Prepare for a challenging year

RISING COSTS: Spend prudently to take care of your family’s needs.

THE year 2014 is going to be a year full of challenges for most of us. We have to plan well. We need to manage our family, time, savings and investments to be able to pull through this challenging year.

Why is 2014 so challenging? With the removal of subsidies for sugar and lowering of subsidies for fuel, and the increase in assessments and toll charges, we can expect an increase in the prices of food and services. We will need more money to face these challenges.

Everybody is going to feel the pinch of the rising costs. The most affected will be those with a low income, the less privileged and pensioners. How are those in the lower-income bracket going to cope, especially those with many children, and those who have to start a new life after losing everything in the recent floods?

The concern for the lower-income group is now on how much is left at the end of the day.

Families find that their incomes are not able to keep up with the increase in prices of goods and services. As a result, household expenditure needs to be controlled; cutting back on clothing and entertainment would be a must.

One thing that’s really worrying is the rising cost of food. We, therefore, need to cut our shopping costs. We need to plan our shopping, checking out supermarket advertisements in newspapers, comparing prices and only buying items on sale.

On top of that, we should buy staple food from cheaper stores in our area. Consumerism needs to be strong to control the rising price of food.

In Europe and America, even though inflation is quite high, basic needs such as milk, sugar, chicken, beef and vegetables are cheap. A kilo of chicken is about STG2 (RM11) in London and STG1 in Southampton. You can get a basket of vegetables and fruits for STG1 in London and a carton of 800ml fruit juice for one euro (RM4.53) in Vienna.

I keep asking myself why our basic food can’t be made cheap. Can something be done to control the price of food? Food that we eat should not cost so much as our children need nutrients to grow healthy and older people need nutritious food.

Prices are increasing across the board, from the mamak stall to fine dining. I have already noticed a 20 sen increase in a cup of coffee at my university cafeteria.

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