Malaysians finding ways to tighten their belts as the new year begins

PETALING JAYA - One week into 2014 and Malaysians are already looking into ways to save money.

"I search for scholarships to help save for my parents," said 18-year-old Lim Jie Sheng, who is going to the United States for a student exchange programme.

Gan Jia Sheng, 18, who lives in the Klang Valley, is applying for jobs while waiting for his SPM results.

The Gan family is car-pooling and using public transport on weekdays, other than planning their family outings so multiple tasks can be done in a single journey.

Goh Eng Hoe, 21, studying with a JPA scholarship in Vancouver, Canada, saves for emergencies and investments.

He records all purchases and allocates money for rental, food, books as well as "phantom expenditure" like public transport and printing fees at the beginning of the month.

He spends approximately C$450 (S$538) per month.

When asked if he would receive extra allowance from his parents, Goh said he would rather not.

"If they insist, I would save the money.

"The extra allowance would burden my family," said the son of a retired policeman.

Daniel Khaw, 25, a part-time law student working as a teacher, saves with lifestyle changes like having home-cooked meals, using local ingredients instead of imported ones when cooking, as well as reducing smoking and drinking.

Assistant auditor Aisyah Ishak, 52, said her family is buying groceries at wholesale markets instead of supermarkets because the items at wholesale outlets are cheaper.

"I will usually compare the prices on the Internet and different grocery brochures," she said.

Abu Bakar Mohmad Hanif, 53, a father of three children who are still studying, has no plans to cut the allowance he gives to them.

"I still give them the same amount of pocket money and encourage them to buy daily necessities in bulk as the price is discounted by 15 per cent to 20 per cent," he said.