Monday, March 30, 2009

Effective Cost Saving Ideas For Your Office - Part 2

This is the continuation of my previous post on effective cost saving ideas for office. Other than those simple and practical ideas I mentioned before, do consider the steps below if you're planning to save cost on your businesses or in your office:

a) Subscribe for alternative voice solutions
Other than the national service provider, there are hundreds of alternative voice solutions which can provide your company a much lower phone charges compared to you current national provider. Most of these alternative voice solutions enable your company to call to outstations or mobile with much lower rates, some can even provide a saving of more than 50%. 

b) Request for bundle of services
Try to request your service provider to bundle a few applications for your company. Perhaps can bundle the phone, data and other communications services from the same service provider. I am sure they would be very happy to offer the services as it is a win-win situation.

c) Negotiate for lower office rental
If you office premise is on rental basis, most probably you will find the landlord will try to increase the rental during the renewal of tenancy agreement. Don't just simply agree with the new rental. Try to request to maintain the office rental or if the landlord insist to increase, try to negotiate to reduce the increment. If you never request, you will never get it!

d) Limit newspapers or magazine subscriptions 
Does your office really need the newspapers subscriptions to different languages and from different publishers? Does your staff really read the newspapers or magazine? If you reduce one newspaper subscription, your company can easily save RM30 per month. Encourage your staff to get the up-to-date news from the Internet at no extra cost.

e) Switch to energy saving light bulb
For most offices, the lighting will be switch on during office hours, a typical 9 hours a day. Thus, switching to energy saving light bulb will definitely bring extra saving to you monthly electric bills.

f) Install dual flush system for washrooms
Use half-flush for flushing liquid waste instead of a full-flush.  Your company will be able to save about 40% on water bills. 

For item last 3 items, they are not only helping your company to save cost, but they are environmentally friendly too.

But again, the most important part is the human factor. All employees must be alert and understand the purpose of cost saving for the company. All employees must also playing their parts accordingly and participate in the cost saving exercise. After all, nothing is more meaningful than working with a team with the same direction.

Friday, March 27, 2009

I Terminated Another Two Credit Cards

I am feeling relief today. I terminated another 2 credit cards by Bank R. Actually, I called to the customer service centre last Saturday to terminate my cards. The friendly and helpful customer service advised me to write a termination letter and fax to their customer service centre. She also advise me to cut-through my cards, photostat it and attach together with my termination letters. She said it's saver to photostat the cut-through cards and fax to them rather than send the cut-through cards by post to them. Which I think is quite true. 

This morning, I did what the customer service advised me to do. By 5:30 pm, another customer service from Bank R head office called me to enquire about my termination. I am surprised by the prompt action by Bank R. Because I am expecting the reply within few working days. She said will offer me the cards with free-for-life subscription. I firmly told her that "Thank you but I decided to terminate my credit cards". Then she asked me the reasons for the termination. I told her I have too many cards. Also, I told her that actually their credit card sales representative forced me to sign up for the credit cards. I can hear she's smiling at the other end. I think she understood what I meant. Finally she said she'll process the cancellation of my cards.

So, from now on, I only have one active credit card and another one as back-up. And I completed one of my 2009 financial goals.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

60 Earth Hour Malaysia - Saving The Planet

Heard off Earth Hour? According to Wikipedia,
"Earth Hour is an annual international event created by the WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature/World Wildlife Fund), held on the last Saturday of March, that asks households and businesses to turn off their non-essential lights and electrical appliances for one hour to raise awareness towards the need to take action on climate change. Based on an idea successfully executed in Thailand in 2005, it was pioneered by WWF Australia and the Sydney Morning Herald in 2007, and achieved worldwide participation in 2008"
The next Earth Hour will  take place on Saturday, March 28, 2009 at 8:30 pm, local time.

In Malaysia, Earth Hour is planned and run by WWF-Malaysia and its partners. Local radio stations and news are encouraging all parties to participate in Earth Hour on the 28th of March 2009 by turning off our lights for one hour from 8.30pm-9.30pm. 

What else better ways to show that we love our Planet Earth? Let's increase global awareness on world climate change. Let's save our Planet Earth. And I can't imagine how much the world is saving by turning off the non-essential lights and electrical appliances just for that one hour.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Effective Cost Saving Ideas For Your Office - Part 1

It has been a tough time for everyone including corporate companies and giant organizations. Why not try practicing some cost saving ideas in your office?

a) Recycle of all recyclable products
Most office will have unused papers - newspapers, printed documents, magazines, proposals, faxes). Don't just throw these papers into the dustbin.Collect them and arrange them accordingly, whether white papers or coloured papers. Once in a month, sell to the recycle company. Other than papers, printer or fax cartridges are also recyclable. Make sure not to wait till the cartridges head is dried.

b) Reuse of paper/envelopes
I am sure there are papers resulted from wrong printings, old documents or just plain papers which can't be used for external purposes. Why not reuse these papers for internal purposes? If the paper only has printing on one side, you can print on the reverse side. Or you can cut the papers in to smaller pieces and use it as memo or for writing notes. Besides paper, envelope is another item which most companies can reuse and reuse again. I have seen envelope which has been reused for more than 5 times!

c) Negotiate for lower price when asking for quotations
This involved your negotiation skills. Whenever asking for quotations, firstly do some homework and make sure you know the lowest market price. Then, try to get your suppliers to quote lower than these market price. You never try, you never know what you'll get.

d) Switch off all electronic equipments (air-cond, lighting, computers, printers, scanners) when not in used
We all learned this from primary school. They are common sense. But, do we really practise them? Next time, if you are the last person who leaves the office, make sure all electronic equipments are turned off. You will see a significant savings in your coming electric bills.

e) Use emails for communication to save on phone call or fax charges
Nowadays, most offices equipped with Internet or broadband facilities. Fully utilize it. Use emails more. Talk less through phone. Use email attachment instead of fax.

f) Reduce on unnecessary printing or copying
Always think twice before print any documents (If you really need to print that document?). Also, if the printings are for internal purpose, try to save on cartridges by using the 'economy' or 'draft' printings.

g) Educate all staff the importance of cost saving
From my experiences, a lot of company staffs don't bother to participate in cost saving because they feel like it's not their responsibilities to monitor or control the company expenses. So, if you are thinking to save cost on your company expenses, firstly must educate your staff the importance of cost savings and its benefits to the company, the individual and to the global as a whole.

The above ideas not only will significantly reduce office expenses, but will also bring in extra cash for your office and most importantly environmentally friendly.

Do you have any more cost saving ideas for your office? Do share with me.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

EPF @ KWSP - 4.50 % Dividend Rate For 2008

As promised last month, KWSP @ EPF announced its 2008 dividend today. And as expected by most of us, the dividend is lower compared to the previous years, at 4.50%. I got partial of the announcement here:

"Despite the financial meltdown, the EPF recorded the highest ever earnings of RM20 billion in gross income for 2008. This represented an increase of 9.36 per cent over the previous year’s gross income of RM18.29 billion.

Tan Sri Samsudin Osman, EPF Chairman said, “While the year 2008 was challenging due to the unprecedented global financial crisis that has impacted economies worldwide, EPF’s investment portfolio for the year performed better at the gross income level compared to 2007. However, due to the sharp decline in the equity markets, a large provision had to be made resulting in a marked reduction in net income.” "

I would say, It's impressive for EPF to record such a high earnings in 2008, despite the global financial crisis. Eventhough I wish for better dividend rate, I am thankful for the 4.5%. We hope for the best for 2009.

The dividends will be credited to its members’ accounts on 23rd March 2009, next Monday.

You may read related news on NST online too.

Monday, March 16, 2009

I Destroyed Four Of My Credit Cards

Today I am feeling good as I terminated 4 of my credit cards. Three of them, I never used them before. One of them, I terminated it because I hate to see the administrative charges of RM6 when I use the card for less than RM50/month. Furthermore, I didn't see the cash rebate incentive for this particular card. And it's very inconvenient for me to make my credit card payment as this bank has limited payment counter, only 2 cash deposit machines in Kuching town. And these 2 machines were located at the same location.

Well, at first I thought I can just terminate my credit cards by sending my termination request through email. I was wrong. Upon sending my emails to the related banks, within 2 working days, 3 of the banks replied with a termination form. I had to fill in the termination form, provide them the reasons for my termination and also I had to punch a hole in the middle of the microchip on my credit card, and cut through the magnetic swipe strip on my credit cards. I completed all as requested and had sent the termination form and the cut-through-credit-cards to the banks. On the termination form, the banks stated clearly that, they reserved the right to charge RM25 per card if the credit card were not returned to the bank upon termination.

Only one of the credit cards company accept my request through email. The customer service of this bank called me 3 days after they acknowledged receipt of my termination request. Still the customer service asked me for the reason of the termination and advised me to continue using the credit card. Of course I rejected his offer in a nice way. He said he'll process to deactivate my account and advised me to destroy the card on my own.

Perhaps you're wondering why I applied for the credit cards even when I didn't use them. For all of my credit cards, except my PB credit cards, I was forced to sign on the credit card application form. Ok ok, not forced. Actually the credit card consultants came to our office and talk, and talk and talk till I have no choice but to support them by applying for their cards. In some cases, the credit card consultants were friend of my friends or colleagues. So, they just asked me to do them a favour (They need to hit sales target). Other reasons would be because of the attractive free-gifts, petrol rebate and free for life membership.

Anyway, I promised myself not to simply sign up anymore, unless I really want the credit cards. I hate this trouble to terminate the credit cards.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Bon Simpanan Merdeka 2009 @ 5% p.a. Profit Margin

Have you heard of Bon Simpanan Merdeka 2009? I first heard about it from a bank officer. She shared this news with me after I complaint to her about the current low interest rate for Malaysia Fixed Deposit, which is 2% for 1 month placement. The luring part about Bon Simpanan Merdeka is the 5% per annum profit margin. It's for Malaysian citizens who are 56 years and above.

The Bon Simpanan Merdeka 2009 has 3-year tenure. The interest will be bank-in to investor's saving account on monthly basis.

Do you know anyone (senior citizen) who's interested to invest in Bon Merdeka 2009? You can read more details here.

Updates on 13 Mar 2009: Apologise for the late updates. The bank officer called to inform that Bon Simpanan Merdeka is fully subscribed. You can refer to the news here. But, the good news is there will be another series of Bon Simpanan Merdeka which will be released soon.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

EPF @ KWSP - Have You Made Your Nomination?

For most of us, perhaps our EPF is our biggest saving account. Our EPF consist of an estimated 23% of our monthly salary. That's more than 1/5 of our income. Its main purpose is to provide support for our old age.

Have you ever wondered, what would happen if you suddenly have to say goodbye forever to this world? What would happen to your EFP saving? Will your loved ones or dependents know about your EFP savings? Are they aware about your EFP savings? Even if they know about it, can they easily withdraw your EPF savings in case something happen to you?

EPF encourages its member to nominate their beneficiary to facilitate and expedite the withdrawal of their EPF savings by the persons nominated, in case the member passes away. But, for us (the EPF members), we MUST make our nominations. This is especially important for those with family (spouse and children). Make sure you fill in the KWSP Form 4 and update your nominations accordingly. After all, we want to ensure that our hard earned money in our EPF account will be distributed to our loved ones the way we would have wanted it to be when we are no longer around.

Make your nomination now!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Pay Yourself First - But, How?

In my previous post, I shared about the reasons why you must Pay Yourself First. I believe most of us have heard about this financial rule. With the current economy crisis, demanding lifestyle and our 'never ending Wish List', it is easier said than done. Thus, I listed below 4 practical ways to pay yourself first.

1) Upon receiving your salary, make it a habit to withdraw a portion of it and directly deposit it to another saving account. Preferable a saving account without ATM card or cheque book. So, that it won't be easy for your to withdraw the $$$ when you have the desire to spend it away. If you find it hard to start with 10% of 20% of your salary, try with smaller amount. As the time goes by, you will find yourself to be able to save more and more. But, you must make sure it's your first priority before you spend away your salary. This method work best if you are someone with high level of discipline.

2) Arrange an auto-debit with your bank to automatically transferred a certain amount of $$$ (on a selected date) into another saving account.You can choose to do it monthly, quarterly, half-yearly or annually. The best way would be on monthly basis. Because the main idea is to save a portion of your monthly income. Personally, I find that this is the best method as it is natural for human being to be forgetful to perform the same task as the time goes by. Better to leave this task to the bank system.

3) Try to ask your employer or human resource department if it is possible to directly pay a portion of your salary to another saving account. This method is almost the same with the first method. The difference is your employer will do it for you, instead of you do it yourself. Before you get to see the $$$ in your bank account, your employer already help you to transfer it to another account. Because you didn't get to see the $$$, you won't have the desire to spend it away.

4) I would consider investment as a way to pay myself first. If you've an extra of RM500 or RM1K, why not starting a unit trust fund? And arrange for a standing instruction (SI) with the unit trust company to invest a fixed amount of $$$ in your fund, on a monthly basis? You'll be surprise to see how much you've saved as the time goes by.

So, when are you planning to start to pay yourself? Now? Or next month? It's never too late.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

5 Good Reasons Why You Must PAY YOURSELF FIRST

At the end of the month, most of us, the monthly wage earners are waiting for our salary from our employers. Some receive their salary by direct bank-in to their bank accounts and some receive their salary through cheques. Perhaps, there are also employer who pay cash to their employees. No matter what, the most important part is we want to see the $$$ after a month of hard work. But, do you realise that upon receiving the $$$, we 'transfer' a big portion of our hard earned $$$ to someone else? We 'transfer' the $$$ to our creditors - the bank from which we loan our house, another bank from which we loan our car, the insurance company from which we seek for insurance and medical coverage, the Telco companies who provide us with the phone lines/broadband services, the cable company who provide us with updated movies/drama/entertainments and the companies who provide us water and electricity. Some of us also pay a big portion from our monthly pay cheque to settle personal loan, credit card debts, study loans and many more loans. After paying all our creditors, little $$$ left for us. Then, we tell ourselves that 'I don't have money for saving'. Does it sound familiar?

It is never easy to train our mind to pay ourselves first. But, you should at least try to. Here are 5 good reasons why you must pay yourself first:

1) You earned the $$$, You deserved it. You only receive the $$$ after a month (or an average of 160 hours) of hard work. It's precious. You gotta save some of it under your name. You can use it to build your emergency fund, as monthly savings or even preparing for your retirement fund.

2) Put yourself at first priority compare to the rest of creditors. By practicing paying yourself first, you will treat yourself as one of the monthly creditors. The main difference is, you will maintain the $$$ under your name and keep it safely (in an interest bearing account) rather than transferring it to someone else account. Furthermore, it usually won't work if you wait till you finished pay the rest of the creditors, then keep the balance. Most likely, there is no balance left.

3) You must prepare yourself for unexpected situations like out of job or not being able to work or earn $$$. Now that you're healthy and fit, and able to earn $$$. Have you ever think of the situation where you are not able to bring home any $$$? What will happen to you and your dependents? The weather won't always be sunny. You must prepare yourself for the rainy days.

4) It is your baby step in financial planning. Once you start to pay yourself first and see the $$$ growing after a few months, there is a kind of special energy that will encourage you to be more alert towards financial matter. You will get hooked into saving more $$$.

5) You love yourself. One of the many ways to show love is by providing financial security to oneself. By paying yourself first, it shows that you care about yourself and your future.

We deserved a good portion from our hard earned $$$. Start now - upon receiving your salary, make sure you pay some $$$ to yourself. Start with small amount and when you get more comfortable, increase the amount. If you didn't pay yourself, who else would?