Father Sez

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Archive for the ‘Frugal Tips’ Category

Converting my car to a NGV – My Experience

Wednesday, June 11th, 2008

In view of the recent steep increase in fuel prices in Malaysia, my friend, KC Lau who blogs about personal finance suggested that I write about my experience in converting my car to a NGV. Thanks, KC for this idea.

I don’t remember when the option to fit cars with NGV kits was made available to Malaysians. (Harry says it was 23 years ago.) 

Predictably and completely befitting the name “Government”, the follow up was, shall we say, sad. Reading Harry’s blog should give us an idea of how sad! 

- There are only 40,000 users after 23 years of implementation.  

- The number of NGV filling stations (58 stations) is still very low causing  long queues at almost all of Petronas Petrol stations with one or two dispensers installed.  

And Malaysia is a huge producer of natural gas! 

So with petrol prices being relatively low and NGV availability very poor, very few Malaysians bothered to convert.

(You can see the history of petrol prices in Malaysia extracted from Najib’s Blog. (RM3.80 = USD1)) 

01/05/2004 - RM 1.37

01/10/2004 - RM 1.42

05/05/2005 - RM 1.52

31/07/2005 - RM 1.62

28/02/2006 - RM 1.92

04/06/2008 – RM2.70

The price increase in February 2006 made me start feeling the pinch. I drive an average of about 130 – 150 kms per working day and the fuel bill was getting a bit painful. I researched some websites on NGV and then took the plunge in August 2007. 

I got the car fitted in a workshop near my home and that cost me a total of RM 6,025. This included a “fee” of RM 125 because I used a credit card and another RM 700 when I changed the tank to a larger one.  

My distance travelled from January 06 (when we purchased the car) to August 2007 and fuel costs were 48,752 kms for RM 9,194.49 or RM 0.189 per km.  

Since then I have travelled a total of 40,907 kms (as at end of May 08), and paid RM3,332.97 in fuel costs or RM0.0815 per km. 

A savings of a whopping 56.8%.  (We keep detailed car logs, so these figures are easily available.) 

And these savings are before the recent 41% price hike and a relative high use of normal fuel. The savings will really start kicking in after I factor in this huge increase.  

Besides the obvious cost savings the other issues are:- 

a)    The full NGV tank can only be used for about 150 kms, thus needing frequent refilling. In my case it is daily. For me this is the biggest negative.  

b)    The filling up of the tank is dependent on the pressure at the dispenser being used. So there is some inconsistency. A full tank today may not give the same distance as the full tank of yesterday. Still the differences are not that great. 

c)     There are insufficient NGV stations around. Another big negative. So quite often I have to use normal petrol after the gas runs out. The National Oil Company, Petronas has announced that they’ll be adding in another 100 stations. Whilst this is good news, I’ll feel better once the stations are up. 

d)    I keep a print out of the NGV stations in the country. Then if by chance, I am near one, I try to fill up. Now a number of the stations have been etched in my memory.

e)    Sometimes, there seems to be some delay in the NG reaching the carburettor. Hence the car sort of jerks or doesn’t move. This only happens when we are starting the car. A little irritating at times, but not really a big negative.  

f)      There is less power when we use NGV. This is hardly a problem, since we can seamlessly switch on to petrol if we need a burst of speed for overtaking or something like that. 

g)    The NGV tank takes up part of the boot space. This problem is worse for the MPV’s and the smaller cars. I drive a Toyota Camry and so far I have had no problem with the reduced boot space.  

h)    NGV is acknowledged to be better for the environment as well as for the car. However, I have not noticed any clear savings on the servicing costs.  

I think NGV is the way to go. It is clear that Malaysians are moving by the droves to convert. Good for them!  

With increasing consumer awareness and pressure, I am sure more  NGV dispensing stations will start sprouting up. Then Malaysian motorists would be back to the days of “cheap fuel.”   

“Frugal” things I did in 2007 and plans for 2008

Tuesday, January 8th, 2008

Sometime ago, the Simple Dollar wrote a series of one hour projects to improve our finances.  I found it inspiring.   

So I did what he suggested and cut off some waste in my finances, or rather things which I could do away with, without affecting the quality of my life in any way.  

a)  Cancel one credit card 

Ever since I got my first credit card so long ago, I have always paid the bills in full. My cards have never carried any balance. Since 2006, I have been carrying two cards for which I pay yearly subscriptions.  I have now received a card with a life long waiver of fees, so I have cancelled one of the earlier ones. 

b)  Earn points by paying bills using the credit card 

Many of the bills which I used to pay by cheque, I have now converted to paying using the credit card. In addition to the accounting trail, I also earn points which I would not have gotten otherwise. And I use less cheque leaves now. 

c)   Convert the car into a NGV car 

Petrol and diesel are a lot cheaper in Malaysia than in most other countries. Despite this, my fuel bills were getting a little heavy since I have commute almost 150 kms daily. In addition, the Gomen is making frequent statements that the country has no choice but to live with a higher pump price. We are all expecting another jump in fuel prices. 

So I spent about RM 6,000 fixing a NGV kit so that the car now runs on petrol or NGV. Though there is the inconvenience of having to fill up daily, and NGV stations are not that common, the savings are adding up. 

I should recover the cost of the fit out in about two years, and then it would be savings all the way.       

d)  Cancelled Club Membership 

I have been a member of a club for a number of years, though I hardly ever used or use the facilities.  I discussed this with my wife and then cancelled the membership. 

These changes have had zero impact on my lifestyle and I am now happily encouraged to go deeper. 

The plans for 2008  

a)  Phone Bills  

I am one of those silly consumers (whom telcos just love) who do not study the plans available. In fact this has caused a lot of tension in my household. (I’ll write about this later.) 

I have now researched the plans and it looks like some of the plans will reduce our bills substantially.  

b)  Cable TV 

This has just been cancelled. The children spend all their time watching cartoons and I hardly have time to watch cable anyway. In a week or two, my household would have forgotten all about cable.  

c)   Medication 

I spend a fair amount of money on this. I am now on the lookout for the generic versions.  

With my newly reawakened enthusiasm for exercise and this conversion to generics, I am confident that the 2008 bill for medication will be substantially lower than 2007. 

The net financial impact of all these may not exactly be the stuff that fortunes are built upon. Like an old school friend once told me about waste, “Even if you throw something into the sea, it makes a “pop” sound, but this one does not”.  

This is the waste that I want to cut. The waste of expenses incurred or benefits overlooked, just because I did not look a little harder, ask around a little or did not make one or two phone calls.  

Fathersez’s frugal tip – Don’t buy a bed

Tuesday, December 4th, 2007

One Snarky Chica with Issues wrote an interesting post on “Who needs all that furniture?” 

He is shifting to a smaller unit and his plan to get rid of unwanted furniture was part of the preparation. I went through his list of furniture earmarked for disposal and found what I was looking for.  

Hooray!!!! At last, a man with the same thoughts as I have.  

The platform bed was marked to be sold! 

If there ever was a piece of furniture that had to be paid for,  occupied a huge amount of space, created more chores by needing additional work to make it “proper”, and collected a pile of dust and germs, the bed would win hands down. 

First, it does occupy a whole lot of space. I am not an authority on bedrooms in general, but I have stayed in many hotel rooms in many countries and beds always occupy the biggest percentage of space. The same in my bedroom. 

Then, you need a mattress for the bed. And for the mattress we need covers. These covers have to be cleaned.  

The beds have to be “made up” daily. Whilst I have an aversion to beds in general (does this sound “wrong”?), unmade beds really are the pits. 

Sunning the mattress requires us to have a Mr. Hercules to be on call.  

And need I mention the dust that accumulates beneath these beds? I am sure many the backs of the lady of the house have been subjected to gross abuse by the need to vacuum and clean beneath the beds. 

Why can’t we do the sensible thing?

I am not suggesting for us to be like the “kung fu movie” heroes, who sleep on planks with bricks as pillows. These guys can also jump over mountains, something many of us cannot do. 

I am all for sleeping mats.  

Mats that can be rolled up when we get up, and free all that space in our rooms. Mats that can be so easily aired in the sun. Mats that will not accumulate dust. Mats that are so much cheaper, and hence can be replaced more often. And mats that can be so easily rolled up and carried away if we have to shift. If we need comfort, we can always have some sort of a thin mattress.  

Well, I have never managed to convince my wife. She goes through all the problems that I have listed above, and it is still a bed that we must have. 

Sigh! Am I missing something here?  

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