KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysians are in their "worst-ever financial position" as they face a looming global recession amid rising inflation, according to a survey.
Data from the RinggitPlus Malaysian Financial Literacy Survey (RMFLS) 2022 has revealed various "painful truths" on the current financial state of the rakyat, including depleted savings, cashflow issues, and other worrying trends."
The survey was done by RinggitPlus.com (RinggitPlus), a financial website owned and operated by fintech company Jirnexu Sdn Bhd.
The co-founder and director of RinggitPlus Hann Liew said that the current trends are a wake-up call to all parties to take action as the economic effects of the pandemic have been devastating and that Malaysians have real financial challenges to address.
"It is a harsh reality not only for the people but also for policymakers and industry players.
"This is a generational issue that requires long-term solutions with sustained and concerted support from all parties. We cannot leave anyone behind," he said at the RMFLS 2022 results launch at Menara Etiqa here today.
RinggitPlus also said Malaysians from all walks of life are now facing severe financial challenges that leave them vulnerable to financial shocks, bearing in mind that various financial aids had reduced the impact on them in 2020 and 2021.
"A total of 70 per cent of respondents indicated that they save less than RM500 per month or do not manage to save at all.
"This is the worst ever result tracked by RMFLS in five years," it said separately in a statement.
The number of Malaysians who save more than RM1,500 per month has also dropped significantly, it noted. "From 20 per cent in 2020, the figure has dropped four times lower to just 5 per cent in 2022."
The RMFLS 2022 results also indicate that more Malaysians are struggling with less savings in hand with 53 per cent of respondents stating that they can survive for three months or less with only their savings (52 per cent last year).
"A similar pattern is also seen where 55 per cent of Malaysians spent exactly or more than what they earned each month (44 per cent last year), essentially living paycheck-to-paycheck," RinggitPlus said.
With depleted savings and the higher cost of goods, the survey also highlighted a worrying trend.
"More credit cardholders are not paying off their bills in full with just 55 per cent (doing so) in 2022 compared to 70 per cent last year," it noted.
RinggitPlus also observed that Malaysians are choosing short-term monetary relief over long-term financial stability.
"A staggering 66 per cent of respondents above 21 years old stated that they will consider applying for more Employees' Provident Fund (EPF) withdrawals if the government allows it," it said.
The nationwide survey was conducted in three languages using a self-administered online questionnaire through a third-party analytics platform, based on a sampling of 3,144 Malaysians aged 18 and above. – BERNAMA