How much should you earn to be considered ‘financially OK’

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I talk to my Dad sometimes about financial stuff. For fun, I asked what amount people my age should be earning to be considered ‘doing financially well’.  In short,  what figure is a ‘good income’.

He said RM10-15k a month for single people, and people who have families need more. What.

I nodded to look cool but inside I’m like,  “wtf Dad got meh people pay that much nowadays??” followed by internal screaming and slight pangs of depression over my actual income right now. For the record, I’m earning ok as a freelance writer. I’m just not pulling 5 figures (yet!)

To him, this is not even a luxury lifestyle, just a normal life without stressing over money. And maybe a trip or two a year. And covered in insurance. You know, a comfortable amount.

At first I was annoyed by my Dad’s figure,  but then I started calculating my ideal income amount per month. For me,  it would probably be…  RM20k a month? If I earn more than that I won’t know what to do with it tbh.

Breakdown: RM2.5k for accommodation (includes bills, the fastest internet,  insurance, damn nice mattress, occasional cleaning service, fixes if something ever goes wrong etc),  RM5k for monthly savings, RM3k to add to a car fund (I like the idea of paying my car in full, no interest), RM2k towards travel fund, RM1k to be fully protected with insurance, RM3k for parents, RM1.5k to just donate or give as presents, RM1k for food and going out, and another RM1k for just whatever else I need (toothpaste and stuff).

But I’m also comfortable at what I’m earning now,  so idk, it’s very hard to say. I’m grateful with my income but at the same time a part of me is like, dammit Suraya why are you not earning more?? Its a very dangerous thought.

How much do you guys think a mid-20s professional in Kuala Lumpur should be earning? Note that I say ‘should be earning’,  not is actually earning. All of us wants to earn as much as possible, but if you have to give a number to that,  what would it be?

I’d love to hear your own amount, and your breakdown. Comment here, on FB,  or on Twitter okay!

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17 comments

  1. Get your Dad to give you some advice on how to attain that income.
    …what dads are for!

    Then work on it, try new things, think outside the box.

    1. With that “confortable” RM20k a month salary, I can assure you that you will not be able to close your eyes even for a second to rest.

  2. Your dad have very high standard of living! For me, RM6,000 is enough to live comfortably with free housing. Breakdown – 1k transportation, 1.5k food, 1.5k fun money, 1k savings, 1k for everything else. Of course, I don’t fancy branded bags. I guess one should earn at least RM10,000 if they do.

    1. Is it? Well he raised 5 children, so I understand where he’s coming from. I appreciated his input – I’m too comfortable in my income bracket now and I need to hustle more for my future!

  3. Hi Suraya

    Just stumbled across your blog recently and I’m someone in my late 20s and my ideal income at this point in time would be about 15-18k. I earn half that almost and whilst it is a very good wage for someone my wage and given that I technically work only 30 hours a week (I spend 10-20 hours a week at home preparing for my week), KL is such an expensive city (definitely need a car/insurance/filial money/eating out), basic necessities is taking up most of my wage as is, and seeing how cheap it is to travel these days dont help either ! Love your blog by the way! Keep up the good work.

    1. Hey Doz,

      I know what you mean. People think that RM5k and above is a good salary, but if you think of all the necessities it’s barely enough! You have a good number to aim for. Mine is RM10k/month now. At first it was daunting but now that I got used to the idea I can never go back to RM3-4k salary!

      Thanks for the compliments, too!!

  4. Omg, this is crazy! I don’t know how people live in KL. Personally, I’d love to, but it’s so expensive! I live in Penang (at home, of course, jimat a bit), and my ideal income would be bout RM 10k. I earn half of that atm, but I’m finding that it’s a very comfortable life, as long as I don’t have to move out of my family home (deal with that later).

    Current reakdown: RM 500 for parents (ideally RM 1k when I earn more), RM 800 for food, RM 200 oil/gas, RM 500 miscellaneous, and everything else for savings.

    1. It’s expensive but there are ways to save 🙂 I lived in the heart of KL with just RM3500 salary last time. Stressful but can la.

      I like your breakdown, shows how much you value good food 😛 Me too haha

      1. My parents are currently earning RM60k per month (9-5 job). Still struggling as they want the best education for me and my siblings. *sigh*

  5. I do follow yr blog for a few years while searching about PRS, which i have yet to set up.

    My current target before 30 years is to earn RM10k/ month. I manage to make 50% from raw salary, but with OT i can make another 15%. I try to save almost 50% salary every month.

    I have some investment returns but those are not much currently. I think a good way is to drive for Uber/Grab on weekends. My friend tells me he makes around RM1k profit from driving casually. I have to try this soon. Another way is to start selling things on Lazada or Carousel, but i dont know what to sell yet.

  6. Lets calculate it the corporate way. Assumption you start work at 22 y/old which i think is average age for a degree holder in Malaysia, you get one promotion every 2 years (whether in the same company or you jump jobs to get a pay hike- which i personally think is a achievement if you work for big FMCG/Corporates in KL (Think Nestle, L’Oreal etc), and those years you did not get a promotion, you get 5-6% increment to adjust inflation.

    Assumption the best case scenario, you work for a big corporate and your starting pay is RM 3,500 (would be maybe 2.5-3k if you work for smaller firms).

    Year 1 – 22/y old – RM 3,500 Executive
    Year 2 – 23/y old (+6%) – RM 3,710 Executive
    Year 3 – 24 y/old (+20% promotion) – RM 4,452 Senior Executive
    Year 4 – 25 y/old (+6%) – RM 4,719 Senior Executive
    Year 5 26 y/old (+20%) – RM 5,663 Asistant Manager
    Year 6 – 27 y/old (+6%) – RM 6,003 AM
    Year 7 – 28 y/old (+20%) – RM 7,203 Manager
    Year 8 – 29 y/old (+6%) – RM 7,635 Manager
    Year 9 – 30 y/old (+20%) – RM 9,163 Senior Manager
    Year 10 – 31 y/old (+6%) – RM 9,712 Senior Manager
    Year 11 – 32 y/old (+20%) – RM 11,655 Group/Regional Manager

    If you follow the normal route, you can only hit 5 figures after 10 years (and that is with the best case assumption you get 6% yearly increment year on year for years you dont promote, you promote once every 2 years which is rare and you get 20% raise per promotion, which is also hard to get. With that, congragulations you can earn your first 5 digits after 10 years of working if you choose the corporate route.

    Which is a key reason i quit corporate and join a newly formed company. I worked hard, and this is only my 4th year of working, and my base is RM 7,500, with allowances of RM 900, and with commision, able to hit up to 14,000 per month. Thus, general advice is take the road less taken, take the risk and you will be rewarded well. Other way is of course start your own business, but if you dont have enough capital or connections, find a start up, show the owner you can find money for him/her, and surely you will be rewarded 🙂

    1. Hey AC,

      Thanks for your comments. The salary projections – that’s what tends to happen if you stay in the same company, isn’t it? Job-hopping to better-paying jobs is a better strategy, it seems. Certainly worked for you. It doesn’t pay to be loyal nowadays!

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