Tuesday, October 7, 2014

To live within our means..

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Gaji tak cukup

Let me share a little story with you.

When I graduated from UTM with a degree in Civil Engineering many years ago, it was difficult to find a job. The local and the global economy wasn’t doing very well. So my friends and I went around looking for whatever job we could find. I went for interviews at fastfood joints, petrol stations, bookshops and one engineering company. I didn’t get any jobs. But we went on looking [and we did not guling-guling on the streets or whine or shout at the government to get jobs for us].

I finally found a job as a research assistant with a salary of RM 400 a month. That’s right four hundred (not four thousand). After one year, my salary increased to RM 600 a month. Another year later it increased to RM 800 a month.

I travelled by bus. I went to work by bus – which meant leaving my rented room at 6:30 a.m. and arriving back home about 7 pm at everyday. – enduring the traffic jams and the thrilling journey on the mini buses. I did not try buying a car – I could not afford it. I didn’t blame the government, the society, my parents, the opposition, George Soros, the Yahudis, etc – it was very simple. I was earning very little and I had to live within my means. If you don’t have money, behave as such. The problems start when people try to live a life beyond their means. [BTW, I managed to buy a second-hand car after three years of working. It was a Datsun 120Y and cost me RM 14000].

For the first 3 years of my working life, I never ate at any fancy restaurants, never owned any fancy toys or tools or gadgets, never went on holidays and never bought any luxury goods. It was very simple lah – I could not afford these things. My philosophy was very simple – you cannot afford it, don’t buy it. I didn’t blame the government, the society, my parents, the opposition, the LGBT, the Singaporeans, Bill Gates, Kim Kardashian, etc.

To top up my income, I gave tuition at night and did part-time translation work during the weekends. Still my total income was not enough to spend on any luxuries. I lived in a small flat along Jalan Tun Razak which I shared with 10 guys. We cooked ourselves or ate very cheaply in the stall around our place. Rice, eggs and sardine was my staple diet for the first 3 years after graduating. Going to KFC or McDonalds was actually a treat – which we did once in a month. BTW, I also managed to complete my Masters degree during this time. Most importantly, I did not borrow money from anyone so that I could enjoy luxuries. No hutang is good.

Of course life started getting better after that. 

The point I want to stress here is that people often forget to live within their means. They forget that if you earn RM 100, you should try to spend RM 90 or less. The problems start when you earn RM 100 and you start spending RM 120. If you cannot afford a car, travel by bus. If you cannot afford to go on holidays, don’t go. If you cannot afford to Starbucks everyday, drink Kopi-O at home. If you cannot afford to eat at the fancy seafood restaurant, perhaps you can learn to cook great seafood yourself.

If you do not live within your means, no one can help you. Regardless whether you earn RM 400 a month or RM 4000 a month or RM 40000 a month, if you do not live within your means, you will suffer.

Have a good weekend, people.

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me : Nice one. Let's try to live within our means, jom?

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