In 2009, Brunei’s national credit card debt amounted to a staggering BND 353m, this is equivalent to a 100% increase from 2005. PMO’s statistics from 2010 showed that civil servants have $0.5 billion of unpaid house financing and BND 84m of unpaid car financing.
Last year alone, 52,203 Bruneians visited Singapore and spent a phenomenal BND 82.9m – that is, BND 1,600 per person. If you look at the retail cycle in Brunei, the peak period only lasts less than a week during the beginning or end of the month when people receive their salary. Spending power soon decreases after that short period.
As a nation of people, we have a minimal understanding of financial planning and limited perspective on wealth management outlook.
Where does the money go?
Fuel is cheap and rental is affordable. Shopping and entertainment in Brunei is relatively ‘basic’ when compared to neighbouring countries – this helps to eliminate a huge amount of impulse shopping.
Key areas of spending:
• Auto Financing – According to The Economist, Brunei ranks #1 in the world for the number of car ownerships (691 cars per 1,000 population). As a society, it is clear that quite a huge percentage of our salaries go towards paying off this type of debt.
• (More on) Travel – Last year, over 2.6 Million Bruneians visited Miri– this is over seven times the country’s population. According to statistics reported by Brunei Times in January 2014, Bruneians spent a total of $1.21 billion in Malaysia in 2012.
• Dining Out – Bruneians have a culture of not packing lunch from home, due to the convenience and accessibility of affordable restaurants. The amount spent on dining out soon adds up!
• Mobile Phone Bills – DST’s website reports that there are over 400,000 customers with mobile phone lines. Clearly, Bruneians are not spared from one of the world’s epidemic problems in terms of mobile phone expenditure.
• Online Shopping – The lack of shopping options in Brunei has resulted in a surge in online purchases. This can potentially be addictive and draining on the pocket.
Below are three quick steps to improve your saving habits immediately:
• Keep a record of your spending
Have a look at the spending list mentioned and if you can identify with any of the habits, make a change. Now!
• Reduce Cash Handling.
Carry less money in your wallet so that you will not be tempted to make unnecessary and unplanned purchases.
Consider using a debit card to pay for your purchases so that it will help you to monitor and record your expenditure through your monthly statement. BIBD provides a comprehensive coverage of retail vendors with our debit card facilities in Brunei.
• Exercise Forced Savings.
At the beginning of every month set aside a fixed amount of money which should be put into a separate type of savings account which limits withdrawal. BIBD is making this a convenient option where purpose- saving can be done through account opening which can be done online.
Make an appointment with your BIBD Financial Planner for your financial health check and recommendations regarding your savings options.
Hjh. Nurul is the Deputy Head of Consumer Banking and the Head of CSR in BIBD. She has worked with BIBD for over 18 years in the areas of Finance and Investment banking. Her current portfolio includes managing the Sales & Distribution Channels of Consumer and Retail Banking. Hjh Nurul holds a BA in Accounting & Finance from the UK and was an IBB scholar.