Top 10 Things Malaysians Wasted Their Money On In 2015

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As we are nearing the very tail end of 2015, it is time to reflect on our finances, and how we fared this tear. What were the financial mistakes you have made, and what can you do better next year?

One of the biggest mistakes almost everyone make is overspending. It’s remarkably easy to overspend. Not only are we surrounded by enticing things to buy, it has become increasingly easy to buy things, even when we are sitting in the office via thousands of online shopping sites. We are so used to buying things, sometimes we tend to forget that these expenses are purely optional.

Here are the 10 most common things Malaysians have been wasting their money on this year:

1. Mamak

Food has always been a cultural thing for Malaysians, to the point that we would gladly admit that certain food represents us. This is not just true for the foodies. Almost every Malaysian would flock to the mamak for supper every other night to hang out with friends.

While food is indeed a necessity, the main point here is that we are spending way too much on food that the habit actually hurts our pockets. That, plus the fact that if you look at the prices at the mamak they aren’t much cheaper than other types of eateries. Often times, they can be more expensive.

How to save money:
Other than the usual three meals, consider meeting at places such as your or your friend’s home, or at the park to hang out with your friends. This will definitely save you at least a few bucks a night.

2. Gadgets

In the wee hours of November 6 last year, you might have been one of the many Malaysians queuing up to get hold of the new iPhone 6. Keeping up with the latest technology comes with a price, and the sad truth is, not many of us can afford that price. If keeping up with this hobby is racking up thousands of Ringgit of debt on your credit card, it’s time to look for a new pastime.

How to save money:
Buy a gadget only when you need it or upgrade only when your phone is no longer functioning. Sometimes it may make more sense to spend a little bit more on a good smartphone that can last you longer. And if you’re an Apple fan try to hold off your urges for major upgrades instead of incremental ones.

3. Daily expensive coffee

Ask any caffeine addicts and they would tell you that life begins after coffee, but life shouldn’t begin after EXPENSIVE coffee. With many hipster cafes and coffee places mushrooming in town, it has become a norm for Malaysians to pay about RM10 for a cuppa.

Coffee is a daily expense that quietly drains your bank account without you even noticing. That daily latte of RM10 on office days can costs you RM200 a month, and RM2,400 per year – all just for coffee!

How to save money:
You can always get your morning caffeine dosage from the mamak down your street. Or you can brew your own at home or at office. If quality is what you argue about, why not invest in a coffee machine that will allow you to have the same high-quality coffee as the café?

4. Gym memberships

As the New Year approaches, gyms would probably expect a barrage of new sign-ups, as it is not uncommon for people to make getting fit their resolution for the new year. The lack of time due to workload or a lengthy commute often becomes excuses on why people lag behind their exercise regime. Irregular visits to the gym would not get you the results that you want. You end up wasting your hard-earned money on a gym membership you do not have time for.

How to save money:
Obviously the best way will be to drop the gym and rather opt to exercise at home or at the nearest park. There are thousands of YouTube videos of different workouts, and they are FREE!

5. Service packages

One of the easiest ways for businesses to get money from you, the customers, upfront is by selling packages of their services, be it manicure/pedicure, car wash/polish, facial, or even massages. Yes, packages may seem cheaper but if you are not going to use the service regularly, you are taking on a big risk by paying too much money upfront. There have been many cases of businesses winding up, leaving all their existing customers who bought such packages in a lurch.

How to save money:
Only buy packages of services that you need regularly and from a reputable business. Keep track of all your receipts and payments on your end, in case of any dispute. If you don’t think you will be using it regular, it will make more sense to just purchase on an ad hoc basis.

6. Lunch delivery

Depending on where you work, lunch can be an expensive affair. If you happen to work in a Central Business District (CBD), lunch options could be limited. Due to this, food delivery businesses thrive. Ordering from one of these hipster food delivery companies could easily set you back by RM360 a month, that’s RM18 per meal for 20 meals a month.

How to save money:
Get out of the office to look for cheaper lunch options, or better yet, pack your own nutritious and scrumptious lunch from home!

7. Healthy living

So many are now adopting healthy eating habits by spending hundreds on cold-pressed juices and organic food. Healthy living is important, but one of the easiest ways to live healthily is simply to eat and drink in moderation. You don’t need to spend half your income on trendy health supplements, and organic food and juices.

How to save money:
Eat a balanced diet, and choose to buy organic only for certain produce, such as leafy vegetables. Working out regularly will help too (see point 4).

8. Subscriptions

We live in an era of subscriptions. Subscriptions do make our lives easier, but they should be reviewed periodically to ensure we are making full use of what we are paying for.

Malaysians easily spend well around RM1,800 a year just so they can watch five to 10 of the 200-plus channels they’re subscribed to. In the age of legal streaming TV, there’s no reason for you to be spending RM150 per month on cable television.

How to save money:
You can get rid of the unwanted TV subscription or keep it basic. You can watch movies in theatre, buy the DVD later or watch online through mediums like iflix.

9. Banking fees

Bank charges are pretty standard in Malaysia due to the strict regulations set by Bank Negara Malaysia. However, there are ways you can avoid paying additional and unnecessary fees. This includes unnecessary ATM fees, exorbitant credit card interest and late payment fees. All these fees add up.

Put more forethought on your banking habits, and be really careful with how you manage your credit card balance. Missing a payment can automatically increase your interest rate from 15% p.a. to 17% and eventually 18%.

How to save money:
Some of the things you can do to avoid paying extra are:

  • Use the ATM from the same bank to withdraw money to avoid paying the additional RM1.06 (inclusive of GST) for withdrawals made at other bank ATMs.
  • Plan your payments ahead to avoid paying additional charges for Instant Interbank Transfer, which cost about RM0.50 per transaction.
  • Pay your credit card bills on time to avoid extra interest charges and late payment fees.
  • Take full advantage of the interest-free period on your credit card.
  • Making extra repayments on your flexi home loan can help you save on interest.

10. Skipping regular dentist visits

We all know that we should visit a dentist twice a year, but not many of us do. Dental check-ups can be costly, but missing them can be costlier. Here’s why: dentists perform a lot of routine maintenance to prevent problems that could occur if you do nothing. Prevention is always better than cure. You only get two sets of teeth, take good care of them.

How to save money:
Preventive treatments such as scaling and polishing cost about RM100 only, and if you do it twice a year, that would be RM200 a year. However, if you neglect your pearly whites, it could lead to problems that can only be solved with extraction or fillings that cost RM150 to RM200 per tooth, or worse, root canals that cost more than RM1,000!

We all are guilty of making wasteful spending, one way or the other. If you want to have a healthier financial life, then it is time to break down your personal expenses and pinpoint the things you do not need or can live without. Always remember, you work too hard to earn the money and you do better off financially by not spending it on such unnecessary things.

Image from Achieve Property

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