All of us are consumers but not all of us are active savers. An active saver can be defined as follows:

  • You have the habit of saving money since very young
  • You were taught the value of money by your parents
  • You diligently save some money each and every month
  • You read about financial news, for example from the web

A survey released in 2009 by HSBC Direct indicates that 22 percent of online Americans are active savers. The rest are categorized as everyone else. According to Kevin Martin, the executive vice president of personal financial services at HSBC, anyone can learn to be an active saver. It is easy if you learn early but with proper discipline, you can begin anytime.

In another survey conducted by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling reported the following about Americans:

  • 1 in 3 adults have no savings
  • For those aged between 18 and 34 years old, about 50 percent have no savings at all
  • 1 in 3 American adults do not save part of their income for retirement
  • 57 percent do not keep a budget

Survey on Malaysians

It would be interesting to know how we Malaysians would fair in a similar survey like the one above. Well, in a 2008 survey done by Citi’s Financial Quotient (Fin-Q) comprising of 500 online interviews on 40 set questions, the results were less than favorable.

  • Only 2 in 5 Malaysians put aside money as savings
  • Only about 28% Malaysians have a monthly budget
  • 1 in 5 has savings that would last only 4 weeks in the event of a job loss
  • The average savings Malaysians have in reserve is about 11 weeks

It all boils down to how financially literate you are. Most Americans rate themselves low where 2 in 5 choose to rate themselves a C, D or F when it comes to personal finance. How would you rate yourself?

Personally, I would give myself a “B” in financial literacy as I don’t claim to know everything there is to know about personal finance but enough to achieve financial security at this point. I also choose to be an active saver which is something that is absolutely necessary if I want to achieve all my financial goals. Do you choose to be categorized as an active saver or not?

Read other articles by Jacquelyn at on parenting matters and on solving marriage problems.

    16 replies to "Are You an Active Saver?"

    • Jean Chai

      I dun trust myself too much (I am one of those women who tend to spend on pretty things 🙂 ), so I am a strong believer of force saving.

      I am currently parking RM 3k per month into Unit Trust in various funds for my kids education fees, paying installments for properties and insurance (I only go for plans that with return so that my money will not go wasted should I am lucky enough not to utilise the policy too early), Any spare, my hubby will have them invested in shares.

      I don’t want to see my bank account at any time have amount > 10k, after deducting the expected expenses of the month. It is simply not wise to have my hard earned money leaving in my current account and the value being depleted by inflation

    • Chong Kong Hui

      Save enough, spend the rest.BUT….
      How much is enough? Post retirement can be very long… 12 months~18 months salary in cash is far from enough.

      Why don’t we just spend enough, save (and invest wisely) the rest!

      I found that I am happier making money than spending money. The joy of making money last longer and taste better. I am still spending but not on unnecessary things,

      I don’t need 60″ LCD monitor to feel good.
      I don’t need a brand new Toyota to feel good.
      I don’t need big and new house to feel good.

      Seeing money growing in investment account and home equity is fun.
      Seeing money growing in EPF account is fun.

    • randall

      I wish i saved more than i do. Sometimes think it would be easier if i set up a RRSP or a TFSA.

      • Chong Kong Hui

        Yes, set up for yourself a Regular Recurring Saving Program (RRSP).
        Start from as low as RM100 and increase it as and when you have surplus.

    • Izzatul

      I am student but I want to have my own saving and money.So, I keep my money in ASB about RM4500 and also invest in internet business.I also owe PTPTN about RM2900 but stil paid to them.I feel not too much safe with my financial condition.What should i do to make my money grow?

      • Jacquelyn

        Hi Izzatul,

        Since you are still studying, your main focus should be on finishing up your studies. Currently keeping your money in ASB is good as it gives a good reasonable return. To preserve your money, living a simple and frugal lifestyle is recommended.

        If you have some income coming in to boost up your saving’s would be good, for example from a part-time job.

        Anyway, time is on your side as you are still young. Small acts of saving money continuously and topping up your ASB will see your money grow eventually.

      • Chong Kong Hui

        Pay PTPTN on time on schedule. The interest cost is lower than your investment return in ASB, right? No hurry on repayment.

        Grow your knowledge and wisdom, money follows. Read more. Think more. Participate more (e.g. in discussion or stock market). Don’t worry about your financial condition, you are doing just fine and will be better.

    • […] my previous posting “Are You an Active Saver“, I wrote about a survey result concerning Malaysians’ financial situation. The conclusion […]

    • doralin

      I’m still learning and has started doing it. It kind hard, but i tried to do it. Always trying to resist the temptation to buy things as now I’ve realized I’ve make too many mistakes about financial decisions. Thank you for the knowledge.

    • Zen Foo

      Saving has another meaning nowaday, in order to save money, we need to spend it. Spend it on investment that can give you enough return to beat the inflation. If saving means keep it in the saving account or FD whereby the nominal interest rate could be lower than inflation rate, that’s like letting money rot of the value.

    • saravanan

      I still not understand ..the term savings varies with investment. I do my savings and when the amount reaches certain amount ..I transfer it to my investment account .. I did invest in public mutual , gold savings account & Amanah Saham W2020 & 1Malaysia … is this not a form of savings ?

      • Jacquelyn

        Hi Saravanan,

        Yes, those are savings. Money that you put aside for a rainy day. Some people are unable to put aside a certain amount of money each month. They used up all of their income which means zero savings.

        The money you have reserved for saving purposes can be invested in various ways like you did to get the best possible return. Well done!

      • Chong Kong Hui

        As long as you park (a portion of) your income (earnings) aside for future use, it is SAVING.
        As long as the SAVING gives you return higher than inflation, it is INVESTMENT.
        (therefore FD is hardly an investment. saving account is worst but gives you liquidity)

        You have a good strategy for personal finance. Keep it up.

    • Sayeed

      Save enough to support our emergency needs : budget a 18-24months of safety fund.
      Invest enough to support our retirement needs : well this goes to the question what is the standard of lifestyle that we want when we retire.
      Spend enough to live happily now : my policy, we work to spend for ourselves…if we don’t buy what we enjoy today,..then when?! but it have to be reasonable demand…hee hee…..

    • Lai Seng Choy

      I save. But I spend too. I plan both.

      I have my financial targets, therefore I need to save. To save, I need to plan my spending. To plan on spending, I focus on needs and minimize wants. Life may become meaningless if we totally ignore our wants. I did spend on my wants occasionally but it must be within my budget control.

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