A Minimum Wage Life in Malaysia Illustrated
Living on minimum wage isn’t easy. It means living on just RM900 in Peninsular Malaysia, or RM800 in Sabah and Sarawak. Sounds impossible, right? Now imagine supporting your entire family on this wage! Unfortunately, this exercise is the reality for many Malaysians, even those living in the capital city.
You can but survive, not live. Minimum wage earners still have the same spending considerations as we do, with a severe limit. They still have to pay for food, utilities, transportation, and so on. What’s it like to live in their shoes?
If you’re earning minimum wage, you probably don’t have property you can call your own, which means you’re renting. Cheap rentals tend to either be rather dilapidated or too far away for convenience, especially if you live in a more developed state such as Penang or Selangor.
You can make an effort to stay below the cut-off mark to pay the minimum fee for your water and electricity bills or waive it altogether, depending on which state you live in. This way, you’ll be able to put the balance to better use. You could also save further by cutting your Internet plan and relying on public Wi-Fi whenever you have to go online.
A car is expensive to own and maintain due to steep monthly instalments and rising fuel costs, so as a minimum wage earner you’d probably make do with a motorcycle, bicycle, or public transportation. If you use buses and LRTs often, then seasonal passes might be the way to go.
Theoretically, food is one of the easiest things you can scale back when you’re earning minimum wage, but realistically, you also have to eat every day for sustenance. You and your spouse may be able to make do with plain rice and soy sauce, but your children will need milk powder, gruel, and all other things a growing child needs.
Two RM4.00, five-packet instant noodles pack could, perhaps, supplement your rice and vegetables and bread without breaking the bank, and crock-pot meals can come in handy for an affordable, balanced diet. Eating out with the whole family may only happen once in a blue moon.
Mobile phones are a new must-have in the working world as a means of instant telecommunication. Smartphone plans are getting cheaper, but they’re still far from cheap for those on a shoe-string budget. Modern plans come bundled with data, so you can choose one that’s the most affordable and use public Wi-Fi whenever you can to conserve your limit.
Clinics are expensive to visit, which is why many low-income earners opt for either natural remedies or over-the-counter medications as opposed to those prescribed by a doctor.
Life as a minimum wage earner is tough, and not all of us get the chance to get better jobs and better pay. But never stop dreaming – and once you achieve your dream, remember to stay frugal and to help others in need if you can.