Monday, June 09, 2008

The Recent Fuel Price Hike and its Effect on My Life

Reality bites. Realizing that my Gen 2 was almost out of fuel today, I went to fill up at my neighborhood Shell station. I fill about 20 Liters of fuel and it costs me RM55! Filling up a full tank would now cost me around RM100 assuming that the fuel price won't go up anytime soon. TV Smith has a good one on the recent fuel price hike which you can see here.

I still remember that when I started using my car, a full tank was only around RM60 and now it's up by almost 40%. Now being used to filling up at market price back during my student days, I definitely understand the effect of the recent global fuel price crisis on the price of fuel over here. But what I don't understand is, what happened to all the money saved during the low oil price days?

The cheapest gasoline price I ever encountered was USD 0.78/US gallon in Florida back in winter 2001 which translate to around RM0.78/Liter using the previous USD 1 = 3.80 currency exchange that was still in effect that time and 1 US gallon = 3.78 liters. At that time, we were selling petrol for around RM1.30/Liter which is about the same price as the gas price I found in Texas. To make it even more perplexing would be the fact that the gasoline price in the States already included all the taxes that makes their roads free and their public transportation cheap.

OK now, enough politics as looking at the Malaysian political culture, transparency is at the bottom of the list and lets examine the fuel price hike effect on my life. Using the old fuel price, I spent close to 15% of my monthly salary just for transportation charges (fuel, parking, tolls and car maintenance). With the current hike, it's likely to break 20% and that does not include the expected food and services price increase. So in summary I'm getting poorer by the day as any salary increment that I get would be greatly offset by the fuel price hike.

I've put off diving for close to 3 months now since my Sipadan trip in March and looking at the current situation, I think it'll be put off even longer now. Now, I'm just hoping that I would be able to squeeze 1 dive trip before the end of the year and the only way to get as many dives as possible in a trip would be by going for an LOB trip (Kaleebso anyone?). Any unnecessary traveling also have to be put off for a while pending budget review.

So now, how to survive in this challenging time? 1st and foremost, I would need to reduce the usage of my car. However, since busses and LRTs are not an option unless I'm willing to go out to work at 6.30am to travel less than 9km to work, I would still need to use my car. Lucky me gafiL is moving back to KL for work so at least we can now car pool and she gets free parking, so at least now we can utilize only 1 car and thus saves on fuel and maintenance cost. 2nd, I would need to travel more as company traveling claims can be of substantial amount :). 3rd, I guess it's time to eat less and outside of KLCC. It's good for health, and cost less. A nasi lemak ayam in KLCC used to cost RM5.50, can't imagine what's the price after the hike. 4th, keep and eye on AirAsia and MAS free tickets promotion. "Balik Kampung" trip costs RM500-600 with the old fuel price. With AirAsia and MAS free tickets, I can get return tickets for only RM100/person and that's just 30% more than a bus ticket but saves traveling time by 80%.

Some long term solution would be to move somewhere closer to an LRT line (which is unlikely as I'm moving to my own place later this year), get a motorcycle (which gafiL strongly oppose) but seems to be a good option now, fit my car with NGV or buy a more fuel efficient vehicle. However, the last 2 options I think would have to wait as our government seems to change their mind constantly and like to implement new measures in a flash that might effect the feasibility of the options.

So there you go, some thoughts about the recent fuel price hike. Lucky me I'm no soccer nuts and I dont' have Astro to watch the NBA finals, so at least I'll be saving electricity bills from all those late night TVs :)