Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Money Management Made Simple

For some of us, money management seems like a scary, complex and complicated stuff. Thus, we avoid it until one day, something serious happened and we have no ways but were forced to face it. Well, don't wait till your money matter become that bad. Money management only require some simple arithmetic skills and most importantly is being consistent.

Here, I share 5 simple money management skills:

1) Spend Less Than You Earn
We all know this is the most basic part of money management. If what you spend is less that what you earn, then you're in the safe zone. If you want to challenge yourself, try to overspend for one or two months, then you'll know how difficult  it is to pay for the overspent amount. You will know it will be painful to find that extra money to pay for the overspent amount. So, make sure what you spend is less than what you earn.

2) Pay Your Self First
Make sure you pay yourself about 10% of your monthly income. Deposit this 10% in a different account so that you can save it aside. Promise yourself that you will not touch this savings unless it is emergency. Make a short term / long term plan for this savings - such as down payment for a car, a house, wedding, retirement, etc. You have to pay yourself first, otherwise, after you settle your monthly utilities, credit card, and other invoices, you will have nothing left. If you pay yourself first, then you'll have to adjust the expenses with the remaining 90% of your salary.

3) Avoid Bad Debts
Bad debts are like credit card debts. I know it's hard to overcome the temptation to spend using credit card. But, you must remember - if you spend the future money by swiping your credit cards, it will take you at least twice the effort to pay it back. If you've started the swiping the credit card habit,  you will find that it's hard to control that habit. So, use the credit card wisely.

4) Grow Your Money
Once you've got some savings, learn to grow the money. Try with some investment products such as unit trust. Do not invest all in one go, but do it step by step to test the water. When you feel more comfortable and confident with your investment strategy, you can top up or diversity your investment. Do not expect your money to grow overnight, but do allow for a few years before you can see the result.

5) Protect Yourself and Your Wealth
You should know that all cars on the road must have insurance coverage. You are much more important than your car. So, make sure you have enough insurance coverage. This is even more important if you have family - a wife, kids, other dependent. It's now too common to hear serious sickness. With a good coverage, at least it can lessen the family burden during difficult time.

Actually, money management is not that complex. It is much simpler than handling a bankruptcy situation. Learn to know more about financial literacy and tackle the skills step by step, one at a time. Over the long run, you will be able to see the result.

photo credit: StockMonkeys.com via photopin cc

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Tough Side of Doing SALES

In my earlier post in July this year, I shared about '7 Reasons Why You Should Consider Sales Profession'. I think it will be unfair if I only share the good part and exclude the tough part of doing sales. So, in this post, I share my thought on the tough side of doing sales:

1) Meeting Sales Target
I guess this is the part that drive most people away from sales profession. The pressure of achieving the sales target no matter what's the situation. This is also one of the aspect that make sales profession different from other profession. Because of this target, those in sale profession had to crack their brains to find ways to achieve their sales target. Along the way, they learn new things too.

2) Thick-Skinned
In sales line, one must have some level of 'thick skin' because it is common to expect more than 50% of rejections in sales (first approach). One must take initiative to start the conversation and be approachable. One must be able to take and handle criticism professionally. Among the attitude of a successful salesperson would be someone who take rejections positively.

3) The 'Sandwich' Situation
As sales personnel, one become the representative of the company. Once the deal is successful, the sales personnel become the middle person between the company and the customer. If everything is smooth, then there is not much problem. But, when problem happened (which in most cases, problems do happened), then the sales personnel is in a 'sandwich' situation. Sales personnel must be smart to handle both situation smartly as both are equally important.

4) Be Prepared for Multi-Tasking
In one day, a salesperson must be prepared to make cold calls, arrange appointments, meet up with prospects, receiving complaints/inquiries either by phone/email/fax/SMS and attending to all these complaints and inquiries. At the same time, he must be prepared to have meeting with his colleagues, his superior and other team members to solve his clients' complaints and inquiries. Not forgetting, to be responsible for his client's payment records and his daily/weekly/quarterly/yearly reports as well. One of my bosses said, being a sales person means that we're a 'small boss' taking care of our own 'small business' :)

5) Overcoming the bad-label of a typical salesperson
In some office doors, you will see 'No Salesman Allow' signboard. This show that, most people still have negative thought about salesperson. Perhaps they have had bad experience with some sweet talking salesman. So, I find that it is quite challenging to change the prospects perceptions towards salesperson. It's not easy. Prospects always have this feeling that salesperson always give empty promises or over-promise. So, in order to overcome this, a good sales person will always think for the benefits of her clients and at the same time the company is 'happy' with the benefits. In other way, win-win situation for both - company and clients.

The above are my thought on some of the tough side of sales profession. Perhaps it is different from one company to another and it also depends on the industry you're working with. If you have more to share, feel free to comment below.

photo credit: inertia_tw via photopin cc

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Will RM2,500 Suffice For Fresh Graduates in Kuching?

Reading from The Star Online earlier this week on whether RM2,500 will suffice for fresh graduates , I think it's interesting to see the sample of a fresh graduate budget. This is a sample of a monthly budget for a fresh graduate in Kuching with a monthly salary of RM2,500:  

EPF contributions (11%): RM325
Daily pocket money and food allowances (RM20x30days) : RM600
Car loan installment (Myvi @ 9 years): RM450
Accommodation (inclusive of water and electricity): RM300
Petrol/Fuel: RM250
Phone/Internet Connection: RM100
Study loan (PTPTN): RM150
Insurance: RM100
Clothing, body care, hair care and other miscs: RM125
Savings: RM100
Total: RM2500
(Note: the figure is based on my observation and some assumptions)

The above has not add in other spending such as movies, special outing, dining, cool gadgets, emergency needs, medication and others. RM2,500 seems to be quite a lot but after taking care of the basic needs, not much left. Perhaps fresh graduates can choose to stay with parents or family members to save on accommodation. Also, have to adjust on food allowance for more cash to be spent on others. It seems like a big portion of the monthly salary spend on transportation (RM400 + RM250 = RM650). Other alternatives to reduce on transportation cost will be change to motorbike or car pool or share a family car or perhaps getting a smaller or second hand car with much lower monthly installment. In Kuching, we can't rely on the public transport, so the idea of using public transportation to go around is not a solution for fresh graduates.

The budget above still looks OK because there's savings of RM100 per month and there's a basic insurance coverage. I believe most of the fresh graduates had neglected the insurance part.

With some adjustments and 'temporarily sacrifice', it looks like RM2,500 seems to be sufficient for fresh graduates in Kuching. For fresh graduates in bigger cities such as KL, Penang, JB and other major towns where the cost of living (room rental, toll charges, food allowances) is higher, with monthly salary of RM2,500, it's quite hard to survive. Seems like they need to make more sacrifice and adjustment.

photo credit: Shawn | Shiyang Huang via photopin cc

Thursday, October 9, 2014

How To Check Your PTPTN Statement or PTPTN Balance?

I started to pay to study loan from Perbadanan Tabung Tinggi Pendidikan Nasional (PTPTN) since I received the first letter from PTPTN to inform me to start paying my study loan (about fews months after my graduation). I was considered lucky as I got employed right after I graduated. So, there's no problem for me to start my PTPTN loan repayment.

Along the way, I lost track of my PTPTN loan repayment records. At the same time, I also need to check whether my loan repayment was updated according or if there's any payment missed out. After done some reading and searching on PTPTN main website, I later found out that I can easily check my PTPTN statement from PTPTN epay (This is for Pinjaman Pendidikan Konventional (3%) only). You will need to key-in your IC number (12 digits without space, eg: 800412135522) and your study loan number (Nombor Pinjaman). If you forgot your study loan number, you may call, email or SMS PTPTN and the details is on the PTPTN epay website. Once log in, you will be able to see the complete statement of PTPTN loan repayment records. You will also be able to see the balance left.

For those who opted for the Ujrah (1%), you may check the PTPTN statement here. Honestly, I have never log in to the Ujrah statement. In case you've successfully log in, perhaps can share your experience here.

Update 3 Nov 2017:
1) You may download the complete instruction on how to to check your PTPTN statement for Pinjaman Pendidikan Konventional (3%) or Ujrah (1%) here.
2) You may call PTPTN Hotline at 03-20804455 or you may use 'Aduan Online' to get your pin number. Else, you may use the SMS service (Type PTPTN NOPIN[JARAK]NOKP and send to 33199. The SMS charge is RM0.50/SMS and the service is available 24/7.

photo credit: LendingMemo via photopin cc

Monday, October 6, 2014

Can We Rely on KWSP @ EPF Savings to Fund for Our Retirement Years?

Reading from Yahoo News yesterday, it is sad to know that almost 70% of active KWSP @ EPF contributors at age 54 have less than RM50,000 in their accounts. These group of contributors only have about  6 more years to increase their savings in their KWSP @ EPF accounts. Retirement age for private sector employees had been increased to 60 years old since July last year. But, it seems like many companies are still practicing the 55-year old retirement age.

With inflation and increasing cost of living, it will be hard for retiree to enjoy their retirement years. 

With the minimum wage of RM900 for West Malaysia and RM800 for East Malaysia, how much can we expect from our KWSP @ EPF savings when we retire? Even though, the total savings of monthly EPF is 24% (11 percent from employee and 13 percent from employer, 12 percent from employer for those earning more than RM5000 per month), it is still not enough to support our retirement years.

We can't rely on KWSP @ EPF savings for our retirement years.

First, we must find alternative to increase our income. Second, we must save a big portion of our monthly income. Third, we must invest our savings so that we can grow our hard earned money. Forth, we must be careful with our money related matters especially nearing or after retirement. I understand you need to help your children through their college year, but they have unlimited alternative nowadays - the most common one is PTPTN. I understand you need to help to get a car for your children when they start working, but they can opt public transport for the first few months until they save enough to buy a car. I strongly disagree if you wish to pay for your child's wedding or down payment / monthly installment for their home. Your retirement savings is for you during your retirement years. Your children still have plenty times to earn their income.

I would like to repeat again, we can't rely on our KWSP @ EPF savings for our retirement years. It's never too late to take a good look at your retirement savings and start to plan from there. Stop blaming the situation but take action and be responsible for our own decision.

photo credit: 401(K) 2013 via photopin cc