A New Year and looking at ways to reduce expenditure

Time sure flies really fast. I guess the rat race is non-stop. Before you know it, 2 months has already passed since the New Year, including the Chinese New Year celebration! Year 2016 bode some very challenging times ahead for work and personal. And the scandal involving top politicians and their uncaring policy is causing lots of hardship to the day-to-day people.

I could berate about such supercilious politicians who just want to hang on to their position. Reading the daily news just make us feel hapless when those that want to make a change, gets kick about. Sigh! Such is the situation when our beautiful country is heading towards a police like state as one of our former PM said.

The poor management of our beloved country has caused our exchange rate to lose 20% of its value. Importers have no choice and generally the inflation of goods has gone up 20% to reflect the higher cost of import. Not to mention all kinds of company levies, hidden taxes, toll charges and removal / reduction of subsidies. And that do trickle down to our daily meals where I could see either the portion has become lessor or price has to be increased or both. And yet our salary stayed the same. Woe to those lower income who would be the hardest hit.

Even now, I’m looking at some way to reduce some of my expenditure. And one of the things I’m looking at is the my monthly entertainment. Astro has been increasing their price year by year. Despite the fact that I shared an account with my sister-in-law to reduce the cost by 25%, it is still quite a lot. Thankfully competition is coming in the the form of online movie streaming service either via TM HyppTV, iflix or NetFlix. Many Astro contenders has come and gone but those were trying to compete on the same platform of using satellite signal and decoders which need high capex. Online streaming on the other hand just need a good strong robust servers and a stable high internet bandwidth speed.

Apparently 5MPS is sufficient to stream, so looks like I don’t intend to take up Unifi 30MPS upgrade offer which actually bumps up my monthly expenditure a lot. Malaysia is still behind in terms of affordable internet speed when compared with our neighbour across the causeway, we get 10% of the internet speed for similar pricing and no freebies like laptop etc. One of our politician has the gall to say that we Malaysians “prefer” slower internet speed when it all boils down to affordability. Our low income and high cost is really bad combination, don’t they know that? I guess they’ve been living in the clouds with their lofty position and high side income from somewhere that they lost touch with the man in the street.

Reducing unnecessary items is necessary as that would hopefully translate to using the spare money for other things like savings, insurance, kids tuition, etc. Though I may not be that cash strap as I exercise prudent budgeting, but it is good to do some austerity exercise. A little here and there could mean a lot in the long run.

Some expenses I may be stucked and no way to circumvent due to contract and penalties. But for those that I could, some amount of running around may be needed.

Some idea for my cost reduction:
1) Switching normal Astro service to NJOI, that would effectively make my monthly expense zero. The prepaid service has some free channels. Although not so interesting, I could subscribe to some of the paid channels if I find any interesting offering. While still making use of my Astro decoder.

2) iFlix is free for one year till December 2016 for Unifi customers. So I don’t have to think about subscribing till it ends. At RM8 per month it is very affordable. Though the movie offerings are rather limited for now. Let’s see if they can get some more latest content to perk up my interest.

3) My previous experiments with the various telcos prepaid SIM has been concluded. Keeping those lines alive cost about RM30 per year and I’m not really using them. If I still want those numbers, one way is to port them over to a long life validity telco. Tron by Talk Focus Sdn Bhd would be a good choice. Topping any amount gives 365 days validity.

4) Webhosting and domains – I’m consolidating my domain and getting rid of those that are not so useful and not generating much income. Approximately USD10 per year adds up when you have many. I’ve also given up Flexihosting due to their poor customer service and out-of-date Apache server. IPserverone is still very stable though they have increased their hosting cost by 25%, their customer service has been good and responsive so far. They no longer offer shared hosting to general public and has focused more on enterprise customers to boost their income. And lastly I’ve given up Site Build It (SBI) for now and that trimmed up a lot on my yearly expense! I have a learned a lot from it but it was time to move on. Perhaps in future I would go for their WP (WordPress) version.

Cost reduction is one thing, but one has to widen one’s income and that means looking out for investment opportunity. A friend of mine introduced FX. It looks intriguing but I need to be careful having burnt myself on these alternate scheme such as Banner’s Broker and the worse hit Airku. Ponzi schemes are such, and there is no such things as a free lunch. Another problem is my long outstanding tenant. My rental income is inconsistent but kicking them out also mean putting in a lot of refurbishment cost. Although new tenant would hopefully translate to a more stable income. Another good income so far for me has been the high dividend yield of Maybank shares. I get a nice package every quarter and much better than my Adsense income. Hopefully they can still sustain even with such challenging economic situation. And lastly with all the battering from Google against websites, I don’t put so much hope on Adsense income as I no longer could keep up with all their policy changes. If it comes, it comes. I think offline earnings are much better.

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