First Blog Post: Take Two

I first started this blog as a supplement to my main start-up of language services. Fast forward more than a year later, priorities have shifted and now it is all about sharing my life experiences and what I’ve learned from others around me. It could be something as simple as “how to fix your broken phone” to more complex issues on housing woes and available legal recourse and health issues etc. Topics close to my heart are life stories, travel, hiking and money matters.

Would love to hear your feedback on my articles.

TAWAS: RM1500 for Selangor Babies

First introduced ten (10) years ago by the state Government for Selangor residents, this programme is now part of eighteen (18) initiatives (Inisiatif Peduli Rakyat, IPR) by the Selangor Government to uplift the economic status of its residents. TAWAS (Tabung Warisan Anak Selangor) scheme is managed by YAWAS (Yayasan Warisan Anak Selangor).

  1. About TAWAS

Open to Selangor babies based on specified eligibility criteria, TAWAS members will receive RM1500 when they attain eighteen (18) years of age from TAWAS trust fund managed by the state Government.

  1. Eligibility Criteria

There are three (3) types of conditions set for TAWAS membership and there are criteria specified under each condition. One needs to fulfill either one condition only to become a TAWAS member. Common criteria in all three conditions are that a child must be Malaysian and TAWAS registration has to be done before the child turns three (3) years of age.

Click here for full list of eligibility requirements.

  1. Application

 Application can be done through any of the following channels:

  • At the nearest DUN (state legislative assembly representative) service centre.
  • YAWAS office.
  • Online application.

Once your application is approved, the little one will be issued Kad Simanja (membership card) and Penyata Simpanan TAWAS (TAWAS Saving Statement). Simanja Card entitles the member to all TAWAS benefits and the saving statement can be encashed once a member turns eighteen (18).

This RM1500 will definitely come in handy when your child enters higher learning institution.

 

Malaysia Hikes: Bukit Batu Suloh and Bukit Kledang

Malaysians love holidays. A holiday which falls on a Friday is even more celebrated as a long weekend means a trip back home. Ever since joining Anak Perak Hikers early this year, a trip home is never just a trip home. It ‘s an opportunity to explore my beloved home state, Perak.

This year, Merdeka Day (Independence Day) fell on a Friday so we had quite an ambitious day planned ahead of us.  Three hills in a day: Bukit Batu Suloh (BBS) and Bukit Kledang (Kledang Hill) in the morning and Bukit Batu Putih (BBP) by sunset. Truth be told, up until then I had never heard of any other hill save for the famous Kledang Hill.

Heavy rain greeted the dawn of Merdeka Day but stopped just in time as if giving us the blessings to go ahead and conquer the day.

Target No.1 : Bukit Batu Suloh (401m)

Our team of eight eager hikers gathered at the entrance of Markas Pasukan Gerakan Am (Headquarters of General Operations Force) which was our starting point. From here to the trail head was a 2 km paved road. One could either walk or take a four-wheel drive (4WD) up. If you had never been on a roller coaster ride then this 4WD ride would give you a taste of it. The best way to enjoy the ride is to stand in the stowage area (on the back of the truck), bracing yourself while feeling the wind in your face.

From the trail head it was a rather easy climb passing by acres of orchard belonging to the Orang Asli (indigenous tribe) of the nearby village. The air was fresh with a tinge of pleasant earthy scent as the soil was still damp from the morning shower. The rain also brought with it another trouble for hikers: leeches. These bloodsuckers were abundant especially after a downpour and we did come across hungry leeches crawling on the ground in search of their next victim. Thankfully, we were spared. The challenging stretch was an uphill climb using only tree roots and rocks along the trail. We proceeded cautiously ensuring a secure grip before taking the next step.

From here it was only fifteen minutes to the peak. There were big boulders to climb over before reaching the peak. These boulders gave the perfect opportunity for picture perfect shots. The peak was a narrow stretch from where the Sultan Azlan Shah Dam was clearly visible. Many fellow hikers carried the Jalur Gemilang (Malaysian flag) to show their patriotism and record the memories of the hike.

We spent quite some time capturing the morning view of the mountains until growling stomach signaled the need to move to the next activity. We found a nook to set up our cooking gear for a light breakfast of nuggets and coffee.

The sun’s intense heat was cue for us to descend to conquer the next hill.

The upside (and also downside) of trekking with a bunch of fun loving and let’s go with the flow hikers is that you tend to lose track of time. By the time we got back to our starting point it was noon and too hot to start our next hike. We decided to start our climb a little later in the afternoon. Slight delay in the plan but manageable nonetheless.

Target No.2 : Bukit Kledang (Kledang Hill)

After an afternoon siesta, we regrouped at Hala Rasi Jaya 1 Road, the starting point of our next climb. There are many trails to Kledang Hill namely “main road”, “4-2” (staircase trail), “4-8”, “4-9”, “5-4”, “5-8” and “RTM”.  We took the “4-2” route which was an easy hike that took less than an hour.

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Once reaching the spot called “exercise area”, we took in the unobstructed view of Ipoh city on a quiet afternoon while striking up conversation with the regulars.

Naturally, we couldn’t resist the opportunity to capture memories with the Jalur Gemilang against the backdrop of lush mountains atop Kledang Hill.

It was close to 4.30 pm when we began our descend which was quickened by the thought of enjoying Ipoh’s famous nasi ganja before the restaurant closed at 6pm.

You might wonder by now what happened to target hill number three that was supposed to take place by sunset. Satiated and unable to move after indulging in so much food, we decided that we were in no shape to conquer another hill.

After all BBP wasn’t going anywhere and it was a holiday to be enjoyed with friends and family!

My Motor Insurance Provider is Giving Me Cash Back!

I don’t usually look forward to the last quarter of the year. That’s when most of my annual payment bills are due, one of which is car insurance renewal. Naturally, I wasn’t thrilled when I received a letter from Etiqa Takaful recently.

As expected, the first page detailed total amount payable after deducting No Claims Discount (NCD) and additional ten percent (10%) discount. Most companies offer ten percent (10%) discount for online renewal and in some cases the same discount is also given for direct renewal at the branches of the insurance provider.

The last page of the notice read: Distributable Surplus Sharing via e-Payment Facility. They were pleased to inform me that I was entitled to receive surplus sharing distribution for my motor insurance certificate. These are the following criteria for one to qualify :

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To receive the payment, one has to either complete and return the Reply Slip within 14 calendar days or email a scanned copy of the reply slip to the specified email address. The payment will be credited to your bank account of choice.

If your motor insurance is coming up for renewal soon, do enquire with your provider if there is a similar cash back scheme and how can you apply for it.

A sure way of qualifying? Be a responsible driver and stay safe on the road.

Beating Monday Blues

The most dreaded conversation on a Monday:

Q: “How was your weekend?”

A: “Too quick, too short. I can’t wait for Friday.”

Everyone wears the same somber expression on a Monday morning while braving the rush hour traffic or queueing for the train. Most wish to be elsewhere but at work.

Well, that maybe wishful thinking but taking the train would definitely be enjoyable if it’s like the one I rode in Taiwan recently. This train was decorated with Disney characters and famous landmarks of Taiwan in a Disneyland-like theme.

Perhaps if KL had such trains, it would make Monday train ride to work something to look forward to and not to mention increase the ridership as well.

Till the next weekend, have a great Monday!

PRS Youth Incentive: Invest RM 1000 and Get RM 1000. Hurry! Offer Ends 31st Dec 2018.

Spoiler Alert: You need to be between 20 – 30 years of age to qualify for this scheme. 

In Budget 2014, the Government announced a one-off incentive of RM 500 to contributors who participated in Private Retirement Scheme (PRS) to encourage savings among the youth. This incentive was to be implemented for five years starting from 1st January 2014.

PRS is a voluntary long-term investment scheme introduced to increase a retiree’s savings as contributions to Employees Provident Fund (EPF) alone are not enough for one to retire comfortably.

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This incentive was further enhanced to RM 1000 in Budget 2017 and is scheduled to end this year.

Extract from the 2017 Budget Speech on PRS Youth Incentive

Who are eligible?

  • Malaysians between 20-30 years of age
  • Existing PPA account holders or new members
  • Savings of gross amount of RM 1000 in a single PRS Fund during a period of two (2) years

Who are approved PRS providers?

  • Affin Hwang Asset Management Berhad
  • AIA Pension and Asset Management Sdn. Bhd.
  • AmFunds Management Berhad
  • CIMB-Principal Asset Management Berhad
  • Kenanga Investors Berhad
  • Manulife Asset Management Services Berhad
  • Public Mutual Berhad
  • RHB Asset Management Sdn. Bhd.

Where to look for complete information?

The Private Pension Administrator Malaysia (PPA) set-up in 2012 is the central administrator for the Private Retirement Scheme (PRS). PPA functions to protect PRS member’s interest and educate the public on PRS.

The following link provides a comprehensive information on PRS Youth Incentive:

https://www.ppa.my/prs-youth/PRS-Youth-Incentive/

Dig deep into your savings to raise RM 1000 in order for the Government to match your contribution. To those who always lament that they are paying too much tax, here’s your chance to get a portion of the money back.

Hurry, you only have about 2 months left to grab this opportunity.

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How to Turn Your Phone into a Scanner

Gone are the days when everyone needed a printer with scanning function to scan and email documents. With the advent of technology, mobile phones are now used to capture images with just a click of the camera button.

Click and upload jpeg files. As simple as that. However, this method may not be suitable for official purposes where documents need to be submitted in certain formats such as PDF, Word, PowerPoint etc.

There are scanning softwares available that can be downloaded and installed on smartphones. Some are free while others require subscription. Free apps like Microsoft Office Lens, ScanBot Scanner (basic function only) and Evernote Scannable can be downloaded from App Store or Google Play Store. Apps such as Abbyy FineScanner, CamScanner and ScanBot Scanner (Lite, Pro and VIP) require subscription ranging from RM 19.90 to RM 37.90 per year or per purchase.

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These apps offer the convenience of scanning and saving a document in desired format. Additional functions such as crop and rotate are also available in some of the applications. As an example, Office Lens can scan in the following modes: whiteboard, document, business card or photo. Scanned images can then be converted to either PDF, Word or PowerPoint. Images can also be saved to OneNote or OneDrive to be shared to Outlook, email and a host of other apps.

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So, the next time you need to submit your documents in a format other than jpeg, just open up the mobile scanner app and follow these simple steps: scan, save and share. Click away!

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Snippets

As part of its HSE (Health, Safety & Environment) policy, my company provides free fruits twice a week. One Tuesday evening I was having a chat with my colleague when I noticed the fruits collection on his desk.

Me: Why does your apple look different?

Him: Hmm..that’s because it’s a plum!

Me: Ah, Ok. That’s a sign I should head home now.

Belanja Berhemat Bahagian 2

Petua #3: BERKONGSI makanan

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Ramai pasangan yang bekerja sepenuh masa tidak mempunyai masa untuk memasak. Begitu juga dengan keluarga yang mempunyai anak kecil. Selalunya mereka akan makan di luar atau memesan khidmat katering secara mingguan atau bulanan. Bagi yang kerap makan di luar mesti terasa akan beban kos makanan yang saban hari meningkat. Kadang-kadang makanan yang dipesan tidak termakan dan membazir begitu sahaja.

Bagi yang sering makan di luar, anda digalakkan berkongsi makanan. Jika makan berdua, cuba memesan satu pembuka selera dan satu hidangan utama untuk dikongsi berbanding dengan dua jenis hidangan setiap seorang. Dengan berbuat demikian, kita akan makan apa yang perlu sahaja dan tidak akan berasa terlalu kenyang sampai senak perut. Bil makanan juga akan menjadi separuh! Namun demikian, jika masih berasa lapar anda bolehlah memesan hidangan tambahan. Sekiranya tidak habis makan, disarankan agar lebihan makanan dibawa pulang ke rumah untuk dimakan keesokan harinya untuk mengelakkan pembaziran.

Satu lagi cadangan untuk mengurangkan bil makanan adalah dengan tidak memesan air berperisa atau air berkarbonat. Jika anda perasan, harga minuman kadang-kadang menyamai atau lebih mahal daripada harga makanan. Selain menjimatkan duit, pengambilan kalori berlebihan juga boleh dikurangkan sekali gus menyumbang ke arah pemakanan seimbang dan sihat. Bukankah ini satu situasi yang menguntungkan kesihatan badan dan kewangan kita pada masa yang sama?

Petua #4: TANAM sendiri tumbuh-tumbuhan

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Makanan Malaysia banyak menggunakan rempah dan herba seperti cili, halia, daun kari, serai, lengkuas, daun kesum, kunyit dan banyak lagi. Kebanyakan herba dan rempah dapat ditanam sendiri di dalam kawasan rumah kita. Selain daripada itu harga sayur-sayuran juga tidak menentu dipengaruhi faktor cuaca, peristiwa dan sebagainya. Sayur-sayuran seperti kobis, kangkung, tomato dan timun juga boleh ditanam sendiri dengan mudah dan cepat membuahkan hasil.

Idea ini bukan sahaja boleh dilaksanakan oleh penduduk rumah atas tanah malahan sesuai untuk penghuni pangsapuri dan kondominium. Ruangan balkoni sahaja sudah cukup untuk menanam sesetengah sayur-sayuran, rempah dan herba. Maklumat lanjut boleh diperolehi dengan melayari laman sosial Facebook sesetengah persatuan misalnya Malaysia Gardeners dan TTDI Edible Project. Selain menjimatkan kos, tumbuh-tumbuhan yang ditanam sendiri bebas daripada racun serangga.

Petua #5: CUCI SENDIRI kereta

Rata-rata setiap rumah di Malaysia mempunyai sekurang-kuranganya sebuah atau dua buah kereta. Semasa saya membeli kereta pertama saya iaitu kira-kira sedekad yang lalu, upah yang dikenakan di pusat mencuci kereta untuk mencuci dan memvakum kereta hanyalah RM5 untuk kereta kecil seperti Perodua Kancil dan RM7 untuk kereta sedan 4 pintu. Lama-kelamaan ia meningkat kepada RM 10 – RM 12 bagi kereta sedan. Tahun ini pula harga minimum ialah RM 12 dan mencecah sehingga RM15 di sesetengah tempat!

Itulah sebabnya tahun ini saya membuat keputusan untuk mencuci sendiri kereta saya. Selain daripada menjimatkan duit ia juga senaman yang bagus untuk diri. Bagi keluarga dengan anak kecil, aktiviti mencuci kereta boleh dijadikan masa untuk mengeratkan hubungan dengan anak-anak. Satu aktiviti mudah ini memberikan tiga manfaat.

Mungkin ada yang masih tidak yakin dengan petua-petua yang dikongsikan dalam ruangan ini. Ramai juga mungkin tertanya-tanya, “Banyak ke duit yang boleh dijimatkan dengan cara-cara ini?” Bak kata orang tua-tua, belum cuba belum tahun. Penjimatan duit harus dilihat daripada sudut jangka masa panjang. Mungkin penjimatan RM 20 seminggu tampak kecil kepada segelintir tetapi dalam sebulan ia menjadi RM80 dan dalam setahun meningkat kepada RM960. Duit ini sudah cukup untuk membayar yuran sekolah anak-anak atau untuk membeli barangan persekolahan apabila tiba musim persekolahan baru.

Anda masih ragu-ragu?

Belanja Berhemat Bahagian 1

Ramai yang mengeluh apabila melihat baki akaun yang semakin berkurangan menjelang pertengahan bulan. Bagi sesetengah daripada kita “musibah” ini mungkin berlaku seawal minggu pertama dalam bulan baharu!

Tidak kurang juga yang bingung memikirkan, “Ke mana pergi duit aku? Rasanya tak banyak belanja pun bulan ini.”

Ini biasa berlaku apabila kita tidak merekodkan setiap perbelanjaan harian dan bulanan. Rekod perbelanjaan harian sangat penting supaya maklumat ini boleh dianalisa pada penghujung bulan. Berdasarkan hasil analisa ini, kita boleh menentukan sekiranya ada perbelanjaan boros yang boleh dielakkan pada masa hadapan. Selain merekodkan perbelanjaan harian terdapat beberapa cara untuk berbelanja dengan hemat.

Petua #1: Beli Apa yang PERLU Sahaja

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Hobi utama rakyat Malaysia adalah rata-rata menghabiskan masa di pusat membeli-belah. Kita sentiasa berhadapan dengan pelbagai muslihat jualan seperti “promosi terhebat”, “terlajak laris” dan “harga runtuh, hari terakhir”. Memang susah untuk mengawal diri apabila berhadapan dengan strategi pemasaran sebegini apatah lagi dengan kehadiran empat Karnival Jualan Mega Malaysia (“Malaysia Mega Sale”) dalam setahun! Tidak hairanlah jika ada yang hilang kawalan diri apabila  membeli-belah sampai berhutang keliling pinggang.

Penting untuk kita berfikir sejenak sebelum membeli produk yang kononnya 50% lebih murah. Cuba tanya diri anda soalan-soalan berikut sebelum membuat keputusan untuk membeli sesuatu:

  • Barangan ini merupakan keperluan (“necessity”) atau kehendak (“wish / desire”)?
  • Jika ia satu keperluan, adakah anda akan menggunakannya dalam masa 6 bulan akan datang?

Jika anda menjawab “TIDAK” kepada kedua-dua soalan di atas, maka sudah jelas keputusan yang perlu diambil. Dengan cara ini anda akan sedar terdapat banyak barangan yang kita tidak perlukan sebenarnya. Pada penghujung setiap bulan, cuba jumlahkan harga kesemua barangan “kehendak” yang tidak dibeli kerana anda berjaya menahan godaan membeli. Anda akan terkejut melihat jumlah wang yang berjaya dijimatkan!

Elakkan juga membeli barangan keperluan secara berlebihan atau pukal. Slogan iklan (“tag line”) popular penjual adalah “Beli satu, Percuma satu” atau “Beli satu, Produk kedua dapat diskaun 50%!” Sesetengah barangan seperti makanan atau barang basah tidak boleh disimpan lama kerana mempunyai tarikh tamat tempoh (tarikh luput /guna sebelum/ “expiry date”). Tarikh tamat tempoh untuk produk sebegini perlu diperiksa sebelum membuat belian.

Petua #2: Beli Produk Berkualiti

Pembeli selalu tertarik untuk membeli barangan promosi tetapi bukan semua barangan yang dijual murah itu berkualiti. Sebelum membeli sesuatu produk, cuba periksa kualiti produk tersebut dan lihat tempoh jaminan yang diberi (jika ada). Jika perlu, cuba layari internet untuk mendapatkan ulasan dalam talian daripada pengguna lain. Kadang-kadang barangan murah sebegini cepat rosak dan perlu dibeli semula selang beberapa bulan. Dalam dunia sekarang yang didorong pengguna, ini merupakan helah pengeluar atau penjual untuk menghasilkan produk yang mempunyai tempoh simpan / hayat simpan (“shelf life”) pendek supaya produk-produk mereka sentiasa terjual.

Pembeli dinasihatkan supaya berwaspada dengan produk / jenama sebegini. Lebih baik berbelanja lebih sedikit untuk membeli produk yang bermutu dan tahan lebih lama. Jadilah pengguna bijak.

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