WAVE OR PIN?

A few days ago, my wife, Jeannie; and I, were at what is generally our usual past time – shopping at our favourite shopping mall: Mid-Valley Megamall in Kuala Lumpur (1). On a good day, the mall is about 30 minutes away. On a not-so-good day, it can take us an hour. Noooo… neither the mall nor our house are location movers. It’s the traffic that determines how long it takes to reach there😉 and vice versa.

HAVE CREDIT CARD CAN BUY MURUKKU

Magnesium, Platinum, Carbon Fibre credit cards from financial institutions – opulent status recognition, where everyone will bow before you and jump to your every whim by not asking “why?” but “How high?”

The owner of The Embershoppe in Petaling Jaya, C. K. Lim; is one special dude. He remembers all his customers by name, even after only having visited his tobacco shop once. I think remembering each and every person’s name is a special gift. That is peak customer service!

When you receive an email or letter or message through the phone from the card issuer bank, they begin with, “Dear valued customer…” So much for the opulent status recognition. You would think that owning one or more of these Magnesium, Platinum, Carbon Fibre credit cards which usually come with a high credit limit; the financial institution would surely know you by name. The only times they will know you by name is when you have to pay the monthly statements they issue you or when they have something to sell directly to you. Otherwise, you are just a series of digits and characters.

So, we come back to the topic of the credit card. When Jeannie and I are in Mid-Valley, we quite often stop by at the booth that sells kacang putih (3), murukku (2) and Bombay Mixture (4). We usually buy 2 or 3 varieties of this awesome snacks. The price ranges from US$1.50 (RM6.50) to $US2.40 (RM12.00).

This time round, we picked one of my favourites – roasted kacang with brown skin priced at RM6.50 for 300gm and “Bombay Mixture” (the small thin type) mixed with some kacang which was priced at RM12.00. I gave the seller a RM50 note and waited for the change. The guy did not have change and asked if I could pay using a credit card.

I said, “What? Buying kacang putih with credit card?” Surely, this is a joke. It wasn’t. I was so surprised. Has it come down to this where you pay for the cheapest items with credit card?

Spicy “Bombay Mixture”, with peanuts and other condiments included.

There are many of you out there who will think that there is nothing wrong paying a small amount with a credit card. Sure, I get that. Here when we talk about credit cards, let us include debit cards, too. Whether physically (famously or commonly known as the plastic we carry around with us) or stored on phones and other electronic devices. I think about a habit this most probably will become.

Many e-wallets with stored amounts have automatic top-up of funds either direct from a personal bank account or a credit card.

Now, think about this. If you were to carry cash around; you may be a bit more careful in spending. When cash is low, you probably will wait for the next opportunity when you have enough cash, to buy the item.

But what happens when you have the use of the credit card for all sorts of small payments and lose track of your spending? Your credit card statement together with your other expenditure like gas / petrol, dining out, movies, shopping, etc; could come up to a fairly substantial amount. It will be ok if you settle the statement in full.

But what if you don’t? The temptation to just pay the minimum is there. The balance outstanding in the statement, is carried forward to the next statement month with a compounding interest. In Malaysia, credit cards come with an interest charge of 15% to 18% generally.

(1a)

Some people may take note of this possible large amount that is carried forward to the next month and will control their spending in the coming future until the balance outstanding is fully settled. The financial institutions know this and have come out with schemes to counter customers who are concsious of their balances, who take steps to clear this outstanding balances soonest possible and tie you down or lock your outstanding balance with an offer of a term loan sort of scheme, thus making the big balance amount “disappear” with a fixed period and so-called low interest to settle this amount. What you don’t see, you may forget. What you don’t see, may not hurt you.

Therefore, in the third month onwards, the big balance disappears but is replaced with a monthly payment. So, then, your credit card is “freed of the big amount”, thus allowing you to spend more. They “prey” on customers who do not keep track of their spending. But guess what, the earlier big balance you had has not actually disappeared but is termed as “unbilled amount”.

So, the credit limit with your credit card has now expanded to a bigger limit. Multiply this by all the other credit cards you may have. It can become “4th stage cancer of credit” where people are in such a bind that catastrophe could set in.

To find out more on how to overcome “4th stage cancer of credit” or avoid it; email alan@leatherpotato.com
The “4th stage cancer of credit” problem is generally the same for everyone, but getting cured from it may be unique to each individual.

Do let us know your thoughts in the comments section.

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NOTES:
1. Kuala Lumpur is the capital of Malaysia.

2. Murukku (Malayalam – മുറുക്ക്, Tamil – முறுக்கு) is a savoury, crunchy snack originating from the Indian subcontinent. The name murukku derives from the Malayalam/Tamil word for “twisted”, which refers to its shape. In India, murukku is especially popular in the states of Andhra PradeshTamil NaduKarnataka, and Kerala. It is called murkulu or janthukulu in Andhra Pradesh. It is also popular in countries with substantial presence of Indian and Sri Lankan diaspora, including SingaporeFijiMalaysia, and Myanmar (Burma). Murukku, called sagalay gway (စာကလေးခွေ; lit. ’baby sparrow coils’) in Burmese, is a common snack and is used as a topping for a regional dish called dawei mont di. Murukku is typically made from rice flour and urad dal flour. Chakli is a similar dish, typically made with an additional ingredient, bengal gram (chickpea) flour. (wikipidea)

3. The history of the kacang putih (literally translated as ‘white nuts’) business goes back to the 1940s, when the British brought in migrant labourers from the Ettayapuram village in Tamil Nadu to Malaya. A few families settled down near the limestone hill in Gunung Cheroh, Ipoh – until 1973, when the residents were relocated to Teluk Kurin B in Buntong after a slab of limestone fell onto a longhouse, killing 42 people.

It was in the new settlement that business kicked up. The new, larger homes allowed owners to set up retail storefronts selling kacang putih, as well as other fried Indian snacks like murukku and assorted fried nuts made using recipes from Tamil Nadu. Business was so brisk that the settlement’s unwieldy name was changed to Kampung Kacang Putih – and until today, remains as the heart of a growing kacang putih industry across the country.

You won’t find kacang putih sold by the kacang putih man
The kacang putih vendor didn’t start by selling different types of murukku, fried nuts and potato chips – they just sold one thing: actual kacang putih, which are steamed lentils (also known as kacang kuda). But selling that alone wasn’t enough, especially as demand started to slow down and the burdensome steamer needed to keep the lentils warm made life difficult for cycling vendors.
Eventually, they diversified their offerings to include snacks that were easier to carry around and had a longer shelf life – which is how we ended up with the modern-day kacang putih man selling everything else but the steamed kacang putih.
John Lim, “Guide to Kacang Putih”, May 4th, 2018 http://www.timeout.com/kuala-lumpur/restaurants/guide-to-kacang-putih

4. Bombay mixture. The Bombay Mixture is another type of murukku offering that’s mixed with an assortment of fried nuts, green peas and beans, and spiced with chilli, turmeric and cumin. ‘The Bombay Mixture is thinner, but is spicier and has more ingredients compared to the Chennai Mixture.
John Lim, “Guide to Kacang Putih”, May 4th, 2018 http://www.timeout.com/kuala-lumpur/restaurants/guide-to-kacang-putih

1a. Money Finance Advise

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