1. How did you get started on educating people on personal finance?
I’ve been writing on the Internet for about 7 years now. Believe it or not, I used to write primarily about relationships (I still do sometimes). But over time, I branched out to other topics like culture, self-improvement, career and money.
It just so happens that my money articles are the most popular ones on my website – so I’ve continued to write about it. Hopefully it’s been helpful for everyone!
2. How did you personally get interested in personal finance as a topic and why?
I don’t remember exactly how I became interested in personal finance. All I know is that I spent a huge chunk of time, during my university days, reading about money-related topics on MSN (remember MSN?), Fool.com and KC Lau.
I still can’t tell you exactly why I love personal finance or money, just that it continues to fascinate me, and that I’m somewhat decent at it.
There’s so much more to learn – what a time to be alive!
3. Personal finance can be a boring topic. When creating your content, how do you keep topic of personal finance interesting?
No, personal finance is not boring :P (Okay, I realise I’m probably the odd one out here…)
But anyway, I try to write in the most simple, easy-to-understand way possible. Also, I try to share as many personal experiences as I can (otherwise what would be my value add?). And of course, good writing needs to have passion and emotion. If I can combine these few elements in an article, I’m happy.
4.Is there a particular website / platform you like to visit for financial advice?
General Malaysian-based advice: iMoney
International tough-love advice: Mr. Money Mustache
Mind-blowing ideas about money (though often not immediately-applicable advice): Morgan Housel at Collaborative Fund
Other than that, I also try to read as widely as possible from multiple sources. The algorithms at Twitter and Facebook do a good job of feeding me good content. ;)
5. What is the number 1 tip you tell your audience when they want to start managing their finances?
This is more of a general habit-building/procrastination-antidote, but it applies to personal finance too. Start with the smallest simple positive action, whether it’s downloading an expense tracker, visiting a robo-advisor website, or even scheduling a 15-minute chat with a friend who’s good with money.
The key here is that good actions lead to momentum which leads to further good actions. Just take that one simple step today (no matter what it is).
On the other hand, there’s no point if I give people the greatest money tip in the world, but it doesn’t lead to action or behavioral change.
6. Can you give me an example of a time in your life where you struggled with money?
About ten years back, I decided to take a leap of faith and leave my job for a new one. The problem was, if I quit the company I was working for (they sponsored my education), I would have to pay back a big sum of money. Well, I quit anyway and joined a new company. But now I had a huge student loan to repay. Thankfully, with some lifestyle changes, working hard, and time, I managed to pay off the debt completely.
7. What book or movie is a must for someone who wants to learn more in personal financing?
This should be “learn more about personal finances” right?
(Personal financing sounds like ‘how to take out a loan’).
Robert Kiyosaki’s Rich Dad, Poor Dad is a great place to start.
Ramit Sethi’s I Will Teach You To Be Rich is a brilliant book too.
Finally, a lot of people say Your Money or Your Life changed their lives. I personally didn’t enjoy it very much (likely because I already believe in the things they were writing about, and the writing style is a bit old-school), but it’s worth checking out too.
8. What is something that you were sceptical about when it came to your personal finance but ended up working anyways?
Nothing really. But something that continues to surprise me is how large the effects of compounding get over time. For anyone young out there, check on your EPF every once in a while. If you don’t touch it for long periods of time, how quickly it grows is really quite astounding.
9. What is the best advice ever you got for your own personal finance?
The simplest advice is also the best:
Spend less than you earn.
Save & invest the rest.
And let compounding over time do its magic.
10. Would you rather be good or lucky and why?
Luck is out of our control. But those who work hard to be good will do eventually do well (even if they’re unlucky a few times).
Also ego la – it’s a nicer story to tell that you achieved success against all odds.
In Addition …
Why do you think some people are lazy with the way they manage funds?
People are generally lazy. That’s just a fact of life. Time and energy are limited resources. And since most people don’t love finance the way you and I do, they’d rather spend their time and energy on Instagram or with their kids.
Do you believe are the young these days financially illiterate? And why?
Actually, I think the young are more financially literate compared to us when we were their age. Recent research shows that to be true:
But we still need to keep pushing financial education, so they don’t end up like some of their more unfortunate older brothers and sisters. Also, I think inspiring and stoking their interest in money matters – so they’re motivated to keep learning and growing.