Image: The Fifth Person
Despite hearing constant cries of the increasing cost of living and our weakening Ringgit, Malaysians are shockingly spending more than before.
In a report by Bernama
, Economics, Institute of Strategic and International Studies (ISIS) revealed that we are buying more foreign cars, spending less on groceries, eating out more and doing more online shopping!
The Malaysian Automotive Association reportedly saw a steady increase in sales of mid-range foreign cars, such as Honda, Ford, Mazda and Subaru annually since 2009, compared to local automotive brand Perodua.
Recent data also showed that on 11 November alone, also popularly known as Singles Day, Malaysians spent more than RM100 million shopping online!
It was also previously reported that Malaysians are the biggest spenders in digital games in Southeast Asia
, spending approximately RM2.45 billion this year alone.
Now, let’s talk a little bit about mobile phones.
The whole world has been raving about Apple’s latest iPhone offering
that probably costs more than what we can save in a year.
But no matter how many protests we hear against the price of mobile phones these days, Malaysia reportedly imported about twice the value of mobile phones (RM6.85 billion) than 1.5 to three-litre engine vehicles (RM3.47 billion) within this year alone!
To put things into perspective, that amount is much more than the biggest food imports, like milk and cream, coffee, onions and garlic, coconuts, soybeans, corn, milk and cream powder combined, which by the way, have higher retail prices.
The weakening of the Ringgit somehow also didn’t stop Malaysians from spending more money when travelling overseas.
In the first 10 months of 2017, the Malaysian credit cards transactions overseas saw a steady increase from RM10.9 billion in 2015, RM12.3 billion in 2016 and RM13.2 billion in 2017.
So why and how are Malaysians spending more money now when people keep saying that we’re barely surviving in this economy?
For one, Malaysia actually has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the world.
In 2016, Malaysia reportedly recorded an unemployment rate of 3.4 per cent. This is much lower than countries with more advanced economies, such as the United States (4.9 per cent), Germany (4.1 per cent) and South Korea (3.7 per cent).
In fact, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) noted Malaysia’s unemployment rate as full employment.
Although the prices of goods and services have generally increased over the last few years, the mean monthly household income has also reportedly increased across the board.
The bottom 40 per cent household income group (B40) reportedly achieved fastest growth among other income groups.
Also, Malaysia’s average monthly household income has risen by 6.6 per cent every year between 2014 and 2016.
The improvement and expansion of our public transportation system has also largely benefited those who live in Klang Valley. Now, we are able to enjoy lower fares and wider options when commuting between places, especially after the legalisation of ride-hailing services.
But seriously, this doesn’t mean that we should continue spending like we live in a high-income society!
The Federation of Malaysian Consumers Association (FOMCA) secretary-general Datuk Paul Selvaraj said a lot of Malaysians tend to spend money for leisure but don’t have good finance management, as reported by New Straits Times
We really need to know how to differentiate between a want and a need, and make sure that our basic necessities are covered first before splurging elsewhere.
You know, it is not about stopping you from enjoying your hard-earned money, but we need to strive to be better at managing finances.
Consumers Association of Penang president S.M. Mohamed Idris reportedly said that more people going out of their way to buy expensive goods, probably to show off a picture-perfect life. Credit card loans, house loans and car loans practically turn us into modern slaves to expensive lifestyle.
So always remember, higher spending doesn't always mean good news and don't just treat the saying "save for a rainy day" as a passing comment!