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Malaysians not on the road to financial recovery

PETALING JAYA: Malaysians find it harder to save money each month as 52% out of 3,033 respondents save less than RM500 monthly or do not manage to save at all, an increase from last year’s 49%, according to the RinggitPlus Malaysian Financial Literacy Survey.

Besides, 21% live paycheck to paycheck as they do not save any money each month, a slight increase from 19% last year; while 76% of respondents believe that they are in control of their money, of which, 33% still spend exactly or more of what they earn.

However, the survey found that Malaysians take emergency funds more seriously since the Covid-19 pandemic, noting that 63% of respondents picked “emergency fund” as their top reason for saving money, followed by retirement at 49%, travel at 40%, and new property or a house at 38%.

About 15% of respondents are more aware that EPF savings will not suffice for retirement compared to 30% who believe their savings are sufficient for retirement in 2020, but 45% of this group admitted that they have not started planning for their retirement.

RinggitPlus co-founder and director Hann Liew (pix) recommended a minimum of three to six months of monthly expenses should be allocated as emergency savings.

“Three to six months of a person’s monthly expenses (should be able to) cover all emergency expenses such as car repair or medical expenses,“ he told reporters during a virtual press conference today.

The survey showed Malaysians’ savings have dropped possibly due to the economic effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, as only 15% of respondents are able to save RM1,500 or more each month, a reduction from 20% in 2020.

Half or 50% of the respondents revealed that they would not survive more than three months if they lose their job, while 44% spend exactly or more than what they earn, similar to 43% in 2020. 21% have either taken or are planning to take a loan moratorium, which double the number of the industry estimates.

Meanwhile, credit card ownership have dropped, of which, 45% do not own any compared to 35% in 2020, 45% of respondents carry one to three cards, dropping 6% from last year, while only 10% own more than four cards, previously 14%.

The survey showed that e-wallet adoption remains healthy in Malaysia at 89%, of which, 36% use three or more different e-wallets for their payments. Despite efforts to encourage users to purchase insurance online, the majority of Malaysians (65%) still prefer buying via an agent.

About 49% of respondents, in which, 63% are youth, are willing or open to investing in cryptocurrencies. Meanwhile, on savings, 24% of youth or millenials aged between 18-35 years do not have enough to survive beyond one month, while 57% cannot survive more than three months, and 45% spend exactly or more than what they earn.

The survey received 3,033 responses nationwide, from which stratified sampling of 1,518 was conducted to achieve a more representative sample of the Malaysian population.