Mafan = slang for ‘annoying’, ‘malasnya nak buat’
If you find personal finance mafan, you’re not alone. Heck, I still find it mafan. I’m lucky to get a head start on it, but actually it’s still really quite the mafan. There are just so many things that you have to sort out to be at least semi-good at it.
But that’s adulting for you. You just have to do it, don’t you? Because no one else will. And I’m not going to be that person who lets my partner/parents take care of my finances and life for me, nope. I’ve heard enough stories. We’ve all heard the stories.
This post is all about things we all have to do in order to be ‘good’ at personal finance and life. Some of them are more mafan than others. I’ll explain. And use cat pics.
Getting yourself insured
No one is truly excited about the insurance process, I don’t think. I don’t buy your smiles and fake laughs, models in insurance campaign ads.
Insurance is important, I agree. Leaving money behind for your loved ones and not having to worry about medical bills are things I can get behind.
But please, insurance companies, do us a favour and stop all this lack of transparency nonsense. Can’t you just put an auto-calculator on your website that just gives us an instant quote? Must you make us find agents and do manual comparison ourselves?
What I’ve heard is, insurance companies do this because they don’t want to make it easy for their competitors to find out their rates. They’re afraid that the industry will resort to price-slashing to attract customers. That means less profit for them. If you’re from the insurance industry and reading this, please by all means go ahead and counter this argument.
Paying bills and taxes
Kinda self-explanatory. Tracking and diligently paying them takes up a lot of mental space. I don’t know which is worse, tbh – once-a-year payments like taxes or once-a-month payments like mobile phone bills.
Saving your money
Truth be told I’d love to just spend all my money away. The only thing stopping me is Future Me. Future Suraya is freakishly strict, like your discipline teacher last time in school, the one who walks around with the rotan. Present Suraya would sometimes go ‘oooh that looks fun I want to buy that’ but Future Suraya quickly comes and be like, ‘NOT ON MY WATCH’.
If When Present Suraya makes non-essential purchases that cannot be justified, Future Suraya DOES. NOT. FORGET. She hovers around and scolds me like an Asian parent (“See now regret right? Do lah. Do some more.”)
It came to a point where I’m so conditioned to Future Suraya’s treatment that I just don’t even consider certain purchases, like going to the Burning Man Festival or having the latest gadgets.
Investing your money
Future Suraya plays a big role here too. She nags me and nags me until I take action, until I decide on investment products to put my money in.
Learning about investments in the first place was hard. The biggest issue is knowing who to trust, aside from your parents. But things get further complicated when you get older and see your parents being human and make financial mistakes themselves, and you think, okay, now aside from them who else can I trust?
Investment companies do all sorts of mind tricks to make themselves appear more trustworthy. They get likeable ambassadors. They use non-threatening cheerful colours and slogans. They invite you to talks and seminars and events (and often, give you merch and feed you too). The dodgy ones even make promises they can’t keep (‘DOUBLE YOUR INVESTMENT IN A MONTH’).
Over the years, I’ve learned to accept that investment companies will keep doing this, and my role is to cut through all that niceties and get straight to the products they offer. Asking the right questions help. Who are your management team, are they reputable? How much do you charge me for this service? What are the terms? What are your reviews like? Not the paid ones, the real ones.
Note: Don’t trust everything I say too. It’s not clever to blindly trust someone from the internet. Do your own research.
Investing in yourself
There are a few components in this section, but for simplification’s sake I’m going to divide it into just three: investing in your education, investing in your health and investing in your appearance.
Investing in your education
If you’re lucky, you had an education after high school. If you’re luckier, it was fully or partially paid by yourself, your parents or a scholarship.
But that’s as far as luck will take you, because education doesn’t stop. I don’t know how people get the impression that education stops after college or university.
You need to make your own initiatives to continue learning, so that you can keep climbing the ladder, keep growing professionally, and avoid being redundant in your industry. Education comes from many sources: books, online and offline courses, events and seminar, networking sessions, etc. If you find that mafan, hooo boy
Investing in your education costs two things: money and time. The internet has drastically reduced this barrier, but not quite – you still need a device and pay for the internet (if you take this for granted, give a quick blessing to the universe).
For women especially, a lot of our time is consumed by domestic chores. In the typical household, women spend much more time to do the housework, take care of children, and caring for the elderly. In Malaysia, Malay women spend the most time doing domestic work (12.15 hours), then Chinese women (8.99 hours), then Malay men (6.29 hours), then Chinese men (3.77 hours). Source: Unpaid Domestic Work in Malaysia: Exploring Women’s Engagement in Housework; other racial demographics not included.
I believe unequal distribution of unpaid care work is one of the reasons why women don’t get to invest in our education as much as men – we just have less time to do so. The effects are pretty obvious.
Now, knowing this information, what are you going to do about it?
(Personally, I moved out. I would 100% credit that decision to why I have so much time to learn and grow professionally. It’s liberating af to be selfish.)
Investing in your health
Not just in the exercise let’s sweat it out sense (obviously mafan), but also preventative care, like eating well and sleeping well and walking well. Good food, good mattress and good shoes all cost a hefty sum.
I’m quite thankful that the ageing process is designed as it is. Most of us can live relatively care-free lives until we get to the age when we realise we have to start taking care of our bodies (that age is mid to late 20s, according to my friends). When I was younger, I have eaten shit (not literally) and slept on mattresses that gave me backaches, and my body recovered from those with very little problem. Not any more.
I’m happy that the personal finance circles that I follow prioritise health. They advice on eating well on a budget, on getting over that ‘sayangnya duit’ mental block over buying a RM1000+ mattress instead of a RM200 one, among others. I love that they discuss which kitchen tools are worth the money and which are not, and which tools to keep the house to make minor repairs. I love that the discussions can get incredibly niche, like which spices to keep to make homemade meals interesting and varied.
Some of the communities I follow: 25 Personal Finance Subreddits For You To Find ‘Your People’
Investing in your appearance
Grooming. Skincare. Clothes. Makeup. Accessories. Things that make you look professional and presentable. People do judge, like it or not. It’s quite essential to commit some money to this category. I find the whole process of figuring out what works what doesn’t quite mafan, but some people really enjoy this type of ‘investing’.
A bit too much, even. Sometimes people mistake ‘luxury items’ as investments for your appearance. This, I personally do not agree in. I’d rather invest in education and health rather than making myself look rich. I don’t understand why people would buy expensive quality items when there are so many affordable quality items available.
You may disagree, especially if you love, own and collect branded luxury stuff. I don’t really care. You do you. Your money if yours, I don’t and won’t tell you what to do. Not my place anyhow. But this is my blog and this is my opinion, so there.
Lastly, back to you
Remember, humans are complex. Just because we complain about something doesn’t mean we don’t and can’t do it. You CAN acknowledge what is unpleasant for you to do. And hopefully, some startup founder out there is listening, and s/he will create the exact solutions we’ve been waiting all along. We’ve already seen this with the financial products comparisons platforms and education/health/education-focused platforms.
What other things about personal finance and life do you find mafan? Share in the comments section – welcoming all differences in opinion. Complain to me. Who knows someone will read and do something about it.