Stretching Your Salary

Stretching Your Salary

Putting some money aside at the end of each month is a constant challenge for many working Malaysians. Jaideep Patel devises some simple steps to help you save for a rainy day.

Surviving from one payday to the next is no fun, but this is the inconvenient truth many working Malaysians have to deal with. Very few are privileged to be financially free, that is, to not have to worry about having enough money to spend. But there are ways to maximise what you already have, and the ways can be quite easy.

All you have to do is remember the 3 questions: WHY? WHEN? and HOW?


Having a purpose to save is usually the best form of motivation. Of course, it is easier (and more fun) to spend all your extra money, but all that spare cash can be put to greater use. What if you (or a family member) falls ill? Or what if your car breaks down? You may be planning to start a family, or to buy a home, or to go for a long holiday. The reasons are plenty, but having even one will help you focus on your bank account balance.


The answer should be NOW. If you haven’t started saving already, you should immediately set some plans and turn them into actions. One good way to start is to work out your monthly spending. How much can you afford to save each month after you are done paying for all your bills, groceries, rent, etc? Once you have a number in your head, it’s time to get to work. Stick to your budget and feel good knowing that you are responsible with your money.


There are many ways to save your money, but some may not be right for you. For starters, set up a separate account for your savings. Next, make sure you don’t withdraw from it! Discipline is key. It will be very tempting to take some money out of this account, but don’t do it unless you have reached your goal. You can reward yourself for hitting targets, but be strict. To stay on track, see how you can minimise your spending. For most people, eating out is the culprit. Make your own meals – you will keep your bank account and yourself in good shape that way!

Saving habits

We asked some of our colleagues to share their saving preferences. This is what they said:

Question: What percentage of your salary do you save each month?

Employee A: 30%
Employee B: 15-20%
Employee C: 10%
Employee D: 10%

Question: Who influences you to save?

Employee A: My family.
Employee B: My brother.
Employee C: My family.
Employee D: My mother.

Question: Why do you save your extra money?

Employee A:

  • Future use
  • Financial security
  • Medical emergencies

Employee B:

  • Care for parents in their old age
  • Property
  • Travel
  • Retirement

Employee C:

  • Unexpected expenses
  • Medical emergencies
  • Education fund for my child.

Employee D: Better quality of life for myself and my family.

Question: What usually stops you from saving each month?

Employee A:

  • Monthly commitments
  • Impulse buying

Employee B:

  • Car instalments
  • Expensive hobbies

Employee C:

  • Overspending on travel
  •  Lending money to people

Employee D:

  • Plenty of commitments
  • Cost of living increases faster than salary increments

(Employee A has been working for 1 year; Employee B has been working for 3 years; Employee C has been working for 5 years; and Employee D has been working for 10 years).