Malaysia’s Emerging Personal Finance Bloggers on Ringgit, Savings & More!

Everyone loves talking about money, but how many people love talking about money in truly meaningful ways? I’m talking about the majority of us who should be schooled more on how to be responsible bearers of ‘currency’ (or ‘Ringgit’, in my local language). Those of us who don’t need more tips on how to spend it on our tenth pair of heels or another tech gadget, but require practical strategies on how to save and make the most of our life earnings, when and where it matters most.

In my college years, I bought a book called “Saving for Dummies,” at a time when I wanted to budget and buy a home for my parents and was nowhere near my goal! When we consider ourselves dummies at certain things, it’s easier to learn and I picked up so many basic tips from that simple yellow book that I continue to practice till today. Central to CurrenSeek’s existence itself is ‘savings’, making the most of your hard-earned travel money. Not exchanging it willy-nilly at any money changer just for convenience sake, but knowing that research and scouting for the best rates is key to saving—up to 10 to 30% in most cases, and even a whopping 200% in extreme ones!

In this exclusive tribute to savings, we took the opportunity to catch up on a more personal level with the lovely finance blogger and founder of Ringgit Oh Ringgit, Suraya Zainudin, who confesses to having the biggest soft spot for Malaysian homegrown FinTech companies. Here’s snippets of our interview with her:

Tell us about your passion for personal finance and how that led to you starting Ringgit Oh Ringgit? In short, what inspired you?

Honestly, it was started because there was a lack of personal finance websites in Malaysia (emphasis on ‘personal’). I wanted to read about personal accounts, good and bad and all. Not one-sided tips and advice (as great as they are), I wanted personality behind it. I was searching and searching around for years, couldn’t find exactly what I was looking for, got fed up and decided to start my own. In the 8 or so months since Ringgit Oh Ringgit was born, slowly people started coming in and followed me in my financial adventures, so to speak. It’s been fun. It’s a topic that I honestly love. I wish I started sooner.

We love the name by the way! How did you come up with that?

It was a play on the children’s song ‘Bangau oh Bangau‘. I made lyrics for it and everything. It goes like:
Ringgit oh ringgit / Kenapa engkau sikit / Macam mana engkau tak sikit / Spending engkau lebih (2x)

Wow, that chimes with rhyme! Describe, in your own opinion, Malaysians’ attitude to money?

Based on the feedback I received from Ringgit oh Ringgit audience, apparently we are not taught enough about money management. Many people self-confessed to me that they were inspired to look after their finances more after reading my blog, so I think the default general attitude is passive money management rather than active.

Furthermore, there’s an impression that access to credit is a right, rather than a privilege. We have call centers begging us to take more credit cards and more loans. We can’t go to malls or take the LRT without bumping into at least one credit card agent. It’s unsustainable and why we hear so many young people getting in so much debt. Our income potential is only so much on a good day, and we’re hit by so many factors outside our control that the system (of preying on young people to take more and more loans) has to collapse on itself at some point.

What would you want to see more of in the Malaysian personal finance industry?

I would love to see more shift towards accepting frugality and self-sustainability as core values. A reduce in consumption will do many of us good. I would also like to see the industry embracing the minimalism movement. I’d like to see companies promoting more quality, long-lasting local products that will last longer than what we usually have in the market (China stuff, usually). I am a big advocate of ‘buy less but more quality’ instead of ‘buy more but less quality’, although in real life I still have to practice what I preach more often!

Any thoughts on CurrenSeek? And what other apps/digital tools you think is a must-have where personal finance management and saving is concerned?

I wish I knew about CurrenSeek before going for my Krabi holiday! I haven’t had the chance to use it yet, but I love the disparity feature. It really does show how the varied the rates are in the market. I use Money Lover App to track my expenses—a big reason why I promote this app is because it was made from our ASEAN buddy Vietnam.

I also use Wirex app to keep my bitcoin investment, as well as my USD account. I’m one of those people who think ringgit will devalue further so I keep some of my money in other currencies. Also, the good ‘ol calculator helps me to calculate stuff when I go shopping. I like to calculate cost per volume and stuff like that. Shopping with me is a big pain.

Thanks for the handy tips. What other Malaysian personal finance personalities would you recommend we follow to stay money savvy? (Source: Ringgitohringgit.com)

Mr Stingy – Features life improvement articles, including how he cleverly manages his finances. Read how he paid off his RM58k in education loan here.
Gen X Gen Y Gen Z – He uses, compares, and ranks credit cards available to Malaysians. His top 10 best credit cards for 2016 came out!
Champdog – A Malaysian who moved to Australia. He shares his financial journeys there. Not especially relevant to me, but perhaps can help others in the same boat.
Dividend Magic – Personal posts about the stocks he personally owns, the dividends he received, and some helpful explanation of terminologies!
Ariff Shah – Malay-language blogger. Good information for inspiring first-time homeowners.
Chok Leong – Talks about his stock picks, shares, dividends, ETF, commodity prices (oil and gas), companies in Malaysia. I liked this article on how he opened a US account to get access to US ETF (exchange-traded funds) as a Malaysian.

Hope you enjoyed this special piece on a topic we’re passionate about: SAVINGS! If we missed any other must-follow local finance bloggers, please tell us in the comment box below.

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