Last Updated on April 19, 2023 by Chin Yi Xuan

In my 5 years running this blog, I realized that I’ve yet to produce a comprehensive introduction to investing.

This got me thinking: If I can go back to the past and guide my younger self about how to invest as a beginner, what would I tell myself?

With this in mind, I hope this guide to investing will give you a big picture on why you should invest and how to get started!

Key Highlights

  • Investing helps grow your wealth and defend against inflation in the long run.
  • Investors commonly invest in assets like stocks, bonds, commodities (eg. gold), real estate, and cryptocurrencies.
  • There are no one specific way to invest, but it is crucial to find a sustainable method that fits in to your daily life.
  • Robo-advisors like KDI Invest is a solid choice for new and busy investors as it invests and manages users’ risk, so we can focus on things and people that matter most to us in life.

Why do you need to invest?

It is hard to appreciate the power of investing without looking at a longer time horizon.

Why so? A key reason is that cash loses its value to inflation over time.

For instance, a basket of RM100 worth of goods and services about 20 years ago (2002) would cost RM156.99 by the end of 2022. This is over 50% loss in our purchasing power for each Ringgit that we hold over a 20-year period.

Source: Department of Statistics Malaysia

Meanwhile, investing allows your hard-earned money to grow through assets that can grow in value, such as income-generating businesses like stocks.

By investing RM100 in the S&P500 index (which represents the top 500 largest US-listed companies) during the same time period, your wealth will grow to RM517.66. This is a 417.66%* in growth, which has outgrown inflation. (Disclaimer: Past performance is not indicative of future performance.)

In other words, investing not only protects your wealth against inflation, but it can also grow your wealth given time.

What can you invest in?

We call things that we can invest in as ‘assets’. There are many kinds of assets that we can invest in and here is a common list of assets:

#1 Stocks

Stocks are essentially income-generating businesses listed in the stock market that you can buy. Examples would be Apple, Tesla, Microsoft, and Google.

  • Why buy stocks: Stocks have historically offered one of the highest long-term returns among all asset classes. Hence, stocks are especially suitable for investors with a long time horizon.

Stocks has proven to deliver higher returns compared to other asset classes. (Source: World Gold Council’s Portfolio Simulator)

  • Key Risk: Despite potentially strong returns in the long run, stocks can be volatile and unpredictable in a shorter time horizon.

#2 Bonds

Bonds are a form of debt that governments or companies release to raise capital. By investing in bonds, investors are paid interest until the maturity (or expiry) of the bond.

  • Why buy bonds: Bonds are relatively less volatile compared to stocks. While it does not provide growth as high as stocks, bonds are suitable for investors that seek more stability while investing.

Bonds tend to be more stable and fluctuate less compared to stocks (Source: Portfolio Visualizer)

  • Key risk: Depending on maturity, bonds are affected by fluctuation in interest rates to a different extent. The longer the maturity of a bond, the more sensitive it is to interest rate fluctuation

#3 Commodity

Commodities are essentially natural resources that you can invest in. Example of commodities that we usually invest in include gold, silver, crude oil, and natural gas.

  • Why buy commodities: Commodities like gold tend to provide good diversification from stocks.

As of Dec 2022, gold has a low correlation compared to the major stock markets globally. [Closer to 0 = Lower Correlation] (Source: SPDR Gold Strategy Team)

  • Key risk: Commodities demand and supply are seasonal and hence can be volatile.

#4 Real Estate

Real estate includes assets like land, as well as residential and commercial properties. Investors can also gain exposure to real estate through Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) that are listed in the stock market.

  • Why buy real estate: Real estate is relatively stable and is also a good diversification from stocks.

  • Key risk: Investing in physical real estate requires investors to take up mortgage, which is a form of leverage that could hurt the financially less capable investors. Location of a real estate investment would also impact how well the investment would perform.

LEARN MORE: Introduction to REIT and why invest in them?

#5 Cryptocurrency

Cryptocurrency is a new type of asset class that emerged in the past decade. Among all, Bitcoin (BTC) and Ether (ETH) are two of the most established cryptocurrencies in the market.

There are many use cases for cryptocurrencies, such as being a decentralized alternative to currencies, as well as decentralized apps (DAPPs).

  • Why buy cryptocurrency: The is huge potential for cryptocurrency to shape the technology of the future, from how we transact to how businesses are conducted. Hence, there are huge growth opportunities for investors with conviction in the cryptocurrency space

  • Key risk: Cryptocurrency can be an extremely volatile investment. In addition, there are many cryptocurrencies around that have not withstood the test of time. A solid understanding of the field is a must as a cryptocurrency investor.

In the next section, let’s look at how one can make money through investing.

How to make money investing?

There are 2 ways to make money from investing:

  • Capital gain: Capital gain refers to gains coming from the difference between the price that you bought an asset, relative to the price in the present. For instance, if you buy Stock A at $1 and sell it off at $1.10, you get a 10% capital gain.
  • Dividend income: Dividend income refers to the payout that companies make to investors throughout the year. 3 things to note:

    • Not all companies distribute dividends to investors. Growth-focused companies like Tesla, for instance, tend to reinvest their profits to maximize growth.

      Not every company distributes dividends consistently. Some companies may distribute dividends based on their business performance.

    • That said, established companies such as Apple, Nestle, and McDonald’s usually deliver dividends on a consistent basis. REITs are also required to pay 90% of their profits back to investors as dividends.

Finally, making money through capital gain and dividends are not mutually exclusive in investing. This means you can profit from BOTH capital gain AND dividend income while investing.

How to invest?

Now that we understand the types of assets available, it is helpful to know how we can invest.

Now, it is important to know that there is no one way to invest. I recommend exploring one that fits your lifestyle the best:

#1 Buy individual stocks via a broker [Difficulty: Intermediate – Advance]

A broker is a platform that enables investors to buy stocks. Rakuten Trade, as an example, offers Malaysians access to the US, Hong Kong, and Malaysia stock markets.

Advantages of investing in individual stocks:

You can build your portfolio by investing in brands and companies that you believe in. As such, you can participate directly in the growth of the companies that you invest in.


It requires time and commitment to study and research for quality companies. At the same time, investing in individual stocks can lead to concentrated exposure, where investors face a higher risk should the company they invest in do badly and its share price is impacted.

Skills required:

Fundamental analysis to read through financial reports, as well as a good sense of market trends, which comes with time and experience.

#2 Invest in Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs) via a broker [Difficulty: Beginner – Intermediate]

An ETF is a public-listed fund that tracks the performance of a basket of assets, such as stocks. Investors can buy ETFs just like usual stocks via a broker like Rakuten Trade.

Advantages of investing in ETF:

  • Unlike individual stocks, a single ETF provides diversified exposure to a basket of assets like stocks. The best example is VOO or SPY which tracks the S&P500 index, which represents the top 500 listed companies in the US.

  • Gain exposure to different assets via ETF: There are different ETFs around, from stocks (VOO, QQQ), bonds (BND, BNDX), and commodities like gold and silver (GLD, SLV).

  • Low maintenance: ETFs such as VOO (that tracks the S&P500) provide diversified exposure and will filter for the top 500 largest companies periodically. This makes owning ETF as an investment a relatively low-maintenance way to invest.


  • ETF charges a small annual management and trustee fee. That said, they are usually very affordable and are much lower than conventional unit trusts. (eg. 0.03% per annum for VOO)

  • Since ETF is built with a preset rule in place, investors have no say over which stocks to include in the ETF portfolio. (eg. you cannot ask Vanguard, the fund manager of VOO to remove Apple from VOO)

Skills required:

  • General knowledge in a particular region, sector, or trend. (eg. Since VOO represents the top US companies, so you’d at least want to know about what impacts the US market, such as interest rate, and inflation)
ETF is an amazing investment choice for beginners and experienced investors alike.
ETF is an amazing investment choice for beginners and experienced investors alike.

#3 Gain exposure to ETFs via robo-advisors [Difficulty: Beginner]

Not sure which ETF to invest in? Robo-advisors such as KDI Invest can help you construct your portfolio and manage your investments based on your risk appetite and goals.

Advantages of investing via robo-advisors

  • Simple & very low maintenance: Think of robo-advisor as an automated fund manager with rules in place to manage your portfolio according to your goals, risk appetite, and market condition. This means you can go on to focus on other important things in life while your money is invested.
  • Diversified portfolio: Knowing your risk appetite, robo-advisors like KDI Invest will help you build a diversified portfolio through various ETFs, such as equity ETFs and fixed-income ETFs like bonds.
  • Affordable fees: Robo-advisors offer their services at highly affordable fees. As an example, KDI Invest’s annual fee is between 0.3% – 0.7% per annum depending on the total amount invested. Even better, your first RM3000 invested with KDI Invest is FREE of charge! (For more details, please refer to KDI Invest’s fee structure HERE)
  • Low barrier of entry: Robo-advisors make it easy to invest even with a small amount. Malaysians can start investing via KDI Invest from just RM250, and as low as RM100 for subsequent deposits.


  • With robo-advisors, your investments are managed on your behalf. The downside to this is you have no say over which ETF to invest in. What you can do, usually, is to adjust your preferred risk exposure and robo-advisors will adjust your asset exposure accordingly.

Skills required:

An understanding of ETF + answering questions on your risk appetite during the account opening process. Patience to invest for the long term.

KDI Invest review

#4 Invest with unit trust/mutual funds [Difficulty: Beginner]

Investing in unit trust funds is also a common way to invest if you are too busy to invest. Fund managers will manage your investments based on the underlying methodology of the funds that you invest in.

Advantages of investing via unit trust funds:

  • Unit trust fund managers will manage your investments and adjust your portfolio on your behalf based on market conditions.


  • Unit trust funds tend to charge relatively high sales and management fees compared to robo-advisors.

What you need:

  • A basic understanding of investing and patience for the long term. At the same time, you may need to undergo face-to-face appointments in order to find a reliable unit trust agent or representative.

How to invest for beginners or busy investors: Invest via KDI Invest so you can focus on important things in life

As an adult, our responsibilities will only pile up with time. As such, I think it is crucial to find the most time-efficient method to invest so we can focus on things that truly matter in life (eg. family, career). 

So, if you are new to investing, or are looking for a more efficient way to invest, I’d recommend giving robo-advisors like KDI Invest a try.

KDI Invest is a 100% AI-powered robo-advisor from Kenanga that manages your investments on your behalf while you can focus on important priorities in life.

Why KDI Invest?

  • 100% AI-Powered: KDI Invest is a 100% AI-powered robo-advisor that manages investments & risk on behalf of users. As such, there are zero human emotions (eg. fear, doubt) involved as all decisions are made based on pre-determined rules.
  • Global exposure: Gain access to globally diversified asset classes via ETFs at low cost. In fact, your first RM3,000 invested with KDI Invest has ZERO management fee!
  • Low barrier of entry: Start investing with KDI Invest with just RM250 (and RM100 for subsequent deposits).
  • Regulated: Kenanga Digital Investing (KDI) is a financial initiative from Kenanga Investment Bank. It is regulated by the Securities Commission Malaysia (SC). This means KDI has to adhere to the best practices set by the local authority.
KDI Invest AI model
KDI Invest AI model adapts to market risks & volatility by rebalancing users’ portfolios. (Source: KDI) [Disclaimer: Past performance is not indicative of future performance.]

Do I need a lot of money to get started? How much should I invest?

With more investing options available these days, it is extremely easy and capital-friendly to start investing.

If you are worried about having a small amount to start, I recommend giving robo-advisors like KDI Invest a try. With KDI Invest, where you can get started with just RM250 (and RM100 for subsequent deposits).

In other words, you can build your investing routine freely according to your budget.

That said, how much should you actually invest?

Everyone’s circumstances are different, but I’d suggest starting with at least 10% of your income.

Not only 10% is relatively easy to achieve with minimal impact on your existing lifestyle, but it is also extremely helpful to your overall finances.

For illustration purposes, let’s assume you earn RM5,000/m and invest 10% of your income (RM500/m) at a reasonable 6% return per year, all things remain the same, you’d have over RM232,000 in 20 years’ time.

Disclaimer: All assumptions are for illustration purposes only.

Meanwhile, I’d also recommend increasing your investment amount as you see fit. As an example, by investing 20% of your income (equivalent to RM1,000/m in our example), you’d have over RM465,000 in 20 years’ time. This would give you further financial stability down the line:

Disclaimer: All assumptions are for illustration purposes only.

3 main buy/investing strategies

Let’s attempt to answer the next question: When to buy or invest?

There are 3 key approaches to when to buy or invest:

#1 Dollar Cost Average (DCA)

DCA refers to investing a fixed amount on a regular interval regardless of price. This means buying more shares when the price goes down, and fewer shares when price goes up. Doing so will help lower the average entry price of your investments so you can benefit when price goes up in the long run.

  • Pros: DCA makes investing a sustainable routine that can be easily automated. This is especially suitable for new or busy investors.

Personally, I prefer DCA over other ways of investing as it keeps my investing routine minimal and efficient.

To learn more about DCA, consider checking out KDI’s amazing writeup on this topic by clicking on the photo below:

Source: Kenanga Digital Investing Blog

#2 Value investing

Value investors determine when to buy or invest by identifying quality businesses or assets, and investing in them when they are undervalued.

  • Pros: Investing in undervalued assets, when done right, could lead to attractive returns.

The downside would be value investing requires much more active effort upfront, such as analyzing financial reports.

#3 Technical analysis

Technical analysis involves identifying entry opportunities via charts. Investors make use of price charts in identifying repeatable patterns to find entry opportunities.

  • Pros: If done well, technical analysis can aid investors in entering at an ideal risk-to-reward price.

However, finding entries via technical analysis is heavily dependent on probability instead of certainty, as nothing is 100%.

Personally, I like to combine a simple technical analysis technique alongside monthly DCA in my long-term investment.

LEARN MORE: Guide – A simple way to read price charts

My personal lesson & tips

  • Having a clear goal and time horizon helps massively in keeping you on the journey as you’ll not be influenced as easily by short-term hype or panic.
  • Treat investing as a routine, just like how you’d treat your exercise routine. Invest on a consistent basis via Dollar-Cost Averaging (DCA) especially if you have a long-term time horizon.
  • Investing is a life-long learning journey. Consider every kind of emotion or psychological hurdle in your investing journey a learning experience. Only through experience, you can find out the risk you can handle.

Useful financial app to manage your savings & investments: Kenanga Digital Investing (KDI)

This post is sponsored by Kenanga Digital Investing (KDI).

Kenanga Digital Investing (KDI) is a versatile financial app built with both savings and investment features in mind.

  • KDI Invest is a 100% AI-powered robo-advisor that manages investments & risk on behalf of users. As such, there are zero human emotions (eg. fear, doubt) involved as all decisions are made based on pre-determined rules.
  • KDI Save is a low-risk cash management fund that offers a 3.50% Effective Annual Rate (EAR)*. With KDI Save, you can earn a competitive return on your cash, while enjoying the flexibility to deposit & withdraw anytime without penalties! (*T&C Applies)

Now, with the KDI app, you can streamline your savings and investment routine in one single app – making it convenient to manage your financial routine!

KDI Invest Review

KDI Referral Code: 101183

In collaboration with Kenanga Digital Investing, No Money Lah is bringing an exclusive deal for new users that are keen to start using KDI!

Use my dedicated KDI referral code – 101183, and you will get RM25 credited into your KDI Invest portfolio* when you successfully make a minimum deposit of RM250 on KDI Invest AND RM100 on KDI Save! Promo ends on 30/4/2023.

*Note: RM25 credit will be made within 60 days upon successful verification & deposit.

KDI Save and KDI Invest Promo Code

No Money Lah’s Verdict:

So there you have it – a beginner’s guide to investing!

I started to work on this guide with the goal of creating something I wish I had come across when I first started investing.

As such, I hope this guide is able to give you a big-picture view of the investing world! That said, I’d encourage you to keep learning and exploring – then and only then you will become a better investor!

If you have any questions on investing, or have a topic that you’d like me to cover, just leave a comment under the comment section below!


This post is sponsored by Kenanga Digital Investing (KDI). 

Visual disclaimer:

This advertisement has not been reviewed by the Securities Commission Malaysia. This advertisement is for general information purposes only.

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This advertisement has not been reviewed by the Securities Commission Malaysia. This advertisement is for general information purposes only. It is not intended to constitute professional advice, and should not be relied on or treated as a substitute for specific advice relevant to particular circumstances. Please also consider our risk warning and investment terms before investing with us.