Earning Money

How to Make Money in Malaysia: 23 Things I’ve Done, From Kid to Adult

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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:

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

Age: 5-12

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

Age: 13-19

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.

Related: Pros & Cons of 4 Part Time Jobs for College Students in Malaysia

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!

Related: Telemarketer sales tactics you should know (by an ex-telemarketer)

Section 3 – Uni/Masters

Age: 20-24

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.

What next?

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 🙂

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  1. Uni time.
    – trade and breed exotic pets. Joining and contributing to the exotic pet community was a joy. Earned some money, bought new bass guitar and some gear.

    – me and my band mates played some paying gigs. Money earned reinvested into producing our single, which we sold to friends and fans.

    Now, I’m just a rat in the never ending rat race.

  2. Stage 1: Childhood
    -I did pluck hair for mom like what u did! 5 cents for each strand! I was surprised to come across with an article on such a real job in Japan!
    Here is the article! https://www.worldofbuzz.com/this-store-in-japan-charges-rm126-to-pluck-out-your-white-hairs-in-30-mins/

    – Household chores and earned money for that(I will not do the same thing to my kids in the future😑😑😑)

    Stage 2: Primary-Secondary

    – Never earned as i did not think that making money was as important as saving. I often got disappointed that I could never be able to save. I neither saved nor earned.

    Stage 3: High School
    – Tutored children at neighbourhood for low fees, earned good respect from parents for effective teaching.🤗
    -helped a cousin to run her tuition business after school. Earned RM300-400 every month.

    Stage 4: Post-High school and Pre-Uni
    (I decided to save up some money and confidence for my further studies, being not so sure of where to step next)

    -wrote 2 company profiles to be printed for small firms. I was shocked that I could earn money in that way too! Earned RM250 for each company.
    -taught in Enopi( now, know as Eye Level) earned rm400-500 every month
    -Secured a flexible full time admin cum tutor job at Kumon at Bandar Kinrara 5. Thanks to such an understanding boss(worked there for 5 years while studying in Uni) earned RM1100 per month that I managed to buy a Myvi at the age of 22 years, that was my proudest moment!
    -Worked in PanPages, doing data entry, earned approx rm500 every month)

    Stage 4: Now

    – working in a private school for a good pay and abundance of satisfaction in teaching(it’s been 6 years here, thus no job-jumping yet!)
    – home-tutoring my own nieces and nephews around Puchong and Putra Heights
    (earning rm500-600 per head)
    – trying and testing on how to run e-commerce business, selling Indian outfits at Jarigai Contemporary Collections
    (it’s my sister’s business) With good promotions, we r earning good sum occasionally) Still exploring the market!

    – Planning to run an interactive online speaking classes for affordable fees that can help boost students’ confidence in speaking. (I just can’t see myslf not thinking about teaching to improve learning)

    – Helping my sister to try on wholesaling Indian apparels with digital marketing consultancy.

  3. Hi Suraya, I wasn’t hustling as much as you did during your younger days (I wished I had!), that is why you are a lot more successful right now =)

    My previous side-hustles in chronological sequence.

    Primary school

    1. Walked to the bookstore across the street from my school to buy marbles in bulk of 100’s, took them back and resell them to those marble players. Earned about 3 sens per marble.

    2. I mastered the art of playing “rubber” with my friends, so whenever I win over their eraser, they would have to buy back the eraser from me at 20 sens each (alternatively they can choose for the flag they like from the myriad of erasers I have collected).

    3. Went to Makro to buy tissue packs in bulk (and I mean really huge packs) with my parents during our grocery trip. I would then sell those individual packs to female students on their way to the washroom at 15 sens each (my classroom was conveniently situated right next to the washroom). The other option was to purchase the tissue from the school canteen which was a fair bit of a walk.

    Secondary school

    1. This was when I started to dabble in the stock market at 14 with all the money I earned from my primary school period and started trading using my mom’s trading account, and have not stopped since then.

    2. Washing cars for my parents and relatives at RM5 each. This was just a weekly chore. Small earnings as I could only wash 1-2 cars a week.

    3. RM10 for each A I scored for my tests and exams. It is a fact that money motivates results.


    1. Dropped out of my 2nd college to start a small cybercafe after gaining 3 years of experience working in several cybercafes. Did not end well as parents in the neighborhood was pressuring me to close down my shop, which I complied to avoid getting into trouble with the authorities.

    2. Having lost all my hard earned savings from the first failed business, I went on to join MLM to pick up the one best skill in life, which is the art of selling. Did the stint for a year.

    Went back to college for a Diploma course:

    3. With the improved selling skills, I went on to set up my own sales team to sell goods sourced from China (offline dropshipping) and at the same time I joined unit trust consultancy and did it for 1.5 years, gaining enough money along the way for me to move on to my next venture.

    4. Traded more in the stock market with the money I have earned from my previous hustles.

    Businesses I have started after graduating from college:

    1. Setting up an online job site (which failed to take off)
    2. Ran an advertising company for 3 years
    3. Operated a printing business for 4 years
    4. Ecommerce online sales since 2014 til now

  4. Reading this just made me realise that I have also been selling stuff/making money from a very young age. I was in primary school and there was this selling trend I got into: we were selling things made out of paper (I think it was bracelets or something really stupid). That was until our Principal found out and during the assembly banned the act of selling among one another within school compounds. Funny thing is my next gig was actually selling handmade jewellery in secondary school!

    Anyways, great post to read as always!

    1. If it makes money, it wasn’t stupid, it was identifying demand!

      That principal is a buzzkill lol.

      Thanks for sharing your experience Daphnee!

  5. I used to sell ‘agar-agar kering’ / a traditional malay delicacy that my mom made during my primary school. But the teachers said it was too pricey hahha and no one bought it. But I am very anticipate when it comes to business. And now I bake to earn a side income while working full time as analyst. I believe nothing comes easy and when you have passion, you just gonna go for it. Keep up the good work Suraya! Love your feed! ❤️

  6. Heys, sorry for the grammar Nazism but the ‘Did any of…’ in the last paragraph should be a ‘Were’, right?

    Anyways, really like your sharing. Keep it up.


    1. Hi Lars,

      The phrasing sounded conversational initially but now after re-reading it, I decided to reword the whole thing! No worries, I welcome grammar-related feedback. Helps me grow 🙂 Thanks for reading!

  7. I’m surprised there isn’t any PTX like “Paid to Surf” or “Paid to Click” in the list; I wasted so much time in those programs. Sadly some of them didn’t even pay me. 🙁

    1. Thanks so much for the kind words and sharing your article here, Josephine! Comments like yours motivate me to continue what I do <3

  8. Wow! I always love the ideas of how to make money fast and easily! But I noticed that you did not mentioned passive income apps like Honeygain. Yea, it wont make you fortune but it can make around $50 per month just by leaving this app running on your devices background 🙂 So basically this is an app that lets you sell your unused internet traffic via it. Plus, you can always use extra $5 coupon forumbee to reach their $20 minimum payment faster 🙂

    1. Hi Niko,
      I just googled Honeygain and it seemed… legit? Will do some more research on it. Thanks for sharing!

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