‘I just want a simple life’ – me, and probably a good chunk of RoR readers, thinking that it’s cheap.
No, not really. It is a misconception that the simple life is cheap.
Yes, perhaps it is much cheaper than the luxurious life (often funded by debt, but let’s not go there). I’m talking about the more basic things that people want even in the simplest of lifestyles, like…
#1 – Security and safety
This is the crime statistics in Malaysia in 2019, as taken from Department of Statistics Malaysia website. In 2019, there were:
- 16,489 violent crimes (murder, rape, robbery and causing injury), and
- 66,969 property crimes (home break-in and theft, vehicle theft, snatch theft and other theft)
Now, as they say, bad situation got no smell, but I sure as heck will take precautions to NOT be part of the statistics.
And part of that precaution involves spending money to be safer. There are a few ways to go about this:
#1- Live in a ‘good part of town’
Living in a ‘good part of town’ is more expensive. Property prices tend to be higher, as are rental prices. That’s the premium you pay for lower crime rates (as well as other features in the neighbourhood).
At the very least, expect RM500,000 and above for property, and RM1000 and above for monthly rental.
There’s also likely to be additional costs to cover the hiring of security guards. This is common in gated communities.
#2 – Get security enhancements
Wherever you live, you still have to pay for security enhancements: grills, gates, CCTV. At the very least, extra locks (high-quality ones).
Some of you may scoff at this. Maybe you don’t care if you’re single, but you will care once you have dependents, whether a spouse or children or heck, ageing parents. You never want them to be in a situation where they have to fight off intruders.
#3 – Move to places with lower crime rates
Well that’s Klang Valley, it should be better in other states, some of you say. It is true that KL and Selangor has higher crime rates compared to the rest of Malaysia.
Okay, great for people living in other states, or willing to move there. Statistically, Sabah and Terengganu has the lowest crime index ratio compared to other states in Malaysia.
But lower crime doesn’t mean no crime. Plus, not everyone can nor wants to move after building their whole life in one location.
So, both good location and security enhancements still doesn’t guarantee safety – there’s still a chance of becoming victim to violent and property crimes. Therefore, you need to get…
#2 – Insurance/takaful (a few types at that)
Sure, you can go without insurance/takaful and just hope nothing bad happens. If you are lucky, nothing will happen to you.
But if you’re not… it’s not uncommon to fall into debt spiral. Here’s how it happens:
- Didn’t get insurance
- Crime happens, bill amounts to thousands
- Can’t afford to recover, repair or replace
- Can’t work or focus on work due to stress
- Savings (if you had any) dwindle. Can no longer pay for basic needs
- Desperation kicks in, borrows money at high interest rate
- Gets into debt/bankruptcy
You can avoid the worst-case scenario by having a LOT of savings, and/or by having insurance/takaful.
There are a few types of insurance/takaful that are specifically designed to help you recover financially if a crime happens to:
- Your body: Medical, personal accident (these help if you get hurt physically, rather than get sick by an ailment or disease. For those, you need to get critical illness insurance, life insurance etc)
- Your car: Car insurance
- Your property: Home insurance
- Misc: Smartphone insurance, laptop insurance etc
Each of them will set you back a few hundred to a few thousand ringgit per year, depending on the coverage and sum assured. Obviously, getting max level protection with the widest coverage and max sum assured will be on the more expensive side.
This is not a PSA to get insurance, although you can take it as such. This is just to highlight how expensive peace of mind is.
#3 – Clean surroundings and consumables
What else makes a simple life? To quote Jack from Titanic, “I mean, I got everything I need right here with me. I got air in my lungs, a few blank sheets of paper.”
Well, thanks to pollution caused by excessive consumption (mostly contributed by the super rich and those living in developed countries), the air in your lungs is dirty, and getting dirtier. Nowadays, if you want clean air, you have to pay for it.
(Please join me to hate on the ultra-rich, who contribute the most to excessive consumption)
That’s not all. Another expense you have to shell out for cleanliness is hand sanitisers, soaps, antibacterial wipes, face masks and more. Has to be said, now that we live in pandemic times.
And of course we can’t forget about clean food and ingredients – of course you want this for your simple life right? These affects long-term health, and tend to be more expensive.
(Although sometimes I wonder if it’s even worth it, if it’s too late for everyone. You can’t avoid harmful ingredients, I mean they already found microplastics in your blood.)
You can argue in the grand scheme of things, the cost of cleanliness is not that much if you plan your spending well, and adopt certain lifestyles (plant-based, grow/rear own produce, etc), but it adds up.
So, back to my original train of thought:
Simple living is expensive
You will notice that I’m not even talking about quality products and services, or kids, or other life experiences you want to pursue. Those you should already know are expensive.
But things like security and safety, and insurance/takaful, and even clean surroundings and consumables? This is the most basic of lifestyles, and will still cost serious money.
Fact is, the simple life is still damn expensive for most people. This is not a complaint, just a statement. I don’t know why we pretend it isn’t. You should acknowledge that it is pricey, so you can earn smarter and budget better.
That’s my commentary for the day. No advice beyond the usual – earn more (via increasing salary and/or side income), invest for long-term. For good measure, compare your expenses to Belanjawanku so you know which areas you can trim. All the best y’all.