It’s not hard to find how to make money in Malaysia. The internet (and possibly your circles) are full of ideas and suggestions. Heck, this website shared a lot of money-making options and tips too, like:
- How to Make Money Online in Malaysia
- How to Make Money from Vending Machine Business
- 3 Things Small Businesses Must Do
These are just some of the MANY articles under the Earning Money category, which I’m sure you’ll browse for ideas.
But, ideas are ideas. This article is to share what one person (aka me) has done to make money, in their personal capacity.
Here’s my attempt to do just that. Here’s everything I’ve ever done to make money in Malaysia (and beyond), from my childhood to now adulthood.
Section 1 – Childhood
I had a very priviledged childhood – my parents provided food, shelter, education, anything we ever needed. We also received allowances NOT tied to chores, and frequently received ‘just-because’ extra money and pocket money from relatives too.
My parents also introduced the concept of saving money in banks fairly early. I remember my mom took me to open a Yippee Maybank account, and when we had extra money (say after Raya), they’d always remind us to keep them in the bank so its safer.
Here are my ‘jobs’ at this age:
1. Plucked my parents’ white hairs
Hahahha classic small kids job right? They offered 10 sen per hair, what’s the rate you got? Sometimes they paid up, sometimes they kept quiet hahaha MOM I REMEMBER.
2. Fasted during Ramadan
During primary school age. I don’t know about you, but my siblings and I got RM1 per day per parent for every day we completed. If we complete the full term, we get RM50 per parent!
3. Sold candies in school
I was 7 or 8 years old. My dad gave me this bag of tiny candies and I sold them to my classmates. They loved them – my baju kurung pocket filled up pretty quick! I made a few ringgits, which is a huge sum at that age!
Unfortunately, I ran out of stock and that’s the end of that entrepreneurship endeavour 🙂
Btw I have the utmost respect for kids who help their parents sell stuff, even at a young age, out of economic necessity.
Section 2 – Teenage/College-age
During teenage/college, I was a brat.
The reason why I said that is because, thinking back, I can’t believe how entitled I was:
- I spent my money only on entertainment
- I expected my parents to pay for my driving lisence and also provide a car
- I also expected them to pay for my tiertiary education
I don’t know how I came to that conclusion, it was just kind of expected in our circles. Later on in life as I realised people worked and paid for their own lisence, first car and education, I felt ashamed.
I think my exposure to other kids in college who worked part-time jobs made me search for student-friendly work opportunities as well. I’m glad I mingled with them, and not with the spend-daddy’s-money types.
Here are my jobs at this age:
4. Sold CD and DVD boxsets
This was during high school and college time. Remember when CD and DVD boxsets were a thing back in early 2000s? There were shops specialising in them, ranging from American tv shows to anime to Japanese dramas to everything else.
I loved them – I’d save up my Raya money and allowances to buy them. Later, I listed and sold off the ones I no longer want on Lowyat forum.
5. Sold books, mangas and comics
Similar to #4, but with books, mangas and comics
6. Sold gaming consoles
This was during college. My proudest moment was when I managed to buy a secondhand Wii for a great price, played the heck out of it, then sold it off for a higher price.
This was also when I had my first scam experience. I mailed a PSP to a scammer, but the promised money never arrived. That’s why, until now, I refuse to deliver anything UNTIL I get the money.
7. Worked odd jobs
This was during college. I did a few things, all from part-time job platforms and sometimes referred from friends. Some of them:
- working as a booth attendant for a herbal soap brand from Taiwan,
- giving away free Salonpas samples at Guardian pharmacy in Pavilion KL
- stood around as one of the ‘door girls’ during some company’s annual dinner
- And more similar types odd jobs
Payment ranged from RM80-RM120+ per day – great for pocket money during college time.
8. Sold sushi
Well, technically my collegemates and I did this to fund our club activities (I was in Japan Club). We made some homemade sushi, set up our booth and sold them to other students.
9. Attended focus groups
I also made money by attending focus groups. They’re hard to get (you have to fit their requirements AND adjust your schedule to their sessions), but they pay very well. I’ve done a couple and received minimum RM200 after a few hours of answering questions.
10. Worked as a telemarketer.
I did telemarketing before uni started. I was looking for short-term job to make money while waiting for college, and was hired to work at this outsourcing company in KL for 3 months. My job was to sell insurance policies over the phone. The more I sold, the more commissions I’d get.
It was hard in the beginning – I didn’t close any sales until a couple of weeks in. But as soon as I got the hang of it, I consistently sold at least one policy per day. I made around RM10k during the time – not bad for 3 months!
Section 3 – Uni/Masters
After college, I got accepted into (the final year) of a uni in UK – I spent one year there. I received financial help for my parents, but felt too ashamed to ask for more to fund my own travelling in Europe, so I worked. Thanks to that, I managed to visit other parts of England, Scotland, Belgium and France.
After coming back to Malaysia, I continued on to Masters programme. By this point, I made up my mind to no longer take financial help from my parents, even though they offered. I funded my studies with PTPTN, savings and work.
Here are my jobs at this age:
11. Worked as a waitress.
I worked as a waitress during uni. I’m glad I had this experience, because it taught me to be respectful to the service staff. I also learned how to pop open a champagne bottle and how to hold three dinner plates in one hand.
12. Did house sitting
I was in Australia, doing some HelpX (that work-in-exchange-for-food-and-accommodation-thing), and coincidentally my hosts had to leave for a couple of nights so would I kindly take care of the house while they’re away?
They were kind, and I really didn’t mind doing this for free, but they ended up paying me anyway.
Later on in life, I found out some people do this semi-professionally, as a way to travel around the world with minimal cost. Look up house-sitting and even pet-sitting websites to learn more.
13. Worked two jobs WHILE studying
While taking my Masters, I worked as a student helper at an international school during the day, then as a student DJ at Putra.fm a couple of times a week.
Tough? Yeah. Made it? Hell yeah.
14. Tried to start catering service
I actually tried to add another source of income during Masters. I wrote one ad in Mudah.my, offering baked goods catering services but didn’t get any customers. Then I got that job at the international school so kind of abandoned the idea.
The funny thing is for weeks later I got a few inquiries from potential customers. But by that point I was already crazy busy so I had to tell them I was no longer offering the service.
But, you know, this just goes to show as long as you make the effort to put up ads describing your service (I just put up ONE!), customers may come.
15. Almost joined an MLM
A classmate of mine during Masters invited me to a ‘business talk’, and told me all about this educational product which would ‘practically sell itself’. I admit I was interested (because they dangled the income potential part real low), and intended to try it out.
I figured, you know, before I commit a few hundred RM to buy the products from my upline to re-sell them at a massive profit (that’s how MLMs work yo), let’s try and get some potential customers first. So I designed this simple poster and printed a few hundred copies.
I planned to spend a few evenings just inserting the flyers into peoples’ homes or distribute them near schools kot. In the end, I abandoned the idea partially due to laziness. My laziness saved me from MLMs hahahaha
Section 4 – Post-graduation
Age: 25- now
After I graduated from Masters, I went right ahead into job-hunting mode. By this point I already saved up a good amount of money so I could afford to be picky with job offers, I wasn’t desperate.
While looking for opportunities, I’d make it a point to (1) find out how much the job pays (although sometimes they never list them), and (2) only accept the job if they pay over a certain amount.
I admit this was only possible because (1) I already had savings, mostly from the telemarketing job, and (2) it’s okay to wait for the right-paying job to come along, because I could still depend on my family for financial support.
Here are my jobs at this age:
16. Worked in the NGO industry
Before I because Suraya-the-personal-finance-blogger, I was Suraya-who-thought-she-could-change-the-world-by-working-in-NGOs.
In order, I worked at an intercultural students exchange organisation (technically I was still in uni here but hey), then at a sexuality rights organisation, then at an organisation which offered resettlement for refugees, then at a women’s human rights organisation.
17. Became a self-employed writer and communications consultant
I enjoyed my work in the NGO industry, but I wasn’t happy with how much (little) I was earning. So I actually in the process of job-hopping when I ‘accidentally’ became a self-employed writer and communications consultant (the fancier term to what I actually was – freelance writer).
I originally became self-employed to earn some money while still looking for a stable, full-time job, because that’s what I’m used to. But roughly 6 months in, the money earned exceeded what I used to earn so I never stopped.
It was tough in the beginning, super tough, but thank goodness it worked out as a career path omg.
18. Created and monetised my blog
This is where RinggitOhRinggit (this website) came in 🙂 I love writing, and enjoy exploring multiple income streams that I could generate via blogging, including brand sponsorship and affiliate marketing.
P/s – Do NOT think that blogging is free. Starting can be free, but eventually you’ll need to pay. You can read that in detail in the My Personal Blog Costs RM1,646.36 per Month. Breakdown Inside article. Here’s the exact steps how I started to earn money from blogging.
19. Worked in a cryptocurrency startup
Through mini projects I got as a writer and communications consultant, I got hired in a crypto startup. It was a remote position paying in USD, too.
It sounds good, but all I can say is it was fun until it wasn’t 🙂 This barely lasted a year-ish.
20. Produced a theatre show
Some of my friends were from the theatre crowd and for fun, I became their producer – the person who sorts out the logistics and admin and ticketing and sales and all those good stuff.
I’m hella proud that I managed to turn a profit despite being a first-time theatre producer ^_^ Here’s a pic during the time!
21. Dabbled in vending machine business
The only reason why I could write the How to Do Vending Machine Business in Malaysia (My Experience) article is because I did it myself.
22. Became a ‘KOL’
KOL = key opinion leader. There is an overlap with ‘influencer’, except KOL is generally thought of as more niche, a subject matter expert.
As a KOL in personal finance, I get hired to speak in panels, webinars, seminars, roadshows, workshops, trainings and more.
23. Wrote books
As of writing time, I have curated and written:
All books are available at bookstores nationwide! Find them at Popular Bookstores, MPH Bookstores, Times Bookstores, Borders Books and Kinokuniya KLCC and more
Take and send me pics when you get a copy – that would me super happy!
You can also learn how to publish books – learn how in the How to Publish a Book in Malaysia: Step-by-Step and Costs article.
I hope the above gave you some ideas on how to make money in Malaysia 🙂 I’m aware it’s a lot of different things, but I’ve always been someone who liked to experiment and try things out.
Honestly I think I missed a few, especially the ones which I kinda sorta dabbled in but didn’t really put any effort into (at one point, I applied but didn’t proceed with a Work and Travel programme to the US).
Regardless, writing this article has been a fun journey back into memory lane. I’ve forgotten a few of the jobs until now!
It was also interesting to note what I used to do at different stages of my life. I’ve lost money for some of them, but gained heck of an experience.
What kinds of jobs have you done? Any of them similar to mine? How did you make money at different stages of your life? Share with me in the comments 🙂