Money Journals: Carving a Career Out of Fitness, Property and Investments

Personal finance is just that – personal.

Everyone manages their money differently, which means we all stand to learn something from the individuals around us. But in a country where money is a topic so cloaked in privacy, it can be tough to glean insight and take inspiration from how others are managing their money.

Money Journals is our new series here at Planner Bee where we take a peek at how Planner Bee users are earning, spending, saving and investing their money. We’ll be interviewing users from our homeland here in Singapore to our friends over the Causeway in Malaysia.

An investment-savvy trainer side hustlin’ in property

After graduating with a Diploma in Sport and Exercise Science from Tunku Abdul Rahman University College, Kang set forth carving a living for himself as a freelance personal trainer. Today, the 26-year old has also added property and investments onto his plate, selling property as a Real Estate Negotiator (REN) while actively investing in cryptocurrency and the stock market.

Five streams of income

While the lion’s share of his income is still derived from personal training, Kang has managed to create five streams of income – three of them originating from fitness alone.

1.   Freelance personal training

As a qualified trainer worth his salt, Kang is well-versed in all aspects of fitness – from mobility to strength to weight loss. As with any venture however, the first few steps hold the most resistance. Finding clients and establishing stability represented their own hurdles when he first started out four years ago.

With the arrival of COVID-19 came more losses, bringing Kang’s clientbase down to just four. “At the time, most clients would rather wait out the lockdown than move their training online,” he says. In April 2020, his income dipped about 70%, spurring him to adapt and introduce online programming.

Now in our second year of the pandemic, Kang has four regular personal training clients. Each client sees Kang for anywhere between 8 – 12 sessions per month. For each 1-hour session, Kang charges between RM100 – 150, with discounts for longer commitments.

Each month, Kang earns about RM3,500 from his personal training clients alone.

2.   Online fitness programming

Kang’s online programming comes in handy for remote clients or those who may not need one-on-one supervision.

He customises training programs for clients based on their fitness goals and other factors, then holds weekly video calls with them to check in on their progress. Each week, he progresses the program accordingly.

At the time of writing, Kang has two online programming clients. He earns RM200 per month from each client.

3.   Group class instructor

In December 2019, Kang was approached by an obstacle and functional training gym to teach group calisthenics (bodyweight strength training) classes.

Since then, he’s been instructing weekly classes on the technicalities behind push ups, pull ups and functional strength overall. Kang earns RM80 for each class, which adds up to RM320 per month.

4.   Selling and renting property as a Real Estate Negotiator (REN)

In 2020, Kang decided to step foot in an entirely different industry – real estate. As a REN (more colloquially known as property agent but not to be confused with REA), he helps buyers/renters find the right property and assists them in the buying/renting process.

“I’m just starting out on this path, but I think it’s important to diversify your income, even if that means starting out as a beginner again in an industry that’s foreign to you.”

RENs in Malaysia have to be tied to a real estate firm who take a cut out of each successful transaction. In Kang’s case, his firm takes 40% of the value of one month’s rent.

Here’s a more detailed example to give you a better idea. In March 2021, Kang helped a family rent a condominium unit in affluent Mont Kiara. The monthly rental for this unit is RM3000, 40% of which is taken by his firm. The remaining RM1,800 is divided between Kang and the landlord’s agent – leaving him with RM900 in commission for this transaction.

 5.   Investments in crypto and stocks

Things get a lot more interesting when we take a look at Kang’s interest in investing. From cryptocurrency to US stocks, the avid learner steadfastly sticks by his belief in diversification and actively monitors the latest updates in the stock market.

The first stock he ever purchased was Axiata Group Berhad, the Malaysian multinational telecommunications conglomerate. Today, Kang has expanded from investing in Malaysian stocks in the KLSE (Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange) to other territories including cryptocurrency via Binance and American stocks through eToro.

Kang’s typical monthly earnings

The bulk of Kang’s income is derived from his freelance personal training, followed by online programming, property, and group classes. There’s a lot of variability in his monthly income. The number of successful property transactions, availability of clients, and impact of COVID-19 all play a role.

On average, Kang makes between RM4,000 – RM6,000 per month post-Covid.

Check out the snapshot below for a detailed breakdown of his income in March this year made in the Plannerbee app (investment returns not accounted for). In total, his income for March amounted to RM4,980.

Kang’s portfolio returns in March 2021

Type of investmentMarch 2021 returnsComments
KLSE stocks4%Recovering from Covid-19
Cryptocurrency150%Big returns from Tesla’s investment in bitcoin
eToro2.15%February tech stock crash

Kang’s typical monthly expenditures

When it comes to his spending, Kang wholeheartedly holds to one guiding principle – frugality, frugality, frugality.

“I try to avoid paying for toll and parking whenever possible. That usually means avoiding routes with toll and parking anywhere but in car parks. It’s a little drastic but I don’t mind the extra trouble!”

The 26-year old doesn’t get too granular when it comes to his spending. He tries to limit his personal spending to a mere RM600 per month, comprising food, transport and everything else.

He gives RM200 every month to his parents for allowance and his share of rent and utilities, and reserves RM300 for shopping and miscellaneous expenditures. In total, his monthly expenditures can be as low as just RM1,100.

Kang drives a family car which is already paid for, so he only needs to fork out for road tax, car insurance, petrol and the little bit of toll/parking where necessary. Food and grocery bills don’t take a big chunk out of his income either. Kang’s parents run a restaurant, so the majority of his meals are had at home.

Financial goals and principles

For the savvy 26-year old trainer, frugality and minimalism make up the guiding principles behind how he manages his finances.

Kang’s minimal spending means that he can channel the majority of his income into his savings and investments. Whatever remains at the end of each month is invested or put into a separate savings account.

“I try to ensure I always have at least 3 months’ worth of savings in my emergency fund,” he says. “Diversifying my income is pretty key too, hence why I’ve got my hands in multiple industries.”

Kang has his sights set on purchasing an investment property – a financial goal he’s set for himself to achieve within the next five years.

If you’re a personal finance nerd yourself, contact us at ask@plannerbee.co to share your own Money Journal!

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