4 Money Making Tips I Wish I Knew Earlier

Making money is a type of high that is hard to describe. Seeing the numbers in your bank account grow is extremely, extremely satisfying.

As someone who is obsessed with personal finance, I read a lot of articles and books that give various money making tips. Here are some that weren’t immediately obvious, things that I wish I knew earlier.

#1 – You have to have (some) money first before you can invest it

It sounds so freaking obvious now, but when I first started, I didn’t know this.

I’m not alone too. I’ve seen people – usually young adults and teens – ask for investment advice in forums and social media, and they were surprised that you need money to start investing. It came as a rude shock to them.

So yup. Tip #1 is obvious to some but not to others*. You can’t make 10% annual ROI on RM0.

*I think it’s an environment thing. High-income families tend to have more conversations about business and investment.

#2 – Pick one to do first – Save money or earn money

Now that you know you need money to make money by investing, which is better to get that money in the first place: saving money or earning money?

Some people belong in the #savemoney team, others in the #earnmoney team.

Ideally, if you want to have more money, you should do both. But for many people, myself included, we’re naturally drawn to our ‘default’, whether its saving money or earning money.

I understand why. Doing both at the same time can be overwhelming. Some people are like, cook my meals at home AND work extra hours as a Grab driver? No thank you!

Knowing which one to do first – saving money or earning money – can be paralysing. That’s why I made this pro/con list to help you decide.

Saving Money: A Pro/Con List

Pros of Saving Money

  • Easy and intuitive to start. Just have to reduce ‘Entertainment’ spending, or simply stay home more often
  • Can be turned into fun lifestyle experiments. For example, reducing food budget by going on a cook-at-home vegan cooking challenge
  • As the quote goes, ‘It’s not how much you earn, it’s how much you save’, which is true.

Cons of Saving Money

  • Impossible to do if you’re not  currently earning any income (duh)
  • There’s only so much you can cut from your budget before all that’s left are essential items
  • Hard to sustain for people with legit shopping addictions or self-control issues
  • It’s hard to break some money-wasting habits. Easy example: smoking

Helpful articles to start saving money:

Earning Money: A Pro/Con List

Pros of Earning Money

  • Technically unlimited income potential
  • Easy to enter the gig economy and become a freelancer/independent consultant. Tons of opportunities
  • The opportunity to turn a hobby into a source of income
  • If done well, will bring amazing self-satisfaction and fulfilment.
  • Comes naturally for some people. Some get started simply because others know they’re good at the skill and get work requests (ie home cooking, doing home repairs, etc)

Cons of Earning Money

  • High-paying gigs are practically inexistent for unskilled and low-skilled individuals
  • Hard for people who don’t have: time, capital, equipment and/or contacts
  • Mindset matters. People with ‘fixed mindset’ tends to give up fast
  • If not done well, will affect relationships and health
  • Analysis paralysis – you don’t know what to do or where to start? Should you negotiate for a higher salary? Earn a side income? Which one? Picking one is hard

Helpful articles to start earning money:

My natural default is actually to save money. Personally, I’ve implemented money-saving tips and strategies first before I implemented strategies to earn more income.

As for you, look at the pro/con list, then decide and pick one for now. Later on, you can do the other one.

It doesn’t matter which road you take because the destination is the same – financial independence (hopefully).

#3 – When in doubt, try it out

Presently, I make the majority of my income from writing work.

I didn’t know I was going to make writing the main source of my income until I tried it out. At some point, I thought, okay, let’s just try to apply for this writing job, and see if it works.

I got lucky and it did. It spurred a chain of events leading to this blog creation and here we are today.

It’s not luck. I failed a lot before I hit jackpot with this one.

The last time I counted, I’ve tried over 20 ways to make money. I failed or discontinued most of them. That didn’t even include half-assed attempts.

Each failure was a lesson. Or like Thomas Edison puts it, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that don’t work.”.

Idk about you, but those ‘what success actually looks like’ images finally made sense.

#4 – Less talk, more action

You’ll have to excuse my bluntness in this section.

Here it goes: some people never make enough money because they complain a lot. They always, always have an excuse why they can’t do something instead of how they can.

The fact is, people who do what they have to do to make money don’t have the time to complain.

I know this because I am was a complainer. It’s a lot more under control now, but I still sometimes complain about complainers to close friends, because that’s me projecting my own issues and insecurities.

If I could go back in time, I wish I spent less time complaining and more time doing. The latter makes money. The former doesn’t.

Let me give you some examples:

  • Instead of complaining about the high cost of living, do more things to save and earn more money
  • Instead of complaining that salaries are low, learn high-value skills and switch to that industry
  • Instead of complaining that the government is not doing enough for your industry, make the proposals to create opportunities anyway

Please forgive me if I hurt your feelings. There’s a reason why I chose to write this just when Ramadan is coming. Get some extra pahala points for letting go of bad feelings.

Last thoughts

All four money making tips above were my own ‘aha’ moments. Did it make you ‘aha’ as well?

What additional tips would you add on? Leave them in the comments section.

As always, if you liked this article, share it around, thanks so much.

Author

6 comments

  1. Nice article Suraya.
    Classic advice on making money & keeping fit in simple terms are:
    “Earn more & spend less” (more input & less output) &
    “Workout more & eat less” (more output & less input)

  2. #5 Use credit card & e-wallet wisely. Don’t forget to compare price first before you buy.

    – Having credit card & e-wallet are like giving you superpower. With the cashback & vouchers given, you will save a lot of money (yes you do!). With the money saving, invest in fixed income to earn money! There you go, kill two birds with one stone ( save & earn)! Simple kan….

    1. Hi Ariff,

      Sometimes right, I can’t believe the range of price difference for the same item. For example my regular bottle of sunscreen. I’ve seen it sold anywhere from RM20ish to RM30ish!

      So yes. Always price compare, because the small leaks are sometimes bigger than one may think!

      Thanks for your great comment bro!

  3. Thank you! I really wish I knew this and was more diligent and prudent when I was younger. Just starting to become more conscious of my personal finances… sometimes I feel like I’m already too old, but that’s just another excuse lol. Signed up to your mailing list, looking forward to learning and practicing better personal finance! Thanks again, Strata!

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