Money Journals is a new series here at Planner Bee where Malaysians and Singaporeans reveal their inner financial lives – what they’re making, how much they spend, and how money works for them.
Our first Money Journal detailed 26-year old Kang’s journey in carving a career out of fitness, property and investments.
In this second instalment, we meet 33-year old Malaysian Ming. She’s gone from an auditing job, to selling insurance, and is now running her own business.
Balancing 4 different incomes on her plate
Ming started out her career in numbers, plunging full-time into a grueling auditing job right after
graduating with her ACCA qualification (Association of Chartered Certified Accountants). After three years in auditing, she branched out into insurance where she spent the remainder of her twenties.
At 33, Ming’s work encompasses a variety of different pursuits, from managing her family business to multiple ventures of her own.
1. Managing the family business
Tackling the topic of family business succession isn’t always easy. It’s estimated that 70% of family businesses won’t survive into the 2nd generation, and 90% won’t make it to the 3rd generation.
It’s a good thing then, that the family factor is important for Ming. With her wealth of background in finance, she manages the operations and accounting aspects of the business. Her family business in rubber trading and manufacturing sees her taking care of exports, liaising with clients from the United States all the way to Europe, and moving anywhere between 2 – 3 cargo containers at a time.
The Covid-19 pandemic, however, has grounded a lot of shipments. It’s been over a year of Malaysia’s intermittent Movement Control Orders (MCO). However, Ming’s monthly salary of RM9000 hasn’t been affected as the company continues to receive orders despite shipments being temporarily delayed.
2. A career in insurance
After spending the majority of her twenties tirelessly building up a solid foundation with her clients, Ming is grateful to be generating a steady stream of referrals and renewals today.
She fondly recalls achieving her first MDA (Million Dollar Agency) after 3 – 4 years in the industry. The accolade is given out to insurance agents and financial advisors who achieve a specific yearly figure in their commission, income, and premiums.
While all her business ventures were negatively impacted in one way or another by the pandemic, her insurance income was the only one which saw positive gains, as the pandemic drove up the need for life insurance among Malaysians. The income she derives from insurance is approximately RM3,000 per month.
3. A joint venture in property management
In late 2019, Ming and three of her friends decided to start a new adventure in the property space. Together, they created SpeedSewa, a service offering property management and rental solutions.
To date, they have 45 room rentals across the Klang Valley, many primarily targeting the working crowd. Then came the pandemic, and skies started looking a little more grey for SpeedSewa.
Strict travel restrictions spurred most Airbnbs to remarket themselves as long-term rentals instead, rapidly crowding rental markets. As competition escalated, Ming and her business partners had to lower their rates to stay competitive.
While it may be a little while before the rental environment picks back up to pre-Covid’s RM3,000+ profits, Ming still manages to take home approximately RM2,000 monthly.
4. A storefront of her own
Starting a new business is always exciting, perhaps even more so if it’s a tangible one with your own space.
In early 2020, Ming and her partner took the dive in opening StoreKono, a vape shop in Petaling Jaya, Selangor. Her partner had an empty shop lot available for them to use, so that was a big chunk of the initial capital already accounted for. A close friend of Ming’s also operates a vape shop of his own and was more than happy to share his contacts with her.
While the business is still in its nascent stages and has yet to break even, it’s also posing other challenges of its own. “Our biggest struggle has been finding good staff and building a team we can trust. Due to MCO, we haven’t been able to open our storefront for quite some time too.”
“We’ve thought about expanding online, but there’s just too much competition that it’ll be too tough for a small player like us for now,” she says.
*Note that selling or owning e-cigarettes and vaping products remain strictly illegal in Singapore.
Ming’s typical monthly earnings
Despite Covid taking a toll on her businesses, Ming still manages to bring in a monthly income of approximately RM14,000.
The biggest contributor is her active role in the family business, where she takes home RM9,000. The passive income she derives from her long-standing insurance clients and property management amounts to an average of RM3,000 and RM2,000 respectively.
Still in the early stages and heavily impacted by the pandemic, her brick-and-mortar business StoreKono has yet to turn a profit.
Check out the snapshot below for a detailed breakdown of her average monthly income made in the Plannerbee app.
Ming’s typical monthly expenditure
Every month, Ming makes sure to pay off her commitments first thing. These comprise of:
- RM2,000 for car instalments
- RM900 for personal loan repayments
- RM600 for life insurance
- RM500 for parents
That’s a total of RM4,000 just for the ongoing commitments, which leaves her with RM10,000 to save and invest. As she’s living with her family, she gets to save on mortgage, utilities and groceries, instead lumping them together with the RM500 she gives to her parents for her share of the household bills.
Ming forks out anywhere between RM1,000 – RM2,000 for dining and food deliveries. She doesn’t get too rigid when it comes to her personal spending, preferring to leave room for flexibility in her lifestyle rather than abiding by strict budgets.
” I don’t mind splurging a little on quality food or purchases that might be seen as a little extravagant. It’s important to me that I can enjoy the experiences that matter to me.”
Finally, Ming chooses to use the rest of her income in any of four ways:
- investing in shares via Rakuten
- investing in cryptocurrency via Binance
- investing back into her businesses
- leaves the remaining in her savings account
Financial goals and principles
Rather than hoarding cash on hand, Ming believes in always channeling money back into her businesses or investments – whether that be SpeedSewa, StoreKono or any new opportunities that might present themselves down the road.
“No lofty dreams here, I just want to comfortably fund the lifestyle I want for myself and my family.”
The businesswoman’s immediate goal is to help expand her family business to more countries and newer channels, while she has her short-term sights set on buying a property by 2022. As for her long-term goals, her priorities lie in building more passive income, traveling and experiencing life to its fullest!
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