Week 4 Learn Indonesian Installement: Money Matters

In this week’s installment, we look at a number of words relating to being ‘economical’ or ‘parsimonious’. If you use the wrong one, you are liable to give offence, so it is important to get them sorted out. This lesson will focus on five Bahasa Indonesia words- pelit, hemat, menghemat, irit and mengirit– and give example sentences on how to use them. As per usual, these sentences will be taken from Indonesian websites, giving them a degree of authenticity they would not have if I made them up myself.


Pelit is an adjective which means ‘cheap’, ‘stingy’ or ‘miserly’. In other words, it is a word which has a rather negative connotation. The following two examples should also make this clear.

Dia orang selebritis yang terkenal pelit saat memberikan tip.

He/she is a celebrity who is known to be cheap when giving tips.

Kenapa kita harus pelit?

Why do we have to be stingy?

Hemat / Menghemat

Menghemat is a verb which means ‘to save’, ‘to scrimp’ or ‘to cut back on expenditure’.

Hemat is an adjective which can be used to describe measures which reduce expenditure. In other words, it means something like ‘economical’, but it has less of a formal sound.

Dengan naiknya biaya listrik dan gas, banyak dari kita mencari jalan menghemat listrik dan gas di rumah kita.

With the rise in the cost of electricity and gas, many of us are looking for ways to cut back on electricity and gas in our homes.

Paket hemat KFC menjadi menjadi tepat buat kantong pelajar.

The economical packet at KFC is the right choice for a student’s pocket (budget).

Irit / Mengirit

Irit is an adjective is almost synonymous with hemat. It also means ‘economical’. It is often used to describe behavior. In terms of choosing between irit and pelit, the words vary mostly in connotation. The former is more positive while pelit tends to be critical.

For example, a rich person who is stingy with their money would be pelit but it is expected that a poor person in Indonesian would, by necessity, be irit, or sparing with their money

Justru aku orang miskin, aku harus selalu irit.

In truth, I’m a poor person. I always have to be careful with money.

Mengirit is a verb and it means to ‘cut back on expenditure’ or ‘to be sparing with money.’

Karena sejak ayahnya pergi, kami harus mengirit untuk memenuhi kebutuhan hidup dan sekolahnya.

Since our father passed away, we have had to be sparing to have enough money left for daily needs and school.

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