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FAQs & Guides

Frequently Asked Questions and Guides to save, spend, invest and earn money in Malaysia. Youth-centric.

The Comprehensive Personal Finance and Support Guide for LGBT in Malaysia

Let’s face it: Malaysia is NOT a good place for LGBT individuals to freely express themselves. But no one can choose where they’re born at, can they? Discrimination is sadly common, usually justified by religion.

If you disagree with ‘the LGBT lifestyle’, I ask for your empathy. This is not a ‘guide to be gay’ article, this is a ‘what to do when you need help’ article. Know the distinction. Don’t kick people when they’re down. No religion teaches that.

This article answers the following questions (in order):

  1. My family kicked me out after they find out I’m gay / lesbian / bisexual / trans / queer. What can I do?
  2. I need to check my STD / HIV / AIDS status and find out where to find information about medical help, treatment and support
  3. My colleagues at work are bullying me because of my sexual orientation / gender identity. I need the job. What can I do?
  4. I need to talk to someone. What are my options?
  5. My gender does not align with the sex I was born with. How can I transition and what kind of expenses can I expect?
  6. I can no longer/do not want to stay in Malaysia. What can I do?
  7. I am in a committed, if unrecognised relationship with my partner. If anything happens to me, how can make sure she/he can inherit my money and properties?
  8. I don’t have immediate problems but would like to prepare myself financially, in case anything happens. What can I do?
  9. I’m LGBT individual / ally with financial means. How can I help?
Continue Reading…

How to Charge Clients: 5 Methods Freelancers Can Use

One of the questions I regularly get from friends and readers who do freelance work is, “Suraya, a client is interested in my services. How much should I charge them?”

I’m still learning myself, but let me share what I know. Here are five methods you can use to figure out how to charge your clients. This guide is mostly for freelancers who sell services like writing, designing, consulting, etc, not products.

Please comment if you have additional info to add.

Method #1 – Get the client to make an offer

This is a favourite method of mine – I use it whenever I can, especially if the request is slightly different from usual and I have no idea what’s considered a ‘fair’ compensation for it. Your conversation might go something like this:

  • Client: Hi, how much do you charge for X?
  • You: Thank you for your interest! X will take me x days/weeks/months to complete and involves (brief steps). My rates are flexible and I am happy to receive an offer on your end.
  • Client: Great! We typically pay [amount]

Four things can happen here: the client gives you a better-than-expected rate (I’ve had this happen a few times), the client gives you an okay rate (good), the client gives you a low rate (not good obv), or the client insists on getting your rates (see other methods). What you can reply back:

  • Better-than expected rate: Great, that is more or less my usual rate (you’re bullshitting but whatever the client doesn’t need to know that)
  • Okay rate: Great, I accept the offer
  • Low rate: I’m sorry, but that is below my usual rate. My usual rate is [higher-than-usual amount]. Can we meet in the middle and settle on [a lower amount that is worth your time]?

My assumption is you’re not desperate for the work. If you are, and you will work for the lower rate just to make ends meet for now, go ahead and accept the offer. I respect your hustle.

Method #2 – Ask fellow freelancers in the same or similar fields

If the client insists on getting your rates and won’t make an offer, then what you can do is ask your peers. I offer writing services, so my information is biased for this field, but I’ve seen people in writing-related FB groups ask how much to charge:

  • Per word, page or project
  • For editing, proofreading, translating, speech-writing etc
  • For website, brochures, newsletters, articles, reports etc
  • Across different industries and niches
  • And more

So you can see how varied the rates can be – no wonder setting them is a hard process for new freelancers! If you’re lucky enough to get replies from your contacts, you can use the rates as a benchmark. Eventually, you’ll want to set your own rates (we’ll get to that in Method #4).

It’s a good idea to start joining groups related to your field now, even if you’re just starting out. Share information and be helpful when you can. Start cultivating those relationships early. Freelancing tends to be a solo activity, but it doesn’t have to be.

Method #3 – Find out the market rate

I personally don’t like this method but still have to put it out there. ‘Market rate’ ranges so much between platforms, specialisations and many other factors that it’s hard to pick which rates is the ‘right’ one. When I first started, I thought I was overcharging at $20 per article after seeing many writers on the same freelancing platform charging just $1 for each article!

Note: worth mentioning – some clients picked me anyway despite technically costing 20x more. I guess you get what you pay for.

Having personally used this method, I don’t recommend it at all. Maybe this method will work better for other industries? I don’t know tbh, comment if the industry you’re in follows set rates. I imagine freelancers who are attached (even loosely) to a company or agency will find it easier to find out their average market rates. Examples: Coway agents, property agents, Grab drivers, etc.

Method #4 – Calculate your own rates

Some people would advise this method first, before everything else presented in this list. Sure, if it works for you. It’s just incredibly hard. I’ve been self-employed for a few years now and STILL sometimes have no idea what is my own rate. Method #4 forces you to think of how much you value your time, and heck that’s a hard process for the soul.

I remember Tina Isaac’s advice here (she’s one of the core members of Malaysian Writers Society). In a workshop I attended, she said this regarding rates-setting:

Work backwards. How much do you want to earn from freelancing per month? How many hours can you dedicate to it? Say you want to earn RM4000, and you work 40 hours per week, that means your hourly rate is RM25 (RM4000 divide by 160 hours). If the project takes about 10 hours to complete, then charge RM25 x 10 = RM250.

That sounds simple right? Straightforward. However, from my own research, I’ve seen both advocates and haters of this particular method. It’s fair to highlight haters’ arguments too:

  • You’re limiting your earning potential because you’re already capping your income
  • You’re not paid for admin work essential in running your business – getting leads, answering emails, etc

Valid points too. Well let’s not choose sides. If you lean towards this method, you can give yourself a high monthly income and include admin hours when billing clients.

Method#5 – Just pull a number out of your ass

I’ve used this method, and, uh, I have to say, it’s strangely effective, if somewhat risky. Let me explain.

  • Client: Hi, what is your rate for X?
  • You: Thank you for your interest! X will take me x days/weeks/months to complete and involves (brief steps). The total cost of the project is [amount that is favourable for me].

From here on, there are three possible outcomes: client agrees, client negotiates, or client ghosts you.

  • Client agrees: Great! Now you know you can charge this rate and get away with it. Next time you can use this as the benchmark, or maybe even quote a higher amount.
  • Client negotiates: Good, at least you know this type of work with this specific client cannot fetch this rate. Depending on the counter-offer process and the final rate the client is willing to pay, I may or may not proceed with the job
  • Client ghosts you: If you want the job, follow up in a couple of days. Sometimes they really did miss your email.

This method works best if you can show the client how solution-oriented you are. Here you’re selling efficiency and quality, not just your time. It’s a good idea to send a combination of your work samples, testimonials and qualifications to back up your claims. “Here’s how I solved a similar problem in the past” works way better than “I can do x”.

Conclusion

There you go. Five methods you can use to figure out how much to charge your clients when they are interested in working with you. Established freelancers, which of these methods works best for you? Or do you use another way? Share in the comments section 🙂

On a separate but related note, what else do you want to know about freelancing? Let me know and I may turn it into a guide! Make sure to read other self-employment slash freelancing guides I have here at Ringgit Oh Ringgit too!

Short plug: I’m organising a personal finance-themed writing competition. Tell me your stories! Check out the details here.

What No One Tells You About Investing in Malaysia

Here are some of the things you always hear about investing: it’s important, you should do it early, and you shouldn’t put all your money in just one basket (one type of investment vehicle).

I’m not going to focus on that here. This article is all about what people don’t tell you about investing in Malaysia. Or not enough, anyway.

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Crypto & Blockchain in Malaysia: Communities, Companies and Associations in Malaysia You Should Know

blockchain in malaysia

One thing I noticed about people who are passionate about cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology is their ideologies and values. They tend to be the same people who rank transparency, efficiency and financial inclusiveness high in their belief system. Not all of them (some just got in it for the moneh), but many of them. And for that reason, I support the industry.

In the interest of promoting the cryptocurrency and blockchain in Malaysia, I have compiled Malaysia-based companies, associations and groups you should know. Note that this list is not exhaustive – I might have missed some – but the popular ones with active members are here. If you know of any more, please comment and I’ll add it in.

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I Created My Own Cryptocurrency For Fun (And How You Can, Too)

create your own cryptocurrency

Before I begin this,

HI BNM! YOU’RE DOING AN AWESOME JOB! BTW THIS ‘CRYPTOCURRENCY’ I DID HAVE NO VALUE AT ALL! ABSOLUTELY NONE! THIS ‘CRYPTOCURRENCY’ IS MORE LIKE A FUN BUCKETLIST PROJECT AND A CREATIVE EXPRESSION RATHER THAN A CURRENCY PER SAY. IN FACT THINK OF IT LIKE TOKENS OR POINTS. I AM A TAX-PAYING CITIZEN!

Okay now that’s done…

Guys, I made SurayaCoin! 1000 of them! And it’s super simple via the Waves Platform – literally just 4 steps!

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Guide: What To Do When You’re Tight With Money

tight with money

While I have never been truly broke, I’ve had moments when money was tight. It became necessary to save money. It became necessary to allocate where each ringgit should go.

Therefore this guide. Here I’ve compiled all the strategies you can use to get through moments when you’re tight with money. To make things clear and actionable, I have divided the strategies into categories.

Remember that:

  • Cut down expenses = Awesome (this post focuses on this)
  • Earn money = Awesome
  • Investing money = Awesome
  • Cut down expenses + Earn money + Investing at the same time = HOLY GRAIL TO FINANCIAL INDEPENDENCE YEAH
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