How to survive in KL on RM1200 a month

If you’re like most working adults, your salary doesn’t stretch as far as you’d like it to. The thought of scraping by on just RM1,200 a month in Kuala Lumpur is daunting, but it’s not impossible. With a bit of creativity and forward planning, you can make your money last until payday.

Here are some tips to help make ends meet without breaking the bank.


Learn to cook for yourself

Eating out all the time can be expensive, so cook at home as often as possible. When you cook for yourself, you are able to control the portion sizes and what goes into your food. No more excuse not to eat healthy. 

When shopping for food and groceries, always take the time to compare prices between different stores. Some stores offer better deals on certain items than others, so it’s worth it to shop around to compare, which you can do online these days. Also, try to buy generic brands whenever possible – they often cost less than name-brand products, but taste just as good.

One of the best ways to keep your grocery costs low is by planning ahead. Make a list of all the meals you plan to make for the week, and then create a shopping list based on those meals. This will help you stay focused when you’re at the store, and avoid buying unnecessary items.

Lastly, consider shopping at the wet market – it’s definitely a cheaper option than buying groceries at a supermarket. You can find all sorts of fresh produce and other food items here, including meat and fish. The only downside is that you’ll have to carry everything yourself. But strike up a conversation with the friendly and knowledgeable vendors, and you’ll even pick up a tip or two! 


Walk or take the public transport

Owning a car is expensive. Not only do you have to pay for the purchase price, but you also have to pay for insurance, gas, tolls on the highway and maintenance. Even if you get a deal on a second-hand car, all of these additional costs can add up quickly, especially if you drive a lot. 

Instead, try to live close to your work. Not only will this save you on transportation costs, but it will also save you time and energy. No need to wake up early just to beat the traffic to get to work. Think of all the beauty sleep you’ll get in! 

Another way to save is to take public transportation instead of driving yourself. Did you know that you can get a public transport pass for only RM50 a month? That’s unlimited rides on buses and rail transport for the entire month! Most locations are accessible by public transport these days, with more to come. If the stops are some distance away from home, take it as a chance to get your step count in for the day.


Live somewhere cheap

Don’t pay rent if you don’t have to. Living with your parents is not a failure; in fact, it’s pretty smart considering how expensive housing has gotten recently. Not to mention you still get to eat healthy, home-cooked food prepared lovingly by mom (or dad!). 

If you’re from out of town and you have relatives in KL willing to put you up, then don’t let your pride get in the way. Instead, find a way to pay them back by doing chores around the house. 

If living with your parents or relatives is not an option, then check out the low income housing program, Program Perumahan Rakyat or PPR, now called Rumah Malaysia. Targeted at the B40 income group, monthly rental is only RM124 and you get a decent sized home in most central locations with amenities to boot. 


Look for free entertainment

Entertainment can be expensive in KL. If you plan on going out with your friends to the mall, be prepared to shell out money for food and drinks at a premium price. However, there are plenty of free or cheap activities that you can do. 

Here are a few ideas:

  • Visit one of the many parks in KL and enjoy a picnic lunch
  • Explore the city by foot – there’s so much to see and each neighbourhood has its own unique character
  • Take a trip down to Petaling Street and bargain hunt for souvenirs
  • Check out some of the city’s museums – some of them are free!
  • Head to one of KL’s night markets and enjoy some street food and shopping.

For more free things to do around the city, check out this post by KLFoodie.


Stay healthy & get insured

Healthcare is expensive. In fact, Malaysia has one of the highest healthcare costs in the region. This means that it’s becoming increasingly difficult for people to afford necessary healthcare treatments and procedures. 

The good news is that there are many ways to stay healthy and avoid expensive healthcare costs. Eating a balanced diet, getting regular exercise, and avoiding smoking and excessive drinking are all important ways to stay healthy.

If you have insurance, be sure to use it! Many insurance plans cover a large portion of medical expenses, so be sure to take advantage of this coverage. If you don’t have insurance, consider getting a plan because you never know when an emergency will strike. 

The good news is you can get medical insurance for as low as RM73/month nowadays. And it really pays to get a policy while you’re still young and healthy because the premium will be cheaper. Healthcare is too important to go without the protection of medical insurance.

Confused by all the options available on the market or not sure if you can afford an insurance policy? Give us a call today and we’ll be more than happy to help out.


Save money for a rainy day

Saving money is important, no matter how much you earn. Even if you make minimum wage, by saving a small percentage of your income each month, you can grow your savings over time. 

The benefits of saving first include being able to invest and grow your money, cover unexpected expenses during emergencies, and maintain financial stability during difficult times. When you have a cushion of savings, you’re better able to weather any storm that comes your way. So start building your savings today, even if it’s only a few ringgit at a time! You’ll be glad you did.


Have a monthly budget

The magic word – budget! Planning ahead will help ensure that you’re still able to enjoy yourself without blowing all your hard-earned money before the month is up. 

With proper planning, even RM1200 can go a long way. 

Here’s a simple guide. The idea is to budget according to your personal needs and lifestyle, but most importantly, DON’T FORGET YOUR SAVINGS!

  • Utilities: RM100 – 200
  • Phone bill: RM50 – 100
  • Food: RM300 – 600 (assuming RM10 – 20 / day for meals)
  • Public transport: RM50 (My50 pass)
  • Rental: FREE (assuming staying with parents/relatives), OR
  • Rental at PPR: RM124
  • Savings: RM50
  • Entertainment: RM50


If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the cost of living in Kuala Lumpur, don’t worry – you’re not alone. But with a little bit of planning and some help from the right people, it is definitely possible to make your budget work for you. Contact our advisors at HWG today for a consultation, and we can help get you started on the path to financial stability and independence.

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