Like many people around the world, I’m disappointed by Trump’s win in the U.S. elections. Personal reasons aside, what’s done is done. But as it stands, the ripple effect of Trump’s presidency will be felt worldwide, even for us Malaysians who literally live halfway across the world.
My personal opinion is that Trump’s selfish
America-first privileged white people-first economic plan won’t work, and even if it did, it would be to the expense of the rest of us global citizens. A group of 370 economists – including not one, but eight Nobel-prize winners think that his plan is crap, too.
Still. If we can’t change his plan, we can still plan around it, until a better U.S. president comes along. This is how I plan to manage my money during Trump presidency for the next four years. I divided this post into three aspects of money management: spending, investing and earning money.
1. I will buy less American products produced by large corporations. I can’t vote as a non-American, but dammit I can vote with my money. Unless the product or service is ethical and made by smaller companies, I
won’t will try not to buy it. The richest 1% of America will see their tax rates reduced under Trump administration. No sense of me contributing to their already vast wealth.
Goodbye, Coke Zero
and L’Oreal (still a filthy rich family, but a French family, so they pass on a technicality) and MAC Cosmetics (owned by Lauder family). Nice knowing you.
2. Buy more Malaysian products and services. Malaysians are financially struggling. Ringgit went down again. I really want to support Malaysian businesses, this time around, by replacing ‘branded’ shops and restaurants with local shops and restaurants.
Today I really wanted KFC. I stopped myself. I had Mi Tarik Warisan Asli instead. This is one of my favourite restaurants now.
I want to give shoutouts to these local Malaysian startups:
- GrubCycle – sells surplus products at cheaper price
- Babylon Vertical Farm – indoor and sustainable farming
- ResQ – allows people to buy leftover food from restaurants that was going to be thrown away
- PopTani – sells aquaponic tanks, where fish and plant can sustainably coexist together and even produce food
3. Buy less. If I must buy, then get upcycled, used and second hand products. A climate change denier, Trump will be awful for the environment. I don’t want that on my conscience. As much as possible I will only buy stuff if I need them, and look for used options first.
For example, I’m moving houses and in need of furniture. I can’t wait to show you guys the pallet furniture I commissioned, made from discarded wood. (I’m having trouble getting chairs though. Do you have any that you want to sell? My budget is RM50 per chair. I can pick up in Klang Valley).
I also have the biggest crush on Biji Biji bags, made from discarded materials.
4. Try not to buy things with excessive packaging. This is hard because I love the individually packed seaweed sheets and the individually packed sheet masks 🙁 I guess I can make this sacrifice. I also aim:
- Not to buy any canned/bottled drinks when I go out
- Not to buy plastic bags/ don’t take it when offered if I don’t need it
- To bring my water bottle, umbrella and big bag with me, everywhere
- Not to start any ‘collection’ (perfume, bags, scarves, etc)
5. Eat less meat and drink more water. One of the best things for the environment and our health, so this one is a win-win. I’m going to try to not eat beef, especially, from now on. Did you know that cow farts are really, really, REALLY bad and greatly contribute to global warming?
6. Continue using enzyme products. I was introduced to this a couple of years ago during a visit to a park. Eco enzyme is made from fruit scraps and can be turned to many types of cleaning products. My compact bottle of enzyme laundry detergent lasted for more than a year (I saved money!), better than the other products you find in supermarket (I remember when I have to buy it every few months, so annoying and heavy). It cleans as well as the conventional stuff, minus the chemicals (good for households with babies!).
EN Nature Sdn Bhd is a little-known company that distributes these products. Aside from laundry detergent, they also have household products like multi-purpose cleaner, dishwashing liquid, floor cleaner, and beauty products (have not tried).
7. Actively seek to replace disposable plastic and paper products in my life. For example, I would love to replace my toothbrushes to eco-friendly versions. Anyone know where I can buy this?
I know I won’t be making a big dent. Heck, I don’t think I’ll make even a small dent. But dammit I’ll try.
Note: I’m not a financial advisor. Take this section with a pinch of salt. In fact, a jar of salt.
Markets thrive in stable conditions. This is one of the economic foundations that you must know. When the whole 1MDB fiasco broke out, I understood why Najib did what he did – assure the people that things are fine and good, even when it’s really not. He was doing damage control. Billions of foreign investments left Malaysia during that time. Businesses don’t like countries that are not stable – politically or otherwise. It was actually quite a significant blow to our growth.
If Trump, as a president, keeps on making threats (then taking it back, because he kinda lies a lot), rub the Millennial generation the wrong way, and cause a hostile environment for non-American job seekers, that will 1) halt companies’ progress as they don’t know how the heck they should strategise, 2) cause brain drain and 3) reduce the number of qualified, smart people seeking employment in the U.S. It’s a vicious cycle, as you can’t make great companies without great people.
I think that America will prosper in the short term, but will go through a great recession afterwards. The whole world will feel it, as the damage is not only monetary, but also environmentally. We already have climate change refugees – people who flee rapidly-disappearing islands – and they won’t be the last. I won’t be surprised if Trump starts new wars, too (to be fair, America likes its wars no matter who serves as president). I’m sure there’s more, but even with these two reasons, I think his destructive policies are going to trigger the biggest human migration activity in history.
So here’s my plan for investment.
1. Still keep bitcoin as my main investment. RM inflation is inevitable and that sucks, but I’ll still contribute to EPF and PRS for the tax benefits. Oil prices are going to be super volatile – Trump plans to drill more oil so I can’t imagine the additional supply will be good for our RM. EUR, GBP, YEN all went down so I might diversify and buy some of them while they’re cheap, because these are still stable countries. Stocks will be volatile, I think, but I’m not the best person to give this commentary. Property, hmm, I will only buy property if the cost is 3-5 times my annual income, not more than that (here 10x annual income and more is the norm, it’s scary).
2. I’ll invest in my health. Because healthcare is only getting more and more expensive. At least now that TPPA is not likely to happen, we Malaysians won’t have to pay expensive medication that’s price-controlled by American pharmaceutical companies, so that’s good? Idk.
3. Take a closer look at what EPF, PRS and my other investments invest on my behalf. As much as possible I don’t want my money to go towards industries I don’t support, like oil & gas and unsustainable development.
1. Keep earning in USD and other currencies. Ringgit is low, and will keep being low for the time being, I don’t see it bouncing back anytime soon. Since I looked for employment outside of Malaysia, I’ve at least doubled my income. Malaysians, sell your products and services to the global market, if you can. Our disposable income is getting smaller and smaller and you can only earn so much if you only sell to Malaysians.
2. Increase my passive income from this blog. Currently it’s about $10-$15 per month from Adsense and about $100 a month for ads. I get some sponsored posts here and there too (see my sponsored posts on retirement here and here).
How will you tweak your money during Trump presidency?
What do you plan to do? Will things stay the same, or will it be better or worse for you? Let me know in comments 🙂
You know, I wish Trump will fail spectacularly on his promises and end up being a good president. I really do.