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5 Financial Lessons We Have Learned from MCO

I am proud to say that Malaysians handled the COVID-19 pandemic well. Why? Well, Malaysians witnessed a change of government at the beginning of March. Not too long after, the number of COVID-19 cases started to rise and the government implemented a Movement Control Order (MCO) on 18 March 2020. Both Malaysians and politicians were willing to focus on the bigger picture which is fighting against the COVID-19 virus rather than debating about politics. No one was panicking and arguing. Instead, this pandemic has united us Malaysians together.

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It is a wonderful thing to see many Malaysians come forward together to provide support, donation, and assistance. From non-profit organisations to disabled individuals, everyone stepped in to support our frontliners. One 9-year-old even contributed by sewing PPE gowns for the frontliners. All these efforts to ensure that we are can against the COVID-19 virus is worth the sacrifice.

Life During MCO, Our New Normal

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This MCO period has been a learning journey for everyone. During the first week of MCO, some might find it challenging with the sudden change. As weeks passed by, many are slowly accepting that staying at home most of the time does not feel that bad after all and adjusted to the current living situation.

Now let’s take a step back and reflect. What did we learn during this MCO period? Was it a pleasant or bitter experience? Are we affected by it financially? Here are some of our thoughts on how MCO may have impacted some of us from a financial standpoint.

1. Cash is King

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Times have been tough; some have lost their jobs, receiving pay cuts or simply could not find a job. This pandemic has led many of us to realise the importance of having a backup / second income / emergency fund because the future is unpredictable. Reflecting on the positive side, this situation has led most of us to manage our finances better and understand the importance of money. We start to plan our grocery list to avoid unnecessary purchases by placing our needs before wants first during this difficult time.

2. Save Money

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During this MCO, many have discovered the hidden talent in them – cooking. From the viral recipe like the Dalgona coffee to making roti canai, many have attempted these recipes to kill time while being stuck at home. Many thought that they could not cook but instead stepped out of their comfort zone and challenged themselves to try. While we cook most of the time at home, it has made us realise how much money we can save from cooking simple meals at home and also saving petrol cost for not going out as much. For example, the cost of fried rice is around RM2 per plate and dining outside might cost you RM10 more or less. Plus, when you are cooking at home, you tend to buy what you need which results in helping to reduce food wastage.

3. Government’s Financial Aid

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Another thing MCO has taught us is to receive financial help when needed. Our government introduced the PRIHATIN Economic Stimulus Package and PENJANA National Economic Revival Plan to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 and MCO. The B40, M40, frontliners, business owners, students, OKU, etc. are benefited from the initiatives.  

Moreover, those employees who are forced to take unpaid leave because of COVID-19 is entitled under the Employment Retention Programme (ERP) with an incentive of RM600 monthly for a maximum of 6 months. Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) also offered a moratorium/six-month deferment of all loans under financial institutions. On top of that, we are also able to withdraw a maximum of RM500 from our KWSP account through i-Lestari withdrawal scheme. All these initiatives were implemented with the hopes of reducing the people’s burden.

4. Upgrade your Skillset

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While working from home has provided many the flexibility of having much more spare time to learn something new. Whether it is to upscale your skillset to help increase your income, signing up for an online class or simply just reading your favourite book. Many of us now are able to practice healthier work-life-balance where we have more time doing things that align with our personal goals. Many also took this opportunity to generate a second or third income to further support their financial situation.

5. Going Digital

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With restrictive movements, somehow it has forced everyone with no choice but to adopt technology into their lives. We started going cashless by utilising e-Wallets, scanning QR codes for transactions, transferring duit raya using online banking and so on. E-wallet companies, for instance are encouraging users to use their app for transactions by offering cashback promotions, rewards and discounts. By being digital savvy can also help you to save some money for your purchases.

Moreover, this pandemic has shifted most micro and small businesses to move towards digitalisation in order to survive and thrive through COVID-19. Rather than operating solely through offline basis, by going online would help them to penetrate to a larger market audience.

After a Thunderstorm, Comes a Rainbow

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Lastly, I’m sure some of you might have some mixed feelings throughout this MCO period. Would life resume back to what it used to be? Would it be worth it to adjust our way of living? Regardless of what the situation calls for, let’s view this situation positively as this might be a once in a lifetime event. Use this time to reflect, learn how to appreciate the little things in life and especially the people around us.

Financial wise, here is a key point to highlight. It is would be advisable to be prepared and have an emergency fund. When unforeseen circumstances strike, you know then you are financially ready.

Nevertheless, there is nothing shameful if you are seeking for financial assistance during this challenging period. Don’t go through this alone, there are many financing options out there. Just a friendly reminder to seek from legal and trusted financial providers. Many online scammers are trying to capture their prey. Before getting a loan, check these signs to know if the loan you are getting is a scam.

If you need some financial assistance, Direct Lending is here to assist you. We are a personal lending platform tailored for you that offers personal finance that best suit your needs. Personal loan comes with interest rate as low as 2.75% and as fast as 2 working days. Apply and check your eligibility for free.

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