Category Archives: Money matters

SME loans at 4% p.a.

I have heard a lot about credit available to SMEs at 4% p.a. News also reported that our finance minister Lim Guan Eng urges banks to give cheaper loans to SMEs. But didn’t know how to get that kind of rate.

I recently found out that in order to qualify for that rate, my company needs to get at least a two-star rating from SME Corp‘s  SME Competitiveness Rating for Enhancement (SCORE). You can apply to be assessed online. Just need to fill in the assessment form, and they will try to arrange for a visit to your premise on an agreed date and time.

I’m currently still in the process, waiting for their visit. I guess that is when they will come check all the information that I put in in the assessment form. So remember to get all the supporting documents ready. After the visit, they will have a rating for your business within a week(?). Armed with the rating (at least two-star), you can then approach SME Bank to apply SME loan under Business Accelerator Programme.

Okay, business is turning to the worse this year, with the Wuhan coronavirus affecting travel, F&B businesses and whatnot in Malaysia. Definitely need some working capital to keep our business afloat this time. Serious.

Raising money for medical operation

This is an interesting topic. At least I find it worth discussing. Friend’s daughter need money for an operation overseas. A sizeable amount of money is needed, as it is an organ transplant operation, which the government hospital in Malaysia hasn’t got a lot of experience doing, hence the overseas option instead. And the operation is slightly more difficult than the a more routine operation involving organ donor’s from the exact same blood group.

Anyway the point is although the money required is quite significant, it is however in my view not beyond the reach of the family, or at least if their extended families are included. Instead they have approached a charity organisation and plea for donations to fund the operation. I guess the operation itself is a lot of money. On top of that the family needs to support themselves on other expenses going overseas, together, for the operation. The lost income from the parents together with day to day expenses whilst overseas is a double whammy and can easily cripple the finance of even a middle class family.

It’s a tough call, still. I probably would have tried to raise the money myself, by borrowing money from families and friends first, then maybe even from banks, before moving on to ask for donations. You see, asking for donations, on one hand can potentially help raise the target amount quite quickly. But on the other, it seems like an easy way out. I mean if generosity of people is so easy to come by, then there will be no business case for a medical insurance company. Every time when one needs money for medical purpose, people then respond positively to a donation drive. It is an ideal solution. But somehow I don’t feel comfortable about taking money from others if I feel that I have not exhausted my options. I don’t suppose I want to see my friend be burdened by a back breaking kind of debt, and be unduly stressed financially, on top of the worries that come with his daughter’s operation. But I guess I am one of those who are not very good at receiving (well not that I am very good at giving either). Hmm…

A disastrous August

This is the worst year for our business so far. Over the years the second half of the year was the half that would pull our numbers out from the red. But this year it is so weak that it looks increasingly likely that it would not be enough barred a miracle. This bloody yoyo between GST and SST version 2 didn’t help. In fact I have feeling that our business would be slightly better off if GST remained in place. That Minister of Finance aka Lim Guan Eng is doing nothing of the sort that will boost the consumer confidence. He is just very good in blowing out bad news after bad news in the name of making the previous government, or in particular Najib, looks bad. He’s certainly not the brightest bulb in the ruling coalition, but hey he somehow manages to climb up the ranks, probably with no little help from his father Lim Kit Siang.

Anyway, it’s the 1st of September, the day when SST version 2 commences. Our business won’t have to charge a 6% service tax, because LGE made a U-turn after much complaints from F&B businesses. The threshold was set to be RM500k revenue a year before a business needs to charge the 6% service tax. Then it was revived to RM1 million. And yesterday, or just a few days ago, the threshold was further revised to RM1.5 million. Big deal. The threshold for the previous SST, before GST was implemented, was bloody RM3 million! There will be another round of price increase you better believe it.

A short trip back to the UK

Am still in the U.K., on a coach to the airport. Already spent a week in the U.K. It’s time to fly back home. Reflecting on this rather sudden trip, it is such a mad decision. The story is as such. My flat in the U.K. was in a mess. To do with water leaks, and also the tenant did not take care of the flat and left it in a very bad state. If I were to let the “professionals” in to fix the flat and to redecorate it, it will be too expensive for us. For instance clearing bulky items like white goods and furniture and the mess in the backyard I was quoted £750! And then I’ll still have to replace most of the white goods, repaint the whole flat etc. Easily that would be another £1,500. And the issue is, that may not be all, because after all I have not seen it myself the state of my flat yet.

Hence I decided to fly there myself to restore the flat so it can be back on the rental market again. I estimated that I can do that within about a week, with some help from a friend, mainly to help remove the heavy items. And I could only afford to spend a week away in the U.K. anyway due to various commitments. But how wrong was I, having grossly underestimated the amount of work required in the flat! When I arrived at the flat, it was looking better than I envisaged. The mold was not as bad I thought, and the flat was fairly dry, presumably because the builder Tim who was tasked by the management to repair the ceiling had done us a favour having aired the flat quite extensively. Well he needed the flat to be quite dry to do some plastering anyway. But where the damage was to do with leaks from the gutter over the years, Tim received no instruction from the management to do a good job.

To be continued.

Last instalment to a hire purchase loan

Finally paid the last instalment to a hire purchase loan! Had been paying large sum of money every month for the past five years. A significant drain on the cash flow of my business. It’s such a relief that this is finally over. Does it mean I am going to get my life back from this point onwards having been such a slave to money for so long? I certainly hope so. Trouble is that is not really the end of it yet. There are still other loans to settle. It’s just that this is the most suffocating one. Now I’ll have to work on turning the business around with improved cash flow. Revenue has been falling in the past few years. But I am optimistic that this year will be a better year. Last year was a disaster, with increased competition, and with plans that did not work quite as well as I hoped. Alright ini kalilah, and bring on the general election! The redelineation of election boundaries bill that was passed yesterday with a simple majority in the parliament is to improve UMNO’s chance of winning more constituencies, even at the expense of Barisan Nasional’s other component parties. Constituencies are even more racially divided now..

Off-peak Play Pass by Cheeky Tots

Found out about this incredible deal offered by Cheeky Tots when I brought my children over there today.

In short, for RM25 you get to enter Cheeky Tots any number of times during their off-peak period, which is school days from Monday to Friday, for 3 months. This is incredibly good value, because it is already RM16 to enter on a school day for my daughter. By just paying an extra RM9 I can bring my daughter there as often as I wish during their off-peak period for the next 3 months. You see now I don’t have to worry about paying for their entrance fees if I want to bring them over for a meal. Cheeky Tots is afterall still the most relaxing place in Ipoh for me as a parent if I’m being honest. The toilet is clean. There are plenty of things to keep my children busy and active. The children are safe in the play area so I can relax a little more without having to constantly watching over them like a hawk. Especially now that I have a toddler who likes to climb on anything he can put his feet on. Besides I can get 10% discount on food (a la carte food) as a pass holder too! It really is a no brainer for parents who have time to bring their kids out on weekdays. And they have also recently added a new play section, or more precisely converted what used to be a reading section, that looks like a supermarket.

They certainly have planned all these together. The roll-out of the new section makes the already attractive play pass offer even more compelling!

Oh yeah, actually there is more! They have this “Kids Eat Free” promotion which gives your child a free kids meal when the adult orders an adult set meal (written on the chalk board behind their cafe counter).

The premise is very spacious on weekdays, and air-conditioned. OMG the place has suddenly become so much more attractive in my mind with the introduction of this play pass! Well played Cheeky Tots! I will see a lot more of you from next week onwards.

Inflation is driving consumers to fast food chain

Ordered a bowl of soup noodles (伊面), comes with fish ball(s), minced pork lumps and egg in a coffee shop (茶室)this morning. No vegetables. It costed me RM5.30. Nothing spectacular, in fact it was full of MSG because I felt rather thirsty after eating it. A glass of sour plum lime juice RM2.20. RM7.50 for a breakfast. This seems like the norm nowadays, price point wise, if you want to eat out for breakfast. And then I remembered a McDonald’s breakfast is about this kind of price too. Indeed I’m right, I just checked.

Used to be that it is expensive to dine in McDonald’s. But not anymore. You can get a breakfast for RM5.99, cheaper than the one I paid this morning. You see, inflation in Malaysia, especially from this past few years, has narrowed the cost between eating out in fast food joints and eating out in traditional coffee shops. Soon, I think fast food chains like McDonald’s will muscle out many of the traditional food businesses in Malaysia, because one day McDonald’s will be where people turn to for cheap affordable meals, like how it has already happened in countries like the U.K. What do you think?

Beware of Viu and Digi

I am so going to flame Digi for allowing services like Viu, which is a video content provider, to appear so easily on customer’s bill. To start with, I did not knowingly subscribe to Viu, which I had no idea what it is about until I checked my monthly bill. Because the amount I need to pay for my “all you can eat” type postpaid plan should be the same every month, so I was alarmed why I needed to pay slightly more end of last month. Then I found this item called “Viu subscription” under my Mobile Services section on my bill. I went to my Digi app, but could not locate this subscription. Phoned up Digi customer helpline today and I was kept in a loop after I chose English language. For some reasons the call just wouldn’t progress past this step to get to a customer representative. So went back to my Digi app, and tried Live Chat instead. Waited over 15 mins for an agent, but then I was told that she cannot unsubscribe me from the Viu subscription. I was told I can email ifoundanissue@vuclip.com or call this number 03-22422991 to unsubscribe. So I asked if she can bar third party services from ever getting subscribed to my mobile phone account in future and she said she can’t do that. Digi has become such a pimp hooking up customers to whores but is unable to stop billing customers even if they don’t want any whore in future ever again. Digi is very brave. Please continue to upset more customers. It will sure backfire on them. I still have no idea how I got this Viu subscription. Perhaps it is one of those SMS sent out by Digi with a link which I might have accidentally clicked on. But still I do not believe customers should so easily be hooked to such a monthly subscription, and it is on auto-renewal basis every month too whether or not you use the Viu service! I’ve emailed Viu using the email address I have been given by Digi above. Will see if they will refund me my RM5. Digi seems to disclaim any responsibility even though I actually settled the bill with Digi, not Viu. This is such a scam. Happened before in the UK with similar services stealthily billed to customers without them knowing how it happened, e.g. free trial of services for one month when customers take up a new contract with the mobile phone service providers but are then charged every month after the free trial period etc. But that was ten, fifteeen years ago. There really is no excuse. Digi is basically trying to scam its subscribers by partnering with such services and then put on teflon shoulder and put the blame back on subscribers for not being careful enough. Will update again tomorrow if I hear more from Viu. I need to know how to unsubscribe Viu quickly so I won’t be charged RM5 every month by Digi, and whether I can get a refund for last month’s subscription which I did not use!

Update 6/9/2017:

Turns out that if you manage to speak to a Digi customer representative on the phone, they can unsubscribe you from the Viu service, and they can do a refund on the monthly charge too! This is so different from the answers I was given by the Live Chat agent. There seems to be a serious gap in what the Live Chat agent can do compared to a customer rep on the phone. Think I will give Live Chat a miss from now on. And lastly remember to watch out for your Digi bill!

Update 8/9/2017: Received a text message today telling me that the Viu subscription has been renewed! This is despite me having made complaints to both Digi and Viu. You see, once Viu sneaked into your bill, and on auto-renewal, it seems very difficult to get it removed! Now I have to make a call to Digi, again, to get them to take this subscription off my next bill. This is so bloody annoying!

Energy consumption stays the same with just one air cond!?

Bloody hell, following my move to cut energy consumption by getting my daughter to sleep in the same room as us, in essence reducing the number of air cond running at night from two to one, this is what I got:


In terms of kWh, the reduction was only 27kWh, compared to last month’s reading! WTF, I was certainly expecting a lot more than that! Basically getting into all this hassle of moving my daughter to sleep with us only save us a meagre RM15 a month!

Okay we accept that we are not using the latest inverter air cond, which can cut down on energy usage over regular air cond by (up to?) 50%, in our master bedroom. And the air cond in my daughter’s room is more energy efficient than the air cond in our room. But still this is so bloody demoralising. So much so that we checked the TNB rates per KWh, just in case. But they haven’t risen over the past few months! So we have asked the air cond service guy to come service our air cond today, to ensure that our air cond is not running sub-optimally. We’ll see how the energy usage is like next month. In fact, to think about it, I can check the meter reading tomorrow to see if there’s any improvement, considering that on average we are using about 30kWh a day based on this latest bill. Will keep you lot up to date.

Have to really cut energy use at home

Just received my TNB electricity bill. Price has gone up, again! Used to be around RM200-300. This month has gone up to RM440! Unbelievable, the most expensive electricity bill (for residential use) I have received, yet. I know we switch on two air cond at night, everyday. But apart from that we have not been doing anything too differently. Must be to do with the hot weather lately. I wasn’t aware that there was a price hike from TNB, or was there?! Whatever it is, we are moving my daugher to our bedroom, so that we only need to power on one air cond at night. It’s just too bloody expensive to keep two air cond running everyday at this rate. And we probably need to take shelter in places with air cond more often, it is so bloody hot lately, especially in the afternoon! It is going to be this hot for how much longer??