How do members of the Malaysian personal finance community first get interested in personal finance? What sparked this fascination for money management?
I was curious, so I asked that question during a mini-forum in Ringgit Oh Ringgit FB page one day.
The answers were as varied as you’d think. They were so interesting, I reached out and asked if I could compile them here. Here you go – why Malaysians got interested in personal finance, in their own words.
#1 – From the school of life
Hafiz Mansur – Growing up, I took many of the things I had for granted. When things took a turn for the worse, the realisation that I might not have enough money to eat really forced me to take my personal finances seriously.
In retrospect, I am glad it happened. This led me to vow to do everything that I can to avoid from falling into financial ruin again. I now spend a lot of my time reading personal finance articles, and I especially love reading localised articles and blogs, such as RoR.
(Suraya’s note: Thank you 🙂
Nur Hidayah Abu Bakar – (I got interested in personal finance) from being hardcore poor while growing up
Emily Piuk – (I got interested in personal finance) from watching how my parents struggling financially. I also saw how some of my peers who just spend money on whatever struggled like me. I wanted to figure out how to not stay struggling forever.
Vincent Muthu – (I got interested in personal finance from) my need for money as I left the safety of PaMa fundings.
Lee Thean Seng – (I got interested in personal finance) when I started working and realised that I need to generate more income because fresh grad salary sucks! Then I researched more and keep updated on other forms of investment
Loh Chuan Tuck – (I got interested in personal finance) when I need to climb out from the hell hole of debts. My story is, I bought my car Ford Fiesta with my first salary, which I thought was perfectly fine as a single male staying with parents.
Soon after I get married, we needed to buy our first home. The house downpayment put us straight into about RM60K of debts. Being financially illiterate at that time, I soon realised that our income can hardly make it out. I also used up my personal loans quota to start a business, and also took the maximum credit limit of RM12K with credit card.
Yes, I am drowned and in despair, but I know I can find a way out. I learned about all the different kinds of loans including loan sharks and licenced money lenders, credit cards, financial assistance, business grants etc. In the end, I resorted to AKPK to consolidate and minimise my monthly commitment, negotiate with banks to refinance loans, learn to live frugally and armed with a whole lot of financial and business knowledge.
I was desperate but my wife has never been. She supported me to go climb down the bottomless hole, and even though we are basically stretched out to reduce monthly commitment, I can now see the light is becoming brighter.
Nabila Hassanah – (I got interested in personal finance) from doing petty jobs at a young age and having to pay for my own wants, not needs. I did cheap facials, massage, babysitting, cooking, dishwashing, anything for some money
(Suraya’s note: There were more people who basically said they learned about personal finance because they just had to, it’s part and parcel of adult life. Sorry I couldn’t put everyone on this list.)
#2 – From parents
Ann Sinden – (I got interested in personal finance) from my parents. Developed it naturally at a very young age.
My mom is a saver while my dad is a spender. Because of that difference, they always fought. As a child, I observed and tried to figure out what was actually the root cause – financial mismanagement. I’m glad that I inherited my mom’s money gene.
Loke Vincent – (I got interested in personal finance from) my mum. As well as the fear of having no money at all in the bank account.
Linvest Linnet – (I got interested in personal finance from) my parents and my CFP facilitators. Eternally grateful to all of them.
Sara Razz – (I got interested in personal finance from) my mom. She used to work at Bank Negara and gave me this little buku wang saku to track my expenses!
Nadira Naima – (I got interested in personal finance from) my parents. They are both auditors and from a very young age I was trained to jot down all my expenses, so that before bedtime I can report it to my father. He will key in everything in Microsoft Money software. His exact words to me “1 sen pun kena kira!”
(Suraya’s note: There were more people who credited their parents. Sorry I couldn’t put everyone on this list.)
#3 – From spouse / family members
Amirah Nazarudin – (I got interested in personal finance from) my husband. He started reading Robert Kiyosaki’s book and taught me a lot. My husband likes to read his interesting books then shared the conclusions with me.
Yap Yun Kee – (I got interested in personal finance from) my relative. My cousin recommended me to learn about financial literacy because we were entering adulthood. They recommended Rich Dad, Poor Dad and your page for beginner understanding
(Suraya’s note: There were more people who credited their family members, including but not limited to cousins, in-laws, and I would add good friends here too. Sorry I couldn’t put everyone on this list.)
#3 – From studies/work
Zarinah Mohd Yusoff – (I got interested in personal finance) from being forced into Certified Financial Planner class when I was in Permodalan Nasional Berhad in 2002.
CFP came to Msia in 1999 and PNB was one of the founding members. So the staff were “forced” to take up the Certification. After completing it, I appreciate the opportunity very much. It was good.
Mohd Nuruddin Abd Manap – Since I joined as a staff of Knowledge Economic City (KEC) in Saudi Arabia, I have learned many things, including their excellent financial management strategy. The Saudis are very smart in managing the money: always invest, invest, invest and invest!
Archibald Frankie Undam – (I got interested in personal finance) from my daily job. When I started my banking job, I didn’t have a proper department and reported directly to the Branch Manager. Unlike my colleagues, who had specific tasks – sales, current account, remmitance and so on – I was doing a lot of things and thrown here and there.
I found that I like to talk to people, give ideas and decided maybe the sales line would be a good fit for me. From there, I developed that passion for personal finance and started to read more books on it. The first book I read, I Can Teach You How To Be Rich by Ramit Sethi (I think), helped me a lot in striking conversation with clients.
Zahidah Mokhtar – (I was) forced into a management training program to be a financial consultant. I never became one. But the knowledge stayed and passed on to family and friends.
The story goes like this. I studied BBA marketing at UiTM . It was common for companies to approach the school for management training program. Our dean recommended 12 of us to undergo the MA training program during one of the semester breaks.
During training we learned about various type of insurance, using and maximising overdrafts in investment, managing personal expenses, and making retirement planning using easily available financial products such as ASNB, KWSP and unit trust.
At the end of the programme, we were to sell unit trust and insurance but I did not pursue the line as my career. However the experience led me to buy an insurance policy on my first salary. I started looking into my spending, and made adjustments to cut unnecessary expenses and save 10% of salary every month. I also started investing.
#4 – From books and personal finance websites
Muhammad Amar Hasshim – (I got interested in personal finance) from a book I read, Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki. I’m a lazy person to start with and I don’t want to be working till 65.
Although my dream is to retire by 35-40 ish, I didn’t know that is possible until I read the book. Although not much, I started doing little things where I can earn passive money so my dream to retire before 40 is achievable.
(Suraya’s note: At least two other people mentioned reading this book, a few others mentioned RoR. Thank you, I appreciate it)
#5 – From a personal desire
Jasbir Kaur – (I got interested in personal finance) from my love for travelling. I needed to multiply my money so that I could travel more frequently. So I read a lot of books related to investments and finance.
Stev Yong – (I got interested in personal finance) from having nerdy pipe dreams of how much would I need to place in FDs that I would never have to work again!
I was a teenager then and now been on this personal finance journey until today. While I still have some FD, I’m continually learning to improve my personal investment plan and asset allocation.
Sherinaz Basree – You, my then dying folks, and my late mom’s worry about being dependant on others. Mainly I don’t want to menyusahkan others.
Neutrals Fong – Firstly it came about idolising the rich people, and finally learnt that these people are good at personal finance which brings them there
Syaza Nazura – Since I started working part-time (during studies) and wanted to save up money for my travels in the States.
Personal thoughts about these sharings
Getting these answers really challenged my assumptions about personal finance interest.
For example, I actually thought that personal finance topic is more like a ‘you can bring a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink’ situation – I thought you can’t force people to be interested in it if they’re not ready. But apparently, you *can* force people to like it if its part of their job or study requirements!
Another assumption busted is the role of parents. Your answers showed that you can take ownership over your own financial life regardless whether your parents were good OR bad with money. If they were good, you’ll inherit good money habits. If they were bad, you’ll want to learn personal finance so you won’t end up like them.
Some answers were also fascinating in its vagueness, kind of. I had trouble categorising a couple – should this fit under school of life, or should it fit under parents, or should it fit under books?
But somehow I think I can relate to this vagueness. I personally don’t know – or at least, can’t pinpoint – where *my* interest in personal finance came from. Maybe it’s a combination of multiple sources, and that’s okay too.
But anyway. Thanks again to everyone who shared their answers. Now I want to hear from the rest of you – how did you become interested in personal finance? How’d you end up on this website?
I’m super curious, so share YOUR reasons in the comments section, please!