Tuesday, July 31, 2007
One of such remarkable individuals had his story featured the Sunday Star (29th July 2007). The protagonist of this article, Lee Sheng Chow, beautifully demonstrates that being blind was never an obstacle. It never stopped him in obtaining a degree, starting a massage business and have a family of his own. As if a cruel joke was played on him by God, he and his vision impaired wife was blessed with a daughter who has cerebral palsy but Sheng Chow never once blamed God. Instead, he had the grace to thank God for for the blessings he had receive and ask for His forgiveness each night! To me, that was the most amazing showcase of faith in the Lord and the power of positive attitude towards life. I salute Mr.Lee Sheng Chow for his awe-inspiring faith and attitude and I will always take his words,"Never, never, never, never, ever give up" to heart. Do take the time to download this article and read. I hope it will inspire you as much as it inspired me. Have a good read and cheers!
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
Monday, July 23, 2007
Becky, Thanks for introducing me to Secret Recipe Ice Cream! You know I love ya!
Friday, July 20, 2007
Two and a half years ago my mum was diagnosed with breast cancer. My whole family was in shock and we went through a lot during my mum's year long battle against this disease. Back then, I kept it all to myself without letting a single soul know and life went on as usual. I returned home as often as I could but each time I went back, my mum's condition deteriorated. I accompanied my mum to her treatments whenever possible and even join in the weekly prayer meetings we have with our Catholic friends in our home. However, it was a losing battle. In October 2006, my mum completed her chemotherapy and she went back for a check up in November 2006. To our horror, the subsequent check up showed that instead of being cured, it has spread to the lungs and the doctor immediately sent my mum back to chemotherapy. Not long after that it went from her lungs to her brain and subsequently her back bone. From being able to walk on her feet, she was reduced to using a walking aide and in the later stages, she could barely walk due the the excruciating pain (despite having strong pain killers) and she had to use the wheel chair.
On the fateful day of 27 February 2006, I received a phone call from my dad in the morning telling me that my mum was hospitalized because she couldn't breathe. Dropping whatever I was doing (back then I was doing my final year project) and I rushed to Damansara Specialist Hospital Intensive Care Unit where my mum was warded with my beloved Adel (I didn't have a car back then and Adel drove me there from Cyberjaya). Till today, I can vividly remember how anxious, worried and helpless I felt when I saw her lying on the bed. She was on morphine drips to help ease her pain but even then I could see that she was in pain. It was a painful sight as each breath she took looked as though she was desperately and agonizingly gasping for air. Once a tad chubby woman, she was reduced to half of what she was and since it was an Intensive Care Unit (ICU), we were only allowed limited time with her. Every time we left the hospital, each phone call we receive always kept my family and I on the edge because we will be praying hard it was not from the hospital bearing bad news. Can you imagine the anxiety we had to go through?
The next five days was literally hell. The doctor already told us that my mum will not make it and all they could do is to provide her 'quality-living' for her remaining days. I was grateful that most of my close buddies came each day to provide moral support. After four agonizing days in the hospital, as fate would have it, my family finally gotten permission to station one family member in the ICU room to accompany my mum and I was the chosen one since I need not report to work the next day. Due to some miscommunication, the night shifts' supervisor didn't receive the orders from the doctor and she booted me out of the room despite my protests (I never blamed her because she was only doing her job) and I notified my dad immediately. After much argument (profanities everywhere!), the nurse finally let me back in and less than five minutes I was back in the dark room saying my prayers for my mum, I noticed her pulse started to drop drastically and I immediately called for a nurse. The nurses did what they could as and I was told to leave the room. All I could do then was to call my family. A brief moment later, a nurse came up to me and asked me to go in. They summoned the doctor on duty but before he arrived, the senior nurse looked at me, shook her head and told me to say my last words. I couldn't help but cried like a baby as I told my mum these exact words in Cantonese,
The moment I finished uttering those words, my mum shed a tear and took her last breath... She was gone. It was 0019 on 3rd March 2006 when my mum returned to the Lord. Till this very day, that scene and the feeling of helplessness and anxiety was carved deeply into my memory. This is why I can empathize with TKF as he is going through a similar circumstances. To my buddy TKF, my prayers are with you and your family. Stay strong my friend regardless of what is to come.
Thursday, July 19, 2007
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
Congratulations! Anda memenangi CEK TUNAI RM 11.000 from MAXIS. info sila hubungi perkhidmatan MAXIS 006281342325777 http://www. hotlink. com. my
Moral of the story: If you want to con others, please use proper English/Bahasa Malaysia and ensure your punctuation is correct. After all, we are educated Malaysians you know! LoL
Monday, July 16, 2007
However, like the article indicates, the purpose of painting this bleak scenario is not to depress the readers but to highlight the importance of having proper financial planning since young to avoid such issues in the future. It takes a little sacrifice today to have a comfortable living in the future or do we wait till the very last minute and lament at how stupid we were for not saving enough? Now, that's food for thought...
Thursday, July 12, 2007
Monday, July 09, 2007
The wedding dinner started at 8pm sharp after every guest was seated. Surprisingly, the dishes served were quite good and being a Chinese wedding dinner, the guests were quite loud especially the older uncles and aunts who had a few rounds of liquor. Seated at the table with Yours Truly were three of Pui Fun's ex-house mates from MMU, Audrey, Joyce, Yong, Eugene and Siew Goh. The drinks we had started out pretty mild as we had soft drinks until Audrey started the ball rolling by having the first glass of beer. Soon, Yours Truly followed suit and with the combined power of influencing of the both of us, we eventually made everyone seated at our table to indulge in some warm beer (No thanks to the incompetence of the restaurant staff). Not too long after the dinner started, the bride and groom proposed a toast and true to our Chinese wedding style, we shouted out "Yam Seng" thrice and both star of the night went from table to table to chat with the guests. This was when all of us realized that we didn't bring a camera and we had to settle with camera phones.
From left: Siew Goh, Joyce, Pui Fun, Audrey and Leong (Pui Fun's younger brother)
To Lyk Wuai and Pui Fun, I would like to take this opportunity to dedicate this entry to you. May you be continuously be blessed with health, happiness and abundance in life. I'm truly happy for you have finally found your true happiness which eluded you awhile back. God bless the both of ya!
Thursday, July 05, 2007
Monday, July 02, 2007
Note: This article was featured on The Sunday Star, 1st July 2007 in Focus Section (Page 29-30)
Sunday, July 01, 2007
By ROSE YASMIN KARIM
A survey carried out by a local university has shown that 11% of bankruptcy cases were due to credit card debts and 8% of bankrupts were aged between 20 and 30.
When her parents announced they were going to cut her off financially, Sarah, 27, a flight attendant, was literally floored.
“For 27 years they picked up the tab for everything from cigarettes to cereals,” she admits.
“But when they found out Derek (the boyfriend they weren’t particularly fond off) and I were living together in the apartment they had been footing the rent for, mom and dad went ballistic and revoked all monetary privileges,” reveals Sarah.
“I had charged four credit cards to the tune of RM11,000, and that debt alone was overwhelming me. I couldn’t imagine having to pay all of my own bills, plus the credit card debt.”
In the end, Sarah took some pretty extreme measures and paid off her debt in four months.
“I hauled every single thing I owned out onto the lawn and sold it. When I was done, my possessions amounted to just two boxes of clothing and one box of personal papers and mementos. Then I called up each credit card company to work out deals, and a lot of them let me ‘settle’ my debt for slightly less than I owed or at least cut me some slack on miscellaneous fees and interest.”
Many young people are making similar credit mistakes without the safety net of wealthy parents to fall back on. In school, you have home economics classes that teach you how to bake a cake and how to make your own orchid plant holder, but no one ever sits you down to explain responsible credit maintenance.
A shiny new credit card promises the young adult a whole new world, but no one thinks about the potential pitfalls. Credit facilities allow people to spend money they do not actually have, but will eventually come into. Problems arise when you spend more money than you will come into.
“Credit cards are a good tool when put to the right use. A consumer doesn’t need to bring along a lot cash to purchase goods or services. For a business person, he has less receipts to compile when it comes time to submit his income tax return form, because most of his business expenses would appear on one credit card statement,” points out Hazel Ong-Archibald, 35, an agency manager with CIMB Wealth Advisors.
“The disadvantage is people can get so carried away with the concept that they can pay later that sometimes they forget to live within their means.”
A collection agent tells me the plight of one debtor he was assigned to track down: in his first year of owning a credit card, the man charged RM12,000. Twenty years later, the poor chap still hadn’t managed to settle it. Now, as a result of several late payment charges, interests, etc, his bill has ballooned to more than RM20,000. He was 56 years old.
“When I mentioned bankruptcy, he didn’t seem to care. It had become that bad. I felt awful asking him to pay up,” the collection agent says.
As Shannon, 24, a web designer, discovered three years ago, credit is not free. Like many others, she started out using her card reservedly – the occasional RM60 lip gloss, for instance, which she paid for immediately upon receiving the bill.
But then along came Christmas.
“I remember thinking to myself: I can barely get by on my measly salary, how am I supposed to buy anyone presents?” Shannon recalls.
“My three-month-old credit card seemed like the best invention in the world, so I swiped for all my presents.”
The next thing she knew, Shannon was staring at a bill of RM4,000, twice her monthly take-home pay. She panicked, and then she saw the minimum payment box – RM200 – and breathed a sigh of relief. Three years later, she still hasn’t managed to settle her outstanding balance.
“I’m being hit with interest every month,” Shannon laments. “I felt really good being able to give everyone nice presents for a change. But I didn’t know that good feeling was going to cost so much.”
According to Ong, if you only pay the minimum, you would be charged an interest of 1.5% per month or 18% per year for the outstanding balance.
“The interest payment compounds over time, and that is how many people get trapped in credit card debt,” she explains.
Some retail outlets tout zero interest, easy payment schemes using a credit card. But there is a catch. Say you want to snap up a new sound system. Instead of signing a slip for RM3,000, you sign an agreement saying RM300 will be charged to your card every month for the next 10 months. If the cardholder does not pay in full when the statement comes, then her purchase under the “Zero interest payment” scheme will be subjected to 18% interest per annum.
On top of that, there is usually an administration fee for signing up for the scheme.
Sabrina, 30, managed to service the first three instalments on a RM1,500 sofa bed, but then met with some other incidentals and couldn’t make the payments on time anymore. At the end of the 12 months, she was paying interest rates on seven months for her new sofa.
“Then again there was no way I could afford to shell out RM1,500 out of the blue just like that,” confesses Sabrina, a stylist.
Easy payment schemes like these offer a lot of convenience but it takes a great deal of discipline to make it work for you. While those who take up hire-purchase loans are protected under the Hire-Purchase Act 1967, there are no specific laws to protect those who take up easy payment schemes.
The rate of interest for the easy payment scheme is likely to be higher than that of hire-purchase since the Hire Purchase Act puts a limit on the maximum interest rate that can be charged. If you always have an outstanding balance on your credit card bill, these schemes are definitely not for you.
Banks these days are practically throwing cash and free gifts at consumers, but stay alert to changes in the terms and conditions of your credit card agreement and read the fine print.
One bank sent out cheques of RM5,000 to cardholders. Once the cheque is deposited into the cardholder’s savings account, a handling fee of RM150 is charged. Interest of 18% per annum on the outstanding balance is charged if the cardholder does not settle the monthly payment in full.
Sometimes, as customers approach their limit, the credit card company may offer to raise the limit to encourage increased spending and debt. To reel in young professionals aged 25 to 29, some banks even lower the qualification criteria.
At 18% per annum, a credit card loan is way more expensive than other types of consumer lending. You can become a bankrupt if your debt mounts to more than RM30,000. Until you are discharged as a bankrupt, you will not be able to apply for a loan.
A debt management speaker once said: “Just keep one card in case of emergency, and even then, keep it frozen in the refrigerator.”
Although this had everyone laughing, he emphasised that he was serious. So, if you have a credit card for every bank in town, it’s time to pick up the phone and start cancelling.
With interest rates at nearly 50% less than those of credit cards, some personal loan packages by banks are being viewed as an ideal way to settle your credit card debt as you repay the personal loan in fixed instalments over a period of time.
“You must, however, pay off the debt with discipline and not allow it to compound again due to an inability to service the loan repayment,” says Ong. Otherwise, you could find yourself in the same boat as Preetha, 28.
The legal assistant took a personal loan to settle her credit card debt of about RM10,000 and kept the card. As you might have guessed, it wasn’t long before she started using the card again.
“It started innocently enough,” recalls Preetha. “I used my card to pay for lunch, promising to repay it as soon as I made a withdrawal. But I never did.”
With a fixed commitment to her personal loan, Preetha found herself only able to pay the bare minimum on her credit card. It wasn’t long before she ran up a RM1,000 debt on her card, and she knew it would keep rising. She had no choice but to cut up her card.
“I’ve managed to bring it down to RM700 so far. As soon as it’s down to zero, I’m cancelling the card and getting a debit card instead – no more excuses then!” she promises.
Debit cards have become quite fashionable these days because they are virtually risk-free. Basically, they work like a prepaid card: You deposit RM1,000 in your account, and you can do up to RM1,000’s worth of spending.
You simply cannot overspend unless you top up your account. With MEPS Cash and other debit card facilities, people can learn to curb their spending, live within their means and stay out of debt.
Source: Consumer Association of Penang in the book Money Matters for Young People (2006).