I built and launched this deal-finding platform in seven days, but had the idea since 2009-2010, when I was still studying in the UK. At the time, I was a big fan of HotUKDeals.com, ‘UK’s biggest deal-finding community’.
That’s not an exaggeration. HotUKDeals has over 3.5 million fans on Facebook. People really do love user-submitted deals that can be sorted by votes.
To be honest, I’m surprised there weren’t any existing equivalent of HotUKDeals.com in Malaysia. I’ve looked and searched for years, until finally decided to make it myself.
Looking at the statistics, you can’t deny that rich Malaysians must know something that the rest of us don’t. I mean, the top 20% can’t have gotten almost half of all the income in Malaysia by accident.
I am greatly fascinated by the money mindset that the rich have. Not their lifestyle, mind you – looking rich is not the same as being rich – but their mindset: what they learned from their parents (if they were born rich) or from life experiences (if they worked hard to get there).
Here are some things that I’ve learned about rich Malaysians.
#1 – They buy time
Whoever said that money can’t buy time is wrong. You can.
Rich Malaysians know this. Instead of doing everything themselves to save money, they would instead pay for products and services that can save them time. Here are some examples:
Housekeeping services – they employ staff who clean their houses, tend their lawns and send their clothes to the laundry.
Childcare and ageing care facilities – they employ professionals who can look after their children and ageing parents.
Quality products – they last longer and are more efficient compared to lower-quality products. Note that quality doesn’t necessarily mean luxury.
I started my personal finance journey with a frugal mindset – I’d spend hours looking for “free and cheap”. It served me well up until now (I’m financially stable), but it’s easy to forget that the cost of looking for free and cheap is time – time that I can use to earn more money.
At this point, I’m starting with slowly replacing all my low-quality items that wore out or broke down with higher-quality items. I’m still coming to terms with the upfront costs that I have to make – it’s mentally hard to accept higher prices when you’re so used to the cheap stuff!
#2 – They pay to mingle with the ‘right’ crowd
At a recent conference I attended, the speaker said something that made me think. He said, “You meet a different set of people at paid events as compared to free events.”
Obviously there are exceptions to the rule (e.g. receiving a free invitation to a paid event, fully-sponsored VIP events, etc.), but as someone who has always preferred going to free events over paid ones, this realisation came as a shock. I mean, I knew, but I didn’t digest the statement until now.
But it’s true. The people who shell out money to attend paid conferences and seminars tend to be people who invest in their professional development.
Reflecting back, I can personally attest to this. The buzz at paid events is different. The questions they ask moderators are different. The conversations during tea breaks are different.
This is not to say that free events aren’t good – no, not at all. But the chances of meeting people with a growth mindset are much higher at paid events.
Now I kind of know why some people pay to access premium places, like country clubs which impose ridiculously high annual fees. They get to network with people with similar economic backgrounds, and some of those networking can potentially turn into high-level business deals.
If I’m honest, I’m a bit troubled by the elitism here. It’s a form of economic exclusion, isn’t it? Some of us – especially those who are just starting out – can’t afford to shell out the expense. But there’s a way around it – join online communities where the ‘right’ crowd hangs out. Be an active contributor and get yourself noticed there. Of course, this is no substitute for face-to-face meets but who knows what opportunities will be present themselves to you.
#3 – They protect their money obsessively
There’s no point in being rich if you can’t stay rich. When you’re rich (especially if others know it), your money protection game must be strong. Many parties – from scammers to long-lost relatives to opportunists – will want a slice of that money pie.
There are many money protection strategies. I’m compiling the ones I know of here:
Place your money at bank or any authorised financial institutions and buying insurance policy/takaful certificate – for savings and for protection against unfortunate events.
Ensuring high level of digital security – to protect online banking and investment accounts.
Optimising bank deposit and insurance policy/takaful certificate protection – eligible bank deposits and takaful/insurance benefits are protected up to RM250,000 and RM500,000 respectively via PIDM (or Perbadanan Insurans Deposit Malaysia in full) in the event of a PIDM member fails. Rich folks who have more than the coverage amount may diversify their monies across different PIDM member banks or insurance companies to get the most out of PIDM’s protection.
Set up wills and trusts – to make sure their monies (including proceeds from life insurance policies) goes to the beneficiaries they select themselves, and not to those opportunists. Eligible trust accounts held at PIDM members are also protected by PIDM!
A quick note about PIDM’s protection. It’s free and automatic (you have to know this – some people were duped into paying money for it!). You can read more about PIDM here.
You better click that link – rich Malaysians already know the information inside it, and if you want to be rich, you should, too.
#4 – They look for leveraging opportunities
Leveraging is the perfect example of working smart, not hard. It’s the art of allocating funds and resources creatively with the intention of creating future profits. Some examples:
Leveraging on talent – rich Malaysians understands the importance of recruiting good talent, so they can leverage on their expertise. Here are 20 companies that have high profit:employee ratio. Fannie May earns USD1,759,000 in profit PER employee!
Leveraging on zero/low-interest loans – One example is ASB loans, where you can earn 7-8%-ish returns with 4.x-5.x% loan. Another is using zero-interest or zero-fees credit card balance transfers to invest in fixed deposits, money markets, REITs, etc. (sounds easy, but timing is critical). There are other examples but they’re high risk and I don’t want you to take it as investment ‘advice’ and potentially lose money.
Leveraging on properties – Buy properties and rent it out to tenants who pay higher than the mortgage amount.
Leveraging on time – basically what we covered in #1. Paying for products and services that will free up time will allow for not just more working time, but also rest and relaxation time so we don’t burn out!
I used to view ‘rich’ negatively. But I’ve since realised that money merely amplifies a person’s personality. When good people become rich, they’ll use the money for good. If they’re bad, likewise. Money is just a tool, after all. You can use an axe to chop down a tree, or you can use it to remove a barrier.
It’s in our collective interest to help good people become rich. Support good people – people who run social enterprises, people who pay their employees fair wages and provide good working environments, people who work ethically in their companies and organisations. The richer they are, the better the position they’re in to make a positive difference to our world.
Leave in your comments people and businesses you think we should support. As a final note, do support the sponsor of this post, PIDM, too. By better understanding how PIDM’s protection works and benefits you, you are better equipped to make informed financial choices regarding deposit, takaful and insurance products for you and your loved ones.
I don’t agree that 10 minutes per day is enough to start and maintain a side business, but I like the idea behind the article – even if you’re swamped with work and chores, spend some time on your side business on a consistent basis because the effort adds up.
Some never get past Step #1 – decide what skills you have and what you can sell. Here are my 2 cents, for what it’s worth. Make your decision based on:
Something you’re good at, according to friends and family (if they never mentioned it, ask them)
Noticing problems that do not have solutions yet (protip: hang out with complainers for a bit and you’ll know)
Something you’ve always wanted to learn (I wanted to know how to build websites; RoR was born this way)
Skills that you learned from your job or hobby (easiest example: doctors who moonlight on the side)
In November 2018, I attended a digital marketing bootcamp where I learned about the many types of martech tools. For example, chatbots which reply to people who type ‘pm’ in Facebook posts. Platforms connecting companies with influencers. Automated video creation tools. And more – I’m barely scratching the surface here.
Martech is fascinating to me for a few reasons:
It’s quite fun to go to a company’s website/platform and see what kind of martech tools they are implementing. Last time, they used to prioritise collecting emails. Now, I’ve received promotional updates via Facebook Messenger too! (I hate this btw, so invasive, any company that does this will not get my money)
Which martech tools can *I* use for my own websites? I’m constantly trying out new ones, hoping to find the perfect free+good combinations. Many martech services use subscription-based models, and they can get pretty pricey.
Learn about martech. If you’re a business, it’ll help you make/save money. If you’re a consumer, you’ll be more aware and therefore less susceptible to strategies companies use to part you with your money.
Here are 9 money challenges you can try out. Some of them are for earning money, some are for saving money. Pick one money challenge you want to do for yourself – I’m going to share which one(s) I’m planning to do myself 😀
A great list of money-making ideas. Some of them are not applicable to us Malaysians (do we even have mock jury duty jobs?), but most of them are possible.
I have personally done at least 11 of the ideas in the list, and in the process of doing one more – publish an (e-)book (the update). How many have you done, and what are you planning to do next to get more money?
Want to know a secret? Everyone makes mistakes during our investment journey. Sometimes we pay too much in fees because we didn’t know better, sometimes we try to time the market and it didn’t work, and sometimes we trust the wrong people and get sucked into some shady Ponzi scheme.
I made plenty of mistakes myself, like the many, many times I tried to time the market but it went on the opposite direction (WHEN WILL I LEARN?!?). But this article is NOT about those kinds of mistakes. I don’t mean losing money when the market is not in your favour. Fluctuations in price and value is normal and even expected for some types of investments, like properties, gold/precious metals, things like that.
This article is about the times where I lost ALL of the money in the investment. Here they are, compiled in one post.
And then the idea hit me like a brick – a book. A personal finance book. Or to be more specific, a personal finance stories compilation, written by Malaysians for Malaysians. I got the idea after attended a writers’ retreat in Penang organised by the Malaysian Writers’ Society.
It’s perfect. Books on saving and investing money are a dime a dozen, but books on personal finance-themed stories are pretty hard to find (believe me. I consume A LOT of personal finance content.)
Plus I like the idea of producing edutainment content – it’s like you get to learn more about money but in a more fun way, you know? And I knew I have to make it a compilation of stories because if I were to write the whole thing myself, it’ll never get done. I know myself that much.
Creating the product
This was one of those moments where I was so passionate about a project that it was all I could think about. Right after I returned from the trip in July 2018, I announced a writing competition to source for the stories. I shared it in every Malaysia-specific writing circles I know. I ran a Facebook ad and tweaked the copywriting to improve the engagement and click rates.
(Btw, 1.116% combined clickthrough rates from the ads above – how many people clicking the link after exposed to the ad – is considered above-average. Apparently the average across all industries is 0.90%)
I received around 40+ stories in total. After a ruthless selection process, I’ve narrowed it down to 10 stories, including one of my own (more about that in a bit).
Figuring out how to publish a book
After the content side is more or less figured out, I reached out to published writers to find out the process of getting this book out. The book publishing industry is an industry I’m totally unfamiliar with, and I’m eternally grateful to Gina Yap and Anna Tan who patiently answered all of my questions. This whole thing became an article in itself – see Guide: How to Publish a Book in Malaysia (& Its Costs).
That was in August 2018. I planned to complete the book in two months, to get it out by September 2018.
As you probably figured out, I didn’t make that timeline. I got stuck for three and a half months.
Why I got stuck
This particular section is so damn hard to write. I took a long time to reflect on it, to recognise that despite all of my efforts to be as disciplined and productive as I can be, I am human after all. In short, I overestimated my capabilities.
Ouch, that hurt a lot to admit. Shit.
Here’s (almost) all the reasons why I got stuck:
Writing my short story. I am used to writing non-fiction, so I challenged myself to write a fictional story… and got the worst writer’s block ever. I wrote a draft, deleted it, wrote again, deleted it again. I considered many different personal finance-related storylines, from a medieval prince who got stuck in slave labour to (I’ll be there for you) FRIENDS-style comedy piece to an unapologetic high-earning sex worker. The story is finally done (it’s not one of those storylines FYI), and I’m semi-happy with it, but gosh this took a while.
Deciding on the publisher. I contacted both MPH and GerakBudaya and pitched the story. MPH expressed interest, but ultimately I’ve decided to go with the self-publishing route for all the skills I get to learn along the way. This took me a while to decide too – was deciding between profit (I’ll only get 10% if I go with traditional publishing) and visibility that MPH can give me (IF they accept the book). In the end, the possibility of getting a higher % of the profit won. But of course that means accepting the risk of a huge loss as well.
Deciding on print vs digital. Originally, I just wanted to do an ebook for this passive income project. Figured digital copies are easy to manage and distribute, you know? But the more I think about it, the more I decided that yes, I want physical books too. How many of us read ebooks anyway? I sure don’t – I much prefer to read physical books. This decision will tack on more upfront investment on my end.
Outsourcing parts of the project. I wanted to keep costs low and do all the editing/formatting myself, but soon learned that I am not suited for this task. I would doubt my editing abilities and barely get through a few pages a day, then obsessively go through the same page again and again. This anxiety turned me into a procrastinator – I just didn’t want to deal with it. Finally I decided that enough is enough, I need help, please Anna can you edit all the stories, because I can’t. So yeah, another upfront investment on my end.
I couldn’t have done all of the above if I didn’t decide to invest in a professional book coaching session in October 2018 to ‘unstuck’ myself (also with Anna btw). Despite my best efforts to work on the book every day, I’d find excuses NOT to work on it.
It got so bad that I would open the draft, stare at it for five minutes and decide to vacuum the house instead. I’ve tried everything I could, including making a timeline with datelines, getting an accountability buddy (thanks Norman!) and work at different locations to get fresh ideas. All of them didn’t work.
I want to say sorry to the writers who’ve submitted their stories and agreed to receive their payment in book profits (the others chose to be paid a flat upfront fee). Sorry that I delayed the project. Sorry that I don’t give enough updates. I feared facing you and letting you down, and instead of owning up, I procrastinated.
The current progress
As of writing time, all the stories are done and waiting to be edited and formatted. What I need to do on my end:
Get a book cover designed
Get quotations for book printing and get it printed
Figure out online and offline distribution models
Figure out how to automate distribution and sales (there’s a reason why I call this a passive income project not a side income project)
Organise a launch and possibly pre-orders
Find book reviewers
??? What else???
My current timeline is to have the book ready for distribution by January 2019. Subscribe to the Ringgit Oh Ringgit newsletter to get discounts on the book when it comes out!
Just to tease you, here are all the stories included in the book:
(My story) A small business owner living in dystopian Malaysia which implements universal basic income
Story of a single father and his young daughter (I legit shed tears)
The concept of memories as currency
A son’s account on how a Ponzi scheme affected his family after it busted, losing all their and their relatives’ money
Merfolks doing budgeting and grocery shopping and stuff
A refreshingly honest account of a smoker who knows he should quit smoking but why is the expenses not enough of a deterrent?
Trying to recover an expensive in-app purchase that you did NOT make
Reality TV-style challenge where participants have to complete gross challenges to win prize money
How a PhD holder managed her finances while studying
How much a mother’s work would sum up to, in RM
Intrigued? 😀 If yes, subscribeeeee
Also, do me a favour and let me know how much you are willing to pay for the book?
Last thoughts on publishing a book as a passive income project
Boy they weren’t kidding when they say a lot of upfront effort is required to reap long-term passive income stream.
It’s hard work, but I hope at the end of the day all these effort will be worth it. If not, around RM10k of upfront payment to complete this project will go down the drain. You didn’t think it’d cost that much to self-publish a book did you? Yep.
While doing this project, I finally empathise with other people who commit money and time for their own passive income projects. For example, many people purchase properties to rent it out. I can only imagine how costly and problematic the renovation project can be!
But you know what? Despite everything, I can genuinely say that I’m having fun – after overcoming the whole being stuck thing, that is. Now all I have to do is to get everything else done, but the hardest part is behind me.
Any of you have passive income projects going on? What can you tell me about your journey? Any of you planning one in the future? Share with me what you plan to do to earn a side income!