Thursday, June 22, 2017

Balik Kampung Promotions for Raya 2017

Worried about overspending during the upcoming Raya festivities? Save money by taking advantage of these Raya and balik kampung offers

Save Money During Your Balik Kampung Journey

Tolls discounts and rebate

  • 10% discount on the roll rate for the Kuala Lumpur-Karak Expressway (KLK) and the East Coast Expressway (LPT). But the discount will only be applicable for Touch ‘n Go and Smart Tag users, which will start from 12am until 11.59pm on 25th

  • If you use Damansara-Puchong Expressway (LDP) and SPRINT Expressway you will enjoy a discount of 0.60 sen and 0.20 sen on the toll rate on Sunday, 25th June in conjunction with Hari Raya Aidilfitri
  • Get up to 30% toll rebate on 28th until 29th June and 3rd July when travelling at all PLUS highways. Touch ‘n Go users at PLUS highways will also enjoy 10% toll rebate when paying for toll on the dates mentioned. The 30% and 10% toll rebates (in a form of toll reloads) will be reloaded when users top-up their cards at all PLUS customer service centres between 15th July until 14th
Tip: Have a look at the travel time advisory (TTA) that will be issued by toll concessioners. TTA for PLUS highways can be found here.

 Free Coffee & Tea

Enjoy free kopi “o” and teh “o” at the food area of PLUS highways Rest and Service Area (RSA) from 10pm on 23rd June until 26thJune. The free drinks can also be enjoyed at Juru Lay-by (southbound), Nilai Lay-by (both directions) and Simpang Pulau Lay-by (southbound).
But the free drinks will not be provided at Restoran Jejantas Sungai Buloh, Restoran Jejantas Ayer Keroh, Restoran Jenjantas Penanti (Butterworth-Kulim Highway), Mambau RSA (both directions) and the Gelang Patah RSA (both directions).

Save Money When Servicing Your Car

Before you embark on the balik kampung journey with your family and loved ones, make sure safety is a priority by servicing your car. Here are some promotions to help you save money when doing so.

Shell Helix

Save up to RM30 on your oil change service for your car with Shell Helix. The promotions are as follows:
  • RM30 discount for purchase of Shell Helix Ultra 4L
  • RM20 discount for purchase of Shell Helix HX7 4L or Shell Helix High Mileage 4L
  • RM10 discount for purchase of Shell Helix HX5 (3/4L)
To get the promo code and to see the full list of participating workshops, visit helixraya.


Ensure you have a set of good quality tyres. If your car tyre is due for a change, why not consider Michelin tyres? Before heading back to your hometown, go to any Michelin authorized workshop to get your tyres checked, and get an exclusive cooler bag for free when you change 2 Michelin tyres. For a list of Michelin dealers, click here.


Existing Volkswagen customers can enjoy a 20% discount off brake discs and brake pads starting from RM304 (prices may vary according to car model) between now till July 15. Customers will also get a free gift and Hari Raya packets with a minimum spend of RM400 on vehicle maintenance and servicing during this period.

Raya 2017 Promos


If you’ve had your eye on some electrical goods, now might be a good time to get it with Samsung’s 2017 Raya promotion. You can save up to RM1,000 when purchasing a new Samsung TV, or even get a FREE  Samsung Galaxy S8+,  a microwave oven or La Gourmet Lunchbox when you purchase selected Samsung electrical appliances. The promotion will be on until 30th June 2017, terms and conditions apply. To have a look at the products and price list, click here.

Grab & Celcom Promo

Make travelling easier for the upcoming festive season. Get around for all the open houses and visiting relatives with this Grab & Celcom promo. The promo is for new and existing users who will get to enjoy RM5 off each ride for 5 GrabCar or GrabShare rides. But it will be limited to the first 2000 redemption only. Only valid with credit or debit card only and for bookings in Klang Valley only. Use promo code CELCOMRAYA


If you’ve been thinking of getting a new car, why not consider Toyota. The Raya sale offers rebates of up to RM5,000 with the rebates, but this will depend on the car model and variant.
  • Toyota Camry: cash rebate up to RM5,000
  • Toyota Hilux: cash rebate up to RM4,000
  • Toyota Vios: cash rebate up to RM3,000, free Accessories worth up to RM4,000 and RM500 duit raya.
  • Toyota Corolla Altis: cash rebate up to RM3,000 and free value package up RM5,700
  • Toyota Fortuner: cash rebate up to RM3,000
  • Toyota Sienta: cash rebate up to RM4,000
  • Toyota Avanza: cash rebate up to RM2,000
All of the offers are for the selected options and while stocks last.

Volkswagen Raya Deal

If you’re on the lookout for a new car, here are Volkswagen car deals you can consider. You can save up to RM15,000 with their Hari Raya deal as below:
Polo: RM25/day, RM7,000 savings
Polo Allstar: RM26/day, RM7,000 savings
Vento: RM25/day, RM11,000 savings
Vento Allstar: RM28/day, RM11,000 savings
Vento GT: RM32/day, RM8,000 savings
Jetta: RM35/day, RM10,000 savings
Golf: RM45/day, RM21,000 savings
Passat Comfortline: RM51/day, RM15,000 savings
Passat Trendline: RM51/day, RM15,000 savings
Tiguan Comfortline: RM51/day, RM5,000 savings
The daily cost is calculated based on a nine-year loan instalment. Additionally, customers will enjoy free maintenance for five years for any variant of the Vento and Passat family purchased now until 31st July 2017. Customers who register and receive their Volkswagen cars before 30th June 2017 will also receive RM500 petrol voucher upon collection of their car. The Hari Raya promotion ends on 31stJuly 2017.

Factory Outlet Stores

Shopping for new clothes? If you shop at Factory Outlet Stores (F.O.S), you can get a bag to bring with you to balik kampung for only RM19. All you have to do is spend RM199 in a single receipt.  But if you are an F.O.S rewards card member, you can get the bag from RM19 when you spend RM159 in a single receipt. This promotion is valid until stocks last, terms and conditions apply.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Drowning Under Your Debts? Try This Budgeting Method To Escape The Debt Trap!

Here’s One Of The Quickest Ways To Clear Your Debts

Here’s One Of The Quickest Ways To Clear Your Debts

Budgeting is one of the most basic and common method to help you manage your finances. It helps you keep track of where your money is coming and going, and it also gives you a map of how to spend your money as well as how much to save.
If you’ve been budgeting, you may have already tried a number of tactics to up your savings game, including the 50/30/20 budget as well as aiming for an income that covers your expenses and savings. But if none of these work for you, here’s another budgeting method that might help.

The elimination budget

The elimination budget has one rule, and one rule only: Eliminate a spending category to keep your spending amount below your income.
That’s it. While the rule is simple enough, implementing it takes some effort. Firstly, you will need to understand your budget and its various spending categories well. Then, combine that understanding with steely discipline to ensure that the spending category that you have eliminated remains… well, eliminated.
Confused? Let’s give you an example. Here’s a typical monthly budget with the following spending categories:
Cafes and Snacks
Season Car Park
Life Insurance
Let’s say you’re currently earning a salary of RM2,200, this means you’re currently spending almost all of your income with only RM200 left for incidentals. Once you have identified your spending categories, the elimination budget requires you to remove one of these categories, starting with the least important one.

For example, based on this budget you can start by removing the cafes and snacks category. This means you have to stop spending on anything related to cafes and snacks, so you can save about RM100 a month.
Once you have successful eliminated this category, you should go through your budget again to identify the next category to eliminate. Give it a few months to get used to removing one category before you start on the next category.
If you decide to remove the entertainment category next, you will have to refrain from spending on movie tickets, music subscription, books and other forms of entertainment.
Keep removing categories until your spending becomes less than your income.

Who should do this?

This is best for those who are having severe cash flow problem, or those who are in debts. If you are living pay cheque to pay cheque while carrying a credit card balance, here’s how this elimination budget can help you manage your debt better.
Based on the sample budget above, if you have successfully eliminated cafes and snacks, as well as entertainment from your budget, you would have additional disposable cash of RM300, on top of the RM200 for incidentals every month. This bumps up your disposable cash every month to RM500.
If you are carrying a credit card balance of RM5,000, here’s how the extra RM300 makes a difference:
Without eliminating any categories
After eliminating 2 categories
Total cash for credit 
card payment
RM200 + RM50
(RM200 does not meet the first 
minimum payment requirement)
Time to pay off 
your credit card balance
5 years and 5 months
11 months
Total interest incurred
Without eliminating any spending categories, the budget does not even have enough left over to pay the minimum payment of a credit card balance of RM5,000.
With an additional RM300, you will be able to pay off your credit card debt faster and save 75% in interest!

What if I can’t eliminate anything?

Try to readjust your categories in your budget to see if there’s a section that you can possibly cut off. Not all expenditures are a necessity, so look for a category that you can possibly not spend on for at least a month to get you started. If you still can’t find any categories to eliminate, you may have to drill down further. For example, eating out category can be drilled down to work lunches and weekend meals.
Even things like season car parking can be eliminated if you find a solution like carpooling that could help you make eliminating a category easier. Whatever it is, though, the choice is up to you on what should and shouldn’t be eliminated. However, you will need to be completely – and sometimes, painfully honest with yourself when distinguishing what is a necessity and what is not.

Is it a long-term solution?

The elimination budget is a necessary evil if you are in a drastic situation that requires you to cut down a significant amount on your spending. Depriving yourself of any of your spending categories will be difficult to do in the long-term, so it’s best to do these things slowly and focus more on changing your lifestyle.
If you spend hundreds every month on happy hour drinks with colleagues and friends every Friday, it’s time to re-evaluate your lifestyle so it is not dragging down your finances.
The elimination budget does seem drastic, but if you are in need of a financial overhaul, this method is the most effective and you will likely see results much sooner.
However, there is a point where you may find yourself running out of categories to eliminate. At this juncture, relook at your budget and try to reduce the spending amount for certain categories. If you have been spending way too much on eating out, it’s time to look for ways to reduce that expense.
Whatever it is, the elimination budget works as long as you are disciplined and plan your budget wisely to know what you can and cannot take away. Give it a go during those drastic times, and you can see yourself putting away some money for savings as best as you can.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Household Items You Should Never Buy for Cheap

Looking for good bargains to save money doesn’t mean we should skimp on every purchase. Some buys are just not worth the lower price; find out which items you should never cheap out on!

In an effort to save as much money as possible, it’s tempting to want to buy your household goods as cheaply as possible. But unfortunately, the benefits of lower prices might not be worth the harm it could bring to your health and finances in the long run.
Here’s a list of stuff you should never buy for cheap whether from your favourite variety stores (RM5 stores), second-hand or online:

1. Knives

It’s best to be extra cautious when buying any item that will be used for food prep. Cheaper, low-quality knives may rust or corrode easily and could be made with unhealthy materials such as low-grade stainless steel or nickel coating.

Moreover, a cheaper knife may be poorly crafted i.e. blades may break off (leaving shards) and handles made from low-density or soft wood could loosen or crumble and cause serious injury.
When choosing knives, you don’t have to look exclusively for an expensive brand. Even your neighbourhood supermarkets should offer a wide range of safe, quality and affordable pieces. Remember to buy individual knives as they suit your kitchen habits instead of buying a full set since those are often way more expensive and include knives you probably won’t even use.

2. Mattresses

If you buy a cheaper mattress made from less-sturdy materials like low-density foam or plain cotton, you may end up having to replace it sooner and spend more money in the long run. But that’s not the only issue with skimping on your mattress purchase; in fact, choosing a mattress that is unsuitable for you could lead to posture problems, body aches and poor overall sleep quality.

If you suffer from a breathing-related ailment such as asthma, you could be worsening your condition if your mattress isn’t dust-resistant. If you can afford it, do spring for a mattress that is hypoallergenic, anti-mites and made of long-lasting materials (e.g. natural latex, high-density memory foam, pocket coils, etc.)

If you do indeed find a good mattress that meets your needs and still happens to be on the cheaper side, do ask about warranties and return policies just to be safe.

3. Extension Cords and Power Strips

Any electrical item that hasn’t received safety certification, no matter how cheap should be purchased with caution. Extension cords and power strips are no exception, especially because it is commonly overloaded which could make it a fire hazard.

The Electrical and Electronics Association of Malaysia cautionedthat cables made from substandard materials can cause fires. The Association also asked consumers to look for product quality certification such as a SIRIMstamp of approval before buying. In addition, make sure your cords and power strips come with internal circuit breakers. Choosing the cheaper option with none of these safety features is not advisable.

4. Phone Chargers and Batteries

If you have to replace your smartphone charger or battery, you might be tempted to buy a knock-off version for a fraction of the price. However, even though the original accessories are more expensive, it’s actually worth the money. This is because it is likely to come with a warranty and be saferto use.

On the other hand, third party chargers or batteries may not be apt for your phone as it could void the warranty of your handset if damage occurs as a result. More worryingly, aftermarket accessories have been linked to scary, explosive incidents.

Note that even if original chargers and batteries are faulty, you will at the very least have some legal redress if you suffer injuries or damages to your property. This will not be the case if you buy an imitation product.

5. House Paint

Since this is an expensive buy of which you might need a large supply, you might be tempted to buy the cheap stuff and save more.

However, low-grade house paints sometimes contain volatile organic compounds (VOC) that are released into the air. These compounds may cause breathing difficulty among young children, pets and those with respiratory illnesses.

Look for low-emission, low-VOC paints or organic ones. These will typically cost you more than regular paint, but is certainly worth the extra money. Alternative, if you can’t afford better quality paints, go with basic matte or low-lustre coats as these are usually low in VOCs as well.

Friday, June 16, 2017

What Does It Mean To Be Middle Class In Malaysia In 2017

What Does It Mean To Be Middle Class In Malaysia In 2017

When Budget 2017 was unveiled last year, Malaysians were already coming to grips with the rising cost of living, soaring house prices and deep levels of debt.
While the federal budget consolidated current personal tax reliefs into a lifestyle relief and introduced two new reliefs to assist young families, some critics say that the key people driving the country’s economy – the middle-income and top earners – have been forgotten.

For example, one tax consultant said he expected lower level tax bands to be widened to provide the M40 – or the middle 40% – with extra disposable income.
It is believed that this group of Malaysians are the one struggling with rising costs of transportation, education, healthcare and interest charges on cars and housing loans. In the same breath, they are the ones who drive the private sector.
So, what does it mean to be among the middle 40%?

Defining the middle class

A straightforward answer can be derived from the definition of the M40 group which refers to households with a monthly income of between RM3,860 and RM8,319.
But definitions of the middle class include a wide degree of subjectivity. What constitutes the “middle class” differ across and within the social sciences. From the perspective of economists, the middle class has been defined using absolute or relative levels of income or a combination of the two.
Also, subjective measures look at those who self-identify as being part of this group based on their own perceptions and aspirations. This manner of identifying the middle class can be seen through polls conducted by the World Values Survey, Pew Global and Gallup.
The World Bank, in its Malaysia Economic Monitor 2014: Towards A Middle-Class Society, proposed a definition that includes those households earning more than the mean income.
The Statistics Department, in its latest findings dated 2014, put the average household income of the middle 40% at RM5,662.
M40 through the years
Average incomeRM2,660RM2,875RM3,282RM3,631RM4,573RM5,662
Source: Statistics Department
The World Bank, however, said 33% of all Malaysian households with a monthly income of more than RM5,919 in 2014 fell into the middle class or beyond.

Putting the numbers in context

Since 2014, economists and academics have believed the term “middle class” did not have the same meaning it had more than 10 years ago, citing the challenges faced by this group in coping with the demands of life today.
What makes this harder to gauge is while disposable income or savings is a good indicator of how many people “live comfortably”, Bank Negara Malaysia and the Statistics Department stated in a media report they do not track such data.
Ong Wooi Leng, a senior analyst at think tank Penang Institute, believes that the monthly household income unveiled during the 2016 budget is a well-received indicator to determine the M40 or middle-class household.
“However, it needs to be carefully defined,” she tells iMoney in an email interview. “The ideal income range for M40 needs to take into account other factors contributing to household expenses.”

She cited household size, education qualifications, occupation and residential location among the factors that could contribute to whether the income range set by the Malaysian government was feasible.
“For instance, a household of four living in the Klang Valley with an income of RM4,000 per month would be classified as urban poor due to the higher cost of living,” she said.
Here’s our estimates of how much a family of four living around the Klang Valley would need to get by on a monthly basis:
Average monthly expenditure
Home loanRM1,342.75
Car loanRM1,195.76
Credit cardRM968.94
Clothing and footwear (adults)RM124
Communications (phone and Internet)RM600
General expenses for 2 childrenRM1,000
Overall totalRM7,769
Source: Statistics Department, Life Insurance Association of Malaysia, iMoney Millennial Survey.

This is just a rough estimate for a family of four to live comfortably in an urban environment. This would place them at the upper ranges of the M40 group and is certainly more than the average.
However, this does not factor in savings and other miscellaneous costs such as daycare fees, among others, which could easily cost upwards of RM1,500 a month.

Stuck in the middle?

According to Ong, the middle class faces two challenges: First, these households may face a tougher time landing their first homes. This despite government aid for affordable housing such as PR1MA for households with income not more than RM15,000.
The Household Income and Basic Amenities Survey Report published by the Statistics Department found that M40 households recorded a double-digit growth in median monthly household income from an annual 6.3% in 2013 to 11.8% in 2014.
“But, property prices have skyrocketed since 2010. House prices around Kuala Lumpur, Johor and Penang have drastically risen by 15.6%, 22.7% and 15.6% respectively year-on-year in 2013.
“Despite the fact that the hike has been moderate in the last two years, it has reached a level where younger households cannot afford to own their first home,” she tells iMoney, adding that the risk-to-debt service ability could be higher if the monthly income did not keep pace with the spike in house prices.
Second, middle-income households would be more cautious and softer on their expenditure due to the weekly floating fuel prices.
“Consumer sentiment would be high and M40 households who are largely tertiary educated could be more watchful to the changes in global oil prices. Those living in the urban area may opt for alternative transport such as GrabCar and Uber services for the ease of mobility and saving in petrol expenses,” she said.

Upskill, adapt or lose out

Needless to say, in the name of making ends meet, the middle class may need to work multiple jobs. We have written extensively on avenues where one can generate a side income, from ride-sharing to blogging to freelancing on platforms such as Upwork and
“Given the advancement of e-commerce, it may not be impossible. Many start-ups have created platforms for full-timers looking for a second income,” said Ong.
But even before one talks about multiple income streams, perhaps it is best to begin with paying down debt. Our survey showed millennials being neck-deep in debt, with credit cards being one of the main culprits. Household debt is also at an all-time high.
There is no easy way out. Sometimes, drastic measures may need to be implemented and we are not just talking about foregoing your morning Starbucks fix – you might need to alter your diet and go vegetarian and even rely on public transport to get around the city.
If property is on your mind, then expectations also have to change. One opportunity that might provide for some relief is PR1MA. If you are not selected, as the affordable housing scheme runs on a ballot system, then purchasing a property within your means might just be a feasible option.
But for households dreaming of upward mobility, the only route is upskilling.
“Upskilling is vital to ensure that the Malaysian workforces stays competitive and grows at the cutting edge of innovation and technology.
“Human capital development is believed to be the only solution to move this group of households upward,” Ong tells iMoney.
While there may not be an aggressive push to upskill from government or private sectors, you can certainly take the steps to further your education. One option is to use your EPF Account 2 and go back to school to do post-graduate studies such as an MBA.
If you are tight with money and prefer to leave your EPF account alone, consider enrolling for online courses. There are many platforms such as edX and Coursera where you can either learn something for free or pay a slight fee.
While these may not be as intensive as pursuing an MBA in a reputed college or university, you still get to take away new skills and use what you’ve learned to either seek a better paying job or even negotiate for a higher salary or even work your way to a promotion.
In economics, it is believed that it is easier for a low-income country to be middle-income, than it is for a middle-income country to be a higher-income one. In fact, only 13 of 101 middle-income economies in 1960 reached high-income status by 2008.
While Malaysia may be on the cusp of moving into high-income territory, its citizens will have to continue cutting costs as the country navigates through choppy economic waters.
Ong believes the answer for the country to step out of the middle-income trap is to retain local talent and recruit top foreign expertise to train the existing workforce.
For the average Malaysian, the first step is simply taking charge of his or her finances and being prudent with their spending.