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The Malaysian PF Community

Who are part of the personal finance community in Malaysia? We are small, but we exist and we are growing!

[SPONSORED] I Asked Hard Questions to the CEO of PIDM 

As I sat down with Rafiz Azuan Abdullah, the CEO of PIDM or Perbadanan Insurans Deposit Malaysia and asked my questions, it occurred to me that this man is truly at peace with doing a thankless job. 

If you’re unfamiliar with what PIDM does, they are basically a government authority that provides protection for your deposits, as well as takaful and insurance benefits in the unlikely event a PIDM member institution fails.  

For example, let’s say Bank X somehow goes bankrupt and you have RM10k saved there. As Bank X is a PIDM member bank, PIDM will make sure you get your RM10k back immediately.

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[SPONSORED] Revealed: How Takaful Products Get Created (from the Team that Made i-Great Aman) 

It’s not every day that you get to ask about the takaful plan creation process directly from the people who actually create them for a living.

That’s right, these two ladies from Great Eastern Takaful Berhad makes takaful products. From scratch. They don’t distribute them (that’s the agents’ job). They make them. 

Say hi to Ms. Nurul Sheila Khalib and Ms. Azlina Ideris from the Product Development team at Great Eastern Takaful Berhad (two ladies sitting on the left). 

i-great aman
As someone who is fascinated by behind-the-scenes of the financial industry in Malaysia, I really want to thank them for sharing with me and RoR readers how the takaful creation process looks like.

Here are the 4 stages.

Stage 1: Ideation 

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[SPONSORED] HelloGold’s Co-Founder Interviewed Me

I’m used to interviewing founders and CEOs, but it’s quite rare that I get interviewed by them!

That’s what we did in this Ringgit Oh Ringgit x HelloGold collaboration. In this video, HelloGold’s Co-Founder Ridwan Abdullah asked me a bunch of questions, ranging from the website, my investments and my thoughts on gold. It was fun answering them and I may have laughed too much.

We talked about:

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19 Financial Education Initiatives in Malaysia You Should Know

Something exciting happened recently. On 23 July 2019, Tun M launched the National Strategy for Financial Literacy (2019-2023).

financial education malaysia

Korang. A national strategy. For financial literacy. Isn’t this amazing? I’m all for it. This is great, we needed this.

So I was browsing through the document (thanks Vincent for sending to me!) and thought, hey! There are so many financial education initiatives, many of which I didn’t know about! I should share this on RoR!

So here you go. Every single financial education initiatives under members of Financial Education Network (FEN), as of writing time.

#1 – Ministry of Education

Initiative: Integrating financial education elements in the curriculum

What it is: Teach financial education component in schools

Official description: The integration of financial education element is carried out in several subjects directly or indirectly.

Among the subjects that apply this knowledge of financial education at Standards-Based Curriculum for Primary Schools (KSSR) and KSSR levels (Revised 2017) are Mathematics, Bahasa Melayu, English and Moral Education.

While the examples of subjects at the Standards-Based Curriculum for Secondary Schools (KSSM) level are Economics, Business, Accounting Principles, Mathematics, Bahasa Melayu, English, Home Science, Agriculture and other subjects.

The integration of this elements implemented through the subject curriculum in accordance with the suitability of the theme and areas of learning

#2 – Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM)

There are 3 initiatives under BNM, of which 1 is for the public, and 2 is for government agencies and civil servants:

financial education malaysia

Initiative #1: Karnival Kewangan (website | Facebook | Instagram)

What it is: Fun weekend activity for the public, with financial education twist

Official description: Karnival Kewangan is a one-stop edutainment centre to elevate public’s awareness on financial matters, enhance financial literacy among Malaysian and serve the needs of financial consumers.

Karnival Kewangan is a collaborative Public-Private Partnership initiative aimed at widening outreach of financial education nationwide

Initiative #2: Train-the-Trainers (TTT) programme for Government agencies

What it is: Improving financial literacy in government agencies

Official description: Train-the-Trainers (TTT) programme is an initiative to train and enhance the capability of the counsellors at the government agencies to conduct self-directed financial education sessions within their agency.

The programme also provides intervention measures to achieve prudent financial management behaviour among the government officers.

Initiative #3: Personal Financial Education module at E-Pembelajaran Sektor Awam (EPSA®) on-line learning platform 

What it is: Improving financial literacy among civil servants (online)

Official description: Personal Financial Education module (or Modul Pendidikan Kewangan Peribadi) is a newly launched on-line learning module offered to all civil servants in Malaysia.

This initiative is in line with the Government’s initiative to promote the use of online learning to civil servants for their continuous and lifelong
learning.

#3 – Securities Commission Malaysia

Initiative: InvestSmart® (website)

What it is: Public education events for Malaysian investors

Official description: The InvestSmart® brand is SC’s investor education initiative to create more informed investors who are self-reliant and are able to make investment decisions that are right for them.

Since its launch in 2014, InvestSmart® has actively carried our various initiatives to reach out to a wide spectrum of the public throughout the nation, educating them on a range of investment related topics.

InvestSmart® initiatives includes the annual flagship investor education event InvestSmart® Fest, Bersama InvestSmart® @ Borneo, SC-in-the-Community, seminars, InvestSmart® website, mobile application, online educational game Jump2Invest and social media platforms including Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

#4 – Employees Provident Fund (EPF)

There are 2 initiatives under EPF:

Image credit: RinggitPlus

Initiative #1: Belanjawanku

What it is: A rough guide to show how much money we need to live

Official description: An expenditure guide, providing estimated minimum monthly expenses on various types of goods and services for different households in Malaysia. It is a useful tool for Malaysians to plan for their personal and family budgeting to achieve a reasonable standard of living

Initiative #2: Retirement Advisory Services (RAS) (website)

What it is: Advices Malaysians on retirement planning. Try the retirement calculator in their website

Official description: RAS offers personalized financial advice particularly on retirement planning to members of the public. It aims to raise financial literacy and guide Malaysians to plan for their retirement as well as understand available options that can help increase their retirement savings.

#5 – Perbadanan Insurans Deposit Malaysia (PIDM)

There are 2 initiatives under PIDM:

Initiative #1: PIDM Public Engagement Programme 

What it is: Tell people what PIDM do. I’ve done a few collaborations with PIDM under this initiative – see:

Official description: An outreach programme to bring financial education and PIDM awareness to the public in various locations.

Initiative #2: PIDM briefings

What it is: Like #1, but more targeted?

Official description: A series of briefing sessions to different target segments e.g. youth, retirees and working adults to promote awareness on PIDM’s financial consumer protection systems.

#6 – Agensi Kaunseling dan Pengurusan Kredit (AKPK)

There are 5 initiatives under AKPK, of which 3 is for the public, 1 is for employees and 1 for students:

Initiative #1: Financial Education Public Programmes

What it is: Fun weekend activity for the public, with financial education twist

Official description: AKPK provides a range of public programmes throughout the year targeting various target segments like youth, women, entrepreneurs and other related groups.

The programmes are held to provide a set of skills and knowledge that allows an individual to make informed and effective decisions with regards to their financial resources.

Initiative #2: AKPK’s Online Learning portal (learn.akpk.org.my)

What it is: Free financial courses! There is one course so far, a house-buying module. Available in English and Malay

financial education malaysia

Official description: AKPK’s learn.akpk.org.my portal is developed to provide financial education programmes online. The portal provides a peer to peer learning platform that is socially engaging (participants can participate in modular discussion forums), making the learning fun, empowering, engaging and trendy.

Initiative #3: Customised Financial Solution Programme – (Employees Wellness Programme)

What it is: A programme to help employees facing financial issues (which companies, I don’t know)

Official description: A customised financial solution programme is designed based on the assessment conducted amongst employees of some organisations to identify their financial issues that need to be addressed in order to promote productivity of employees at workplace.

The issues are addressed by providing financial education, counselling and debt management programmes.

Initiative #4: AKPK Financial Literacy Symposium

What it is: A big financial education-themed conference slash event

Official description: This symposium is one of AKPK’s efforts to promote financial literacy among Malaysians. The highlight will be the reporting of findings from AKPK’s recent survey among Malaysians followed by forums and other related research presentations. It is held biennially.

Initiative #5: Social Enterprise Literacy for Youth (SELFY)

What it is: Improving financial literacy among college and university students

Official description: The SELFY programme is conducted yearly amongst students of higher learning institutions, focused on providing educational experience that leaves them with positive associations with money and social change.

Students are given financial education and then provided a seed money to start an enterprise. The concept of SELFY is to earn, manage, save and give.

#7 – Permodalan Nasional Berhad (PNB)

There are 5 initiatives under PNB, of which 3 is for the public, and 2 is for schools:

Initiative #1: Minggu Saham Amanah Malaysia (MSAM)

What it is: A big financial education-themed conference slash event

Official description: MSAM held annually since 2000 with the objective of educating the public on investment in unit trust, risk and return and financial planning. In addition, it is to educate the investors on where their money is invested by PNB.

Initiative #2: Seminar Pelaburan 360

What it is: Investment seminars

Official description: Daily seminars conducted by ASNB qualified financial planners at different locations to all segments of society on financial planning concepts.

PNB also has a whole video series in their Youtube. Sharing here Segment 1 Module 1:

Initiative #3: Kelab Pelaburan Bijak

What it is: Investing clubs in schools!

Official description: Aim to uplift the level of financial literacy among secondary school children. Currently, 155 schools have been selected to join the club.

Initiative #4: Kuiz Pelaburan PNB

What it is: An investment-themed quiz competition. The cash prize is quite lucrative!

Image credit: Harian Metro

Official description: Quiz competition involving different categories on key concepts relating to investment, financial planning, unit trust and risk and return

Initiative #5: Fiesta Labur PNB

What it is: Fun weekend activity for the public, with financial education twist

Official description: An annual event organized by ASNB. It is an edutainment based investment programme. Through Fiesta Labur, the public will be able to gain knowledge on investment and financial planning through interactive and fun way of learning.

This event provides various activities and entertainment for the whole family in educating and creating awareness on the importance of financial planning in their daily lives.

That’s quite a lot of financial education initiatives, isn’t it? But you know, these are just activities and resources by government and government-linked agencies. There are even MORE financial seminars and websites and media from the private sector.

For example, most, if not all the insurance companies do their own financial literacy initiatives. So does the banks. And the companies providing investment services, across all sectors, from properties to P2P lending to ETF to gold.

Then I also know the financial planning associations and the financial comparison platforms do financial education too. I’m sure I’m missing a few more here but I made my point, yes?

In short, learning opportunities are everywhere. Go look for them, and avoid the dodgy dodgy ones. If you lazy to go out, nah here are some book recommendations. Lazy to go book store? Nah recommended personal finance websites.

All the best and no more complaining government is not doing anything okay? It’s all up to our own effort now.

Malaysians Share Their Best Under-RM100 Purchases

We buy things to fix a problem. Whether the problem is hunger, or boredom, or lack of focus, or social acceptance, or something else.

Often, the stuff that we buy, the solutions, they work okay (I hope this is the case for you). Sometimes they don’t work as well as claimed.

But once in a blue moon, you get lucky and found a particular product that you absolutely LOVE. It pretty much changed your life, you don’t know how you ever managed without it. You consider yourself a fan and have NO PROBLEM recommending these to others.

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[SPONSORED] Malaysians Share Scams in Malaysia They Fell For (or Almost)

Your parents are right. 

No matter how much we may want to deny it, there *are* bad people in this world. People who don’t think twice about taking your money from you through illegal and unethical means. They do it easily, without guilt or remorse. 

This article is a compilation of anecdotes by real people, who were scammed or almost got scammed. Thank you to all who contributed. 

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Malaysians Share Cheap Things They Have Done

Frugalism is a good trait to have. Wealthy people tend to have frugal characteristics. In the classic The Millionaire Next Door book, the author found that while wealthy people may have lots of money, most of them don’t look rich.

That makes sense, since you don’t get rich by spending all your money away correct or not.

But this is not an article about frugalism. This is an article about cheapness, it’s lesser cousin.

I observed something. Many people, while trying to be frugal and be responsible with their money, would do things that are considered cheap before they learned to become more frugal.

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WANTED: Your Personal Finance Fiction/Non-Fiction Stories! (PAID CONTEST)

Money Stories from Malaysian: Volume 1 is a success, so it’s time for Volume 2!

Writers – doesn’t matter if you’re a veteran or never been published before – come join this second edition of writing competition and submit your personal finance-themed money stories. Winning entries will be paid, details below 😀

 


Image credit: Isometric people pattern design | designed by Vexels

Personal Finance Writing Competition: The Details

  • Length: 2000 up to 5000 words
  • Theme: Personal finance
  • Type: Fiction and non-fiction short stories
  • Language: UK English or Bahasa
  • Format: Submit as GDoc link
  • Submission date: by 31 July 2019. Send it earlier if you want feedback and stuff
  • Submit to: submissions.ror at gmail dot com
  • Prize: RM100 flat OR a % of book sales within 1 (one) year. I’ll promo the heck out of you too.
  • No of winners: Unlimited (aiming for 50k words total)
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[FREE TEASER] The First Chapter of Money Stories from Malaysians: Volume 1

Some of you know that I published a book, Money Stories from Malaysians: Volume 1. I am super grateful for support from early buyers – you are the best!

For everyone else, here’s the first chapter from the book. Consider this my attempt to lure you into buying the book. Like how they give free food samples at the grocery stores so you buy the product.

Without further ado, I’m happy to present to you the first short story in the book,

Look out for Naila, world! by Jouhari Ali

Every parent loves telling stories about their children. How smart and well-behaved their children are. How proud they are of them.

I am no different.

A lot of times, the parents would also share and show party tricks they taught their children. Here, I am different. I am here to tell you what my daughter taught me.

Through unfortunate events, Naila’s mother wanted a divorce just a day after her second birthday. I complied.

Usually, in a Muslim divorce, the mother would always get custody of the children. Second in line would be the child’s maternal grandmother. Only then the Syariah courts will consider giving custody to the father. During the divorce process, we were asked by the court what was to happen to Naila. Naila’s mother received full custody, but she agreed to let Naila live with me. I was overjoyed.

My living situation then was not what you would call “normal”. I was living with three other guys, friends of mine since college. They were all young and single men. But thankfully they were more than happy to accept Naila and me. For a few short, amazing years, Naila was living with me and her three wonderful uncles.

Soon enough, the guys got married and moved out. If you don’t count our cats, Naila and I were the only two left in the four-bedroom house. The rent was ridiculously cheap, so we just kept staying there until I bought an apartment. A new place for us to call home.

Naila was seven years old when we moved into the new apartment. She had just started Standard One. There were no lifts, but there was a small pond and a jogging track. We got the best view of the pond from our apartment’s balcony on the fourth floor, where we could often see a few anglers. Once in a while, the group would start screaming out loud like Ronaldo had just scored a goal. Naila had never experienced fishing before and was naturally curious about what they were doing.

A father and daughter moment, I thought. My father had taught me how to fish and this would be an amazing opportunity to pass the knowledge to her.

One day, I got us fishing rods and supplies, and off we went to the pond with our new gear, bait, and a small bucket. She was so excited about her first fishing trip, even though the pond was just a few metres from our building.

Before we started, I went over the safety precautions. I showed Naila how sharp the hooks were, what to look out for, and how far she needed to be from the edge of the pond. I told her to always follow one rule: never stand closer than your body’s length to the edge. Why? Because, if you were to fall over, you would still fall on land, not in the water. There were additional rules. For safety reasons, Naila was not allowed to bait the hook or cast the line, but she could reel it in if anything bit.

I could see fishing lose its appeal to her with those kinds of rules. After a while, she seemed more interested in digging for worms along the bank of the pond. I told her that’s a great idea—we wouldn’t have to buy worms the next time we go fishing.

As Naila dug for worms, she invited other children passing by to join her. Most of them did. Soon enough, our group became a digging party as kids started to get the word out that they were allowed to dig for worms, and there was a responsible adult (me) watching over them. Naila forged many friendships that day.

A man, all docked in fishing gear, noticed the excitement and came over. Naila struck up a conversation with him too, and offered to sell the worms she just dug up for RM1 each. Even though Naila had no idea what the going rate for worms was, she had business in mind and was brave enough to market her wares like it was second nature. I simply thought she was cute.

My mouth dropped when the man made a counteroffer. He said he would pay RM1 for two worms, but they had to be big ones. I didn’t say a word during the whole negotiation, but I thought the guy was cool for playing along.

The kids came into a huddle and decided RM1 for two fat worms was indeed worth their effort. The man bought four worms and nodded my way. I smiled back. We both knew he did not need the worms. He could have gotten fifteen for RM2.50 at the shop just across the street or he could also have dug them up himself for free!

Naila and her friends made RM2 that afternoon from their only customer. I was proud of her. She made her first business transaction like a champ and I was there to witness it, just a few feet away, frozen in amazement.

Later that night, Naila revealed that her worm business was more exciting to her than her fishing career (she caught one fish). Not trying to give her false hopes in the profitability of this venture, I explained how the worms were not really worth that much and the man was just being nice. Naila was undeterred. She told me she and her friends were planning to dig up more worms to sell to other anglers the next day.

Predictably, her first business venture was not successful. Not from the lack of trying—it was just a simple case of supply and demand. Anyone could have dug the worms up for free, plus she was selling it above the market price.

Still, she had fun making friends while digging up those worms. The ones that were still alive by the time we went home were put back in the ground by a tree.

Let me tell you about her second business venture: selling ribbon bracelets. By that time, she was eight.

Naila was supposed to bring ribbons for her school’s art class, so we went out to get some. Picking her up from school the next day, I noticed a clear plastic bag full of coins. From what I could see, there must have been around RM10 worth of coins.

I asked her where she got the money. I thought she must have won a ribbon-making contest at school or something. Instead, she said that she had learned how to make ribbon bracelets in art class, made a few, and sold them at fifty sen each.

Again, I was shocked and amazed. I admit I was sceptical.

“Everyone brought ribbons to school, everybody learned to make the bracelets, and you managed to sell them today?”

Naila explained how her ribbon bracelets were in demand because she innovated and used two ribbons of different colours. The teacher had taught them using ribbons of only one colour during the class, but now, her classmates could make custom requests for ribbon bracelets with two colour combinations.

She did not stop there. When a customer asked for a colour she did not have, she would trade some of her ribbons with someone else. Even though she had competition, she had an advantage—Naila could make a bracelet out of any colour because everyone would gladly trade their ribbons with her. Some even volunteered to make the ribbon bracelets as her orders grew!

“Teachers are OK with this?” I asked.

She laughed and said she sold a few to the teachers too.

This brought me back to my primary school days. I had been a timid, scared little boy. Here I am now, blessed with a daughter who somehow made a week’s worth of allowance in one day.

The next day was just as impressive. After I picked her up from school, she asked if we could stop by a store and pick up some super glue. She explained that some of the ribbons she sold the day before came apart and she wanted to fix them for her customers. At eight, this young lady knew how to stand behind her products and provide warranty and customer service!

I was more than happy to get her the glue, and we got a few types just in case. I’m not sure if she knew how important her business decision was. Imagine if there were another art class project and she decided to go into business again? Her customers would gladly buy from her instead of her competition because of her warranty, customer service and product innovation.

The next day, I asked about her ribbon bracelet business. It turns out that she got even more orders and no competition! At lunchtime, she sat at one of the benches and operated her business in full swing.

When a child makes their own money, something happens to their appreciation of money. When Naila gets to pick out toys or clothes at the store, she actually looks at the price tag. Even at her young age, she understands what those numbers after RM mean.

Naila understands value, too. She demonstrated how it was cheaper to buy a box of pencils than a single one. Any parent would feel blessed to have a child that actually takes the price of an item into consideration when they want something. If you have seen the shopping behaviour of other children, you might know that their final choice is usually influenced by the packaging and how much air time the product had on TV. But not my Naila.

While picking her up from school one Friday afternoon, I noticed a tear in her relatively new school bag. She had the habit of not zipping her bag properly and after a few weeks, it tore. I thought she would ask me for a new school bag soon, and it would be a good opportunity for me to give her the “take care of your things” speech.

I waited for that request all weekend, but it never came. She never asked for a new bag, and by Sunday, this horrible father forgot all about the torn bag.

Monday came, and I took her to school as usual. While she was walking into the school compound, I noticed that she had taped up her bag with electrical tape. Those black elastic tapes, the ones that electricians use to tape up wires… the only type of tape that was plentiful in my toolbox. My heart twitched. I thought I was going to teach her a lesson about taking care of her things. That morning she taught me that she’s a lot smarter and stronger than I gave her credit for.

Later that afternoon, we bought a new school bag. I wish I had said something about the tape incident but I didn’t. I felt like a horrible father. I was ashamed of myself while being so proud of what she’s grown up to be. Here is a little girl who was raised by just her father and his friends, taking on what our cruel world had to offer head on. Yet she never complained that her bag was falling apart. She taped it up so her books wouldn’t fall out.

Somehow, Naila grew up to understand money and thrift better than kids her age. I can’t exactly point out to how she turned out that way. I will not claim that I had anything to do with it.

Children can understand the value of money. Children do understand the importance of making money and saving money. But, of course, money should never be their problem—that’s the burden of the adult.

If you ask children what they want to be when they grow up, you’d almost always get the kind of jobs that help people. Go ahead, give it a try. You’ll hear doctor, teacher, soldier, fireman, policeman, and there’s always that one kid who wants to be Spiderman.

I asked Naila the same question when she was nine. She told me she wanted to sell cars and have her own car business.

I was happy to hear that. She was already thinking about businesses, not jobs! I asked her why she wanted to sell cars, of all things.

She told me so she would be able to give me one.

–End–

If you like the story above, there are 9 more short stories in Money Stories from Malaysians: Volume 1 book. Click the link to buy and enjoy the rest of the stories, including one of mine right at the end 🙂

money stories from malaysians

6 Personal Finance Blog Ideas, Absolutely Free for You to Take

Fact: I started Ringgit Oh Ringgit blog because the content I wanted to read did not exist.

What I mean by that is I wanted to read personal finance content that is:

  • Preferably Malaysia-specific 
  • Relatable – I want to read a person’s POV, not a company. I want to see personality!
  • Not too jargon-heavy – that eliminates a lot of articles that appear on The Edge and stuff
  • Not too ‘sales-y’ – we can tell when you’re pushing a credit card, loan, etc on us you know
  • Not too generic – It’s important to save money, they said, without telling you how
  • Not too ‘advice-y’ – Some of the materials can be really condescending

It turns out that many of you felt the same way, judging by the way Ringgit Oh Ringgit took off. I honestly didn’t expect it. I was so shocked, I wrote this article:[PERSONAL] What It’s Like to be a Personal Finance Blogger in Malaysia

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