Singaporeans flock to money changers as ringgit hits 20-year low
Money changer sees record number of customers as Malaysian dollar hits lowest in 20 years
The Malaysian ringgit is at its lowest rate in two decades and many Singaporeans are ready to take full advantage.
As of yesterday, S$1 would get you RM2.98.The weakening ringgit has been linked to the uncertain political climate in Malaysia, especially after allegations that Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak had misappropriated funds from state investment firm 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).
Economist Song Seng Wun said: "The unstable political climate in Malaysia, with allegations involving Najib, has caused foreign investors to stay away.
"Businesses are holding back and putting their money into safer havens around the region, including countries like Singapore."
In the short term, Singaporeans will benefit from the weaker ringgit.
And plenty have been exchanging the Singdollar for ringgit, for shopping trips across the causeway.
Mr Muhammad Noor, 35, the owner of Fajar Money Changer at Lucky Plaza, said he has seen a record number of customers since the ringgit hit a new low of RM2.97 per S$1 on Friday.
He said: "I've never seen so many people. The queue is almost 500m long. And I'm running out of the currency."
People are not just changing small amounts for their weekend jaunts.
Said Mr Muhammad: "The demand is huge. These people are also changing Singapore dollars for ringgit at huge amounts ranging from $500 to $10,000."
Before any wild shopping jaunts are planned, it should be noted that your overseas shopping would still be subject to GST once you are back in Singapore.
If you are away for less than 48 hours, you will be taxed for goods valued at more than $150.
For those who are away for more than two days, you are exempted from GST for goods valued up to $600.
While the weak ringgit is advantageous for Singapore in the short term, Mr Song warned that the continued devaluation of the ringgit can affect Singapore in the long run.
"Malaysians are less likely to come here and spend. It is important to note that they are a vital part of our hospitality industry. Our economic growth may be affected," he said.
These people are also changing Singapore dollars for ringgit at huge amounts ranging from $500 to $10,000.
- Mr Muhammad Noor, 35, the owner of Fajar Money Changer at Lucky Plaza
FAMILY’S JB TRIPS CHEAPER WITH WEAKER RINGGIT
OUTING: Ms Rozaleen Abdul Rahman and her family often take trips to JB for shopping and recreation. PHOTO COURTESY OF MS ROZALEEN ABDUL RAHMAN
One Singaporean taking advantage of the weak ringgit is Ms Rozaleen Abdul Rahman, 34, an early childhood educator.
She goes across the Causeway to Johor Baru with her family at least twice a month for shopping and recreational purposes.
Since the ringgit's sharp decline, she has enjoyed a lot of savings, especially with household and kitchen items.
Said Ms Rozaleen: "We used to spend about S$300 every trip on groceries, dry foods, children's formula milk, and diapers. Those items would now cost us about S$200.
"A 1.7kg tin of formula powder used to cost S$49 and now it just costs us about S$39," said the mother of two.
This is the breakdown of the family's expenses in Johor Baru.
As of Aug 23, S$1 = RM2.98
At Woodlands Checkpoint: $3.80
At JB: RM9.70 (S$3.30)
Return to S'pore:
At JB: RM6.80
At Woodlands Checkpoint: $2.70
Car model: 1.8l Hyundai Matrix
LUNCH AT A FOOD COURT OR CAFE:
Up to RM100
Three packs of diapers: RM90
1 1.7kg tin of infant formula milk: RM115
3 tins of formula milk for preschoolers: RM144
(Includes dry food like 3-in-1 coffee, tea packets, biscuits, soft drinks, toiletries like kitchen rolls, laundry detergent and shampoo): up to RM250
OTHER EXPENSES: Includes children's clothing, recreational activities like indoor playgrounds and funfair rides, haircuts : up to RM100
Excluding tolls, a typical excursion would cost about RM930 (S$312)
Enjoying JB on the cheap
Faculty Of Caffeine, 106, Jalan Trus, Bandar Johor Baru, 80000 Johor Baru, Johor, Malaysia
Flitting from cafe to cafe has overtaken shopping as the pastime of choice for young Singaporeans.
No self-respecting Instagram feed is complete without a shot of a hipster cafe and foamy latte art.
But brunch food and artisanal coffee can cost up to $30 in Singapore.
However, in JB, your wallet won't be crying
At the Faculty of Caffeine, a dish of scrambled eggs, toast, mushrooms, bacon and tomatoes costs RM16.50 ($5.50). A latte costs RM8.50 (S$2.90).
You can have brunch for under $9, which is almost unheard of here.
KSL City, Tebrau City, Aeon Big Hypermarket at Sutera Mall
Get your groceries over there instead. Popular supermarkets in JB include Tesco and Giant.
A bottle of Clairol Herbal Essences shampoo costs RM12.90 ($4.30) at Tesco. The same bottle can cost $7.65 here.
A loaf of bread that costs $2.40 in Singapore costs RM3.40 ($1.14) in JB.
City Square Shopping Centre
There is a whole world waiting to be discovered in Johor Baru with uber chic brands like Padini and Vincci.
The clothes are more suited to the weather and classy. A pair of shoes costs RM109 (S$36.78).
Electronics like Apple products are cheaper.
A check on Singapore's Apple site showed the iPad 2 selling for at least $688, while the same product costs RM1,695 ($569) in Malaysia. Just be aware of the GST rule.
PHOTOS: INSTAGRAM, ST FILE
No. 1, Orang Asli, Telok Jawa, Masai, Johor Baru, Malaysia
Cheaper seafood and the weakening exchange rate makes for happier stomachs.
Consider Restoran Todak Seafood - a 30-minute taxi ride (about RM40) from the Causeway.
About 3.5kg of crabs can cost around RM230 (S$77.20), about half of what it would cost here.
If you want to get away from the hustle and bustle of a city, Desaru might just be the place for you.
Leave from Changi Ferry Terminal - S$38 for a return ticket.
One night at the Lotus Desaru Beach Resort costs RM236 (S$79.20)