Question: how much money do you actually need, in order to live a good enough life in Malaysia?
In this article, I’ve compiled the estimated monthly expenses for each household category as included in Belanjawanku 2021, so you can use it as an expenditure guide.
What is Belanjawanku
In case you haven’t heard of Belanjawanku, it is an expenditure guide for Malaysian individuals and families aimed to ‘help Malaysians plan their personal and family budgeting to achieve a reasonable standard of living‘.
The bolded part is important. Belanjawanku is not a bare-basics, just enough to eat and sleep kind of expenditure guide. A ‘reasonable standard of living’ is defined as:
- Having enough money to meet basic needs, AND
- Being involved in community activities and gatherings of families and friends, AND
- Living a purposeful and meaningful life
It’s important to note that obviously how much money you need depends on your situation – including your household situation and where you live. Keep the instructions below in mind while you scroll down.
A short note before we start. It is common to, I guess, be angry at the numbers you’re about to see. I’ve seen various versions WHERE TO EVEN FIND CHEAP RENT IN X CITY and ONLY THAT MUCH FOR X CATEGORY?? DO THEY EVEN LIVE IN MALAYSIA on social media.
I don’t know if it will help at all, but I have a short commentary for people who do feel angry at the end of the article. Have a read. But for now, let’s start with..
What’s in Belanjawanku 2021
Belanjawanku 2021 is similar to Belanjawanku 2019, but with 2 main upgrades: additional household categories and inclusion of more Malaysian cities
Updated household categories
Belanjawanku 2019 provides budget estimates for 6 types of household categories, while Belanjawanku 2021 expanded to 9 household categories (bolded are new categories):
- Single (Public Transportation User)
- Single (Car owner)
- Married couple (No children)
- Married couple with one child
- Married couple with two children
- Elderly single
- Elderly couple
- Single parent with one child
- Single parent with two children
Belanjawanku 2019 concentrated on only Klang Valley, while Belanjawanku 2021 breaks down budget estimates across 12 Malaysian cities:
- Klang Valley
- Alor Setar
- Kota Kinabalu
- Johor Bahru
- Kuala Terengganu
- Kota Bharu
Therefore, Belanjawanku 2021 is more useful for senior singles and single parents, as well as people who live outside of Klang Valley. Hopefully they will expand to cover East Malaysia as well in the future.
Estimated monthly expenses for each household category, according to Belanjawanku 2021
The households are sorted by: single, married, elderly and single parent, in that order. Find the one that most closely resembles yours.
#1 – Estimated Monthly Expenses for Single, Public Transportation User
A single, public transportation user would need RM1500 if they live in Alor Setar/Kota Bharu and RM1900 if they live in Klang Valley.
#2 – Estimated Monthly Expenses for Single, Car Owner
A single, car owner would need RM2030 if they live in Alor Setar and RM2570 if they live in Klang Valley.
#3 – Estimated Monthly Expenses for Married without children
A married couple without children would need RM3640 if they live in Alor Setar and RM4590 if they live in Klang Valley.
#4 – Estimated Monthly Expenses for Married with 1 child
A married couple with 1 child would need RM4690 if they live in Alor Setar and RM5910 if they live in Klang Valley.
#5 – Estimated Monthly Expenses for Married with 2 children
A married couple with 2 children would need RM5350 if they live in Alor Setar and RM6810 if they live in Klang Valley.
#6 – Estimated Monthly Expenses for Senior Single
A senior single would need RM1990 if they live in Alor Setar and RM2490 if they live in Klang Valley.
#7 – Estimated Monthly Expenses for Senior Couple
A senior couple would need RM2590 if they live in Alor Setar and RM3170 if they live in Klang Valley.
#8 – Estimated Monthly Expenses for Single Parent with 1 child
A single parent with 1 child would need RM3620 if they live in Alor Setar and RM4690 if they live in Klang Valley.
#9 – Estimated Monthly Expenses for Single Parent with 2 children
A single parent with 2 children would need RM2590 if they live in Alor Setar and RM3170 if they live in Klang Valley.
How does your household finances compare to Belanjawanku guide?
How do your household finances compare to the monthly estimates, as outlined in Belanjawanku guide? Are you spending more or less than the average household in your city?
Where can you go from here? Well,
If you are earning more than the monthly estimates and your household expenses are lower than the estimates in Belanjawanku, awesome! You’re in a good situation, keep it up!
If you are earning the same or less than the monthly estimates and your household expenses are higher than the estimates in Belanjawanku, then:
- Look for ways to cut expenses. The top 3 biggest expenses tend to be Accommodation, Transportation and Food so I suggest to start there first.
- Look for ways to increase your income, because the cost of living is only going to go up from here. Increase your salary through day job or through side hustles
THE EXPENSES ESTIMATES IN BELANJAWANKU DOES NOT REFLECT *MY* REALITY-
Earlier in the article, I mentioned how some people get angry at the numbers. How come the expenses estimates are much higher than MY expenses, they asked.
Well sorry to break it to you, but just because the data in Belanjawanku doesn’t reflect YOUR reality doesn’t mean the whole thing is wrong. If your expenses are way higher, that probably means:
- you are used to the more expensive version of that category, and/or
- you are unaware of the cheaper options, and/or
- you are unwilling to downgrade your lifestyle.
It’s also possible your situation is different from the basic assumptions the researchers used to estimate monthly expenses across different categories. After all, Belanjawanku researchers applied several methodologies to come up with the numbers, they didn’t just come out of thin air. You can refer pages 17-32 Belanjawan 2021 Report to learn more.
Could the researchers do better? Sure. Would be great if they add more household variations, or for people with medical conditions. But some data is better than none, and you can always write to them to request nicely instead of YELLING BLOODY MURDER IN SOCIAL MEDIA.
Hope that settles it. If you are still angry, please Google the Main Character Syndrome and see if you have it. I’ll end here.
(Sorry not sorry. Data collection and analysing is a lot of work, and I respect and appreciate the researchers’ effort in doing Belanjawanku. They don’t deserve to be yelled by netizens)