Prepping in Malaysia Part 4


Now that the GE13 has ended and Pakatan had settled the issue of the Menteri Besar in Selangor rather peacefully (thank God!), probably it is a best time to go back to our daily routine and one of it would be on prepping.

Read these first:-

canned food

(The canned food in the storeroom. Having enough food and clean drinking water for the family draws the highest priority on my prepping list but of course looking for storage place without it is left on the open is fast becoming an issue – I blame this on housing developers not having basement as a standard house designs in this country. It’s time to be highly creative with storage)

The world did not end last year but it was not the end of prepping as we moved over to 2013. We still had sporadic water disruptions although it was not that bad at my residential area – the water supply resumes the same day although some of my colleagues still had water disruption for days. We have yet to hit the big one on natural disasters including solar storms and global wide pandemic. On the other side of the coin, the recent general elections went rather peaceful and things soon got into a routine just a few days after it had ended although politicians are keeping the fire up the wrong issues for their own political reasons (appointment of the “once banned, once running fugitive” Hindraf’s Waytha as a Deputy Minister and uninspiring Cabinet Ministers however could be good reason to be concerned). So the panic purchase of essential goods before the elections did not happen although I did see more people with extra rice bags in their shopping carts this time around.

There have not been that many changes to my own level of prepping at home other than rearranging some of the storage and cleaning out some of drawers to keep more things.

We now have at least two 10 kg bags of rice on “standby” – when we use one up and pour the load into a separate rice container (which holds about 15 kg of rice), this bag is quickly replaced with a new bag. We had stocked up more on salt, sugar & cooking oil (even since the local store ran out of sugar one day) – all that we use in our daily cooking and always in demand. Storage of the canned food now includes bottles of sauce for spaghetti (my wife nowadays cook them for dinner). I have also added couple bottles of honey – which will come handy if we run out of sugar and of course does not have any expiry date. Air-tight containers (recycled from long titbits containers) are a good way to store spices and other small items – containers are easily stacked up. Instant noodles remains one of the more essential items in the store-room and have a drawer on its own and we now 00include dry noodle packets – it’s cheaper and flexible enough when it comes to cooking them. We stick to the principle of “storing what we eat and eat what we store” – this is to ensure stored food does not expire and we always the “latest” food stored.

One key thing that has improved greatly compared to last year is the understanding among family members on the need for prepping – so they all help out whenever they can when it comes to prepping. Prepping is no longer “sounds Greek”. No more weird looks when I talk about prepping. Family members do their own sundry shopping and whenever possible, now adds to the number of items in the “prepping” storeroom. This of course puts more strain on the available space so we had to be more creative in storing. Despite the rearranging things in the storeroom, squeezing every little bit of space, it is clear that we are running out of storage fast – the renovation of my kitchen (we hoped to get plenty of storage space once done) had to be kept on hold as we have not finalised the contractor, design & the budget.

And when it comes to storage, we also have non-food items to content with – spare batteries, candles, water filters, toiletries, garbage bags and washing items. My son’s room had the space and with a large cabinet in one corner with some old clothes and non essential items taking up precious space, it was time for another round of house-keeping. We threw away 1-2 bags of old DVDs from my collection and at least 3 large bags of old clothes (this one will go into the neighbourhood recycle bin) – we had cleared enough space to store our bathroom essentials – packages of soap bars, tooth pastes, tooth brushes, shaving blades, etc. At another corner, washing essentials – floor cleaners, toilet bowl cleaners, tiles cleaners – all kept in place with proper ventilation and far from reach of children. And just like anyone running a storeroom anywhere in the world, inventory checking is a must and we often do that before month end and before we prepare the next month’s shopping list. It also gives us the chance to check on the expiry dates, condition of the items in the storeroom, rotate or use them accordingly and work out the quantity in the storeroom.

Next on the item is drinking water. There is still no rainwater harvesting system in place but this year (thanks to the water leaking into the bedroom), we managed to fix the leaks up at the roof and the water tanks. We can now be assured that we will always have at least full water tank in place should the water supply disrupted without notice. The two 15 litres containers for drinking water remains unchanged – I thought of adding another container but space in the kitchen is at a premium. So I decided to maintain the large raw water drum in the storeroom with a planned replenish cycle of 6 months. There are no plans to add any new water drums / containers until perhaps after my kitchen have gone through the overdue renovation (I already can imagine one corner to stack up with water containers – actively used for drinking and cooking).

When it comes to prepping, one cannot run away from the concept of bug-out-bag or as some would call – “mobile prepping”. I thought I have a reasonable bug-out-bag which I bring along when I go out to work or on long distant journey. My version of the bug-out-bug is not extensive although I want it to be – most of the items are stored in the house instead of the bag. But the more I think about it and as more prepping is done at home, it is clear that my bug-out-bag still has a long way to go before it is considered a bug-out-bag is sufficient enough to sustain for the next 72 hours. So I decided to re-designate it as more of a “get-home” bag (with key things – food, water, utility knife and clothes) than a proper 72 hours bug-out-bag. Work on a proper bug-out-bag have to take a back seat for the time being although I have the right bag for it (tucked away somewhere).

There is still outstanding work to be done namely on improvement of safety and trying to grow own vegetables in our small garden to minimise costs. We tried it before with chillies and tomatoes but the vegetables that we grew did not do well after attacked by pests. We still have 7 months to go before end of the year, so there’s still time to get things done. Perhaps with a mini greenhouse for the plants. For those who have not think about prepping, there is always time and opportunity to start this. We should have “always be ready” mindset so that when the tough gets going, we should always have Plan B lying around somewhere.

To be continued and happy prepping…

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Hello Brother, You Got Insurance?


(The reality of things even in Malaysia – my Dad was uninsured for a large part of his life and he remains uninsured till now as it is very unlikely that he will get any policy now considering his age and the number of times he had been admitted to the hospital. Image source : http://www.political-humor.org)

Start talking about insurance and most people will feel very uneasy especially when they are talking to an insurance agent.

When my son was born, one of the first thing that we decided to do, other than to get diapers & baby milk powder, was to get insurance policy for him. It started with the obvious medical card scheme and we expanded on to education policy a couple months later. We then kind of have forgotten about it until now when we need a similar policy for the new Boss. I called up a few people and tossed around with a few proposals from a few insurance companies, balancing the various options and deciding the best for our child. And in the process, I realized that all of our existing insurance policies have been outdated and is in need of a serious review (and a policy upgrade).

We recognize that as cost of living & medical fees keep rising on yearly basis, so what ever preparation that we do today may not be enough for tomorrow – such preparations needs constant review and updates (same goes for prepping). And we were kind of lucky to get ourselves medical cards when we had the chance, when the premium was still low and at the right time too – medical cost is on the rise and it is being more crucial to keep ourselves healthy. We all had used the medical card at one point of time in the last few years with my son being the first to use it when he was down with a fever & ear infection and was admitted to the hospital and me a couple months of ago when I was admitted for food poisoning. My mom probably was the luckiest of all when she was admitted to the hospital a few years on suspect of dengue and later had to undergo a minor surgery (when the doctors found other serious complications during their check-ups). The bill came up to almost RM12,000 and we were quite relieved when a bulk of it was fully covered by the insurance company.

My first encounter with any form of insurance was when I was still young and my father’s relative who worked in MCIS talked my dad into buying an insurance policy. Back then we did not have any ATM machines or any Internet Banking and the relative rarely visit us to collect premium so paying of the premium had to be done the ‘long way” by taking the mini-bus to PJ and to MCIS office and wait in line to pay. My mom not wanting to leave us alone in the house, will bring all of us along for this. My dad was the sole breadwinner in the family so when he fell sick one day and could not afford to pay the premium, no one bothered to advise us on the insurance that my Dad had taken (we were a bit lost on the detailed workings of an insurance policy) and in time, the policy simply lapsed. Years later when we were “tidying up” the insurance documentation and we had to visit the MCIS for one last time, we sat down with their customer service and realized that if we had returned the policy in time, we would have received back some of the premium paid.

My next “encounter” with insurance was when I started to work after my college days in the early 1990s. One day as I was walking out for lunch, I saw my old classmate and after a chat over lunch, catching up on good old times, I found out that he was an insurance agent. So, it was not long before I found myself being “stalked” by an insurance agent to buy a large insurance policy. And after putting off his request for an appointment to explain on the insurance policies, I had enough and decided to confront my friend and told him that since I just started to work and only had a pitiful salary, buying a big premium policy was out of the question. So, my friend kept silent for a moment and then suggested the next best thing – a policy that combines saving and personal accident coverage and the monthly premium was just enough to fit into my small budget (although RM130++ per month was big amount back then) and since it was saving type policy, it was a good proposal. Over time, I had enough cash and took another policy from him. I lost contact with my friend a couple years later and the last information that I got was that my friend was no longer in the insurance industry.

Then many years later, my cousin joined the insurance industry and soon was at home urging us to buy insurance policies to kick start his sales. It has been sometime since we toyed around the issue of insurance for the family and my cousin, bent to impress us with his insurance knowledge explained well on the various policies that fits our requirements. That was the time when we were also seriously thinking about medical card (my Dad had been admitted to the hospital on several occasions and we could see how high medical charges can be) and with my son in tow; we decided to buy medical policies plus a few more policies. With my cousin being our insurance agent, it was also easy to “customize” the policy and the premium payment and he was just a phone call away from any enquiries and customer support.

Over the years since then, I have added car insurance, house owner insurance and once in a while I would get this kind of call – “Good morning, Mr X, I am calling from Insurance Company Y and you are in our premium list (ya, right!). We are offering for a limited time only (ya, right again!) the Z policy which covers ABC”. At first I wonder how these people got my contact details and when I queried further, I get my answer – it is from my credit card company. And I quickly refuse the “offer” – simply because the details provided via the phone are a bit sketchy and there are no whatsoever documents to be reviewed before I say ok for the policy. Don’t get me wrong, I know the importance of insurance – it is a solid Plan B that never fails whilst at the same time forms some kind of savings for the policyholder but I want to ensure that whatever deal that the insurance company is throwing (especially those promotional policies) is the best deal. After all, no two policies on the same type has the same terms (check the comparison of the various medicals cards here).

Coming back to the medical card for the new Boss, we narrowed it to Great Eastern’s Smart Medic as the best among the few that we were considering. The premium is like 3 times higher than what I am paying for my son but we realize that it all depends on that the more we pay, the better & higher coverage the policy is and it is the same case here – so we have nothing to complain about. The monthly premium will come to RM150 with annual limit of RM90,000 (RM99,000 if there was no claim in 3 years range – there is a RM9,000 increase for every 3 years of no-claim). It is an investment linked policy so there was other additional coverage. So that RM150 is addition to my monthly expense list but worth the expense especially considering that the Boss will be covered from the “start”.

The next plan for the new Boss would be education or saving type policy which can be used for her future school / college fees but we are starting with the obvious one first.