One Easy Saturday Night

1. Gas (RM 50.63)

petrol

I just did this to verify that my new debit card is working. I just got it a couple of minutes ago so I went to the petrol station and used it to verify that it’s been activated. I do this with my credit card too – for a completely different reason – to check if I’ve exceeded the limit. smirk

2. Dinner (RM 46.85)

dinner

Xinxian went the opposite of the “Look East” policy and we searched for a place that serves the cuisine that she wanted – ended up eating at Pancake House where there were savory pancakes in addition to sweet ones. I had the Classic Country Pancake.

pancakes

She had the Best Taco Special set.

halo halo

We both ordered Halo Halo coz it says that it originates from the Philippines and since we’re heading there I thought it’ll be fun to eat this here and compare it with the authentic (at least geographically) one when we head there in about a week or so.

dinner bill

Not a bad place for a quick dinner.

3. Shopping (RM 199)

clothes

It has come to my attention that my style of dressing leaves a lot to be desired – the vibe I got was that I look horrigible in what my current wardrobe repertoire offers so when Xinxian broke the news to me we went searching for attire that would not be so offensive to her eyes.

taste

I admit that my fashion sense may be slightly different – I love this pair of sneakers for example, while Xinxian just thought it was loud and garish.

shopping

I don’t buy a lot of clothes, preferring to spend the money on experiences like travel, but since there was a sale going on, and I had a self-appointed fashion consultant, I got a long sleeved checkered shirt. It was originally RM 199 but with the 50% discount, it went down to RM 99.50 which is about just slightly less than one night in the cheapest backpacker’s hostel I could find in London.

4. Movie (RM 22)

movie

We watched a Cantonese film called The Silent War which I didn’t expect much out of but it surprised me by having a well thought out plot (albeit cliched and predictable) and great production values compared to the Chinese New Year movies I tend to watch.

movies

There’s no slapstick humor and the character development is great, I’ll rate it a 7/10 – extra points for it being one of the rare Hong Kong films that’s actually good instead of something slapped together, filmed at the speed of light, and brought to you with minimal post production but a hefty dose of crude humor to compensate for the complete lack of a cohesive storyline, character development and depth.

At least you don’t see the audio boom in this movie – a endemic problem with low budget CNY movies. Heh.

I paid for everything using my debit card and managed to keep track of everything spent that night and I’m spending what I just put in earlier that evening.

easy debit card

The debit card in question is the new RHB Easy-Smart Debit Card. It’s available at all RHB Easy outlets, I went to the one in Kelana Jaya LRT. That’s the beauty of this – the outlets are all at high traffic areas and open 7 days a week!

easy by rhb

Best of all, you can get everything done in 10 minutes by just walking in!

All you need is:

Your MyKad
10 minutes of your time
RM 20 for opening an account

I timed the entire process and it actually took only slightly more than 8 minutes. I was taking photos the entire time and I have the exact time – 8:36 minutes – from the first shot that I took to the final one. Heh.

mykad

I hate filling out forms. I think I’ve mentioned that a lot of times before. You don’t have to worry about that here as everything is done automatically – it’s either pulled from your MyKad and you just tell the teller the rest of the information.

I was serviced by one Mr. Nasri Nasir who was very helpful throughout – kudos for the efficiency!

nasri

Basically, the beauty of the new RHB Easy-Smart Debit Card lies not only in:

  • 10 minute walk-in banking with just your MyKad
  • On-the-spot approval
  • No forms to fill

…but also the unique cash kickbacks that RHB offers with the use of the debit card. I’ll insert a chart to illustrate it better.

easy chart

Thus, you actually open two accounts when you get the new RHB Easy-Smart Debit Card. You get double cash savings automatically, whenever you use your debit card. It all goes into your Easy-Smart Account 2 (think of it as a savings account) while your Easy-Smart Account 1 is your primary account.

money

The beauty of this system is that you automatically save (which is an awesome way of forcing people who have problems saving to actually save) each time you use your debit card from your contribution and the bank’s even higher contribution, all of which goes into your Easy-Smart Account 2.

To add icing to the cake, you can get up to 10% interest per annum on your Easy-Smart Account 2!

balance

Thus, that night, I have saved a total of RM 0.50 (charges made after midnight won’t be tabulated until the next day), and that’s not counting the 10% p.a. interest.

It’s an easy way to budget too, since you’re on a debit card you’re using money you already have instead of purchasing on credit. Granted, credit cards have its own place in the entire system especially for travel but a debit card is a good and almost essential addition to your banking arsenal.

savings account

Using the new RHB Easy-Smart Debit Card allows me to carry less cash and use the card instead, which is mighty convenient. You’re going to spend that money anyway, so I figured using the debit card instead of cash would be more useful in the long run due to the awesome and unique savings method that funnels all purchases made into a special “savings” account called Easy-Smart Account 2.

gas

RM 0.99 might not sound like a lot but you know how it goes – sikit sikit lama lama jadi bukit. I’ve already saved that from one night out alone while if I’ve used a credit card, cash, or a different debit card, I would not have managed to save anything at all. It’s a great alternative to cash for me and it’s an easy way to save each time you spend! :)

I want it now!

want it now

I can’t deny it, I’m part of the “I want it now!” generation where everything is (supposed to be) instantaneous, whether it’s food or services. I can’t stand waiting and my patience is constantly put to the test when it comes to stuff like renewing passports or car insurance.

I think of them as life’s necessary evils. :S

However, more often than not I forget to renew my car insurance. It’s a recurring problem, much like my cell phone bills – I wait for it to be terminated before I call them up and pay. I think of it as a shortcut since I never check my mailbox (either due to pure laziness or being too tired from work is an open question).

road tax

It does have its price though – I need to pay for the reconnection fee every time. I also couldn’t claim an accident that wasn’t my fault coz I didn’t know my insurance expired. It’s just like my road tax, except the price is higher. I got caught once by during a routine roadblock and didn’t even realize my road tax has expired. This resulted in a summons. >.<

saman

This is exacerbated by the fact that my car is registered in Sarawak and I haven’t changed the postal address ever since I moved to KL so after that roadblock I just decided to get my old office runner to help me renew my road tax. He tells me when it’s due and I use e-banking to transfer the funds to him and he mails it to me, the services of which I pay him a token amount.

summons

Unfortunately, I also have a tendency of running afoul of traffic offenses…I have always reminded my runner to tell me if that’s the case so I can pay up before he renews it. However, for some Godforsaken reason which is unbeknownst to me, he didn’t tell me that I had an outstanding traffic violation and renewed it for six months instead.

ticket

Sigh.

I have an account with HSBC and up till now I didn’t know that they do road tax and car insurance renewal online. You can apply and receive an E-cover note on the spot within 10 minutes!

You can also pay for it via credit card and download and print your insurance policy online! The NCD (No Claims Discount) can also be automatically transferred without hassles if you switch over.

hsbc

The best thing about it is that you can also get HSBC to automatically remind you when you need to renew your car insurance. It’s easy and very user friendly too! You can check it out here.

Have you ever been in the same situation where you only realize that you haven’t renewed your car insurance or road tax until the last minute?

You’ll love this commercial. Heh!

Wardrobe woes

shopping

The people who know me personally always give me a lot of grief about my wardrobe, or rather, the lack thereof. I keep turning up in the same outfits every single time. It’s not that I have a drought in the attire department, but rather I have a few favorite shirts that I keep on wearing.

This is compounded by the fact that I am an impulsive shopper. Worse still, I am an impulsive shopper who tends to get the urge to shop at totally random moments (usually twice a year) and comes back with a shitload of clothes, most of which I wouldn’t wear (see favorite shirts above).

sale

I don’t go during sales or the usual periods people shop – I go when I feel like it. This is generally detrimental to my financial wellbeing as I shop on credit so when the credit card statement comes at the end of the month, my reactions range from being slightly taken aback to downright horror.

I have several credit cards but no debit card so when I saw Alliance Bank’s Debit Mastercard I decided to take it for a spin. I had an urge to shop and decided that a debit card would be a better one to use during my retail forays.

Yes, contrary to popular belief, I do actually shop for clothes – else, where would all my shirts come from? smirk

I set RM 750 as my daily spending limit – no more RM 5,000+ credit card bills (happened to me a couple of times). I hit the shopping malls and got the stuff that I really need. I decided that this time I’m going to buy items that I will wear regularly instead of one off items like the RM 575 jacket I got two months ago which I’ve only worn once.

Quiksilver board shorts

board shorts

This is one item I don’t have in my wardrobe. I have Speedos and Bermuda shorts but nothing even resembling board shorts. Why would a 29 year old who doesn’t surf need board shorts? Well, it’s perfect as beach wear! I had a string of beach vacations planned and I thought this would be a good investment.

buy board shorts

Price: RM 269

DC skate shoes

dc

Yes, I know I’m not a 16 year old skater boi anymore but can’t a man revisit the prime of his life? :p

old shoes

Besides, I haven’t bought a pair of shoes in ages, I’m still wearing almost 2 year old adidas tennis shoes. I figure it’s time to change the tatty pair of smelly shoes for some new ones.

dc shoes

DC shoes is not a brand I would choose to buy but one of my ex-girlfriends really loved the brand and bought a pair of them back from Australia for me. I spotted the DC footwear line and decided to get a pair – it’s useful for weekends and it’s also a pair of sneakers so it’s quite comfortable to wear.

Mark and Spencer vests

mark and spencer

This is an essential item in all men’s wardrobes. I didn’t know that until a recent image consultancy that I went for. I’ve never had the habit of wearing singlets or anything like that under my shirts.

cotton vest

To be perfectly honest, I think that practice is incredibly old fashioned and slightly repulsive as only octogenarians (like my late granddad) do that so he can wear his shirts more often without the need to wash it.

vest

However, during my image consultancy, I was told that wearing a vest under your work shirt actually bulks you up and makes you look buff and more authoritative. I’m all for that so I grabbed a couple to wear when I go to work. smirk

It’s RM 79 for 3 x 100% cotton vests so it’s a pretty good investment.

I spent less than RM 750 that day which is really good. That’s the benefit debit cards give you – you don’t spend on credit, you only spend what you have. Even better, I set RM 750 as the daily spending limit and the transaction bounced during the Mark and Spencer purchase so I took a pack of vests out. Nifty, eh?

alliance debit card

I’m using the Alliance Bank Standard Debit Card under HYBRID savings and the best thing about this card is that you get instant 1% cash back on all your purchases. It goes up to 2% cash back for the Premium version. I also really liked the financial control the card affords you. You can set a daily spending limit like what I did so you won’t go over a pre-planned amount that you’re willing to spend.

With more than 1.4 million ATMs around Malaysia, you won’t have any trouble changing your spending limit too! Find out more at my.alliancedebitcard.com.

Adventurous OR Suicidal?

propeller

I am a very adventurous person by nature. I make it a point to do something that feeds my inner adrenaline junkie every time I’m on vacation. The last one was a week ago – I went cliff diving in Ton Sai off Phi Phi Islands.

The cleverly crafted piece of text that piqued my interest:

Cliff jumping is fairly new to Tonsai Bay. There are cliffs from 6 to 16m that are ideal for cliff jumping due to the depth of water below. Organized tours can be found at Ton Sai, but please be informed that this is not a particularly regulated activity and can cause injury to people including ear ruptures, and muscle / back injuries.

(Source: Wikitravel)

Unregulated? Potential for injury? BRING IT ON!

cliff%20diving

Well, I kinda messed up my second cliff dive coz I had to climb out into a tree branch. The foliage made it hard for me to see and I’m a little wary about heights (which is part of the fun!). I landed in a very peculiar position and have chest pains to this very day.

It hurts when I laugh or cough or inhale too deeply.

A gem from Wikipedia:

Hitting the water flat from 10 m brings the diver to rest in about 1 ft. The extreme deceleration causes severe bruising both internal and external, strains to connective tissue securing the organs and possible minor hemorrhage to lungs and other tissue. Very painful and distressing, but not life-threatening.

I went to see the doctor since I jumped from twice that height but my ribs are all intact. Just some minor bruising of internal organs and stuff like that.

I wanted to go for the 30 feet jump but our guide didn’t let me. I suspect he wasn’t confident about climbing up as well since the rocks are RAZOR SHARP. I probably won’t be sitting here writing this if I messed up that dive or if there’s rocks underneath (it’s a very unregulated sport).

God forbid that happen since I am not exactly very good with savings as well so the hospital bills will kill me if the jump didn’t. I basically live from paycheck to paycheck. I spend a lot on unnecessary stuff and poor planning makes me particularly susceptible to paying more than I need to:

Exhibit A

rm 90 parking

I shouldn’t have drove to the KL Sentral car park while going on vacation

Exhibit B

ticket

Parking tickets are always a problem with me

There are Exhibits C-Z (so much that I fear I may have to start with renaming it Exhibit A1) which just illustrates the poor choices I make.

Like losing RM 35,000 in a casino. That is one of the more epic ones.

20k%20chips%20genting

The thing is, I used to save before the 35k loss. How do you think I even had RM 50,000 to lose within one week? (first instance was Auckland)

I just can’t save after that due to my spending habits so I figured I could kill two birds with one stone and get back on my feet.

I’ll start being careful with my money and as an important aside to that, being more careful with my life. I’m starting to feel very insecure with my lack of savings should anything happen.

I always catch a lot of flak from my friends due to my lifestyle and I figured it was high time to take back at least some personal responsibility. A quick Google search turned up a host of results from various financial institutions but one in particular stood out. The Great Eastern’s CHAT calculator got me thinking about financial planning and protection due to the scenarios given. It really gave me pause. I’ve never thought of insurance as a priority in my life since I’m kinda blasé about personal safety.

car bumper

My rear bumper has been hanging since a month and I have to periodically shove it back. I’m really afraid that it’ll just fly off while I’m driving on the highway one day and hit a car behind. It’s not exactly something you can drive away from considering your rear bumper has your license plate on it. smirk

It really is rather dangerous both to myself and others. Some of you would be familiar with my colorful and rich history but it’s not something I recommend for other people. There are consequences. I wish I had started saving earlier so I wouldn’t be in this predicament right now – I can’t even fix my bumper due to lack of funds.

A lot of people live vicariously through me and that’s fine, but there are a lot of takeouts (or life lessons) you can learn from my mistakes. I know hindsight is 20/20 but I wish I had taken a closer look at Great Eastern’s range of insurance plans earlier on in my life…as a safety net.

The protection, medical and retirement calculators would be useful for me while the education calculator would be good for my children. Yes, contrary to popular belief I really want to settle down, have kids, watch them grow and send them for a nice education.

adventure

CHAT is a financial analysis tool that uses different scenarios to enlighten people like you and me on the importance of insurance. To be honest, my self-reflection only came after this as there is so many unexpected things that can happen in your life.

BTW, if you’re quick, you’ll get to watch a movie on them coz they’re giving away 1,000 movie ticket vouchers. :)

Bank joke

joke

Lemme just share my favorite joke about the banking industry:

A little old lady goes into a bank and says she wants to open a savings account. The account person asks her how much she would like to deposit to open the account, and the little old lady says, “Three million dollars.”

The account person is startled, and says, “In what form?” and the little old lady says, “Cash. I’ve got it here in this bag.” The account person looks and, sure enough, the lady has a big grocery bag chock full of green bills with big denominations.

This is a highly unusual event, and the account person excuses herself to get the president of the bank to handle this one. He arrives, and escorts the little old lady to his office to handle it personally.

Once in his office, he asks the little old lady where she got so much money.

She says, “Gambling.”

“Gambling?” he says. “What sort of gambling?”

“Oh, I make bets with people on all sorts of things, and I usually win. For example, I’ve got one hundred thousand dollars right here that says by noon tomorrow, your balls will be square, and I’ll even give you four to one odds. You got twenty five thousand dollars you’d be willing to wager on that?” she asks.

The bank president is shocked at this sort of thing coming from a sweet little old lady, but he didn’t get to be the president of the bank without knowing something about money. “I suppose I could come up with enough to cover that sort of wager, but I wouldn’t feel right taking it from you. There’s no way you can win a bet like that!”

The little old lady just shakes the bag, and says, “I know what I’m doing. I can afford to lose, though I’m not going to. Is it a bet?”

“Okay, have it your way,” says the president, and they shook hands on it.

“See you at eleven-fifty-five tomorrow morning,” says the little old lady, and with that she leaves.

The next morning at 11:55, the little old lady arrives with a younger man in a three-piece suit, and is escorted to the bank president’s office. The president is a nervous wreck, though a happy one. He’s gotten almost no sleep last night, waking every few minutes to feel his balls to check for impending squareness, but nothing happened all night. He has checked hundreds of times that morning, but still nothing.

When the little old lady arrives, he starts to relax, knowing he has won.

“Come in, please have a seat! Who might this gentleman be?” says the president.

“He’s my lawyer. For a bet of this size I want to have a witness. Any objections?”

“No, perfectly understandable,” says the president. “Well, it’s now noon, and I’m still unchanged, so I guess I win!”

“Not so fast!” says the little old lady. “For a hundred grand I want to verify things personally! Please drop your pants.”

The bank president is a bit flustered, but agrees that in her position he’d want proof as well, so he drops his pants. The little old lady goes over to him and reaches out to feel the organs in question.

“Okay, you win, here’s your hundred grand,” says the little old lady, handing over a bag of bills. As she does so, her lawyer starts banging his head against the wall and moaning.

“What’s wrong with him?” asks the bank president.

“Oh, he’s just upset. Poor loser if you ask me. You see, we had a million dollar bet that I would have the President of the bank by the balls by noon today.”

balls

You just gotta love them. They practically put you in debt for life from credit cards, and in addition to that there are mysterious fees for anything and everything which no one but people in the banking industry would understand.

I, for one, cannot comprehend the fees that are charged to me, and I have three bank accounts, which makes it worse. I usually don’t care much about that but a recent experience left me with more than a bad taste in my mouth.

Keep in mind that I used the SAME bank on the SAME day for this:

1. I withdrew RM 5,000 from an ATM (my max limit)
2. I used a credit card to withdraw ANOTHER RM 5,000 from my credit card inside the Genting casino (max)
3. Within 30 minutes, I withdrew RM 21,000 from my savings account from their branch in Genting (ALL the money in my account)

Hello? I know it’s not your responsibility to be your customer’s brother’s keeper but how on Earth can I make that last RM 21,000 withdrawal, emptying my account, when I was visibly intoxicated, at a casino, and you know very well that I have done RM 31,000 in withdrawals in a day.

I think I have a set a limit to my daily withdrawals but all I had to do was to waltz in, sign for a RM 21,000 withdrawal, pass it to the bank personnel and ABRACADABRA:

21000%20cash

RM 21,000 in RM 100 notes appeared in front of me.

No checks at all! I just had to fill in my account number, name and pass them my MyKad and in 5 minutes, I was out of the bank with more than 20k in cash.

…and the best part was, I just scribbled my signature coz I was too intoxicated to sign.

What if someone else got hold of my account number? I would have lost RM 21,000 just like that. Besides, I’m pretty sure I have set a limit to my daily withdrawals (gotta check on this) from one of my ex-girlfriend’s advice due to my impulsive nature.

I would love to explore the option of contesting that 21k withdrawal and approval in just 5 minutes when I was less-than-sober but I don’t have enough money now to hire a lawyer to look into it. :(

Also, I believe in personal responsibility, and I take all the blame for that. However, things could have been done better. A RM 21,000 account emptying withdrawal after my ATM and credit card limit has been maxed out should have raised a red flag no?

bank counter

I also remember the time when I had to wait in queue for ages to get my ATM card replaced when I lost it. There was one perfectly good counter with the person doing nothing but taking PERSONAL phone calls, but noooo that counter was deemed CLOSED (with the appropriate signage to show that it was indeed, CLOSED for all and sunder to see). My primary bank is also extremely slow in getting my credit card approved for overseas use as I travel quite a lot. Waiting on the phone for 30 minutes (!!!) is not uncommon. :(

I know people who are saddled with debt from credit cards, fast personal loan approvals (WTF did you actually check my credit before you did that?) and other dubious things that the banking institution do (and get away with).

can banking be better

It makes me wonder though…am I with the wrong banks? Can Banking Be Better?

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