Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Can you survive a day in KL with RM10?



Far and wide, Klang Valley-ites have been lamenting that it is getting more and more difficult to survive on the income they earn. But there are still those who say that it is perfectly possible to be comfortable with a little bit of financial management. To see what the reality really is on the ground, we armed our writer with RM10 to take on a day in Kuala Lumpur.


Charioting your way to the city
As the sub-header suggests, first of all, one needs to get to the city – be it for work, play or general hanging about. Charioting, yes, but not with the ancient horse-drawn two-wheeled vehicle of course (although it can save you money on petrol but fill our streets with horse manure). Rather, you will get there with the modern ‘chariots’ available such as a bus, taxi or the LRT. With RM10, we had no choice but to take the cheapest option available.

Though walking would of course be even cheaper; it’s not a suitable option if you work in Jalan Tun Razak and live in Cheras. Thus, we looked up bus fares. Depending on where you stay and where you work, taking a bus to and fro will cost anywhere between RM3 to RM7 per day. Taking the middle sum of RM5 per day for transport (although may God help you if you need to commute longer on a packed bus and pay RM7 per day, with only RM3 to spare for lunch), you will be left with a ‘grand’ RM5 for lunch and anything else you may need to pay for during the day.

Money for the tummy
Ah, lunchtime. It’s what every office worker dreams about from the moment they clock in. But what kind of fantasy lunch could one have with RM5? With such an amount, the choices of what and where to eat becomes rather limited. Forget a McDonald’s McValue meal at RM5.95; it’s not enough value for your budget. Your best bet would probably be the mamak restaurant or a hawker centre that sells economy rice. Even opting for one of these no-frills eateries; with RM5 you won’t be able to get any drinks beyond plain water (RM0.30) or diluted Chinese tea (RM0.50). If you decide to remain parched until you get back to the office water cooler; you will have your RM5 intact for food.

But you will have to be cautious of what you pick especially if you are having economy rice. It is best to ask how much each dish is to be on the safe side of not taking more than your balance of RM5. If you are afraid to ask and appear like a right cheapskate; the safest bet is to go vegetarian. A bunch of vegetables on rice is unlikely to cost more than RM4; leaving you with RM1 should you need to buy a sweet. Yes, A sweet.
On the other hand, having lunch at a mamak stall could be less of a headache. Just stay away from the nasi kandar section. Instead, stick to the basics such as maggi goreng or roti canai. The most a mamak could charge you for a maggi goreng is RM4 (and that usually doesn’t happen unless it’s a truly uppity mamak) and a max of RM2 for a roti (unless you’ve got sardines or something in it). If you decide on a roti; you might be able to squeeze in a limau ais. Lucky you.

The verdict
Is it possible to survive in KL on RM10 a day? Yes, but as you can see, you won’t be too near comfortable. RM10 also means you won’t be able to spend on anything else besides your commute and lunch. Forget teatime or even breakfast! With that said, you’d think RM10 a measly amount but if you do a bit of easy calculation, it’s RM50 a week and RM200 a month. For a minimum wager pulling RM1000 to RM1500; RM200 is a good fraction of their income.

The easy answer to this question simply is; yes you can survive but not half as well as you should considering the level of wages.

Do you have any suggestions or ideas on how to make your RM10 go further? Let us know!

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