Many politicians and Malaysian economist saying that a starting salary of RM2,500 for fresh graduates will suffice as long as they manage their finances well and live within their means.
These financial management experts say this that the average salary of RM2,500 can be considered reasonable especially when these fresh graduates have no skills or experience and the employer has to take the risk of employing them.
Mohd Adnan Anan Abdullah, the head of the education division of the Credit Counseling and Debt Management Agency said, “Whether what one earns is enough of otherwise is all dependent on the individual’s profile. Say in Kuala Lumpur, if one eats out every day it could cost up RM30 per day, and the spending will be greater if one has habits like smoking.”
Apart from that, those who have just started work should not rush into buying luxuries like a car. They should stabilise their financial position beforehand.
“Owning a car at a very young age is definitely ‘cool’ but one should not forget of the additional ownership costs involved – fuel, toll, parking charges, maintenance and insurance coverage when lumped up could prove to be hefty”, he said.
A recent study from Jobstreet, found that degree holders felt that the average of RM2,500 is not enough to go by the month with 77% of the 2,062 respondents could hardly save up after spending on basic necessities. 60% of respondents expected a starting salary of RM3,500 while another 30% are asking for RM6,500.
Whereas on the employers side, 66 of them said they were ready to pay a starting salary of RM2,500 to RM2,800 depending on the qualification.
“Saving is important, but calls for tough financial discipline and perseverance, and can be done through unit trusts or separate bank accounts.
“As long as there is balance in the bank account one will be tempted to spend, thus savings must be something that one is forced to do”, he said.
Federation of Malaysian Employers executive director Shamsuddin Bardan said that the starting salary could be considered as reasonable for graduates who have no experience and employers are actually taking risk and spending time to them the trade.
“They have to realise that the employment openings are limited and if they are too demanding on the salary they may end up being unemployed.
“So take a positive view and see your first job as the opportunity to seek knowledge, and after having garnered some experience they could ‘test the market’ at other places. There is no obligation for one to remain loyal to an employer.”
Economic lecturer Processor Dr Shazali Abu Mansor from Universiti Malaysia Sarawak shares similar views with Shamsuddin. He says that graduates should consider themselves as still going under practical training while at their first job.
“The key here is patience. If during your practical training you could take a bus, why not do the same now? Don’t think that as soon as you start work you could just forget how you lived as a student.”
To help them tide over the tight financial situation, those who have provided them with study loans like the PTPTN should defer the repayment of the loans to two years after starting work as by then salary increments would have taken place.
The committee member for the economic and management cluster of the National Professor Council, Professor Dr Samsinar Md Sidin, said the younger employees, especially those who reside in towns, should spend wisely.
“At times, it is better to rent a room near the workplace. Though it may be expensive it is better than travelling from far away, as this also helps to avoid the waste of time and energy.”
The lecturer at the economic and management faculty of Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) added that parents could help them financially at the initial stages.
“Some of those who had just graduated also do part time work, including through online means, however they have to ensure their main occupation is not affected. Don’t waste any opportunity.”