Statistics about money can offer a lot of insight about our financial situation. Here is a list of facts and figures from reputable Malaysian media, educational institutions and government agencies about money matters in the country.
1. Insurance coverage: Only half of Malaysians have life insurance, but up to 90% of Malaysians are under-insured. Being under-insured is when your insurance coverage is only one or two times your annual income. (Malaysian Digest | The Star Online)
2. Saving habit: At 67%, the saving habit among Malaysians is one of the highest in the world. Almost nine out of 10 changed their spending habits in order to improve their savings. (Free Malaysia Today)
3. What we use our savings for: Two out of five Malaysians are willing to splurge on vacations/travel. Almost one out of five are willing to upgrade gadgets/electronics, pay for out-of-home entertainment and home improvement. (Free Malaysia Today)
Three out of four Malaysian travellers said their choice of holiday was often determined by how successful they were at securing a good price or a special offer. (Vulcan Post)
4. Top three ways to cut back on spending, as preferred by Malaysians: Spending less on new clothes (65%), reducing out-of-home entertainment (56%) and switching to cheaper grocery brands (51%). (Free Malaysia Today)
5. Top four factors that cause financial problems for Malaysians: Poor financial planning (22.9%), high cost of medication (18.3%), business failure (15.2%) and uncontrolled credit card usage (11.1%). (www.akpk.org.my | Ringgit Oh Ringgit)
6. How money is spent: Malaysians spend 31.2% of their disposable income on food and food away from home; 23.9% on petrol, housing and utilities; and 14.6% on transport. (New Straits Times)
7. How you’re categorised: According to the Economic Report 2015/2016, the B40 (bottom 40% household income) group comprises households with a monthly income of up to RM3,855, while those in the M40 group (middle 40% household income group) earn between RM3,860 and RM8,319 (says.com). Middle-class is subjective, but generally refer to individuals earning RM5,000-10,000 per month. (Malay Mail Online)
8. How branding affects your purchasing habit: About two-thirds of Malaysians consumers prefer to buy new products from brands familiar to them, and like it when manufacturers offer new product options. TV commercials are the number one source of new product information. (www.nielsen.com)
9. Who you spend on: Malaysians are willing to spend an average of RM198.63 on their spouse, RM173.71 on their fiancé or fiancée, RM159.03 on a girlfriend or boyfriend, and RM156.09 on themselves. (Rakuten data taken from Valentine’s Day and CNY; The Star)
10. Biggest factors affecting purchasing decisions: Bought on promotion/discount (30%), self-purchases (23%), urgent needs (21%). (www.statista.com)
11. Top factors affecting consumer behaviour (among university students): Economic crisis, lifestyle choices and to reflect personality. (www.researchgate.net)
12. Gen Y/Millennials’ saving and spending habit: This group saves about a quarter and spends three-fifths of their monthly income (Gen X saves about a third of their income).
Top spending: Apparel (34%), entertainment (22%) and food (16%).
Top reasons why we save: Emergencies (25.6%), future investment (24.1%), vacation (10.9%), wedding (10.4%). (http://eprints.utar.edu.my/)
13. Gen Y/Millennials and investment: About a third of millennials have an investment portfolio. Four out of five think the stock market is risky. Millennials invest in: Unit Trusts (15.6%), Gold (13.1%) and Shares (8.9%). (http://eprints.utar.edu.my/)
14. Gen Y/Millennials – credit cards and debt: 70% pay minimum monthly payments and 45% do not pay on time. Most debt is for car and education loans. (Asian Institute of Finance Berhad)
Nearly 25,000 Millennials have been declared bankrupt within five years (as of June 2015; The Star). You can be declared bankrupt if you fail to settle a minimum debt amount of RM30k.
15. Differences in incomes among states: Kelantan and Perak are 84.8% and 81.1% below the national average, while KL and Putrajaya are 64.4% and 62.9% above average income. (Malay Mail Online)
16. How Malaysians absorb financial shocks (or don’t): Half of households in the country do not have savings. Only one in five households could survive up to three months if income was cut off. (The Star)
17. What the very poor spend on most: The poorest households spend a larger percentage of income on food (30.4%), while the richest households only spend 9.9%. (The Star)
18. Stay in school, if you can: The median monthly salary for employees with tertiary education (RM3,100) is two times higher than employees with high school education (RM1,500). (Department of Statistics Malaysia)
19. Wastage: The average household throws away a lot of food – RM2,700 worth of food, annually. Shame on us (The Star)
20. What the very rich spend on: Very rich Malaysians invest in residential properties overseas (technically, they are ultra high net worth individuals). They like this so much, they rank higher than the world average. (Malay Mail Online)
21. Wage and GDP ratio: According to an economic think-tank, Malaysian companies keep most of the profits for themselves instead of the other way around. The ratio now is 33% for employee wages, 67% as company profit. In advanced countries, companies only keep 40-50% as profit while the rest is distributed as employee wages. (Free Malaysia Today)
22. Scary facts about Malaysians and scams: Nearly half of Malaysians surveyed have been victims of scams. The funny thing is three-quarters of those surveyed are aware of “internet scams”. The average loss is a whopping RM7,040. Top scams: work from home (30%), internet auction (22%) and online dating scams (20%). (The Star)
23. Retirement: Nearly four out of five people who contribute to the Employees Provident Fund can’t afford to retire. (Today Online)
Which statistic about money made you think hard about your financial future? Any other statistics aside from the above that made you go “hmm”?
This article first appeared in ringgitohringgit.com
Suraya is a corporate writer-for-hire and the blogger behind personal finance website Ringgit Oh Ringgit. She is more of a minimalist, less of a consumerist, a konon DIY enthusiast, a let’s-support-small-businesses-over-big-corporations kinda girl. Prior to her current role, she worked in various capacities within the non-profit industry.