The Best Personal Finance Summaries – 3 June 2019

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From Us

The different types of investment options in Malaysia
Ever wondered what investment options you have here in Malaysia? Well, here is the most comprehensive list available for you!

We're still writing this piece, but we figured that the ones that are done can be shared right away 🙂

Which one do you want to learn more about?

More Money Malaysia Facebook Group

Money in Daily Life

10 Simple Yet Life-Changing Personal Finance Strategies

One of my favorite segments in the talk is when I start talking about spending less, a segment that’s centered around “10 simple but life-changing personal finance strategies.”

  1. DON’T SHOP

    • The more time you spend in stores or restaurants or on e-commerce sites, the more likely it is that you’re going to spend money without intention.

    • It’s easy to solve this problem: Just don’t go to such places without specific intention.

    • If you do need something and have a reason to go, make a list first and know what you’re getting before you go so you can minimize your time spent there.

  2. LIVE SMALL

    • A small home is less expensive in terms of rent or mortgage.

    • It has much lower utility bills because there’s a lot fewer cubic feet to heat and cool and a lot less space that needs lighting. It also saves on home insurance.

    • Perhaps just as importantly, a smaller home puts an upper limit on how much stuff you can actually possess.

  3. REFRESH BILLS

    • Go through every single one of your recurring bills, re-evaluate whether you need them at all, shop around for better deals and/or renegotiate the ones you decide to keep.

    • You can do the same thing, more or less, with your other bills. Utilities. Insurance. Internet. Cellular service. Garbage collection. Your rent or mortgage. You get the idea.

  4. FIND YOUR FRIENDS

    • Find friends that care about doing things you’re interested in doing without spending money.

    • You should never have to spend money just to impress your friends, nor should you have to spend money just to hang out with them if it’s not something you specifically want to do.

    • I find that when I’m in situations where I’m most accepted for who I am and what I’m interested in, I’m far less prone to spend money just to keep up with others.

  5. AUTOMATE

    • Automate as much of your savings and financial progress as you can so that you’re not you’re not faced with constant choices between your short term desires and your long term goals.

    • The first and easiest step for many people is to just sign up for your workplace retirement plan. Don’t worry about making a “perfect” investment choice when signing up – just choose one that’s recommended or that makes sense to you.

    • Another great step is to start automatically transferring a small amount from your checking to your savings each week.

    • The overall goal here is to make it so that you’re not tempted to spend your retirement savings or your down payment savings or your kid’s college savings in an impulsive moment.

  6. COOK

    • The more meals you prepare for yourself at home, the better.

    • The more skilled you become at meal preparation, the easier it seems, and the more compelling it seems compared to eating out constantly.

    • There’s nothing wrong with eating out when it’s a special occasion. However, your default strategy should be to eat relatively low-cost meals prepared at home.

  7. BUY USED

    • When at all possible, buy used versions of items.

    • Ninety-five percent of the time, you won’t use the item nearly enough to warrant an upgrade or replacement – the contents of your closet are proof positive of that.

    • Sure, you might get a slightly shorter lifespan, but for many items we buy, that’s not going to make a significant difference, particularly when you’re buying it for a fraction of the new price.

  8. WEAR IT OUT

    • Once you do buy something, keep using it until it’s genuinely worn out and doesn’t function well.

    • Of course, part of the success of this rule comes down to maintaining your stuff.

    • You should also make an effort to repair items that are no longer working.

  9. BUY STORE BRANDS

    • The prices on store brand items are almost always significantly cheaper than the name brands and are often the same exact item in different packaging.

    • The only difference is you’re not paying for the marketing and advertisements of the more expensive version.

    • Store brands are a bargain. Make that bargain a consistent part of your shopping experience.

  10. BUY RELIABLE THINGS

    • When you’re buying something more expensive, spend the time to carefully research those purchases and aim for reliability, core functionality, and bang for the buck.

    • You want reliable items that will keep doing the job for many, many years. You want to focus on core functionality rather than lots of features you won’t use.

    • Even if you spend a little bit more to get a reliable item, it will pay for itself in that you won’t have to replace it for a very long time.

Passive Income Greater than Your Burn – This is How You Get Peace and Dignity

What is the definition of rich? When your Passive Income is Greater than Your Burn.

Top Line (Income) VS Burn Rate(Spending)

  • Young people should focus on their income and adults focus on burn.

  • Scott noticed that his close friend has a problem sleeping because his friend has a burn rate equals to his “top line” even though he earns $3.5 mil per year.

  • On the other hand, his father’s pension gives him $48,000 a year and his burn is $40,000 a year. By Scott’s definition, his father is Rich.

There is a real peace and dignity on being rich.

  • And rich can occur on $48,000 a year.

  • Adults should think about moving to less expensive, and to tamper with their expectations of the lifestyle they lead.

  • They should think about: How do I chart a path that I can get to in investments so that I will have a realistic passive income that is greater than my burn.

The Algebra of Happiness

  • In this podcast interview with Jordan Harbinger, Scott promotes his book The Algebra of Happiness: Notes on the Pursuit of Success, Love, and Meaning.

  • You can listen to his views on:

    • Our Caste System – Success is based upon a Caste System of which University and Network you subscribed to
    • How what made it possible for him is not available to this generation now (which again, shows how lucky he is)
    • Hunger and Passion
    • His very Viral Class Rule
    • His experience with the lack of money and lack of contacts, options resulted in him forming an opinion, and an unbalance chase for money and power
    • This obsessive entrepreneurship culture and the appeal of having a good job versus starting business

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Pros & Cons List of 5 Popular Investments in Malaysia

In this article, I’m going to give you a condensed but concise pros/cons list of five of the most popular investments in Malaysia: fixed deposits, mutual funds/unit trust, stocks, gold and properties/land. Why these five? Simple – because majority of us will start our investing journey with one of them first.

#1 – Fixed Deposit

  • Pros:

    • Easy to get. Many banks offer it.
    • Easy to compare rates. Many financial comparison platforms list rates from different banks.
    • Super super safe. Your initial capital is guaranteed.
    • Set-and-forget system. Pretty passive.
  • Cons:

    • Small return on investment. You’re lucky to get 4.x% ROI. Usually it’s 2-3.x%.
    • Your money is locked away for the duration. Cannot use for up to 5 years.
    • There are penalties if you do need to take out the money before the term is up.
  • Strategies:

    • Be realistic. Don’t chase the highest rates offered if you’re not sure you can spare the high minimum amount needed. Don’t lock it away for years unless you have a healthy-sized emergency funds.

    • Open a new fixed deposit every month/every 3 months/ every 6 months. Over time, you’ll always have FDs expiring every so often.

#2 – Mutual funds/Unit trust

  • Pros:

    • Instant diversification in your investment portfolio. Your mutual funds/Unit trust might have a mix of: stocks (of different markets), properties, precious metals, currencies and more

    • Suits different risk profiles. Can choose based on its risk level. The higher the risk, the higher the potential income.

    • Some mutual funds and unit trusts have tax benefits too. When filing taxes, don’t forget to deduct amounts contributed to EPF, PRS, SSPN* and investment-linked insurance products.

    • An investment in Tabung Haji specifically lets you queue up for haji.

  • Cons:

    • So. Many. Options. To. Choose. From.

    • Some are only available for Bumi folks (hi ASB)

    • You really have to check the fees offered by some financial institutions. Some can get pretty high.

    • The ROI is not guaranteed. As such, many people investing in high-risk growth funds especially have lost money here.

  • Strategies:

    • If you’re Bumi, definitely take advantage of the ASB loan if you can commit to the monthly payments.

    • If you’re non-Bumi, just get investment-linked insurance (for the insurance+tax benefit; usually higher fees) or ETFs instead.

    • Do take advantage of the mutual funds/unit trusts that can give you tax benefits.

    • You can take out a portion of your EPF money to invest in other unit trusts, or to buy property (whether you should is another matter. I vote no. Try not to disturb your retirement money)

    • Automate monthly contributions to your preferred mutual funds/unit trust and its as passive as it can get.

#3 – Stocks

  • Pros:

    • Super fun for people who like to read and do research. Lots of publications and seminars you can attend.

    • You get to choose to learn about the fundamentals, the technicals, or both.

    • As a shareholder, you get to attend AGMs and get nice doorgifts.

  • Cons:

    • Not so much fun if you have no interest in company news and updates, and macroeconomics in general.

    • You get the ‘what if’ syndrome. What if bought lower? What if sell higher? What if I waited? Why didn’t I sell then?

    • While lots of people made money on the stock market, don’t forget lots of people have lost money there, too.

  • Strategies:

    • If you like fundamental analysis, you’re suited for value investing and dividend investing strategies. Read those books and attend those talks.

    • If you also like technical analysis, you can potentially increase your ROI with warrants trading. Read those books and attend those workshops.

    • Except for rare events, don’t disturb your stocks after you buy them. Just hold them for the long term. Many people itchy fingers like to buy/sell too often.

    • Buy when others are selling, sell when others are buying.

#4 – Gold

  • Pros:

    • Historically holds value. Probably won’t go down to zero.

    • You can get them in physical and digital versions. Physical gold is quite fun because you can wear gold jewellery and start coin collections and pretend you’re a pirate.

    • You can also temporarily pawn physical gold to use as emergency money, and buy it back when you can.

    • But on the other hand e-gold is very practical and hard for thieves to steal.

    • Buy-and-forget type of investment. Pretty passive.

  • Cons:

    • Physical gold can be stolen.

    • And if it gets stolen, you might get hurt or your house might get broken into. Buy insurance.

    • Muslims are obligated to pay zakat on gold (over a certain amount). Google ‘zakat emas’ for more info.

  • Strategies:

    • The price fluctuates. Buy a little bit every month to average it out.

    • Remember that gold prices tend to go up when the stock markets are not performing well.

    • It’s probably not a good idea to make gold your only investment.

#5 – Properties/Land

  • Pros:

    • Big. Solid. Very satisfying to own.

    • You can earn from capital appreciation (the value of the property) AND rental income. The estimated annual ROI is 8% for properties in Klang Valley.

    • You can make any adjustments you want. Anything. A fireplace in Malaysia? Why not YOU OWN IT WHAT.

  • Cons:

    • Nothing about it is cheap. You need 10-20% of the property value as downpayment. You need to pay legal fees and stamp duties (some developers may waive this). You need to buy house insurance. That’s not including furniture, installing fixtures, renovations. So many things to pay for.

    • Becoming a landlord/landlady/Airbnb owner is no joke. It’s hard work.

    • You always need to have extra money for repairs and more renovations.

    • Harder to liquidate (turn back to cash) than other types of investments. It’s also not the best time to sell houses in Malaysia right now, there’s a housing oversupply.

  • Strategies:

    • The holy grail is to find tenants that can pay more in rent than the monthly mortgage.

    • You can outsource some work to agents (for rental) and AirBnB property management company (for AirBnB). It’ll cut into some profit, but it’ll save you a lot of time.

    • You can always opt for the least-hassle one, REITs. Think of it as the mutual fund version of properties.

3 Ways to Invest in the Economy

I’ll be up front with you, taxes aren’t fair to the average taxpayer. Instead of being an average taxpayer, become an above average taxpayer or super taxpayer. Here are 3 ways to invest in the economy and not be average:

Real Estate

  • Real estate is a tax-favored investment. In all countries, the government will pay you to invest in real estate.

  • On a $1 million property, your depreciation deduction should be about $100,000/year for the first several years. Assuming the cash flow and true net profit is $48,000, for tax purposes you have a loss of $52,000 ($48,000 less $100,000 depreciation).

  • Not only do you not have to pay tax on your $48,000 of cash flow (tax-free income), you can offset other income, such as business or investment income, with the $52,000 loss, so long as you are a professional investor.

  • In the 40% tax bracket, a $52,000 loss is worth $20,800 in fewer taxes on your business and investment income ($52,000 x 40%). The government is paying you over $20,000 to make the investment in real estate.

Oil & Gas

  • In the U.S., when you invest directly into an oil and gas-drilling project, you get to write off a large amount of your investment in the very first year.

  • On top of this, the U.S. government does not tax all of your income from the project. Only 85% of the income from the project is taxed, due to the 15% deduction you get for depletion.

Agriculture

  • Most countries provide significant tax breaks to those who engage in agriculture businesses.

  • Ethiopia, for example, exempts agricultural businesses from income taxes entirely for up to 9 years.

  • This is an investment by the government in your farm.

Cool Opportunities

BigPay – The Best Travel Credit Card for Malaysians?
If you ever travel out of Malaysia and use your credit card, then this is BIG (pun intended). AirAsia has released BigPay, a prepaid mastercard that you can easily top up through the BigPay app and be able to use instantly.

But more importantly, BigPay charges you at the real exchange rate (which means they charge no fees). This is something you won’t get if you were to go to your bank or some exchange counter.

In fact, I've already saved over RM 10,000 using this card (you can read about it in our BigPay Review)

Anyway, if you don’t have one yet, you can sign up for free and get RM10 free when you use referral code B7D3YNZPGO.

A way for females to get free insurance
We were talking to our super humble financial advisor friend one day and she started talking about some insurance product for females that provides coverage for all these female related illnesses. But more importantly, the contract also states that all the premiums will be returned at the end of the contract.

Seriously something for all females to consider!

Building a financial roadmap
For those who are lost when it comes to tracking your net worth and using it as a way to create the ideal life, this is something you should check out.

We have worked with a financial advisor to lead you through building your own financial roadmap by yourself online.

And if you want them to do it for you (at a huge discount), you can make the request as well.

Check it out here!

Talking to an Independent Financial Adviser
A big issue when you work with someone who calls themself a financial advisor is you do not know if they really have your best interest at heart. That’s one of the main reasons why I never work with any (the other one is that most of them get trained to say what the company wants and thus, do not know of all the other cool opportunities out there).

However, I’ve been talking to an independent financial adviser the last few months and I do believe that not only is she knowledgeable, but also super open to sharing her knowledge.

If you’re interested in talking to her, join our facebook group and ask your questions. She will definitely find time to pop by and answer them.