Suraya Zainudin is the brains behind RinggitOhRinggit - a popular finance blog here in MY.
Suraya is a Malaysian Millennial and RinggitOhRinggit chronicles her personal finance journey. In a recent interview, she answered some of our burning questions about her money habits.
Continue reading to see what she said.
1. How did you get started on educating people on personal finance?
I don’t educate, I share.
Educating others on personal finance is not my intention, nor is it my burden. However, I can see how the sharing process is educational for others, when they see how exactly I implement personal finance advice in my own life.
I turn abstract, vague advice (ie: save money) into actionable steps.
I’ve shared personal finance content for years. At first anonymously, then since Dec 2015, publicly at ringgitohringgit.com.
2. How did you personally get interested in personal finance as a topic and why?
I can’t pinpoint an exact event or book - personal finance has always been a topic I’m interested in, and how I make sense of the world. Michio Kaku once wrote that he sees the world in numbers, and how it’s always been like that for him. Likewise.
3. Personal finance can be a boring topic. When creating your content, how do you keep the topic of personal finance interesting?
You say boring, I say fascinating.
Personal finance is such an intersectional topic. You can view any other topic with that angle.
For example: food.
Why are some ingredients more expensive than others? What meals and cooking methods have the best bang for the buck, nutritionally speaking? How do we factor in hidden costs, like health, environmental damage and cultural impact to the food we consume?
It’s fascinating to know how our financial choices affect not just us, but to the overall global economy and global trends as well.
4. Is there a particular website/platform you like to visit for financial advice?
Flipboard (set topic: personal finance)
5. What is the number 1 tip you tell your audience when they want to start managing their finances?
“Track your expenses …
you are what you spend on”
Track your expenses, probably.
What you choose to spend your money on reflects your values. Tracking expenses is the process to uncover those values. They might like what they discover about themselves, or they may not. For example, they might say that they value strong relationships with friends and family, but their expenses reveal that they actually value something else a lot more (ie: a hobby).
To start your expense-tracking journey, see my writeup on it here
You are what you spend on.
6. Can you give me an example of a time in your life where you struggled with money?
I’ve never struggled with money (worked since I was 17), but I have struggled with my parents’ struggle with money.
I’ll be honest and say that I grew up as a spoiled, privileged child. My parents were well-off and generous with their money. Once, my dad took us out from school and flew us to New Zealand because of the haze!
During uni, I found out that their funds dried up, and has been for a while. My parents tried to maintain their generosity to the best of their ability - they took their role as a provider seriously - but hinted how we could no longer afford certain things, before eventually giving flat ‘no’s’ to financial requests from myself and my siblings. I can see how it pains them to do that, how they see it as a failure on their part.
It shocked me. They are great parents - their love is enough, but they didn’t think so. I feel bad for being oblivious to their financial struggles.
7. What book or movie is a must for someone who wants to learn more in personal financing?
If to learn about a particular investment, then find the subject matter expert. For example, Azizi Ali is great for property investment in Malaysia.
If for someone just getting started with personal finance, then something mindset-related is good. Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki.
8. What is something that you were sceptical about when it came to your personal finance but ended up working anyways?
Being self-employed. It’s been three years now. I’m still surprised.
9. What is the best advice ever you got for your own personal finance?
Fk-you funds is seriously the best thing ever. Otherwise known as short-term emergency savings. It allowed me to get out of situations I hated. I’ve quit depressing jobs because I have that financial security.
10. Would you rather be good or lucky and why?
I’d rather be good and make my own luck. Although hitting the birth lottery and born in a wealthy family doesn’t sound too bad either.
Bonus info …
What are you working on now?
I’m working on a few writing projects (my main source of income), as well as actively growing passive income through some projects. One of them is a personal finance book, due out in January 2019 hopefully - see updates on Ringgit Oh Ringgit FB page!.
Another is a deal-finding platform for Malaysians, BestDealsMalaysia.com.
If you haven’t checked out yet, we highly recomend you do so, NOW!