It’s the end of the 2nd week of the Movement Control Order (MCO) in Malaysia and I’ve learned a lot, personal finance wise, from this uncertain time for the world.
I’m doing fine, I have sufficient food every day, I have roof over my head, I still have my job but everything that I have now is fragile. I could lose my job anytime soon as I got to know that my company is planning to undergo a retrenchment if this MCO prolongs. I’m not being a pessismist but I have a feeling that this situation will stretch for quite some time.
I found it disturbing that just two weeks into MCO, companies are already taking the extreme measure of forcing their employees to take annual leave or unpaid leave or even worse, cutting their employees off. Just two weeks of not doing business, they are already struggling to pay for the usual monthly costs, i.e. rental and salary. How come? Well I can only presume that it’s because our bosses and companies are also surviving paycheck to paycheck. The same way as we, the commoners, live.
These tweets are simply accurate-
Funny but scary, isn’t it?
Even scarier, if you read this reminder by Ringgit Oh Ringgit.
Reminder: 52% of Malaysians have difficulty to raise RM1,000 as emergency funds, and only 24% of Malaysians are able to sustain living expenses for at least 3 months or more if they lose their main source of income (10% can sustain for more than 6 months). Source: Malaysia National Strategy for Financial Literacy (2019-2023) document.– oh shit, are we in a recession?
On a personal level, this is a wake up call! WE MUST STOP THE PAYCHECK TO PAYCHECK LIFESTYLE.
When I say lifestyle, I mean to address those who are living paycheck to paycheck by choice. Those who somehow choose to spend equal or more than what they earn each month. Those who can afford to make some wants or unnecessary purchases from time to time. Those who are actually able to save a little money each month but choose to spend those money elsewhere. Those who are like me. I was the epitome of that lifestyle until recent months.
Right from the first time I have the taste of my own money, I’ve been spending like there’s no tomorrow. No awareness that I should save a bit for my future. It’s only towards the end of last year that I became more determined to have some emergency fund and stop the cycle of spending more than I earn each month. Mostly because I was tired of being constantly anxious that I have no money should there be any emergency coming up. So I thought, that’s it. That gotta stop. I don’t want to live like this anymore.
I want fast result so I took it to the extreme, I embarked into a no buy year journey starting from January 2020. Guess what? It works. It really does. I have some savings in my bank account now. I’m nowhere near the comfortable state that I aspire to be in, I’m still very much worried about money, but at least I could stop worrying about having food to eat at times like this. If I lose my job, my savings wouldn’t last me more than three months top (to pay for basic living costs) but knowing that I have some time buffer to get my acts together, I’m quite relieved.
For me, this whole situation of the pandemic and MCO and uncertainty of whether most of us could still have our jobs when this is over, just validated and solidified my decision to stop the living paycheck to paycheck cycle. Despite my monthly income is now no longer guaranteed, I’m still trying to put aside some money, however little. If I didn’t do that in January 2020, I would be super anxious today thinking that I would not be able to buy food and groceries – that instead of the virus killing me, it would be starvation or extreme stress thinking about money.
A little hyperbole, but I hope you get my point. Take it from someone like me who has little financial literacy, who has just becoming aware of the importance of having savings / emergency fund, who has just started building her savings a little three months ago. That saving money is important! Having an emergency fund is important!
Having savings that you can fork out from at this point of time is crucial. For your survival. For your family’s survival. Even for any unfortunate member of the society’s survival. Having money allows you to help yourself, your family and others in need. I hope the situation that we’re all in right now is opening your eyes (if they’re still closed) to the importance of having savings and emergency fund.
This whole post only has one point – we’re currently staying at home to break the coronavirus chain but after this is all over, it is time for us to break the vicious chain and cycle of living paycheck to paycheck.