Thursday, May 29, 2008

Malaysian Artistes For Unity Project VIDEO

Doing my bit for National Unity Month by sharing this video produced by Pete Teo. Kudos to the Malaysian artistes for this feel-good video. Music unites us all. Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008


This article was contributed by Form 3 student, Rou Min, who decided to share her own tips about food after visiting our blog. Never too early (or late!) to start eating right for life-long good health

When we are in our golden years, how we look and feel depends very much on what we ate as a child and as a teenager. So as a growing teenager, I agree that we should eat healthily as health is wealth. Ever so often we get cravings for pastries, chips and all that junk! Here are a few tips I personally have tried when a craving strikes:

1. When you have a craving for sodium (and crunch), switch a bag of potato chips with a handful of roast nuts lightly salted, or better – unsalted! Your energy level will certainly get a boost!

2. Have a craving for M&Ns? Trade a handful of this yummy treat for some researcher wrote how a handful of semi-sweet chocolate chips (dark chocolate) contain heart-health falconoid.

3. If you are craving for a creamy dish, sauté broccoli in olive oil and dip it in a dollop of nonfat yogurt. Desire something spicy? Sprinkle lemon juice and cayenne pepper on cooked broccoli. It is more nourishing.

4. If you crave for pizza, try topping a whole-grain pita tomato sauce or purée and some mozzarella cheese (if possible, low fat), pop it into the toaster oven and indulge.

5. Eat the real thing – the natural not the processed. Exchange orange soda with a cup of refreshing squeezed orange juice, which is rich in vitamin C. You can get a daily dosage of vitamin C that way and keep cold at bay.

6. Make coke your enemy. I am sure you know that one can of coke contains seven spoons of sugar that equals to seven scoops of ice cream!

7. Love popcorn? Pop some kernels (no butter, sugar or salt, of course!) then sprinkle some cinnamon onto the popcorn and indulge (cinnamon helps to speed up your metabolism). Not a spice lover? Then toss the popcorn in chopped parsley and a little bit of olive oil.

8. Do not forget to drink at least eight glasses of water a day as it helps to detox the body and keep us hydrated.

9. Be sure to take at least three types of fruit a day, especially those that are rich in vitamin C, to help de-tox the internal organs.

10. If you are an ice-cream fan, put a tub of low fat or fat free yogurt into the freezer. You will have the same texture of an ice cream but with good bacteria and a guilty-free treat to enjoy. You will soon develop a taste for it and may even forget what ice-cream really tastes like!

11. There are lots of salad lovers around these days but the dressing they handsomely spread on it, takes away all the goodness of their greens! Do you know that some salad dressings can add up to hundreds of calories! So instead, mix two tablespoons of olive oil with one tablespoon of balsamic vinegar per serving. Not only does it taste scrumptious, it is nutritious too!

12. Instead of ice cream pop, stick an ice cream stick into a banana and coat it with melted dark chocolate and roasted, unsalted chopped nuts and pop it into the freezer until the chocolate hardens and enjoy it (banana is rich in vitamin B and gives us energy).

13. When having a craving for cakes, go for a lighter cake as it usually has lower fat content. Go for sponge or angel cake rather than that rich butter cake.

14. Not all breakfast cereals provide a head start for the day as many are high in fat, sugar and sodium. However, cereals are a quick convenient source to power up yourself through the morning, and if you check the label, many provide a low fat, high-complex carbohydrate breakfast.

15. Instead of fried chicken, try grilled or roast chicken - it is not as oily.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


"The Last Lecture" by Randy Pausch is truly inspirational. You can click on the Youtube video link below for the full lecture delivered at Carnegie Mellon University in September 2007. The book is also available at all major bookstores.

One of Randy Pausch's unfufilled childhood dreams was to play for the NFL. He got the opportunity to practice with the Pittsburgh Steelers recently, and he kicked a field goal on his first try. (Ken Andreyo, Carnegie Mellon University )

The Last Lecture: A Love Story for Your Life

Diane Sawyer Talks to Randy Pausch and His Family Seven Months After Inspiring Lecture By GEOFF MARTZ and SAMANTHA WENDER April 9, 2008

What would you say if you knew you were going to die and had a chance to sum up everything that was most important to you?

That's the hypothetical question posed to the annual speaker of a lecture series commonly known as "The Last Lecture." But for Randy Pausch, the charismatic young professor of computer science at Carnegie Mellon University, the question wasn't hypothetical.

The 47-year-old father of three small children had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer -- and given six months to live. Friends and colleagues flew in from all around the country to attend his last lecture. And -- almost as an afterthought -- the lecture was videotaped and put on the Internet for the few people who couldn't get there that day.

That was all it took.

Somehow amid the vast clamor of the Web and the bling-bling of million-dollar budgets, savvy marketing campaigns and millions of strange and bizarre videos, the voice of one earnest professor standing at a podium and talking about his childhood dreams cut through the noise.

The lecture was so uplifting, so funny, so inspirational that it went viral. So far, 10 million people have downloaded it. And thousands have written in to say that his lecture changed their lives.

If you had only six months to live, what would you do? How would you live your life? And how can all of us take heart from Pausch's inspiring message to live each day to its fullest?

To listen to the full interview, click on the link below.

Randy Pausch Last Lecture: Achieving Your Childhood Dreams.

To view, please click on this link


Thanks for sharing the cartoons, Lauren. Nothing like a good laugh to keep old age at bay!

Thursday, May 22, 2008


6 tips to fight fractures, slips, and falls

Tip 1:
Exercise to improve balance and strength. Exercising reduces your risks of falls. Keeping physically active helps your reflexes stay sharp, and your muscles stay strong. That can help with coordination and lower your risk of falling. If you are fit, your balance is better, and that makes you much less likely to take a fall than someone who has become bedridden and infirm. Exercise also has a direct impact on the strength of your bones. High impact exercises, e.g. jogging, tennis, may not be safe for some people with osteoporosis, since the physical pounding could cause a fracture.

Tip 2:
Tread carefully. Wearing the wrong sort of footwear can really increase your risk of a fall. Just look for low heeled shoes that offer good support and have rubber soles rather than leather ones. While sneakers are fine, avoid ones with deep treads that can trip you up. It’s time to wear shoes inside the house too; socks and slippers can increase your risk of falling. Use any assistive device recommended by your doctor or therapist. When you are walking outside, play it safe. Walk on the grass when it’s been raining, since you are more likely to slip on concrete.

Tip 3:
Know how medicines might affect you. Unfortunately, as you grow older, you’re more likely to need daily medications. All medications have side-effects, some of which can increase your risk of falling. Medications that can cause dizziness and lack of coordination include sedatives, sleeping pills, drugs that lower blood pressure, anti-depressants, anti-convulsants, muscle relaxants, those for heart conditions. Studies have shown that taking 4 or more medications has a higher risk of falling.

Tip 4:
Lighten up. Your vision isn’t as good as before. This makes it harder to discern objects especially in low light. Brighten up your home and consider fluorescent bulbs. Install overhead lights in all rooms so that you don’t have to stumble around in the dark to find the lamp. Use night lights in your bedroom, bathroom, and any hallways that connect them. Make sure all stairways both inside and outside are well lit. Keep a flashlight in your bed.

Tip 5:
‘Fall-Proof’ your home. Keep rooms free of clutter. Put down carpet or plastic runners on polished floors. Get throw rugs, electric cords and phone lines off the floor. Have hand-rails on all stairs. Install railings in the bathroom around the toilet and shower. Put a rubber mat on the floor of your bath or shower. Many people just don’t do a very good job fall-proofing their homes.

Tip 6:
Treat health conditions. Some chronic illnesses can affect your strength or physical functioning and increase the risk of a fall. Arthritis can make it hard to move around. Vision problems can increase your risk of tripping. Check with your doctor as to which of your health conditions may increase your risk of falling, and on whether any treatment might help.

(This article was first published in Berita Menopos, and reproduced here with permission from the Malaysian Menopause Society. For more information about MMS, please visit the website at )

Saturday, May 17, 2008


In case some of you haven't read this, I've taken the liberty to re-produce it here as there is an important message for all of us. This story was first published in The Straits Times on Jan 12, 2008.

"Stay interested in the world, take on a challenge": Singapore Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew, 85.

MY CONCERN today is, what is it I can tell you which can add to your knowledge about ageing and what ageing societies can do. You know more about this subject than I do. A lot of it is out in the media, Internet and books. So I thought the best way would be to take a personal standpoint and tell you how I approach this question of ageing.

If I cast my mind back, I can see turning points in my physical and mental health. You know, when you're young, I didn't bother, I assumed good health was God-given and would always be there. When I was about - 1957 that was - I was about 34, we were competing in elections, and I was really fond of drinking beer and smoking.

And after the election campaign, in Victoria Memorial Hall - we had won the election, the City Council election - I couldn't thank the voters because I had lost my voice. I'd been smoking furiously. I'd take a packet of 10 to deceive myself, but I'd run through the packet just sitting on the stage, watching the crowd, getting the feeling, the mood before I speak. In other words, there were three speeches a night. Three speeches a night, 30 cigarettes, a lot of beer after that, and the voice was gone.

I remember I had a case in Kuching, Sarawak. So I took the flight and I felt awful. I had to make up my mind whether I was going to be an effective campaigner and a lawyer, in which case I cannot destroy my voice, and I can't go on. So I stopped smoking. It was a tremendous deprivation because I was addicted to it. And I used to wake up dreaming...the nightmare was I resumed smoking. But I made a choice and said, if I continue this, I will not be able to do my job.

I didn't know anything about cancer of the throat or oesophagus or the lungs, etc. But it turned out it had many other deleterious effects. Strangely enough after that, I became very allergic, hyper-allergic to smoking, so much so that I would plead with my Cabinet ministers not to smoke in the Cabinet room. You want to smoke, please go out, because I am allergic.

Then one day I was at the home of my colleague, Mr Rajaratnam, meeting foreign correspondents including some from the London Times and they took a picture of me and I had a big belly like that (puts his hands in front of his belly), a beer belly. I felt no, no, this will not do. So I started playing more golf, hit hundreds of balls on the practice tee. But this didn't go down. There was only one way it could go down: consume less, burn up more. Another turning point came when -this was 1976, after the general election - I was feeling tired. I was breathing deeply at the Istana, on the lawns.

My daughter, who was at that time just graduating as a doctor, said: 'What are you trying to do?' I said: 'I feel an effort to breathe in more oxygen.' She said: 'Don't play golf. Run. Aerobics.' So she gave me a book, quite a famous book and, then, very current in America on how you score aerobic points swimming, running, whatever it is, cycling.

I looked at it skeptically. I wasn't very keen on running. I was keen on golf. So I said, 'Let's try'. So in-between golf shots while playing on my own, sometimes nine holes at the Istana, I would try and walk fast between shots. Then I began to run between shots. And I felt better. After a while, I said: 'Okay, after my golf, I run.' And after a few years, I said: 'Golf takes so long. The running takes 15 minutes. Let's cut out the golf and let's run.'

I think the most important thing in ageing is you got to understand yourself. And the knowledge now is all there. When I was growing up, the knowledge wasn't there. I had to get the knowledge from friends, from doctors. But perhaps the most important bit of knowledge that the doctor gave me was one day, when I said: 'Look, I'm feeling slower and sluggish.' So he gave me a medical encyclopaedia and he turned the pages to ageing. I read it up and it was illuminating. A lot of it was difficult jargon but I just skimmed through to get the gist of it.

As you grow, you reach 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25 and then, thereafter, you are on a gradual slope down physically. Mentally, you carry on and on and on until I don't know what age, but mathematicians will tell you that they know their best output is when they're in their 20s and 30s when your mental energy is powerful and you haven't lost many neurons. That's what they tell me. So, as you acquire more knowledge, you then craft a programme for yourself to maximise what you have. It's just common sense.

I never planned to live till 85 or 84. I just didn't think about it. I said: 'Well, my mother died when she was 74, she had a stroke. My father died when he was 94.' But I saw him, and he lived a long life, well, maybe it was his DNA. But more than that, he swam every day and he kept himself busy. He was working for the Shell company. He was in charge, he was a superintendent of an oil depot. When he retired, he started becoming a salesman. So people used to tell me: 'Your father is selling watches at BP de Silva.'

My father was then living with me. But it kept him busy. He had that routine: He meets people, he sells watches, he buys and sells all kinds of semi-precious stones, he circulates coins. And he keeps going. But at 87, 88, he fell, going down the steps from his room to the dining room, broke his arm, three months incapacitated. Thereafter, he couldn't go back to swimming. Then he became wheelchair-bound. Then it became a problem because my house was constructed that way. So my brother - who's a doctor and had a flat (one-level) house - took him in. And he lived on till 94. But towards the end, he had gradual loss of mental powers.

So my calculations, I'm somewhere between 74 and 94. And I've reached the halfway point now. But have I? Well, 1996 when I was 73, I was cycling and I felt tightening on the neck. Oh, I must retire today. So I stopped. Next day, I returned to the bicycle. After five minutes it became worse. So I said, no, no, this is something serious, it's got to do with the blood vessels. Rung up my doctor, who said, 'Come tomorrow'. Went tomorrow, he checked me, and said: 'Come back tomorrow for an angiogram.' I said: 'What's that?' He said: 'We'll pump something in and we'll see whether the coronary arteries are cleared or blocked.'

I was going to go home. But an MP who was a cardiologist happened to be around, so he came in and said: 'What are you doing here?' I said: 'I've got this.' He said: 'Don't go home. You stay here tonight. I've sent patients home and they never came back. Just stay here. They'll put you on the monitor. They'll watch your heart. And if anything, an emergency arises, they will take you straight to the theatre. You go home. You've got no such monitor. You may never come back.'

So I stayed there. Pumped in the dye, yes it was blocked, the left circumflex, not the critical, lead one. So that's lucky for me.

Two weeks later, I was walking around, I felt it's coming back. Yes it has come back, it had occluded. So this time they said: 'We'll put in a stent.' I'm one of the first few in Singapore to have the stent, so it was a brand new operation. Fortunately, the man who invented the stent was out here selling his stent. He was from San Jose, La Jolla something or the other. So my doctor got hold of him and he supervised the operation. He said put the stent in. My doctor did the operation, he just watched it all and then that's that. That was before all this problem about lining the stent to make sure that it doesn't occlude and create a disturbance.

So at each stage, I learnt something more about myself and I stored that. I said: 'Oh, this is now a danger point.' So all right, cut out fats, change diet, went to see a specialist in Boston, Massachusetts General Hospital. He said: 'Take statins.' I said: 'What's that?' He said: 'They help to reduce your cholesterol.' My doctors were concerned. They said: 'You don't need it. Your cholesterol levels are okay.'

Two years later, more medical evidence came out. So the doctors said: 'Take statins.' Had there been no angioplasty, had I not known that something was up and I cycled on, I might have gone at 74 like my mother. So I missed the deadline. So next deadline: my father’s fall at 87.

I'm very careful now because sometimes when I turn around too fast, I feel as if I'm going to get off balance. So my daughter, a neurologist, she took me to the NNI, there's this nerve conduction test, put electrodes here and there. The transmission of the messages between the feet and the brain has slowed down. So all the exercise, everything, effort put in, I'm fit, I swim, I cycle. But I can't prevent this losing of conductivity of the nerves and this transmission. So just go slow. So when I climb up the steps, I have no problem. When I go down the steps, I need to be sure that I've got something I can hang on to, just in case. So it's a constant process of adjustment.

But I think the most important single lesson I learnt in life was that if you isolate yourself, you’re done for. The human being is a social animal - he needs stimuli, he needs to meet people, to catch up with the world. I don't much like travel but I travel very frequently despite the jet lag, because I get to meet people of great interest to me, who will help me in my work as chairman of our GIC. So I know, I'm on several boards of banks, international advisory boards of banks, of oil companies and so on. And I meet them and I get to understand what's happening in the world, what has changed since I was here one month ago, one year ago. I go to India, I go to China. And that stimuli brings me to the world of today.

I'm not living in the world, when I was active, more active 20, 30 years ago. So I tell my wife. She woke up late today. I said: 'Never mind, you come along by 12 o'clock. I go first.' If you sit back - because part of the ending part of the encyclopaedia which I read was very depressing - as you get old, you withdraw from everything and then all you will have is your bedroom and the photographs and the furniture that you know, and that's your world.

So if you've got to go to hospital, the doctor advises you to bring some photographs so that you'll know you're not lost in a different world, that this is like your bedroom. I'm determined that I will not, as long as I can, to be reduced, to have my horizons closed on me like that. It is the stimuli, it is the constant interaction with people across the world that keeps me aware and alive to what's going on and what we can do to adjust to this different world.

In other words, you must have an interest in life. If you believe that at 55, you’re retiring, you’re going to read books, play golf and drink wine, then I think you’re done for. So statistically they will show you that all the people who retire and lead sedentary lives, the pensioners die off very quickly. So we now have a social problem with medical sciences, new procedures, new drugs, many more people are going to live long lives.

If the mindset is that when I reach retirement age 62, I'm old, I can't work anymore, I don't have to work, I just sit back, now is the time I'll enjoy life, I think you're making the biggest mistake of your life. After one month, or after two months, even if you go travelling with nothing to do, with no purpose in life, you will just degrade, you'll go to seed.

The human being needs a challenge, and my advice to every person in Singapore and elsewhere: Keep yourself interested, have a challenge. If you’re not interested in the world and the world is not interested in you, the biggest punishment a man can receive is total isolation in a dungeon, black and complete withdrawal of all stimuli, that’s real torture. So when I read that people believe, Singaporeans say: ‘Oh, 62, I’m retiring,’ I say to them: ‘You really want to die quickly?’ If you want to see sunrise tomorrow or sunset, you must have a reason, you must have the stimuli to keep going.

Thursday, May 15, 2008


I am one of those folks who religiously scan the papers and magazines for the latest on health and wellness. Instead of being enriched by the information, I often find myself totally bewildered and confused. One research group would come up with claims backed by statistics that taking X is detrimental to our health. Invariably, another survey group would issue findings that claim otherwise. So where does that leave me? In total confusion when it comes to making certain dietary choices.

Good or bad for health?

Egg Yoke
White rice

My personal take on this is to play safe and go with moderation and balance. That way I can still enjoy some ‘sinful’ food on the side, while making sure I don’t indulge to the point of spiking my bad cholesterol level.

I am no nutrition guru, but from what I’ve read, and observed, as well as from my own experience, you can't go wrong with these food types.

Fruits and vegetables – the more colorful, the better. High on my shopping list are broccoli, spinach, carrots, tomatoes, green / red pepper, french beans for greens, and mangoes, watermelon, papaya, jambu and bananas for fruits. Fruits and vegetables contain essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber that protect us from chronic diseases. They are also a natural source of energy.

Nuts – I love nuts, any nuts. They are rich in polyunsaturated fats, and keep the blood vessels healthy and elastic. The problem is most nuts, like walnuts and almonds, are too expensive to buy on a regular basis. That leaves me with peanuts – the cheapest but the most fattening of all the nuts! I can easily consume a whole packet while watching a TV movie. Certainly not something I would recommend if you have problems with your heart or weight. Stick to a handful at the most, and preferably unsalted.

Soy milk – go for the unsweetened type. Drink milk for strong bones, they say. But what kind? I am inclined to side with those who say cow’s milk is for calves, just as cat’s milk is for kittens, and dog’s milk is for puppies. You get the picture. Mother’s milk is for babies. No wonder people with lactose intolerance suffer from adverse side effects after taking dairy products. There are alternative sources of calcium, for example, soy milk, egg white, tofu, fish, chick peas and spinach.

Garlic – I use garlic generously for almost every dish I cook. Not only does it improve the taste, but more importantly, garlic is great for cleansing the blood, never mind what it does for the breath!

Dark chocolate – Don’t quote me on this, but I’ve read that taking two oz of chocolate with at least 60% cocoa content can help reduce the risk of heart disease by as much as 11%. As a rule, I seldom buy chocolates. I don’t have a sweet tooth. But I’ll be happy to accept gifts of chocolates anytime. Just remember to get the dark variety, with plenty of nuts!

Cereals & whole grains – a great source of fiber, and for regulating bowel movement. I used to take a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast every morning till I got bored with it. It did help lower my LDL cholesterol level. I’ve since switched to cereals. When I’m on the road, I’m not too fussy but will try to avoid sausages, bacon, fried or spicy food for breakfast.

Water – at least 8 glasses a day to keep me hydrated. I never go anywhere without a 600ml bottle of water in my bag.

The state of our health today is the result of the food that we have put into our body all these years. If we constantly feed our body with food that's high in sugar, salt or fat, we'll have to face the dire consequences – diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and obesity.

These were the findings in a recent study conducted by the Health Ministry on chronic diseases (The Star: 11 Sept 2007).

  • A total of 3.08 million people aged between 25 and 64 suffered from high blood pressure. Of this total, Malays made up 1.56 million, Chinese 635,000 and Indians 244,000. Men made up 1.64 million while women 1.44 million.
  • 1.33 million Malaysians were diabetic; 56% of them were Malays. A total of 736,000 were Malays, 227,000 Indians and 155,000 Chinese. Women made up 717,000 and men 608,000.
  • About 20% - 37% of Malaysians suffered from obesity.

Eat right for good health. The onus is on us to pass the message to our children and grandchildren. For more information, check out the link below:

Tuesday, May 13, 2008


Meet senior citizen extraordinaire, Mdm Surjeet Kaur, more affectionately known as Mrs J, Malaysia’s coach to the World Schools Debating Championships. Her youthful looks, vibrant personality and boundless energy belie her age. At 67, Mrs J is proof that when we keep ourselves busy, eat right, stay fit and live each day with passion, we can certainly welcome the golden years with joy, not dread. To her, there are no “golden” years, nonetheless!

A well-known life coach, counsellor and master trainer, Mrs J’s resume also includes author of 14 books, former columnist for a national paper, and popular guest speaker on radio as well as TV on issues relating to education in general, and English Language, in particular.

Her hobbies are as varied as her career achievements – event-organizing, choreographing, mountain-climbing, trekking – Mrs J is game for anything that spells FUN and ADVENTURE. Not surprising, considering the years she spent in the Girl Guide movement where she rose through the ranks to the top as Girl Guide District Commissioner of Ulu Langat. It is little wonder that her energetic and bubbly ways didn’t go unnoticed when she was swept off her feet by a certain boy scout, Jagjeet Singh, who today is a partner in running her consultancy. Happily married for the past 45 years, both have maintained their love for the outdoors. They have travelled as backpackers to the far corners of the world, and have scaled the Himalayas SIX times by different routes. Not many young folk – let alone seniors - can lay claim to that feat.

When not traversing the globe, Mrs J keeps a tight schedule conducting workshops for children, teenagers and the corporate world. She teaches children the importance of etiquette, proper nutrition, teamwork and values. For teenagers, she helps them raise their self-esteem and develop self-confidence through public speaking which is her forte.

Mrs J is a firm believer in supplements, especially glucosamine chondroitin besides Omega, Vitamins C and E, and anti-oxidants. Her fitness regime includes brisk walking five times a week from 7 to 10 km per session. Although she has a live-in maid, she is hands-on when it comes to domestic work. “It keeps me physically active and alive,” she says. “I’m careful about my diet too. At my age, it’s not the amount, but the food quality and the nutritional value that matters most. Besides, I try to stop before I get too full – I eat less and in smaller quantities. My snacks are a variety of fruit and nuts. I drink a lot of water; No alcohol for me!”

A doting grandmother of five, Mrs J advises seniors to be responsible for their health. “We owe it to our children not to be a burden to them in our old age. Healthy and fit grandparents can help in nurturing their grandchildren. It allows their parents to focus on career demands. We both consider grand-parenting positively and are committed to their day-to-day nurturing. Daily activities like commuting grandchildren around give opportunities for interacting and bonding.” Mrs J and her spouse are domesticated and cook most meals at home. “We enjoy home-cooked food and often have the entire family dining together,” she adds.

Picture perfect - Mr J, 74, and Mrs J, 67

On staying happily married, Mrs. J holds the view that “Couples that do things together stay together. They should also have complete trust in each other, and be deserving of that trust. With the children grown and independent, this is the best time for retired couples to rediscover each other, travel together, enjoy each other's company and rekindle that romantic spark in their marriage.”

Sunday, May 11, 2008


Did you know that 98% of EPF members withdraw all their money at 55? Of these, 80% exhaust their savings in just three years? (The Star: 24/01/08)

While some retirees won’t be losing sleep over this piece of information, the majority will need to re-think their spending habits. With food and fuel prices soaring, it is just a matter of time before the price of everything else follows suit. Retirees have to look at ways to stretch their limited funds.

Here are some practical Do’s and Don’ts.

Patience can be a money-saver. If you are planning to upgrade your cell phone, pc, digital or video camera, don’t. Wait for hand-me-downs from your children. They are always eager to own the latest models, and will be happy to pass on their almost-new discards to their parents.

Cut down on eating out, and that includes eating at food courts and food stalls. Nothing beats home-cooked meals for better nutritional value and savings.

Go for cheaper alternatives. A RM200 watch serves the same purpose as a RM2000 one. Forget about losing face. At our age, there’s not much face to lose anyway. Ladies, this also includes pricey cosmetics. Go for the more affordable brands. It’s good to remind ourselves that often, less is more.

Resist the temptation to keep up with others. Your relatives just spent RM100, 000 on renovating their house. Good for them. Your best friend just bought 200, 000 shares in a public-listed company. Congratulate him, but you don’t have to do the same. Be mindful that pride and greed often precede many a financial downfall.

Be prepared to make small adjustments to your lifestyle. For example, take fewer holiday trips abroad, or travel economy class and stay in budget hotels. If maintaining a car eats into your funds, opt for public transport. I got rid of my car 14 years ago. Taking a ride on the air-con buses or LRT is cheap and comfortable. Those days of terror rides on stuffy, overcrowded pink mini-buses are long gone.

Buy bulk or economy-size. Do the maths before you make a purchase especially at the supermarket. It makes more sense to buy a 10-kg bag of rice at RM33.90 than a 5-kg bag at RM19.90, never mind that there’s only you and your spouse to feed.

Look for special offers and sales. If you enjoy reading, check out publishers’ warehouse sales. I recently paid RM16 for a brand new copy of Tony Buzan’s “Age-Proof Your Brain” (2007) at a warehouse sale. The normal price is RM69.90.

Before you part with your money, don’t be embarrassed to ask if there’s any special concessions for senior citizens. I pay only RM7 to see a movie at Golden Screen cinemas at MidValley. Guardian Pharmacy issues Golden Privilege cards for senior citizens that enable them to pay 10% less for pharmaceutical products and healthfoods. You can enjoy lunch or high-tea at Coronade Hotel at 50% off. You can enroll for a degree course at Open University Malaysia at a 75% discount. You can enjoy a fun-filled day at CosmosWorld, Berjaya Square, with your grandchildren at half the regular ticket price of RM30, or catch a performance at Istana Budaya, KLPac or Actors Studio at less than the normal ticket price. The list goes on.

Make use of the free facilities at your condo pool and gym. Most exercises like tai-chi, qigong, and yoga, can be done at home for free. Using the stairs several times a day at my walk-up apartment on the third floor gives me a good workout. So does the daily 15-minute brisk walk to the neighbourhood supermarket. Carrying the bags of groceries home is strength-training for my muscles.

Keep just one credit card. Get rid of the others. This will curb excesses in spending. It’s a good idea to collect privilege cards like those issued by hypermarkets, departmental stores, book chains, and restaurants. The cards allow you to accumulate points with your purchases that you can exchange for gifts or cash vouchers.

The more fortunate among us may have access to multiple sources of income or rely on generous financial support from their children. But when your only source of funds is your pension or EPF savings, every ringgit counts. Keep a record of every purchase you make, and total the numbers at the end of the month. You will be amazed at how much you have spent, and where all the money went. 

There’s no need to make big sacrifices or put a lid on our favourite pastimes. We can still have our cake and eat it – but without the icing, which isn’t good for our health, anyway.