaik yang perlu dipertimbangkan kerajaan," katanya ketika dihubungi di sini.

Utusan Malaysia hari ini menyiarkan pendapat seorang pembaca mengenai fenomena kuasa beli rakyat yang dikatakan menurun secara mendadak disebabkan kenaikan kos sara hidup yang tinggi di negara ini.
Menurut pendapat tersebut, selain meningkatkan pendapatan, kerajaan perlu memberi fokus mencari jalan bagaimana hendak meningkatkan kuasa beli rakyat, khususnya isi rumah serta mengekalkan kos sara hidup yang tidak membebankan.

Sementara itu, Presiden Persatuan Pengguna Subang dan Shah Alam (CASSA), Datuk Dr. Jacob George berkata, impak kenaikan kos sara hidup boleh dikurangkan dengan cara menstabilkan harga barang-barang asas dan meningkatkan pendapatan boleh guna isi rumah.

"Paling mustahak, langkah menstabilkan harga barang-barang asas perlu melibatkan kerjasama pelbagai hala kesemua kementerian yang ada, bukan terhad kepada satu atau dua kementerian sahaja.
"Selain itu, saya fikir kerajaan juga perlu mempertimbangkan cadangan untuk mewujudkan elaun khas kepada suri rumah bagi meningkatkan pendapatan boleh guna isi rumah," katanya.

Pengarah Komunikasi Gabungan Persatuan Pengguna Malaysia (FOMCA), Mohd. Yusof Abdul Rahman pula mencadangkan supaya kerajaan menambah peruntukan dan pembiayaan kepada sektor-sektor tertentu yang membabitkan keperluan asas rakyat seperti pengangkutan, pendidikan dan kesihatan.
"Dengan cara itu, perbelanjaan rakyat untuk hal-hal sedemikian dapat dikurangkan sekali gus mampu meningkatkan pendapatan boleh guna isi rumah," katanya.

Selasa, November 23, 2010

Kahwin demi wang


Oleh Rahmat Othman , BH Online

2010/11/22

SEBAHAGIAN  wanita pekerja seks di pekan Danok memeluk Islam dan berkahwin dengan lelaki Malaysia untuk mencari kesenangan.
SEBAHAGIAN wanita pekerja seks di pekan Danok memeluk Islam dan berkahwin dengan lelaki Malaysia untuk mencari kesenangan.
Pekerja seks berkahwin lelaki tempatan untuk kesenangan

DANOK, THAILAND: Segelintir lelaki Malaysia yang kemaruk beristeri lebih, dikesan menjadikan pekerja seks dan tukang urut Thailand sebagai sasaran untuk dijadikan isteri mereka sejak dua tahun lalu.

Difahamkan, kebanyakan lelaki terbabit berkunjung ke sini untuk berfoya-foya di pusat hiburan yang banyak di sini dan berlagak sebagai orang kaya sebelum mengajak pekerja tempat berkenaan berkahwin.
Imam Masjid Fathuislami yang juga Jurunikah Bertauliah selatan Thailand, di sini, Sufian Ismail, berkata kebanyakan wanita terbabit berkahwin semata-mata kerana mahukan kemewahan dan tidak pernah memeluk Islam sepenuh hati.
Bagaimanapun, katanya, apabila menyedari suami mereka itu bukanlah orang kaya dan tidak mampu menampung kos sara hidup mereka, ramai dikalangan wanita terbabit kembali kepada pekerjaan dan agama asal selepas bercerai.

Apabila bercerai, wanita itu kembali kepada agama asal mereka atau murtad serta bekerja semula sebagai pekerja seks. Bekas suami itu juga hanya membiarkan bekas isteri mereka itu murtad, katanya ketika ditemui, di sini.

Beliau berkata, sepanjang dua tahun lalu 10 wanita Thailand bercerai dan kembali agama asal mereka selepas kecewa dengan perkahwinan mereka membabitkan lelaki Malaysia.

Sufian berkata, lebih menyedihkan apabila hasil daripada perkahwinan jangka pendek itu ada yang mempunyai anak dan anak itu juga mengikut agama ibu mereka.
Mereka mengumpan dengan kemewahan yang ditunjukkan dan ia berjaya memikat wanita berkenaan. Selepas perkenalan singkat mereka berkahwin dan wanita itu memeluk Islam, katanya.

Beliau berkata, pasangan itu akan menyewa rumah di sini dan si suami hanya akan datang menemui isterinya pada hujung minggu atau masa tertentu.

Tidak lama selepas itu wanita berkenaan menyedari suaminya bukanlah orang kaya seperti yang disangkakan, malah tidak dapat menampung kos sara hidupnya yang sebelum itu mewah, menyebabkan mereka sering bergaduh dan berakhir dengan perceraian, katanya.

Isnin, November 22, 2010

Parah bil hospital


Oleh Zuraidah Mohamedk
zmohamed@bharian.com.my
2010/11/22

pix_gal0
Ramai hutang kad kredit, bank untuk jelas kos perubatan swasta tinggi

KUALA LUMPUR: Penggunaan kad kredit atau pinjaman bank untuk membayar kos perubatan yang tinggi di hospital swasta kini menjadi punca utama kegagalan pembayaran balik pinjaman bank dan kad kredit oleh individu.
Mengikut Agensi Kaunseling dan Pengurusan Kredit (AKPK) penggunaan kad kredit tidak terkawal kini bukan lagi menjadi faktor utama bagi masalah kegagalan pembayaran balik pinjaman.
Sebaliknya, badan yang menguruskan RM4.8 bilion hutang tidak berbayar (NPL) membabitkan 50,361 individu itu mendapati pembiayaan kos rawatan dan perubatan yang tinggi ketika ini mendorong individu untuk berhutang sehingga di luar kemampuan.

Ketua Eksekutifnya, Mohamed Akwal Sultan, berkata kebanyakan individu yang dirujuk kepada Program Pengurusan Kredit (PPK) AKPK menjelaskan, mereka lebih cenderung mendapatkan perkhidmatan rawatan dan perubatan yang dikatakan lebih baik di hospital swasta berbanding di hospital kerajaan walaupun ia membabitkan kos besar.

“Setakat Oktober lalu, 26 peratus kegagalan pembayaran balik pinjaman langsung bank atau kad kredit yang dirujuk kepada AKPK adalah perbelanjaan perubatan tinggi disebabkan kos sara hidup semakin meningkat.

“Penggunaan kad kredit tidak terkawal tidak lagi menjadi faktor utama kegagalan seperti pada dua atau tiga tahun lalu,” katanya kepada Berita Harian.
Beliau berkata, selain kos perubatan tinggi, punca lain yang dirujuk kepada agensi itu ialah kelemahan pengurusan kewangan (25 peratus), kegagalan perniagaan (13 peratus), kehilangan pekerjaan (12 peratus), manakala dua peratus akibat kegagalan pelaburan.

Penggunaan kad kredit tidak terkawal pula, katanya, hanya mewakili 15 peratus.
Katanya, hampir 70 peratus kes gagal membayar balik pinjaman itu adalah membabitkan penggunaan kad kredit, manakala 30 peratus lagi pinjaman peribadi serta sewa beli.

Daripada RM4.8 bilion NPL yang diuruskan AKPK ketika ini, Mohamed Akwal berkata, RM2 bilion membabitkan pinjaman perumahan diikuti kad kredit (RM1.1 bilion) serta sewa beli sebanyak RM713 juta.

Katanya, jumlah itu membabitkan kira-kira 40 peratus daripada keseluruhan 135,805 individu yang datang ke AKPK untuk mendapatkan perkhidmatan kaunseling serta khidmat nasihat berhubung pengurusan kredit.

Beliau berkata, tahun ini saja 25,353 individu memohon khidmat nasihat serta bantuan AKPK dan hanya 13,017 dirujuk kepada program PPK, antaranya bagi penstrukturan semula pinjaman.

Bagaimanapun tahun lalu, katanya, 36,848 individu tampil dan 16,184 daripadanya mengikuti program berkenaan.

“Tahun lalu, lebih ramai mendapatkan bantuan daripada AKPK kerana krisis ekonomi yang melanda. Namun, mulai Oktober tahun lalu, keadaan ekonomi mula pulih. Pengurangan individu ini menunjukkan keadaan ekonomi kita semakin baik dan mereka juga ke arah pengurusan kewangan yang baik,” katanya.

Setakat Oktober lalu, sebanyak 423 kes membabitkan pinjaman berjumlah kira-kira RM12 juta berjaya diselesaikan AKPK, berbanding 143 kes dengan jumlah pinjaman RM3.7 juta pada tempoh sama tahun lalu.

“Kami menyelesaikan kira-kira 40 kes sebulan bayaran balik pinjaman kepada bank kerana kebanyakan yang mengikuti PPK sudah mampu menyelesaikan pinjaman lebih awal daripada tempoh maksimum 10 tahun yang diberikan,” katanya.

Beliau berkata, mereka yang berpendapatan kurang RM2,000 sebulan adalah kumpulan paling teruk terjejas dengan masalah kewangan, mewakili kira-kira 40 peratus daripada 50,361 individu yang menyertai PPK.

Katanya, AKPK yang ditubuhkan sejak April 2006 setakat ini menganjurkan lebih 520 taklimat berhubung pengurusan kredit di seluruh negara

Selasa, Oktober 26, 2010

What’s your money personality?



 
During my seminars and personal financial consultations, I have come across many people who have different attitudes towards money. All of us have unique personalities − some characteristics are inborn and some are learnt along life’s journey. Likewise, when it comes to money and real estate investments, we too possess various money personalities. They are:
1. Spenders / Shoppers
These personalities derive great emotional satisfaction from spending money. They need instant gratification and can't resist spending money. Spenders often shop to entertain themselves, even if the items they buy go unused. A sale is simply an excuse to spend money on the pretext of getting a good deal on things that they do not need at the moment.
A well-to-do good friend of mine was shocked to discover, during his house moving, that his wife owned more than 100 pairs of shoes and over 30 handbags! Like most guys, he couldn’t see the need for his wife to own so many pairs of shoes and handbags. As money was not an issue, he didn’t mind his wife buying more new shoes or handbags, provided that she gave her old ones away. He was concerned that his new house was quickly running out of closet space to store the things his wife bought.
Unfortunately, besides being a shopper, his wife was also a hoarder. She didn’t have the heart to give away things that are still fairly new and seldom used. This led to frequent quarrels and my friend decided that the only way out was to build more closet space in his current house and to move to a bigger house a few years later to accommodate his wife’s impulsive shopping habit. It was a small price that he could afford to pay to keep his wife happy.
Advice for Spenders/ Shoppers: Shop a lot less, save a lot more
If you love to spend, it's very likely that you are going to continue doing it. when shopping, try to seek long term value, not just short -term satisfaction.  Before purchasing, ask yourself how much that purchase is going to mean in a year. If the answer is "not much",then forgo the purchase. This way, you can limit your spending to things that you'll actually use. If possible, set a monthly budget and stick to it. In case you over-spend  in a month, make sure that you have the discipline to cut back the following month.
Another suggestion is to cut up any extra credit cards you may have and lower the credit limit  on the ones you use regularly. Give standing instructions to auto-debit your bank account on the due date with the full amount for all your credit cards. This way you will not  be tempted to overspend.
2. Debtors
Debtors are similar to Spenders/Shoppers. The only difference is that they are spending money that they don’t have and are living beyond their means. They are deeply in debt and often, are not in a position to do much investing. Debtors will typically live rich but die poor!
A newly married young couple in their late twenties came to see me for a personal financial consultation. They were keen on investing in properties and stocks. Their combined gross income was RM15,000 per month but their net worth was less than RM100,000! They had RM20,000 in credit card debts, less than RM5,000 in savings and they both drive brand new Japanese cars worth around RM70,000 each. Their logic of purchasing new cars was that they didn’t want any problems associated with buying cheaper second-hand cars.
In my opinion, both fell into the Debtor personality. While they were earning well for their age bracket, they were mismanaging their money by accumulating credit card debts and over-spending. Since both were desk-bound employees, there was no need for them to make a good impression by driving new cars. In fact, they could ill-afford to drive new cars at this stage of their lives, given their current financial situation.
In order to clear up the credit card debts and begin their investment journey, I strongly suggested that they sell off their two cars which were around a year old and downgrade to a three year old Proton or Perodua car which costs around RM35,000 each. Straight away, they would be able to settle their credit cards debts and have sufficient start-up capital of around RM50,000 to begin investing.
Unfortunately, it was easier said than done. Towards the end of our consultation, the husband blurted out that they had just placed a deposit for a new car for himself worth RM85,000 to lock-in the low interest rates. Since both had the Debtor personality, I really had a tough time convincing them to change their spending habits. If one of them had a different money personality, perhaps I would have an easier time to get one spouse to convince and force the other to change his/her ways. Finally, all I could do was wish them good luck. Personally, there is no way they will go far in life unless they make drastic changes to their behaviour
Advice for Debtors: Start saving, investing & don't spend money that you don't have!
If you are already in debt, you first need to get your debts sorted out before you can begin investing. If you are not  be able to do it alone, get some professional financial help like what the couple did when they saw me.
Also, analyse what caused you to get into trouble. If it was easy access to credit cards, then the solution would be to cut up all "temptations" cards and sticks to debit cards. If spending was something that you used to compensate for other areas in your life that you feel were lacking, think about what these might be and work on changing them. If your house and cars were purchased because of the need to look good, then you may even need to downgrade your lifestyles by moving to a smaller house, drive an older car, etc.
Next, focus your efforts on saving money diligently. Pay yourself first by setting aside a certain portion of your take-home income that automatically goes into a special bank account that is used for investments. The money in this account  can never be spend -  it is your golden goose. Later, when you retire, you can only spend the eggs that your golden goose laid i.e whatever interest, dividend or rental incomethat  your investments generated.

3. Savers
Savers are the exact opposite of Spenders/Shoppers and Debtors. They only shop when absolutely necessary and never accumulate credit cards debts. They generally have no debts and are often viewed as cheapskates. Savers are not concerned about keeping up with the Joneses or following the latest trends. They are happy with their 20-year-old cars and derive great satisfaction from seeing the interest earned on their bank statements. Due to their conservative nature, they don't take big risks with their investments. They prefer fixed deposits instead of other riskier investments where there is a possibility of a loss.
Extreme Savers unfortunately will live poor but die rich! Most of our parents who had lived through the Second World War and experienced hard times, where they didn’t have the luxury of three meals a day, will fall into this money personality type. I met many people who live in old houses that were last renovated 20 years ago and drive well-maintained cars that are more than 15 years old. These people are the ones who have more than RM5 million in fixed deposits! At the current fixed deposit rate of 2.5% p.a., their interest income alone is over RM10,000 per month which is more than sufficient to fund their no-frills lifestyle.
Advice for Savers: Practice moderation & take a little more investment risk
If you are a Saver,  you should not let all the fun parts of life pass by just to save a few cents. To achieve some sort of balance, it's advisable that you allocate a small sum of "Play Money" where you can nourish your inner child by living like a King/Queen for a few hours every month. Spending a bit of money on having fun isn't going to make you bankrupt. Once you have tasted the good life, would you want more? The answer is a definite 'Yes'. In fact, you would be motivated to challenge yourself to make more money so that you can have more of the good life.
Instead of taking little or no investment risk by leaving all your money in fixed deposits, you need to learn to take a little more risk  by investing a portion of your capital into higher return investments such as REITs, properties, bond funds, etc. After all, the key to investing success is to minimise risks while maximising returns. Avoiding investments risks completely will not get you far in the long run.

4. The Avoiders / Money Monks
These people are not comfortable with the subject of money due to their lack of interest or they feel that that are other more important issues. Often, they will try their level best to avoid the subject completely. Money Monks are happy-go-lucky types who strongly belief that God will take care of them. At the extreme end, they may not even know whether they are rich or broke.
If you are married to an Avoider or a Money Monk, you will have to shoulder the responsibility of managing money and investing for your family. The big advantage is that you will have little or no arguments on any money matters with them.
Advice for Avoiders/Money Monks: Make sure that you do not marry your own kind. Alternatively, find a trusted professional financial planner.
It's a sad fact that people typically will not change even when they know they need to. Hence, it is extremely tough to suggest to Avoiders and Money Monk that they should have an interest in knowing how money works. If you are an Avoider or Money Monk, an easier alternative is to make sure you don't marry  their own kinds or you should seek professional help when it comes to managing your money.

5. Investors
Investors are consciously aware of how money works. They know where they are financially today and try to put as much of their money to work. All investors tend to seek a day when their passive income from their investments will provide sufficient income to cover all their expenses. Their actions are driven by careful decision making, and they are comfortable with the need to take a certain amount of risk in pursuit of their goals
Advice for Investors: Keep it up!
Congratulations! Financially speaking, you are on the right path and doing great! Keep doing what you are doing, and continue to educate yourself.
It’s extremely important to know which money personality you fall into as each has its own strengths and weaknesses. Understanding your unique money personality will help you shape your approach to spending, saving and investing. If you are married, it will also help you understand your spouse better as most marriages get into trouble because of money issues.

http://www.starproperty.my/Home/Default.aspx

Dr M: High income will come with high cost of living

October 26, 2010
Dr M: Unless the increase in incomes is properly managed, it will not enrich the people in terms of purchasing power.
KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 26 — Former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has warned the public to expect cost of living to go up in tandem with income, adding that rising income may actually lower purchasing power if not managed properly. He explained increased wages would force the private sector to look for efficiency gains and invest in better equipment to realise higher profits as income, and that this would increase the cost, and therefore the prices, of goods.
“I am all for the government’s high income policy. My worry is that the people may expect high income without the accompanying high cost of living. It is better for them to be forewarned,” Dr Mahathir said in his popular Chedet.cc blog today.
“Higher income will therefore result in higher cost of living. This will reduce the purchasing power expected of higher incomes. This would be meaningless unless the increase in cost of living will be less than the increase in incomes.
“Unless the increase in incomes is properly managed, it will not enrich the people in terms of purchasing power. As the cost of living rises, the increases in income may not purchase more than what the previous lower income would. Indeed, it may be possible that the increases in income will actually purchase less goods and services than the previous low income.”
The government will most likely have to cut development expenditure if it opts to pay higher salaries and this will not be welcomed by the people, he added.
Dr Mahathir gave the example of the United States, whose citizens enjoyed a per capita income some five times greater than that of Malaysians but not a similarly multiplied purchasing power.
“In fact in certain cases the purchasing power is the same as Malaysians. According to the McDonald’s Hamburger Index, the ringgit is the same as the US dollar in purchasing McDonald’s hamburger — one ringgit will buy in Malaysia what US$1 (RM3.09) will buy in the US,” he said.
“Clearly the increased income in high-cost countries does not give an increase in purchasing power equal to the increase in income as compared to low-cost countries. It is important that the Malaysian public understand this.”
The former premier told “price-sensitive” Malaysians to be prepared to accept reasonable price hikes when incomes and profits are increased as Malaysia tries to power itself out of its middle-income trap.
However, Dr Mahathir stressed that high incomes could increase purchasing power to some extent if managed well, particularly in the purchase of imported goods and services and when travelling aboard.
The Najib administration seeks to propel Malaysia to high-income nation status by 2020 through its market-friendly New Economic Model (NEM), which includes the five-year 10th Malaysia Plan (10MP) and the ambitious Economic Transformation Programme (ETP).

Khamis, Oktober 21, 2010

Berusaha Mencari Rezeki


Hadith :
Rasulullah s.a.w bersabda, maksudnya:“Meraka yang mencari harta dunia (kekayaan) dengan jalan yang halal dan menahan dirinya dari meminta-minta (tidak menjadi pengemis) dan berusaha mencari nafkah untuk keluarganya serta belas kasihan, kasih sayang terhadap jiran tetangganya, nescaya di hari kiamat kelak ia akan berjumpa dengan Allah dengan mukanya berseri-seri seperti bulan purnama pada waktu malam.”
Riwayat At-Tabrani
Huraian:
Pengajaran Hadith:
i) Sesungguhnya Allah S.W.T amat kasih kepada orang yang berusaha atau bekerja mencari rezeki dengan titik peluh sendiri di mana dengan itu dia dapat memenuhi keperluan dan tanggungjawabnya terhadap diri, keluraga dan masyarakat. Malah kedudukannya adalah lebih baik daripada bersikap pemalas dan meminta-minta daripada orang lain.
ii) Allah telah menetapkan dalam sunnah kehidupan bahawa kejayaan itu adalah hasil daripada kerja tekun dan dedikasi. Inilah antara maksud jihad yang dituntut oleh Islam.
iii) Kita perlu ingat bahawa hanya rezeki yang halal sahaja mesti dicari kerana di situlah letaknya keberkatan dan ganjaran daripada Allah S.W.T. Sedangkan rezeki yang diambil daripada punca yang haram seperti rasuah dan sebagainya, lambat laun akan menimbulkan kecelakaan dan masalah dalam hidup bukan sahaja di dunia malah di akhirat juga.
Sumber : Jabatan Kemajuan Islam Malaysia

Selasa, Oktober 19, 2010

MIER concerned with rising household debt

The Malaysian Institute of Economic Research (MIER) is concerned with the rising household debt level which stood at 77 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) last year.

In Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM)'s 2009 annual report, household debt was reported to have risen to 76.6 per cent for the year, the highest in Asia, from 63.9 per cent of GDP in 2008.

"Loan-to-value (LTV) ratio should be reduced to address the rise," said Senior Research Fellow Dr Foong Kee-Kuan.

"Going forward, there should be more business loans than household loans. More business loans will contribute to our growth," he said. The concern was highlighted during a media briefing on the Malaysian Economic Outlook report released today.

Quoting the central bank's Banking and Monetary Indicators report, MIER said household loan in April, May, June, July and August this year stood at 10 per cent, 11.7 per cent, 12.5 per cent, 11.9 per cent and 11.8 per cent respectively.

"Our household debt level is a concern and no measures were mentioned to address this in the Budget 2011.

"If this scenario continues along with slower economic growth, it can translate into unemployment and lead to people having problems in servicing their loans," he added.

He said although lowering LTV would not be favourable for the banking sector as it would reflect in revenue, the escalating household debt must be addressed to prevent risk in future.

In its report, MIER said it was anticipating the OPR to be steady at 2.75 per cent until end of this year. "This along with reduction in mortgage LTV ratios and tighter credit card conditions would address the rising household debt problem," it cautioned.

The OPR would trend higher to 3.25 per cent in 2011. In a recent research note, Kenanga Research had also said the central bank should consider imposing tighter borrowing limit for the property sector to avert potential over-leveraging on the household segment and speculations.

It suggested that bank loans should be lowered to between 70 and 80 per cent value ratio for a third mortgage. -- Bernama


Jumaat, Oktober 15, 2010

Petua FPAM elak kesempitan hidup di hari tua

UtusanOnline, PETALING JAYA 13 Okt. - Persatuan Perancangan Kewangan Malaysia (FPAM) menasihatkan golongan pekerja swasta di negara ini menabung sekurang-kurangnya 10 peratus daripada pendapatan bulanan mereka bagi menjamin kehidupan selepas persaraan.

Usaha untuk menabung boleh dilakukan dalam institusi perbankan atau melalui pelaburan-pelaburan lain yang mendatangkan keuntungan termasuk melalui unit amanah.
Timbalan Presidennya, Tan Beng Wah berkata, para pekerja swasta boleh menggunakan simpanan tersebut sebagai pencen persendirian (private pension) dan tidak boleh terlalu bergantung kepada wang yang dicarum ke dalam Kumpulan Wang Simpanan Pekerja (KWSP).
Jelasnya, wang caruman KWSP dijangka hanya menampung sara hidup dalam tempoh dua hingga tiga tahun selepas persaraan dan ia mengundang kesempitan hidup kepada para pesara berikutan kos sara hidup yang meningkat.
''Kajian yang dilakukan mendapati lebih 94 peratus daripada 5.8 juta pencarum aktif KWSP akan memperoleh kurang daripada RM150,000 pada waktu persaraan. KWSP hanya merupakan jaring perlindungan (safety net) pekerja.
''Jumlah caruman terkumpul itu tidak mampu menampung sara hidup untuk tempoh 10 hingga 20 tahun akan datang kerana jangka hayat rakyat Malaysia semakin meningkat,'' katanya yang juga Ketua Pegawai Eksekutif Penasihat Kewangan CIMB.
Beliau berkata demikian kepada pemberita selepas menghadiri majlis perasmian Persidangan dan Pameran Setiap Orang Boleh Bersara Dengan Baik 2010 (ECRWCE) di sini hari ini. Turut hadir Presiden FPAM, Wong Boon Choy.
Persidangan dan pameran itu berlangsung selama dua hari bermula hari ini.
Ketika ditanya peringkat umur yang sesuai untuk mula menyimpan 10 peratus daripada pendapatan bulanan, Beng Wah berkata, ia boleh dilakukan pada bulan pertama individu mendapat pekerjaan tetap.
Malah, umur paling ideal untuk melakukan simpanan secara disiplin adalah 30 tahun.
Beliau berkata, pihaknya mendapati ramai komuniti Malaysia menyedari kepentingan simpanan untuk persaraan pada usia 40 tahun hingga 45 tahun.
Jelasnya, pada waktu itu, tempoh simpanan menjadi singkat dan ia tidak mencukupi bagi menampung kehidupan selepas persaraan.
Ketika ditanya relevan umur persaraan yang lewat iaitu pada 60 tahun dan ke atas, Boon Choy pula berkata, persaraan pada usia lewat memberi lebih peluang untuk bebas dalam faktor kewangan.
Katanya, mereka yang bersara melebihi usia 58 tahun akan menikmati 'tahun emas' dan menikmati kehidupan yang lebih sempurna.
Menurut Boon Choy lagi, taraf hidup pesara mungkin berbeza sekiranya dihabiskan di kampung atau kawasan pedalaman berbanding di kawasan bandar.
Katanya, di kampung, para pesara tidak perlu berbelanja lebih sebaliknya berpeluang menggunakan sumber alam seperti ternakan dan tanaman sebagai bahan asas makanan harian keluarga.
''Apa-apa pun, ia bergantung pada gaya hidup seseorang dan kawasan yang didiami selepas persaraan,'' ujarnya.

Khamis, September 30, 2010

Kaut RM30 juta anjur skim kutu

Oleh Syah Rul Aswari Abdullah, mymetro, 2010/09/29

SHAH ALAM: Sepasang suami isteri dihadapkan ke Mahkamah Majistret di sini, semalam, atas tuduhan menganjurkan pelaburan wang kutu menggunakan wang pos dinamakan Program Ekspres yang dikatakan sudah mencatatkan keuntungan kira-kira RM30 juta hasil penyertaan 30,000 ahli.
DISAMAN...Sabbri dan isterinya, Rahimah keluar dari Mahkamah Majistret Shah Alam, semalam.
DISAMAN...Sabbri dan isterinya, Rahimah keluar dari Mahkamah Majistret Shah Alam, semalam.
Sabbri Yusof, 49 dan isterinya, Rahimah Rahim, 39, pemilik World Heritage Resources, bagaimanapun mengaku tidak bersalah selepas saman ke atas mereka dibacakan di hadapan Majistret Hafizah Abdul Rajak.

Kedua-duanya didakwa menggunakan syarikat milik mereka untuk menganjurkan pelaburan wang kutu sedangkan syarikat itu berdaftar dengan Suruhanjaya Syarikat Malaysia (SSM) sebagai ejen komisen wang.

Mereka didakwa menjalankan Program Ekspres yang menyalahi Akta Kumpulan Wang Kutu 1971 di antara 1 Disember 2008 hingga 29 April lalu.

Pasangan itu berasal dari Kuala Lumpur disaman mengikut Seksyen 3 akta berkenaan yang memperuntukkan hukuman denda tidak melebihi RM5,000 atau penjara maksimum tiga tahun atau kedua-duanya jika disabitkan kesalahan.

Dalam prosiding semalam, pendakwaan diwakili Pegawai Pendakwa SSM, Steve Chin Yun Cheong, manakala pasangan terbabit tidak diwakili peguam. Hafizah menetapkan 2 November depan sebagai tarikh sebutan semula kes itu.
Tindakan terhadap syarikat itu susulan serbuan serentak dilakukan SSM terhadap tiga syarikat perniagaan yang dipercayai menganjurkan program pelaburan wang kutu dengan kaedah wang pos.

Selain World Heritage Resources milik Sabbri dan Rahimah, dua lagi syarikat dijangka berdepan tindakan undang-undang oleh SSM.

Aktiviti syarikat terbabit melanggar akta yang melarang orang perseorangan, perniagaan atau syarikat daripada menganjurkan program kutu seumpama itu.

Menurut suruhanjaya itu, berdasarkan maklumat, ada pelbagai pakej ditawarkan penganjur program merangkumi pelbagai pelan pelaburan.

Sebagai contoh, Pelan A Platinum mensyaratkan peserta membuat pelaburan RM312, Pelan A Emas (RM100), Pelan A Perak (RM50), Pelan B Platinum Bijak (RM396.50) dan Pelan B Emas Bijak (RM136.50).

Difahamkan, siasatan suruhanjaya mendapati World Heritage Resources yang beroperasi sejak akhir 2008 mendapat sambutan hebat di kalangan pelabur Bumiputera sehingga ada peserta melabur sehingga RM300,000.

Driver lured by promise of windfall in business venture

Wednesday September 29, 2010

By SEREAN LAU
sereanlau@thestar.com.my

KUALA LUMPUR: He was promised a windfall by a business partner and in exchange, Lim Seik Kuang signed bank forms and even masqueraded as a “big boss” in front of bank officers.

For his troubles, the 51-year-old lorry driver, whose monthly pay cheque is RM2,500, is now the listed owner of four cars – a BMW X5, a Volvo S80, a Honda Accord and a Myvi 1.3 – and a guarantor in the purchase of a RM500,000 Porsche Cayenne. And he is also RM1.6mil in debt, excluding interest.

Lim only realised that he had been duped when he received an SMS reminding him that he had defaulted on a car loan instalment.

“How can that be when I only have one lorry. I went to check with the Road Transport Department and was shocked when told that I owned four cars.
The full tally: Chong and Lim (right) showing the numerous debts that the lorry driver had chalked up as (from left) Vijay and Fernandez listen. Seated are department legal advisors Quek Ngee Meng (left) and Ivan Chen.

“I then checked with Bank Negara and was in a bigger shock when I learned that I am more than RM1.6mil in debt,” he said at the MCA Public Services and Complaint Department yesterday.

Apart from the car loans, Lim is listed as having eight credit cards with a debt of over RM160,000 and taken up 12 personal loans amounting to almost RM500,000.

Lim, who has since lodged a police report against his business partner known as Ong, said he was paid between RM200 and RM300 each time he was taken to the banks to sign forms.

Ong, he claimed, had also asked him to change the correspondence address on his MyKad to his (Ong’s) address when they started their business ventures two years ago and that was why he never realised that his name was being used to secure various loans.

“I was foolish to trust him. I even gave him my house grant recently.”

Lim, who was accompanied by his two neighbours Vijay Indran and Alex Marshall Fernandez, said he did not question Ong much each time he was asked to sign the form as he thought it was a normal procedure to start a business venture.

He said there were times when Ong instructed him to “act” as a big boss at one of the fruit stalls in Lorong Haji Taib when bank officers came to do their checks on him.

Lim said he had confronted Ong in Cheras after receiving the SMS about the car loan but Ong claimed innocence, saying he was only the middle man in the whole venture.

Ong has since disappeared.

Department chief Datuk Michael Chong said this was just the tip of the iceberg and believed there were many more similar cases.

“I urge the police to conduct a detailed investigation on this matter and Bank Negara to do an internal audit to find out how Lim was deemed qualified to have loans ranging from RM17,000 to RM500,000 with 13 financial institutions in less than three years.” said Chong, who believed it was the job of a syndicate.

Chong said two of his legal advisers would assist in Lim’s case.

Rabu, September 29, 2010

Spending on Happiness

Can money buy you happiness? Yes—so long as you spend the money on someone else. According to new research, giving other people even as little as $5 can lead to increased well-being for the giver.
That's the insight into the secret of happiness by HBS professor Michael Norton and two colleagues from the University of British Columbia, Elizabeth Dunn and Lara Aknin. Their article, "Spending Money on Others Promotes Happiness," appeared in the March 21, 2008 issue of Science.

"Intentional activities—practices in which people actively and effortfully choose to engage—may represent a promising route to lasting happiness. Supporting this premise, our work demonstrates that how people choose to spend their money is at least as important as how much money they make," the researchers explain.
"Our findings suggest that very minor alterations in spending allocations—as little as $5 in our final study—may be sufficient to produce non-trivial gains in happiness on a given day."
Norton and colleagues found these results to hold in three different studies: a nationally representative survey, a field study of windfall spending, and an exploration in which participants were randomly assigned to spend money on others rather than themselves.

http://hbswk.hbs.edu/item/5944.html

Ahad, September 26, 2010

Keeping tabs on your household debt




Written by Lim Siew May   
Thursday, 23 September 2010 11:12

Bank Negara Malaysia’s (BNM) recent proposals to reduce loan-to-value ratio for residential mortgages, being stricter on the eligibility and number of credit cards owned, as well as reducing the limit of personal loans suggests that our nation’s household debt level may need a reality check. As at mid-2010, household debt is around 76% to 77% of our GDP, says a recent Citi Investment Research and Analysis (CIRA) report. The figure is reported to average around 67% from 2005 to 2008.

In this modern life, everyone is looking to enjoy an enhanced lifestyle, notes Sean Lee, Group CEO of Oscar Wealth Advisory Sdn Bhd. One common mistake people make now is to own something that they “want”, and not what they “need”, added Lee.

KC Lau, author of Top Money Tips for Malaysians, says that most people only realise that they have gotten into unbearable debts when the situation becomes too severe. “If several loan instalments have been defaulted for three months and credit cards are maxed out, it is quite late to look into the matters at this stage,” he said.

How do you keep tabs on your household debt? There are a few formulas to help you assess if you’re borrowing within your means, says financial practitioners.

According to chartered financial consultant Adrian Ho, as a rule of thumb, a healthy debt-to-asset ratio is one that does not exceed 50%. “Half of whatever we have (assets) should be funded by our own money, while the other half, may be funded by ‘other people’s money’ (debts),” he says. In other words, if you decide to purchase a car, you should put down 50% of our own money and take out a loan for the remaining balance. Better still, buy it fully in cash if you can afford to, he added.
Ho
Ho
Lee
Lee
Lau
Lau
“If you start buying our home, cars, furniture and household appliances and all other gadgets and gizmos under the 10/90 formula or Zero-Percent Instalment Schemes, it may spell trouble,” he said.

Another method is to look at your debt-to-income (DTI) ratio, which shows how high your debt is compared to your income, says Lee. “A low DTI ratio means you don’t spend much of your income paying debts.

Meanwhile, a high DTI ratio means most of your income is put towards paying off your debt, leaving you without very little to spend or save.”

Lee offered a scenario: Assuming Alex’s household monthly income amounts to RM4,000, while his monthly household debt payment amounts to RM1,800. Going by the formula of DTI ratio, one should divide RM1,800 by RM4,000, and then multiply it by 100 to come up with a percentage. In Alex’s case, his DTI ratio is 45%, which indicates potential financial trouble, Lee pointed out. “35% or less is the healthiest debt load for the majority of people,” said Lee. “50% or more is a dangerous ratio where one should be aggressively paying off your debts or even restructuring your debts.”

One way to keep your household debt under control is to pare down your debt by making extra income. “Consider doing some freelance work that suit you such as writing, teaching, selling property, insurance selling and even doing Internet business,” said Lee, adding that one can also sell unused or surplus household goods in exchange for some cash. “Learn how to invest in stocks, unit trust and alternative funds to overcome high interest loans,” he pointed out. “But, you should first make sure that you have a good understanding of the risks involved.”

In Lau’s view, one should have a default set of criteria to deal with debt problems. This would include not buying stuff on installment plans (with the exception of big ticket items like cars and properties), not stopping at the minimum required amount for your credit card bill, and making purchases on cash terms only, he said.

Meanwhile, Ho summed up his debt management tips in the acronym SMART “Stay focused on your needs not wants. Manage your cash flows based on your needs,” he says.

Ask yourself before buying anything whether you really need it. Restructure your debts to achieve healthy ratio. Think “debt-free” and you’d achieve it someday,” he concluded.

This article appeared on the Personal Finance page, The Edge Financial Daily, September 23, 2010.

Sabtu, September 25, 2010

Gold hits record, nears US$1,300

LONDON: Gold soared to record highs within a whisker of US$1,300 (US$1 = RM3.10) yesterday, dragging sister metal silver to a 30-year peak as investment demand propelled precious metals higher.

Gold prices struck a record US$1,299.90 an ounce in midday trade on the London Bullion Market as investors sought a safe haven for their money amid increased uncertainty over the global economic outlook.

Silver, meanwhile, jumped to US$21.41 an ounce - its highest level since October 1980.

"The underlying bullish trend in the gold market continues to be fuelled by the high level of uncertainty regarding the US and European economies," said SEB Commodity Research analyst Filip Petersson.


"Wealth preservation are the keywords.

"As long as we do not see a reduction in the uncertainty regarding the long-term economic outlook, gold prices will remain well-supported as the currency of choice for risk-averse investors."

He added that "the strategic view remains bullish (positive) and we expect prices above US$1,350 an ounce before the end of the year." Gold and silver were also driven by keen demand from exchange traded funds (ETFs).

ETFs allow traders to invest money easily in commodities, without trading on the futures market. They are traded like shares and are regarded as an inexpensive and low-risk way of investing.

"Gold is fuelled by a combination of things," said Commerzbank analyst Daniel Briesemann.

"High investment demand can be seen in inflows into gold ETFs," added Briesmann.

"Some central banks in Asia are also diversifying their currency reserves further, even at the current high price levels.

"Furthermore, the general interest of investors is not waning and gold is sought for mainly as a 'stable currency'."

Gold also won support from the weakening US currency, which makes the dollar-priced metal cheaper for buyers using stronger currencies and so tends to stimulate demand and prices. - AFP

Read more: Gold hits record, nears US$1,300 http://www.btimes.com.my/Current_News/BTIMES/articles/gold24/Article/index_html#ixzz10Vou8re1

Jumaat, September 24, 2010

We need more Muslim thinkers: Mahathir

Husna Yusop

newsdesk@thesundaily.com
PUTRAJAYA (Sept 24, 2010): Malaysia needs to produce more highly-capable and convincing Muslim thinkers to come out with the best alternative thinking and solution to the world problems and crisis.
Former premier Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said the Muslim community must leave the rhetoric world and culture and shift to a more meaningful and practical approach.

"From the very beginning, the Quran encourages Muslims to think, study and do research. A lot is said in the Quran about this which has led to the many Muslim scholars and thinkers during the golden Islamic civilisation period. "However, the freedom to think in Islam is different from that of the West which does not have a limit,” he said.
Mahathir said this in his acceptance speech after being conferred with a Doctor of Philosophy (Hons) in Economics and Muamalat Administrations by Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia (USIM) during its special convocation ceremony here today.

He said Muslims must be independent and capable of generating knowledge and technology as well as solutions to the various social, economic and international problems.
They should not be enslaved or dominated by Western ideas and thinking, he said.
"Muslims must change from being only users of existing knowledge and ideas to providers or explorer of knowledge or contributor of ideas which could be an alternative solution based on Islam.
"This generation of thinking based on religion must be the continuous focus and effort among Muslim scholars to come out with methods and solutions which could compete with the Western and conventional ideas and theories," he said.
Mahathir said although Western and conventional theories sometimes failed to provide the best solution, they could still conquer and influence global thinking in terms of social, economy, politics and finance.

He said without realising it, the world is facing a moral, social, political and economic crisis because it is too confined with the objectives and philosophy of the West.
"We now feel what we inherited from Islam and its teaching is not suitable and outdated. We feel inferior when faced with theories brought by Western thinkers which are not based on religion.
"From this Western philosophy of free thinking and individual freedom which are unlimited, people will lose direction and the actual objective in life."

Selasa, September 21, 2010

Taksub nak menang RM1.5 juta, lelaki kerugian RM62,000

KUALA LUMPUR 20 Sept. - Sukar dipercayai apabila seseorang sanggup membayar sejumlah wang yang besar semata-mata mahu jadi jutawan.

Bagaimanapun, itulah terjadi kepada seorang penyelia stor yang kerugian RM62,000 selepas ditipu 'Tok Guru' palsu, kononnya boleh memberi ramalan nombor ekor.
Segala-galanya bermula apabila mangsa, Lim Choon Leong, 50, menerima sehelai kertas iklan yang diletakkan di peti surat rumahnya awal bulan lalu menunjukkan kisah-kisah tentang kemampuan 'Tok Guru' itu membantu orang susah di Kedah dengan memberikan ramalan nombor ekor.
Dia kemudian menghubungi nombor telefon tertera pada iklan tersebut dan mengatur pertemuan dengan seorang lelaki yang hanya dikenali sebagai Tan di sebuah tokong terletak di Padang Terap, Kedah.
"Meskipun saya pernah terbaca berita-berita mangsa ditipu sami palsu, saya tetap ingin mencuba nasib dan sangat berhati-hati," katanya pada sidang akhbar di Wisma MCA di sini hari ini.
Pertemuan yang diaturkan pada 8 Ogos lalu bagaimanapun tidak menjadi apabila Tan tidak dapat hadir dengan alasan ada hal kecemasan.
"Tan bagaimanapun menelefon dan memaklumkan saya sekiranya ikhlas, 'Tok Guru' boleh membantu saya tanpa perlu bertemu dengan syarat saya membuat bayaran RM180 yang bertujuan untuk upacara sembahyang.
"Selepas saya membuat bayaran itu, saya dijanjikan ramalan satu nombor dan akan dikirimkan menerusi kurier ke alamat rumah saya," kata mangsa yang sudah berkahwin dan mempunyai dua anak.
Menurut mangsa, pada 23 Ogos, dia menerima kurier mengandungi nombor 4469 yang memenangi hadiah utama dua hari sebelum itu.
Berikutan itu, Choon Leong menjadi yakin bahawa ramalan sami itu tepat, cuma menyangka kurier yang sepatutnya diperolehi pada 20 Ogos, tiba lewat empat hari kemudian.
"Tanpa menyedari muslihat Tan, dia sekali lagi menghubungi saya, kali ini menjanjikan saya akan diberi lagi ramalan nombor, namun diperlukan membuat bayaran setiap hari mengikut permintaannya.
"Secara berperingkat-peringkat sehingga 4 September, saya telah mendepositkan sebanyak RM62,000 dan wang itu datangnya daripada simpanan, meminjam dengan saudara malah separuh daripadanya saya pinjam daripada ah long," ujar Choon Leong.`

Isnin, September 20, 2010

It's possible to have an economic meal

Monday September 20, 2010, By S. INDRAMALAR, startwo@thestar.com.my

The challenge: To cook dinner for four for one week, at less than RM10 per meal.

The caveat: The RM10 ceiling does not include staples like rice, flour, noodles, pasta, cooking oil, sugar and seasoning.

The point: We don’t have to spend a fortune on healthy, tasty meals.

FOOD is a necessity and good food should be everyone’s right; we really shouldn’t have to pay luxury prices for daily meals. The reality, however, is that food prices are steadily rising and a head of broccoli that used to cost RM3 a year ago now goes for about RM6 in the Klang Valley (and that’s broccoli from China, more expensive if it is from Australia), while a 250g block of butter can cost anywhere between RM6 and RM12.

As a result, we end up paying an awful lot for our meat and potatoes, and it’s not unusual for households (with children and/or pets) to spend more than RM1,000 a month just on groceries. Lawyer Jacqueline Lee admits to being a “chronic over-spender” when it comes to groceries, claiming she needs help to reboot her shopping system. “I live with my husband and I easily spend about RM800 every month just on edibles for the both of us. I do most of my shopping after work which means I only shop at supermarkets. I don’t shop for the week; instead, I go to the supermarket three or four times and buy just what I need for, maybe, two dinners. I definitely know I am overspending and I welcome help,” says Lee who lives in Puchong, Selangor.
She isn’t the only one. A random survey among friends and colleagues revealed a general sense of discontent about grocery spending. Determined to find a way to eat cheaply but well, I decided to impose a food budget on myself. After all, there is enough literature offering consumers tips on how to manage spending, specifically on foodstuff.

I decided to compile these tips and put them to the test: would they really help stretch my ringgit (without having to sacrifice my appetite) or do they just sound good in theory? I set a target and I set it high: RM10 for a meal for four. If I could stick to this, I’d be spending an average of RM300 a month on food – quite an amazing feat, if successful.To be fair, pantry staples like rice, flour, dried noodles, pasta, spices and seasonings, oils and sauces weren’t included in the budget as most homes are (or should be) well-stocked.

Also to make it more practical, I shopped for a week’s worth of groceries at the wet market and averaged the spending: RM70 for seven dinners. I bought:
> 1kg chicken (RM7.50)
> 20 eggs (RM7)
> 1kg spinach (RM2)
> 1kg kangkung (RM1.50)
> 1 packet of oyster mushrooms (RM2.69)
> 1kg potatoes (RM2.20)
> 4 pieces tofu (RM2.40)
> beansprouts (RM1)
> 2 cucumbers (RM1.30)
> 1kg fish (RM10.90)
> 1 head of lettuce (RM4.40)
> 1kg tomatoes (RM4.30)
> parsley (RM4)
> 2 grated coconuts (RM2)
> 500g anchovies (RM9)
> 2 blocks tempeh (RM3.20)
> 2 carrots (RM1)
> 500g dried chickpeas (RM3)
That brought the total to RM69.39. I also got a handful of red and green chillies and the vendor threw in some complimentary scallions – one of the benefits of shopping at a wet market.

The results were astounding. Not only did I reduce my grocery bill by half, I actually started eating more healthy and varied meals. All it took was a little planning and some discipline, although to be honest, it was a little hard-going in the beginning.Sticking to a budget means no impulse buys. Making a weekly shopping list meant I had to plan my meals ahead for the week. Finding the cheapest alternatives meant I had to scout around for the best prices instead of just popping over to the nearest supermarket. Once I did the legwork though, it was easy. RM10 may seem a paltry sum but it’s actually enough to cook a hearty dinner.

Dinner 1: Nasi lemak with chicken curry
> One-third of the chicken
> 1 cucumber
> One-third of the anchovies
> 4 tomatoes
> One of the grated coconuts (to extract coconut milk)

Dinner 2: Chicken burgers with homemade fries
> One-third of the chicken (mincing the breast meat and combining it with breadcrumbs, onions, flour and seasonings)
> Half the potatoes (sliced and fried)
> Lettuce

Dinner 3: Rice with three dishes
> Chicken korma (using the balance of the chicken)
> Kangkung
> Carrots
> Oyster mushrooms, stir-fried

Dinner 4: Fried mee hoon
> 4 eggs
> 2 pieces tofu
> A quarter of the beansprouts and scallions

Dinner 5: Egg briyani
> 4 eggs
> 1 carrot
> The remaining potatoes
> 4 tomatoes
> 2 pieces of tofu

Dinner 6: Rice with three dishes
> Fried fish
> Spinach
> 1 block tempeh
> Chickpea curry

Dinner 7: Fried rice
> 4 eggs
> Scallions
> A quarter of the anchovies
> 1 carrot
> 2 tomatoes

Balance: 300g fish, a couple of tomatoes, 1 block tempeh, 250g chickpeas, 1 cucumber and half the beansprouts.