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Naikwatch: 9 really curious things about Malaysian spending in 2015

naikwatch_logo+survey2015Earlier in May, CILISOS worked with our buds over at iProperty to ask Malaysians about their spending habits. The result was NAIKWATCH… an annual survey we’ll be doing to try and track the rising costs of living in Malaysia.

Dunno how we actually managed to get 4,086 MALAYSIANS to take our 10-minute survey, which asks them everything from their income and job, right down to the price of their last haircut. As a frame of comparison, Merdeka Centre gets about 1000 respondents to their surveys (although theirs is on the phone la, so more keng!).

NAIKWATCH's respondents a bit atas, with more than half earning more than RM5k. Iproperty maaa

NAIKWATCH’s respondents a bit atas, with more than half earning more than RM5k. iProperty our partner maaa.

Having said that, here are some things you should know in general about our respondents first.

  • They’re mostly urbanites – although people from all states responded, most of our respondents are from Selangor, Kuala Lumpur and Penang.
  • They’re quite atas – 59% of them earn more than RM5,000 a month, and 31% more than RM10,000. FWA…
  • They’re quite corporate – 56% of them are corporate office types.
  • Age is slightly skewed to older – 59% are between 25-40, and 26% more above 50.

Aaaaaanyways… Interested which state has the cheapest haircuts? Read on!


1. Most Malaysians eat street food for lunch, no matter how rich

Most people, regardless of income, tend to eat in street stalls. Even Malaysia's richest...

Most people, regardless of income, tend to eat in street stalls. Even Malaysia’s richest… – Image via The Sun Daily

Majority of Malaysians at ANY income level spend between RM5-RM10 for lunch, even 40.68% of people who earn more than RM25,000! In fact, rather strangely, 14.67% of  people with NO INCOME spend between RM15-20 on lunch (about the same as the people earning more than RM20,000).

This is actually quite representative of what we see… in that Malaysians of all backgrounds eat at hawker stalls. In fact CILISOS founder n sugar daddy, Tan Sri Vincent Lee is also known for his fondness for street food.

However, this only applies to lunch, as 37% of those in the highest income bracket spend more than RM100 on a night out with friends, with 19.21% spending MORE than RM200. Yowza.


2. East Malaysians are quite chill about GST

image from peoplepets.com

image from peoplepets.com

Before GST hit on April 1st 2015, 49% of Malaysians rushed out for a shopping spree to buy everything from electronic goods to topping up their cars. By comparison, only 37.5% of East Malaysians did the same, although the ones that did spent A LOT – on average RM3415.80! Other Malaysians spent averagely RM2,086, which still sounds pretty high to us.


3. Malaysians will be cutting down on gadgets but not investments

imagr from starproperty.my

imagr from starproperty.my

We also asked Malaysians to rate their likelihood (on a scale of 1 being least likely and 5 being most likely) of cutting down on certain things after GST implementation. The results are mostly expected, like cutting down unnecessary expenses like gadgets, holidays, eating out, entertainment and shopping (around 3.8), while not really cutting down (around 2.2-2.5) on essentials like child expenditure, unit trust, mortgage and insurance.

Ironically, we’re seeing more new gadgets being released by the month…


4. 12.64% of people in Selangor never go on holiday

Image via Pricon @ Deviantart

Image via Pricon @ Deviantart

Quite a shocking stat, considering that Selangor is one of the richest states in Malaysia compared to the state average of 7.68%, also considering the atasness of our respondents. Perhaps they’re working too hard?

Well… Guess who spends the MOST on holidays?

[interaction id=”55eebd91cfb503701d120192″]

The answer is… Pahang! 23.33% of Pahangians (?) spend more than RM5000 a year! However, having said that, our sample size in Pahang was quite small, so maybe we just got all the rich ones who are tired of going to Cameron Highlands adi.

We fact check 4 things Malaysians got wrong about Budget 2019


5. Malaysians don’t spend as much on clothes as we thought

Sri kembangan property

“WOOHOO… Let’s walk around WOLLIS for hours and spend less than RM100!”

Despite our ‘atas’ respondents, less than 45% of Malaysians spend more than RM100 a month on clothes! This was actually quite a revelation for us. Urbanites spent more, of course… with up to 14% of KL-lites spending more than RM300 a month on clothes (vs 13% from Johor, 11% from Selangor and only 9.5% from Sabah and Sarawak).

Predictably, the amount spent on clothes increased depending on income, and in general, tends to peak around your 40s. After that, we’re guessing mid-life crisis over lor.


6. Melaka people are the most kiamsiap

image from alvinchan.net

image from alvinchan.net

WAH Melaka people must not spend much! 56% of them save more than 10% of their salaries (and 18% save more than 25%), versus national average of 44%. Rather surprisingly, only 10.8% of Malaysians don’t save, although the number in Kedah is a more worrying 21.28%… probably cos they spent it all on haircuts. (Explain later.)

(To Melaka peeps: kla kla don’t angry, jk only)


7. Super old and super young Malaysians are the top Prepaid customers

Notice how postpaid usage peaks around the 40s, and tails off after that?

Notice how postpaid usage peaks around the 40s, and tails off after that?

Yep… the people who use Prepaid the most are youngsters and retirees. Well, that’s actually to be expected la.. When you’re young, you can’t afford it, and by the time you’re old, you don’t need it 🙂

Also, there’s a higher prepaid usage in rural areas, with 47.73% of Kedahans, 44.8% of East Malaysians and 42.5% of those kiamsiap Melakans using it.

The biggest surprise tho? That 65.62% of Malaysians prepaid users spend more than RM100, versus only 53.53% of POSTpaid users. This means that a lot of Malaysians are actually not saving money on prepaid (see mom, we told you!). However, a smart 15.11% of prepaid users managed to keep their bills under RM60, versus less than 9% of postpaid users. And yes, that includes 28% of our Melakan friends 🙂


8. East Malaysia groceries must be quite expensive lor

supermarket push

image from sixthseal.com

A whopping 81% of East Malaysians spend more than RM300 a month on groceries (versus 68% of the rest of the population). Going deeper, 48% of them spend more than RM500 a month! Whoah. We actually asked some of our East Malaysian friends, and they do confirm that groceries are more expensive there.

By comparison, only 35% of KL-ites and 41% of Selangorians spent more than RM500 on groceries. This is probably cos we lucky people in Peninsular have things like Hypermarkets and 99 speedmarts to compete with each other. In Sabah and Sarawak, it seems they only have Giant, although TESCO apparently has plans to go in as well.

9. Wanna get a haircut? Go to Perak!

"Aneh! Facepalm satu kasi!" - Image from suanie.net

“Aneh! Facepalm satu kasi!” – Image from suanie.net

Yep, that’s right. Perak has the lowest average price of haircut at just RM25.93! Actually, we were quite shocked at this statistic. The national average price for a haircut is RM38.06! Wahlau… Indian barber tak laku already ka!? Most expensive place to get a haircut were expectedly KL (RM51.06) and Selangor (RM48.76), although surprisingly Kedah wasn’t far behind at RM47.


YOU can Help us track Malaysian spending habits!

So here’s the thing. CILISOS always believes in working with its readers. We want to make this whole Naikwatch thing a collaborative experience. To that end, here are 3 things you can do:

  1. Download the entire EXCEL sheet worth of data here, and play with it! Let us know if you find any other interesting trends, and we’ll add it here as part of the survey! (Asst Ed’s note: Compiling this data drove our Editor NUTS. But for an EXCEL n00b like himself, quite impressive la I think. #download2support) 
  2. Join the next NAIKWATCH to help us keep track of the rise in living expenses.
  3. Make fun of Melaka people (i.e. CILISOS writer Hans). Just ’cause. 

At the end of the day, we live and spend here, just like you 🙂



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