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What COVID-19 Means For Your Money

by Lee Xin Hui, Rachel. |


Crunch is partnering with Hey Alfred - the smartest financial assistant app powered by Ai to help you track all of your financial assets; to bring you this series.


In this series, we want to provide you with helpful information to gain better financial literacy. Through this journey, you will learn how to manage your money better, save more and secure your finances for the future. If you often find yourself clueless on money matters like paying your first income tax, applying for loans or even how to save more without feeling miserable, this series is just for you.


We got your back. It’s time to take control of your #MoneyMatters.

The COVID-19 has triggered a widespread panic, with the Malaysian government declaring a 14-day Movement Restriction Order (MRO) 2 weeks ago, and topping it with another 14-day extension, people have been worrying about their health, their daily necessities, and without a doubt their finances.


We know some households and small businesses earn only enough to cover the bare minimum, with minimal savings, and with the Movement Control Order limiting our capabilities to earn, how will we survive? Not only that, freelancers without a fixed income will be affected as well - with no projects, how will the money come in? How will we eat, pay the rent, pay the bills?


Chin up friends, here are some things we thought you might want to know to help you fight your way out of this situation.


To help ease the financial burden for Malaysians, here are some measures taking place by our Malaysian government with the updated Economic Stimulus Package (27 March 2020) that you should to take note of as it could affect how you manage your money greatly:


  • Income tax deadline is extended by 2 months - You now have until 30th June to submit your tax returns.

  • Electricity bill discount - There will be a discount ranging between 15-50% off electricity bills, for the next 6 months starting 1st April 2020.

  • PTPTN loan repayments deferment - The government has announced a 6-month deferment, until 30th September as of 23rd March 2020.

  • Temporary loan deferment - Banks like Maybank, CIMB, AmBank, Hong Leong Bank and Public Bank are offering temporary loan deferments of 6 months starting from 1st April 2020.

  • Individuals and households will receive reliefs - Individuals above the age of 21 and earning less than RM2,000 per month will receive relief of RM800. - Individuals above the age of 21 and earning between RM2,000 to RM4,000 per month will receive relief of RM500. - Households with income below RM4,000 will received a relief of RM1,600. - Households with income between RM,4000 to RM8,000 will receive relief of RM1000.


While these do not solve your problems directly, the deferments of these payments and the relief will help lift some weight off your shoulders. Now that the deadlines have been extended, you might be able to use the money reserved for paying taxes and repayments on your day-to-day necessities instead. It may not be much, but a little saved from here and there can make a difference.


Telcos

There are also businesses offering their help, as most companies are now having their employees work from home, Internet connection is one of the main concerns. Fret not, for example, U Mobile is offering double hotspot data for certain plans.


Aside from UMobile, other telco brands like Celcom, Digi, Maxis, Tune Talk, Yoodo and XOX Mobile will be giving FREE 1GB Data everyday to their users starting from 1st to 14th April 2020 between 8am-6pm.


Click HERE to find out more about what your telcos are providing.


Image: freepik


Entertainment

For those who aren’t currently working, will eventually grow frustrated from being cooped up at home for a long period of time; so entertainment companies have played their part in relieving their angst as well! Thank you!


  • Astro is offering its customers free access to all movie channels until 14th April 2020. Non-subscribers will have complimentary viewing of 22 channels including selected on-demand shows via Astro GO - all until 14th April 2020.

  • iFlix is offering its service for free for the whole of Malaysia too.

On another note, Malaysia Airlines has also offered Unlimited Flexibility, with free unlimited dates and destinations exchange. That way, people will not feel obligated to travel back for fear of wasting money.


However, efforts in solving the issue should not be contributed by the government and companies alone! We should all play a role in times of distress, even more so when it comes to managing our own finances.


So, what should you be doing personally?


There is still a lot of uncertainty circling around our income: some people just became unemployed due to retrenchments, while some are being forced to take unpaid leave, which seems to still be in a legal gray area since our Human Resources Ministry have stated that salaries still need to be paid in full. Sadly, we don’t have control over the employers, and for all, we know they may also be suffering financially as well; hence, instead of complaining and whining how bad things are getting, perhaps we should focus on the things we can control.

1. Reassess your budget.

We should be looking to reduce our spending during this time (no more hoarding groceries!). The fact that we’re all indoors and no longer have to commute to work should mean we have a little extra somewhere, but it’s really important to set aside some time to sit down and really think about this. Make smart choices like buying only what you need (skip the snack aisle or juice section for now, there’ll be a time for them when this pandemic is over), and rationing out your food to last the weeks so that you don’t waste money.


2. Build up your Emergency Fund.

Although we’re only 2 weeks into MRO, no one knows for certain how much longer this will last. We understand this may not apply for everyone, but if it’s financially plausible for you, use the opportunity of not going out to really build up your Emergency Fund. Typically, this should be about 3-6 months’ worth of living expenses (anything extra is a great bonus), but if you have other commitments, adjust accordingly; a little money saved from cancelling your usual cafe hops or movie dates is better than nothing.



3. If you have extra, support those who don’t.

The #KitaJagaKita (#WeCareForUs) initiative is offering a platform for those who’d like to volunteer or give financial support for those in need. You can learn more about this movement online to find out other ways to contribute, or look into organisations like Mercy Malaysia who have set up funds in response to the pandemic.

4. Look for opportunities.

A lot of businesses will have to shut down, particularly restaurants, bars, and brick and mortar businesses, but a lot of opportunities will surface in turn! For example, Jeff Bezos has announced Amazon’s hiring of 100k new roles. Now is the time to figure out what role you can take in all of this, and how you can look for new business opportunities or upskill existing ones to fit this new landscape. Who knows? Maybe you’ll come up with something feasible that will work even when the pandemic is over.


If this global crisis has taught us anything financially, it is that luxuries are always secondary when it comes to survival, savings are important, and that we should always help each other out even when there is no pandemic and things are going smoothly for us.


During a time when there only so much that we can control, let’s work together and focus on doing what we can, staying safe at home!

You may find out more about Xin Hui on her Instagram too.


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