Friday, March 13, 2009

I'm back

Hello again,

It's been a long time since my last post. I've been busy, hmm.. this is the best excuse I can come up with, or risk being labeled hangat-hangat tahi ayam hehe.

Well other than doing nothing, I did come up with another blog, or maybe it's not a blog technically, can judge it by yourself after you see it. It provides news feeds from leading local and foreign newspapers. It's not aggregated news from the likes of Google or Yahoo News. I source them (the RSS feeds) direct from the newspapers web sites. I did a lot of research on the net to learn about CSS and HTML, and after a lot of trials and errors I came up with this.

Hope it is useful especially for people who like to read newspapers. I'm still working on it, and the links. If you have any suggestions or comments, please let me know.

Till we meet again, bye.
Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Looking for a better deal

Once or twice a week I go to pasar borong (wholesale wet market) to get my weekly supplies of vegies, chicken and other cooking supplies. I also buy rice (Thai rice) here. The pasar borong is located at the back of Flat Buluh Kubu, an old apartment block in the heart of Kota Bharu. Further away from the apartments, less than a hundred meters away is Kota Bharu's main wet market, the Pasar Siti Khadijah.

This morning on the way back from sending my kids to school, I dropped by. I parked my car in front of Pasar Siti Khadijah and walked to the market. The reason I patronize this pasar borong is because it's cheaper here compared to Pasar Siti Khadijah. Hey, after all all the vegies sold in Pasar Siti Khadijah come from this market. I reckon I can save up to 30% if I get my supplies here. The trick is you have to come in early, before 9 a.m.
Saturday, February 21, 2009

Let's declutter.....5S way

Went out to Pasar Siti Khadijah this morning, to buy some groceries. On my way back, I was surprised to see a banner hanging in front of Kelantan Tourism Office. It was a banner promoting 5S. It was hung there by MPKB(our local city council). Apparently MPKB is adopting 5S practice.

If you do not know what 5S is, well I'll tell you.

5S is a method of organizing and managing workspace, introduced by the Japanese. The 5S's represents the five letters representing the 5 steps, and they are in Japanese -Seiri, Seiton, Seiso, Seiketsu and Shitsuke.

5S is an excellent method to declutter your place and keep it clutter-free.

Now I'll explain the steps. I'll give each word accompanied by its closest English equivalent. It might no be accurate but it will help you remember.

  • Step 1: Seiri (Sort) -to sort out stuff . Identify what are needed and what are not needed for you to carry out your work, be it in the office, living room or your kitchen. Keep only the ones you need. Discard or store (at a different place) the others. Get the idea? Good, now you see that empty mineral water bottle in the corner, you no longer use that, are you? Throw it away man.

  • Step 2: Seiton (Set in order) -now that you only have essential stuff left, arrange them so that they are easy to take, easy to use and easy to return. Ensure there is a place for everything and everything in its place. Keep items that are frequently used in front for easier access, less frequent items at the back. The goal is to make work flow smooth, safe and efficient Always kept losing the TV remote control? Why don't we put it inside a pouch attached to the TV itself, and let everyone know to keep it there. Now that's seiton.

  • Seiso (Sweep) -regular cleaning. Do regular cleaning, sweeping, housekeeping. The idea here to prevent dirt build up, or deterioration. It's more like preventive maintenance. If you clean your place once it looks dirty, that's just plain cleaning. Do it everyday or every week, dirty or not, now that's what we call Seiso. One advantage of doing Seiso is you always know where everything is, and you will be able to detect the slightest change in your place.

  • Seiketsu (Standardize) -standardize the way of doing things. Standardize work practices and let everyone know about it. Let's say you decide to color code your files according to their contents. Now make sure all files in all cabinets follow the color code and make sure everyone knows about the code.

  • Shitsuke (Sustain) -maintain the discipline. Once you have decided what to do, how to do it and who is responsible to do it, make sure everyone follow. Do not let it slide back into the old way.

It's easy isn't. So the next time you want to declutter, bet it around your desk, kitchen, living room or hmm...maybe your finance?, let's give 5S a try.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Keeping track of my expenses....and budgeting

I do keep track on my expenses. I started doing this about 8 years ago. Back then I used Excel to record them. Filled the rows with categories -salary, petrol, car installment, education, grocery, mortgage etc., and the columns with months. One sheet for one year's worth of expenses.

But towards the end of 2007, I found Acemoney Lite and been using it ever since. I find it very easy to use. It generates expense reports, scheduling, budget reports, cash flow etc., complete with charts with just a few clicks. I can also do bill scheduling. Good, free stuff. I did try another software, forgot the name already, not as good.

My purpose of tracking my expenses is not for budgeting, but more towards wanting to know where my money goes. I rarely analyses the expenses, but knowing the data is there when I need it is somewhat comforting. For me the most important stage in this whole process of expense tracking is when I manually I enter each expense into the computer, because I think that time is when my awareness regarding the expense is at the max.

Into the subject of budgeting, the reason I don't budget is because I think my expenses are under control, that is to say my income is more than enough to cover the expenses and some savings. I'm not saying my income is big, it's rather my expenses that is small. And one more thing, I don't buy on impulse. I'm not a type of guy who go out to the mall one weekend morning and come back with a Cell Phone Handset in the afternoon, just because it's on sale. Buying this is simply not prudent, financially or otherwise.

Monday, February 16, 2009

The tools I use in starting this blog

I started this blog a few days ago. I'm going to list these in no particular order.

  1. Internet connection -I use Celcom wireless broadband. I paid RM299 for the USB modem and RM68 for the fixed monthly charge.

  2. Blog template -after some searching on the internet, I found Fervens A and use it on this blog. Thank you

  3. Blog editor -I've tried ScribeFire Firefox extension, had a nice feel to it but after it made one of my posts disappeared, I abandoned it. I also found Qumana, tried it yesterday, need some more testing. But before I find a good free editor, I just make do with Blogger default editor. The search continous...

  4. Web counter -I use Mapstats from Blogflux. I've registered with them and have Mapstats inside this page. I don't know if they are any good, just have to evaluate them as the traffic coming in. That is if they come in...I hope so.

That's it for now, I will add later if I remember them.
Saturday, February 14, 2009

A little about my background

I grew up with 8 siblings. To the best of my recollection, my father worked and mom stayed at home. I vaguely remember my father had many jobs,-sewing machine serviceman, barber, canteen operator, prebet sapu (sort of a taxi driver but unlicensed). He wasn't very succesfull in all those jobs, but managed to support us anyhow. He inherited some parcels of land, but somehow sold them to buy/change cars. I remember a story (can't remember told by whom) of my father's prebet sapu days. One day he picked up a passenger, sent her to her destination. When she got off the car, instead of paying her fare, she just said thank you and walked away. I can't blame her, my father was driving a brand new Datsun 130Y, she probably thought she was lucky to get a lift from a teacher or something. Datsun 130Y was a nice car, and back then not many people even owned a car. What was he thinking, using a new car as a prebet sapu? I think he sold his land to buy that car. Such was the level of my father's personal finance then.

So you can imagine we weren't living a luxurious life. But it wen't for the worse after that. Father started doing business selling textiles, he went into Felda oil palm estates selling his wares. He didn't come home for extended periods of time. Money became harder and harder to come by. It turned out father had married another woman in a Felda estate he ventured in.

Life was tough, mom had to work really hard, she earned money by tapping rubber in the day and mengirek (treading rice to separate rice pods from the stems) at night.Those days were probably the hardest. I remember we had to ration our food. During mealtime we would apportion rice into plates, the side dish would usually be a half a piece of dried fish each. Second helping was unthink of. Beef? chicken? not a chance, heck we can't even afford budu (fermented fish sauce, a Kelantan staple sort of) most of the time.

You think that was tough? Wait, it's going to get worse.One day a man came to our house asking to see the land he had just bought. And to mom's surprise the land he meant was our land, where the house sit on. And yep you guess right, our beloved father sold it. I think we also surprised the buyer -for him to see the condition we were in. So the man left, we never saw him again after that.

After that we moved out, and went to live with my late grandmother. Life didn't get any better after that, so we were extremely frugal, we had to.

I was raised in a family more frugal than most. I think I'll continue with that tradition, and combined with good financial habits, I hope I can enjoy this life and maybe leave something for my kids when I leave.