9 Simple Ways to Build Better Relationship with People (Part 1)

Andrew Carnegie, also known as the Steel King, is one of the richest man in history. Yet, don’t be surprised that he, in fact, had just very little understanding of steel manufacturing.

With that in mind, how did he actually build his legendary business empire? The key answer (which always seemed underrated): PEOPLE SKILL.

He knew how to handle people, and that is what made him rich.

The Carnegie Mellon Foundation & Stanford Research Institute International conducted research with Fortune 500 CEOs in 2015 and discovered that 75% long-term job success depends on people skills, while only 25% on technical knowledge.

Given that you are still reading this post shows how curious and eager you are to discover this skill even further. Well, people skill is not rocket science as you think it is and I’ve found you a quickest and effective way!

I’ve read over 30 books in 2018, but this one stands out among the rest: “How to Win Friends & Influence People”. An ever-classic self-help book written by Dale Carnegie in 1936. Here are the top 9 simple hacks about people-skill in the book that I find interesting:

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(1) Give honest & sincere appreciation

Deep inside, everyone desires the feeling of being important.

The feeling comes in different forms.

As an example, people like Warren Buffett and Bill Gates got their feeling of importance by contributing most of their wealth to philanthropic causes. On the other hand, an employee who worked super hard got the same feeling the moment he got promoted.

The next time someone makes a mistake, whether at work, school or home, you should never kill off their ambition or enthusiasm by criticizing the person.

Instead, try giving them appreciation and praise. They will cherish, treasure and repeat it.

This is how simple words can change one's life.


(2) Smile

To get someone to like you instantly, a smile is probably the easiest thing to do that requires minimal effort.

It is a magical force that will help you in building a positive first impression and shows others how easy-going you are as a person. Of course, it is impossible to fake a genuine, warm smile as it depends on our inner condition.

How do we think and control our thoughts will ultimately determine our level of happiness.

Next time, when you are afraid to network, nervous for a job interview or having a bad day, a smile is always something that you can do to help you overcome these hurdles.

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Something to do before you proceed to the next point...

(3) Remember the names

Have you ever experienced a conversation where you just got to know someone new, and proceed to forget his/her names the next moment after a good conversation?

Just like how people appreciate the feeling of importance, everyone likes their names to be remembered as well. The ability to remember names is as important in business and social contacts.

Starting from today, try saying "Hi John" instead of just "Hi bro". Even if you do not recall the new acquaintance’s name, just ask again (with no awkwardness) and write it down if necessary.

Want to start winning win friends? First, you would have to remember their names.


(4) Be genuinely interested in others

Being genuinely interested in the people around you are essential to develop long-lasting relationships!

Often, unless those who are important to us (eg. future wife, potential business partner), we tend to care about ourselves more than others.

Believe it or not, according to Dale Carnegie, you can make more friends in 2 months by being interested in other people than you can in 2 years by trying to get others to be interested in you.

Ask yourself these 2 questions, "Are you genuinely interested in ones' life story?" and "Do you care or curious about what they are struggling, enjoying or thinking?".


5 More Useful & Simple People Skills in Part 2!

What you have learned from above are only 4 out of the 30 principles taught in How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. In the next post, you will learn 5 more useful and simple principles outlined in this amazing book.

Meanwhile, if you want to discover all the essence of this book, definitely GRAB A COPY of this book at the link below! If you have read this book, do share your view in the comment section below! I cannot wait to hear from you!

Stay tuned for Part 2! 

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How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie

About Guest Writer:

Xi Rong's enthusiasm with books started back in 2016. It is hard to imagine someone who used to hate reading actually could find books as his best companion. If you believe in it, a book is the best teacher and a priceless commodity for every reader. He reads a huge spectrum of books, ranging from financial, management, self-help, business, marketing, communication and more! Check out his Instagram Stories Highlight here for his amazing collection of book reviews!

Also, you can also connect with Xi Rong via LinkedIn.


4 Ultimate Financial Goals in Life & How to Achieve Them

Look, you are now a working adult with a decent monthly income. However, no matter what you how hard you work every month, your money in the bank doesn’t seem to grow much, at least not at the extent you desire.

They (the society) says that you got to have a house by 30, and you are looking to marry the girl of your life by the age as well. Damn, what about the expenses with having kids after that?

Where will all this money come from?

You see, many of us know the importance of money. However, only a few know how to manage money.

Coincidentally, the people that know how to manage money are the ones are financially better off in life. Heck, they may not even earn as much as you every month, but they are wealthier than you in the end.

Why is it so?

One of the reason is that they have clear and precise financial goals, and they work towards it with commitment and discipline no matter their current financial condition.

If you want to make the most out of your hard-earned money, here are 4 ultimate financial goals in life that you got to strive to achieve:

Level 1: Financial Stability

To achieve any sort of financial successes in life, you must first aim to achieve Financial Stability.

Essentially, you have attained Financial Stability when:

  • Your existing liquid assets* are 6 times your monthly expenses, and,
  • You have life and hospitalization insurance to cover you and/or your family’s expenses should anything happen to you.

 In short, attaining Financial Stability will give you peace of mind knowing that your current lifestyle is in good hands should unexpected events such as retrenchment and accidents happen to you.

How to achieve Financial Stability?

Step 1: Identify your current monthly expenses.

Step 2: Identify your current status of liquid assets.

Step 3: Identify the total liquid assets needed to cover your monthly expenses for 6 months. (6 x Monthly Expenses – Current Liquid Assets)

Step 4: Commit to save at least 10% - 20% of your net income every month to fill up the differences.

Step 5: Identify how long you will take to achieve Financial Stability given your saving commitment:

Step 6: Last but not least, make sure you have enough insurance coverage for you and your family members!

*Liquid assets are things such as cash or assets that can be readily converted into cash. (eg. Fixed Deposit, Stocks, Unit Trusts)

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Financial Stability is the first financial goal that you have to strive to achieve in life.

Level 2: Financial Security

Financial Security is the level of wealth where you have attained income-generating assets and investments to generate passive income enough to cover your most basic expenses.

At this level, you can stop working and still live a very basic lifestyle. It also means that if you continue to work, all your active income will go towards building other income streams and investments and this will further compound your overall asset value.

A list of basic expenses is:

  • Personal/family expenses (eg. Food, groceries)
  • House and car loans
  • Transportation (eg. Petrol, Touch & Go)
  • Utilities (eg. Water and electricity bill, phone bill)
  • Credit card interest repayment
  • Insurance premium

How to achieve Financial Security?

Step 1: Identify your basic expenses (monthly) and multiply by 12 months to find out your basic expenses per year.

Step 2: Identify your current passive income per month. How much more do you need to fill in the balance to cover your basic expenses?

Step 3: Think of all the potential income streams and income-generating assets that could generate the passive income needed to cover your basic expenses.

Step 4: Execute and build those income streams and assets.

As an example, you could focus on building your passive income via intellectual properties (eg. Books, Courses) and investment in dividend-generating stocks (eg. REITs). As a rule of thumb, focus on building at least 3 – 5 streams of income-generating assets.

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Financial Security is where your passive income is enough to cover your monthly basic expenses.

Level 3: Financial Freedom

You have achieved Financial Freedom when your level of passive income is able to sustain your current lifestyle. This may include things like going for vacation abroad once every year and a decent birthday meal for your loved ones a few times a year.

Achieving Financial Freedom is one of the most enlightening moment in life, as you continue working not because you have to, but because you choose to do so.

Again, depending on your lifestyle (how you spend), you may achieve Financial Freedom earlier or later than others. Hence, to achieve Financial Freedom, it is also essential for you to cut down unnecessary expenses.

How to achieve Financial Freedom?

Once you have built at least 3 – 5 income-generating assets and achieve Financial Security (Level 2), you have to learn how to scale them to influence more potential customers and increase your return.

As an example, if you have written a book, now you can write an e-book or online course to teach people your knowledge. Having your products online have a higher scalability factor that could reach out to more potential customers.

Likewise, you could start a YouTube channel or blog to reach out to more customers within your niche area.

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Financial Freedom comes next after Financial Security, where your passive income can pay for your current lifestyle.

Level 4: Financial Abundance

Financial Abundance is a level higher compared to Financial Freedom. It is a stage where your passive income is able to sustain your dream life. This is the level that is achieved by people such as Warren Buffett and Bill Gates.

How to achieve Financial Abundance?

As the popular saying goes: In general, every millionaire has an average of 7 income streams. Hence, it is essential for you to expand your income streams in order to achieve Financial Abundance.

Some of it may include investments into high-yield businesses and stocks, high scalability online business, investments into real estate, network marketing and more.

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Financial Abundance is the final stage of financial goals. This is where people like Warren Buffett and Bill Gates stand.

Financial Plan to Achieve Financial Security, Financial Freedom and Financial Abundance

An example below is a template that you can use to plan your financial goals.

Remember, while some income-generating assets do need certain capital to start, many can be started without much capital in hand. The most important thing is to just START and give your 101% in effort.

Also, do note that income-generating assets that produce passive income does domean that you got to sit there and wait for the money to flow in. In general, most passive income streams require your attention and utmost effort to build and sustain, especially during the early years.

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A template that you can use to design your plan to build various income-generating assets.

No Money Lah’s Verdict

So here you go! To ensure financial success in life, here are 4 financial goals that you should strive to attain, stage by stage.

Before we part ways in this article, do understand that no one stage is easier to achieve that the other. Do not feel depressed if you haven’t achieved any of these goals yet (I myself is working towards Level 1 too!).

Rather, let's devise plans and call-to-actions to make sure we commit and work towards these goals!

I wish you an amazing financial journey and I look forward to hear your financial success stories some day in the future!


Learn how I build PASSIVE INCOME in the stock market with MINIMAL RISK!


p.s. This post is inspired by Adam Khoo's book 'Secrets of Self-Made Millionaires'. You can get this book at any local bookstores near you.


How to Invest Using a Robo Advisor in Malaysia

[UPDATE 28/8/2019: Since my writing, StashAway has managed to raise USD12 million in Series B funding, and managed to deliver a 4% – 11% annual return since 2017]

Let’s get right into the topic:

We can now employ the service of a robo-advisor to invest on behalf for us in Malaysia, legally.

With the advancement of algorithms and data technology, there has been a rise of ‘robo-advisors’ designed to invest for the mass market consumers since the past few years around the region. In short, we can now depend on algorithm systems to help invest our money.

In this article, we are going to look into the particulars of a robo-advisor, and I’ll also share my thoughts on StashAway, Malaysia’s first robo-advisor platform.

But first thing first…

What is a robo-advisor & how does it work?

In its simplest form, robo-advisor is built on a system of algorithms and data to invest on behalf of customers.

Imagine Jarvis, the AI for Ironman, but specifically tailored to manage money and investment for retail investors like us (albeit not as advanced as Jarvis la).

In reality, how a robo-advisor work is simple. Simply put, robo-advisors will help you invest your money into different assets (normally via Exchange Traded Funds, ETFs*) based on your investment goals and risk preferences

If this sounds too simple for you, it really is that simple.

The core idea of robo-advisors is to make investment simple and accessible to everyone. Normally, all you have to do is to identify your investment goals and how much risk you can take to get started. Then, just sit back, relax, and let the algorithms do the work for you!

*ETF is a marketable security that you can invest in where it tracks the performance of a group of securities such as stocks, commodities, and bond. (eg. FBMKLCI-EA is the ETF that tracks the performance of our very own Kuala Lumpur Composite Index, KLCI).


Enter StashAway, Malaysia’s first robo-advisor platform

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First launched in July 2017 in Singapore, StashAway is the first robo-advisor platform that follows through with the momentum and entered the Malaysian market late last year.

As the first robo-advisor in Malaysia, I am very intrigued to find out what it is all about. So, without further ado, let’s dive straight into it!


How does StashAway invest your money?

This is the first question that came to my mind when I was told about robo-advisor. So it goes without saying that I have to get this answered right off the bat.

The framework that powers all the all the investment decisions behind StashAway is called the Economic Regime-based Asset Allocation (ERAA).

Essentially, ERAA is a set of algorithms that make all the investment decisions for you by considering 2 important factors, among all:

Ensuring constant customers’ risk exposure throughout different economic conditions, and

Optimizing customers’ returns under different economic conditions.

Under ERAA, your money will be invested into various Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) in accordance with your risk appetite and investing goals. Not only that, the algorithms will also allocate the investments according to the economic condition at any moment.

ERAA separates the economy into 4 different regimes, namely the Good Times, Inflationary Growth, Recession and Stagflation (Source: StashAway)

If that’s not enough, ERAA will also track macroeconomics news and move your investments towards more defensive asset should the algorithm detects potential market crashes.

In short, StashAway’s ERAA framework is designed to ensure long term wealth creation within customers’ risk preference.


My StashAway Experience

To further my understanding about StashAway, I went on to try out the app itself. In general, I like the interface and the overall application process.

In essence, you get to select your investment goals and risk appetite. Then, StashAway will recommend an asset allocation for you. (eg. If you opt for a more conservative risk exposure, your investments will be focused towards Treasury Bond ETFs, which are relatively less volatile in nature)

Note that while you have the flexibility to readjust your risk appetite during the process, you cannot control the proportion of asset allocation that is suggested by StashAway. (eg. If StashAway suggests 15% weightage on Treasury Bond ETF, you cannot change the weightage to 10%)

Once you are done with the initial settings, you can transfer money to the fund and choose to set up a monthly transfer if you want to invest your savings monthly into the fund.

One of the good thing with StashAway is that there is no lock-up period. This means that you can choose to withdraw your investments at any time.

As a whole, I had a decent experience while checking out the app.

“I CAN NOW DO MORE THAN WHAT CHU THINKKKK” [Buzz Buzz]

My Rant with StashAway and the Risk Involved.

(1) ERAA Framework not independently verifiable

This is my biggest and only rant with StashAway.

As mentioned above, the ERAA framework is able to recognize different economic conditions and allocate customers’ investments accordingly (they call it ‘Reoptimization’). By doing so, StashAway claims to be able to reduce the impact of a financial crisis.

All these explanations are backed by a whitepaper with backtesting charts that showed how the ERAA framework is able to perform better in relative to the S&P 500 Index and 60-40 Stock-Bond allocation strategy during the 2008 financial crisis.

However, the fact that StashAway’s ERAA framework and software is not released to the public means there is no way I can verify how true their claim is.

In short, this means that without any available tools to backtest StashAway’s claims, we will not only be investing our money with StashAway, but also our faith on the effectiveness of the framework to deliver its promises during the next crisis.

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(2) Risk: Past performance does not reflect the future

Even if StashAway’s performance did outperform the S&P 500 index during the 2008 financial crisis in backtesting, this does not mean it will perform the same for the upcoming crises.

Reason being, every crisis is unique on its own and is triggered by different factors. Hence, what worked for StashAway’s framework in the past may not necessarily work in the future crises.

While I feel this is not something that StashAway can fully control, I think it is necessary for readers to understand that in any investment, past performance does not guarantee future performance.


What I Like About StashAway

But wait, let me clarify: I do not hate StashAway. In fact, in many aspects, I kinda like it a lot:

(1) StashAway is regulated by the Securities Commission (SC)

While checking out StashAway, what really gives me a peace of mind is to know that they are regulated by the SC.

This means that they have to go through the grueling procedures and paperwork to prove to the authority that they have the necessary consumer’s protection framework in place to ensure customers’ interest is covered in the case of events such as bankruptcy.

It is also worth noting that StashAway is just a party that manage your fund. This means that the actual assets (the ETFs) do not belong to them and are owned by StashAway’s broker, Saxo, where you are recognized as the rightful owner of the ETFs.

In short, StashAway is a legit business that helps you make investment decisions with your money and all your asset investments belong to you.

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(2) Easy to use and low barrier of entry at just RM1

Another reason to like StashAway is that of how pleasant it is to use the app. Not only you have a feeling that you are in control of customizing your investments (of course to a certain extent only), but the overall experience just trumps in terms of user-friendliness.

Moreover, StashAway’s low barrier of entry at just RM1 means that anyone can afford to get their robo-advisor experience at a ridiculously low price. This is in stark contrast of conventional unit trusts that have the minimum initial investment of RM1,000.

Simply put, at just RM1, you get to kickstart your robo-investing journey with an intuitive user experience.

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(3) Relatively low fees compared to Unit Trusts

When it comes to competition, robo-advisors such as StashAway compete head-to-head with conventional financial advisors and unit trusts.

In this case, what makes StashAway so appealing is its low fees relative to the fees charged by its direct competitors.

As an example, unit trusts will usually charge a sales fees of 5% (or more) and an average 1% annual fee for professional fund management. In comparison, StashAway charges no sales fees and an annual fee between 0.2% – 0.8%.

In the long term, a small savings in terms of fees make up to a lot of differences in terms of your return.

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(4) Good Customer support

While you may expect robo-advisor like StashAway to cut corners on human interaction, but I’ve found their customer support to be quite decent.

One of my encounters with StashAway’s customer support is how quick they are to follow-up with you. Since I’ve just moved to a new place, I have yet to change my house address on my IC. Upon noticing the difference in the address in my application and IC, they have been very quick and helpful in assisting me on the issue via Whatsapp.

Hence, a plus point for StashAway!


No Money Lah’s Verdict

As a whole, I think the rise of robo-advisor such as StashAway does provide another good investment option for the public to build wealth on their hard-earned money.

The question now is this: Is robo-advisor for you?

If you have no prior experience with investing and are considering whether to invest passively via unit trust or robo-advisor, definitely check out robo-advisor due to its low barrier of entry and relatively low cost involved.

On the other hand, if you are a DIY investor that are more comfortable with managing your own investments (provided that you know what you are doing), a robo-advisor may not be for you as its annual fees is still a considerable cost for you as a DIY investor (you don’t pay yourself management fees when you do your own homework, right?).

Ultimately, it really boils down to your own preference and lifestyle.

For me, I think having control on my own investment is essential to achieving my financial goals. However, I have no problem recommending robo-advisor to those who are looking for alternative investment vehicles other than unit trusts.

If you are interested to check out StashAway, be sure to click below to get an exclusive 50% off the management fees for the first RM100,000 invested for 6 months.

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Meanwhile, if you are keen to learn more about robo-advisor businesses around, do check out some other robo-advisors in Malaysia: Wahed (Promo Code for a FREE $10 Bonus: YIXCHI1) and MyTheo (Click HERE to claim Your FREE 3-months Referral Fee).

Note: This post may contain affilliate links that afford No Money Lah a small amount of commission should you sign up through the links.


Use These 3 Simple Hacks to Identify the Most Suitable PRS Fund for Yourself. (Yes, there is more than one!)

Private Retirement Scheme (PRS) is introduced as an additional retirement investment scheme (aside from EPF) to better prep Malaysians for retirement.

On top of that, the government has introduced the PRS Youth Incentive, a one-off RM1000 top-up for young adults between age 20 - 30 if he or she invests a minimum of RM1,000 into a PRS account.

In simple terms, you would have made of 100% return out of your initial investment with this incentive. With that in mind, the period of the incentive will be ending by 31st December 2018. Hence, it is the last window of opportunity for us to enjoy the incentive.

Note: This week, instead of my writing, I would like to pass the stage to my buddy, Varian Soong. He is currently a Credit Analyst in MCIS Insurance and he'll share 3 simple hacks that you can use to identify the fund that suits you the best!  The floor is yours, Varian!

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Hi fellow readers of No Money Lah! Here are 3 simple (and important hacks) that you can use to identify the most suitable PRS fund for yourself!

To start, PRS is somewhat a combination of EPF and unit trust.

Just like any investment, PRS does not guarantee return on your principal. This simply means that your final withdrawal amount will base purely on the fund’s performance. Hence, it is crucial for you to choose the fund that suits your age, lifestyle and risk appetite.

Another thing to note is you can only do a full withdrawal once you reach the age of 55 (or pre-withdrawal with a fee).

In the present, there are 8 PRS Providers in Malaysia, each with its own unique style of fund:

  1. Affin Hwang Asset Management
  2. AIA
  3. AmInvest
  4. CIMB-Principal
  5. Kenanga Investors
  6. Manulife Asset Management
  7. Public Mutual
  8. RHB Asset Management

In general, each provider offers three general categories of fund, which are conservative (mostly fixed-income assets like bonds and deposits), balanced (balanced proportion of fixed Income assets and equity) and aggressive (high proportion of equity).

Depending on your risk appetite and your target return, you can choose the fund that suits you the most. Some funds even invest overseas if you are looking into that.

List of PRS Funds in Malaysia

Below is a list of PRS funds that you can choose to invest in when you open a PRS account, along with some useful benchmarks to guide you in your decision-making process:

Source: Morningstar (*FX Risk – Risk of funds towards forex fluctuation, Y - Yes, N - No)

(1) Average Annual Return*

The Average in the table refers to the average annual return you would get in a year.

Similar to any form of investments, PRS funds’ performance fluctuates with time. At times, it may go above the average return and below it or even negative occasionally. That said, if you hold it long enough, say until 55 years old, your average return should reflect the number.

Let’s say you opt for the fund with highest average return (CIMB-Principal PRS Plus Asia Pacific Ex Japan Equity - Class A). At 10.7% (and at age 24), your RM2,000 initial investment could be compounded to RM46,810 when you are 55! That is enough to buy yourself a new Myvi with CASH!

*Refers to the geometric means of annualized return which has incorporated compounding effect in it. I used 'average' for layman description.

(2) Standard Deviation

Next, the Standard Deviation reflects how risky the fund of your choice is.

Take the earlier example, the fund has a standard deviation of 15.3%. This means that your yearly return can sometimes fluctuate to up to 26% or down to a loss of -4.6%. Like the saying goes, high risk high return.

(3) Sharpe Ratio

Finally, let’s look into the last and most important benchmark, the Sharpe Ratio. The Sharpe Ratio is one of the most widely used benchmark to evaluate a fund’s performance.

In general, a positive number shows that capability of the fund to generate money for you. A negative number shows the fund took too much risk than the return could justify. This means that the higher the magnitude, the more reliable the ratio is.

Referring to the example, the fund is shown to have a Sharpe Ratio of 0.44. In other words, the fund is generating a solid return and not simply gambling our money away.

Conclusion

Not to mislead you, the example given is merely for convenience sake. Ultimately, you have the say on which fund that would suit your risk appetite.

For example, the AmPRS - Dynamic Sukuk - Class D is a safer investment as it offers an average return of 4.6%, which is more than the return from fixed deposit (FD).

An important note that the data used are from the period of 2013-2018 (annualized) and some are lesser than that. It means that the calculation would have some error as more data is needed to have a reliable measurement (minimum of 30 years). Therefore, take the number as a general guide and not an absolute deciding factor for your investment.

Back to you, Yi Xuan!

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No Money Lah's Verdict

To be frank, I've never looked into PRS in detail and I was shocked when I realized that there are so many funds available for us to invest in!

For a young fresh graduate, if I were to invest in a PRS fund, I would opt for AmPRS - Asia Pacific REITs - Class D given its decent Sharpe Ratio and average return, plus a Standard Deviation that is still rather low compared to other performing funds.

Now that you have a clear idea on how to find your choice of PRS fund, which fund would you choose to invest in? Let me know in the comment section below! (remember to open a PRS account by end of this year to enjoy the youth incentive!)

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About the contributor:

Varian Soong is an Economics graduate from University of Malaya. Being one of the brightest of his batch, he came in as the 1st runner-up in 2017 CFA Institute Research Challenge. Also, he has completed CFA Level 1 professional paper prior to his graduation. He is now pursuing his professional career as a Credit Analyst in MCIS Insurance. 

Connect with him on LinkedIn here.


Meditation: 5 Simple Things I Do for A Focused Mind & Better Sleep

“So…do I just close my eyes and think of nothing during meditation?”

That was exactly what I thought when I first started to learn meditation 3 years ago. I was looking for a way to overcome stress and being less reactive (impulsively) towards the things and incidents around myself.

As a start, I’ve tried many ‘conventional methods’ as marketed by media (eg. Listening to voice-guided meditation apps, using Delta soundwaves to help in concentrating). However, the outcome was on and off until I attended a 10-days meditation retreat organized by Vipassana Meditation. It is where I dedicated my time to learn and practice the simple and practical ways to meditate.

Fortunately, it works. The more I practice (even if it's just for 10 minutes daily), the more mindful and focused my mind becomes. Even better, I started to experience better quality of sleep. In short, meditation transformed my life for the better.

No need for voice-guided apps. No need for Delta soundwaves. If there is any takeaway that I’ve gotten from the retreat, it is the fact that meditation is as simple as it is!

Here are 5 simple steps to kickstart your meditation practice, even with just 5 minutes daily:

(1) Sit Comfortably and Close Your Eyes

It is important to be seated in a position where you are comfortable before you meditate. That said, refrain from lying against something (eg. wall, pillow) to prevent you from dozing off.

Hence, maintain an upright sitting posture. It is totally fine to cross your legs against each other normally, instead of having one leg above another in the movies. Relax your shoulders and arms, and rest your hands on your thighs.

Then, close your eyes.

(2) Start With a Few Deep Breathes

Notice how the air flow in the area between your nostrils and upper lips. Doing so, it will help you to enter a mindful state faster and more effectively. This is especially useful for beginners and those who just have 5 minutes to meditate.

Moving on, continue with smaller breathes until you are breathing normally.

(3) Focus on Your Breathing

Focus your attention as you breathe in and out of your nostrils.

As you enter the meditative state of mind, you might start to feel the air that you inhale into your nostrils is cooler in relative to the air that you exhale.

(4) Let Your Thoughts Pass By

While meditating, it is extremely common to have thoughts lingering around your mind.

It's fine, but learn not to attach to these thoughts. Instead, treat them like a passerby - let them come and go. Embrace all the emotions (happiness, excitement, anger, frustration), yet train yourself to let go of these thoughts.

At the same time, be mindful of your sitting posture as you might start to find yourself out of your upright posture.

(5) End with the Practice of Gratitude

Before this, how do you know if it is the time to end the meditation session?

Some would set an alarm for the duration of practice, but personally, whenever I started to feel impatience during a meditation session, I will hang on for a little more for the sense of impatience to pass-by before I proceed for Step 5 (a way for me to be mindful and be less reactive towards my emotions).

Finally, I would end my meditation session with a gratitude practice. This is where I would visualize the people around me to be healthy and happy, while internalizing that moment of gratitude.

And that’s it!

Meditation is really that simple, as it is a breathing exercise at its simplest form. Its simplicity is what makes it the simplest form of mindfulness practice that you can apply anytime during the day, regardless if you have just 5-minutes to spare during lunchtime or 30-minutes in the morning.

I’ve seen how meditation contributed to the recovery of cancer patients, and I’ve witnessed how this habit has made a lady at her 50s look just like in her early 40s.

For myself, this habit has transformed my life. Not only that it has helped me sleep better, it has also enabled me to be more mindful of my own emotions in times of stress and anxiety.

Hence, I strongly recommend you to at least commit to try meditation daily for at least a month, preferably in the morning and before you sleep. Trust me, you will notice the difference!

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About Vipassana Meditation:

I've been a meditation practitioner for 3 years, and this habit has transformed my life significantly better in many ways. All of these would have not been possible without the amazing 10-days meditation course organized by Vipassana Meditation, one of India's most ancient techniques of meditation (and simplest to learn, in my opinion).

Vipassana Meditation has a history of more than 2500 years, and have been taught to people of all ages, races and religions in the world. The best thing? This 10-days course is totally free of charge! My experience with their 10-days course in Kuantan (they have centers at Kulim and Johor as well) was amazing, with students having a personal accommodation with washroom and decent vegetarian meals daily.

For those who are really keen to learn and experience meditation, I highly recommend Vipassana Meditation to you. Check out their course schedule here.

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Do you have any questions or personal experience on meditation or other mindfulness practices? Do share with me at the contact box below or leave a comment at the very end of this article! I cannot wait to hear from you!

p.s. Aside from meditation, check out how you can transform your last few months of 2018 here!

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3 Practical Ways to Protect Ourselves during a Market Downturn!

In this post, I will address one issue: How to protect ourselves from a market downturn. But firstly, a little bit of context:

Look, I know the country’s state of economy is not in a good shape right now.

But seriously, how bad are we at the moment?

KLCI Index from the end of 2016 to October 2018

Looking back at the KLCI index, we’ve been enjoying strong growth since the end of 2016 towards the peak of 1896.03 points in April 2018. That was right before our election in 509. As such, we enjoyed a whopping 17% growth for more than a year!

That said, weakened investor confidence after 509, coupled with trade war and other internal and external geopolitical uncertainties have impacted our market heavily. This is especially true among the construction and tech sector.

A simple chart analysis (purple circle) in October will show that we are indeed heading towards a market downturn (or bear market), at least for a medium to long-term period. In simple word, a general sign of a market shifting towards a downward trend can be observed when the 200MA (black line) crossed above the 150MA (yellow line) and 50MA (green line), and all 3 of them are sloping down.

Some facts on bear market:

Source: First Trust Advisors
  • In the U.S., an average Bear Market lasted for a period of 1.4 years, with an average cumulative loss of 41%.
  • This will be followed by the Bull Market which on average, lasted for 9.1 years with an average cumulative return of 476%.

In short, for months to come, there is a need to brace ourselves for any punches from the local and global economy before the eventual rebound.

Here are 3 practical ways to protect ourselves in the event of a market downturn:

(1) Diversification of Income Streams

In any period of downturn, there will be unavoidable lay-offs.

Unfortunately, the good old time of working one stable job forever is now obsolete. Anyone and everyone is replaceable in a bad market condition and changing political landscape (read: our infrastructure projects after 509).

The safest bet is not to expect your boss (and government) to be loyal to you during the bad times.

Hence, it is important to start diversifying our income streams. In other words, we should not just depend on our current job as the only source of money.

Instead, spend your free time (and potentially time you would waste in social media anyway) to generate side income through existing passion and skills (eg. Piano, Photography, Marketing). Look around, the demand for your skill and passion is everywhere!

Also, it is equally important to learn to invest (not just relying on your mutual fund agent!) as another stream of income via capital appreciation (the profit when the price rises from the price you bought) and dividend income. It always feels safer when you are fully in control with your investments!

(2) Rational Investing*

In a market downturn, even the best stock investor loses money. But what differentiates these investors and layman is their discipline to admit to their losses and sell off their holdings.

In a bear market, low prices could go even lower. This is true even for fundamentally sound companies.

Hence, it is important to protect yourself by being rational during a market downturn. Grab your profit, even if it is lesser than what you’ve wished for. Stop losses if necessary, even if it hurts your ego while doing so.

Essentially, it is crucial to make decisions rationally during a market downturn.

*The key to making rational investment decisions in a market downturn is to know what you are doing! If you are not familiar with the stock market, it is wise to stay out from the market during a downturn. (Even better, follow No Money Lah on Facebook to keep yourself updated!)

(3) Manage Your Debt and Expenses!

Just like any businesses, we will be in trouble if we do not manage our debt and expenses properly in the time of a market downturn.

Hence, cut down on unnecessary expenses. Track your daily and monthly expenses, cut off the fats. Cancel the Astro and Hypp TV subscriptions already if you don’t even watch them anymore!

Also, don’t take on debt that you cannot handle or would suffocate yourself to service. It is fine to not have a beautiful car or gorgeous house now. Everyone’s pace in life is different, so are yours.

No Money Lah's Verdict

Unfortunately, we are slowly stepping into the spiral of downturn as you read this. This economic downturn might last for a few months, or if it got worse, years.

Just like how spring and summer will always follow after a cold winter, fingers crossed that we will see a change of season in the market soon. However, we are not in place to decide when this winter will end.

What we have the ability to control, though, is to prepare ourselves to face any situation to come in the market and the economy.

I wish all of us the best!


Interested in learning to make informed investment decisions regardless of market condition?

No Money Lah organizes investing workshops and gatherings for individuals and communities that are keen to learn.


5 Simple Social & Networking Hacks for Introverts

"Gosh. I wish I never step out from home just now."

I was at a networking dinner a few years ago and I felt extremely awkward. As a born introvert, I often felt uneased in a big crowd. To make thing worse as an introvert, all the socializing and conversations got me super drained up by the end of the day.

"I must really suck in this socializing thingy." I sighed.

Or do I?

As time goes by, with more socializing events that I have to attend (willingly or unwillingly), I've discovered a set of social and networking hacks that any introverts can pick-up immediately.

As such, here are 5 simple social & networking hacks that I've been using over the years that have helped me established relationships and overcome my awkwardness with people:

(1) Before any social/networking event - Do a mental warm-up.

Introverts (myself included) have the tendency to be uncomfortable and awkward with crowd and people. Hence, it is important to be mentally prepared before we head out to socialize.

Of all, one mental warm-up that I would practice before any networking event/gathering is to visualize myself being confident when walking into any of these events.

Next, I will make a self-commitment to connect and establish X number of new relationships in the event. Setting this self-commitment will provide me the momentum needed to kickstart any conversation.

With time (and practice), you will find it easier and less intimidating to build new relationships with prior mental warm-up.

Remember, every successful relationship building starts before the networking event itself. It is all about preparation, preparation and preparation.

(2) Meeting new people - Never ever forget that firm handshake!

The firm handshake.

Such important detail in any relationship building, yet often taken lightly by people. If there is one thing that 2 strangers do before any spoken words, it is the handshake between them.

A firm handshake shares a lot about one's level of confidence and trustworthiness - all before any exchange of spoken words!

No matter how uncomfortable or nervous you are, you can always fake a firm handshake. As an introvert, I often find it easier to fake my confidence with a firm handshake before any conversation with a stranger.

Not too light. Not too hard. Just a firm handshake to start an amazing conversation with any stranger.

(3) Starting a conversation - THE question that leads to limitless possibilities!

How are you?

"I'm fine, thank you. How are you doing?" I replied as I just got to meet this man called Jason in a networking event.

"Likewise." Jason replied, and we got into an awkward situation instantly as no one knew how to continue the conversation.

The thing is, asking the right question at the start of any conversation will heavily influence the outcome of the conversation. Learning to ask specific questions over open-ended questions (eg. How are you doing?) and meaningless questions (eg. How's the weather/traffic today?) will almost definitely prevent any awkwardness and conversation stutter.

Instead, try asking this next time at the start of any conversation:

"Anything interesting that you are working on right now?"

By asking this question, you trigger one's mind to look specifically for interesting projects/initiatives that they are working on, and share it with you (Instant conversation starter!).

We never know, the opportunity that you've been looking for all these while might be discovered just by asking this question.

(4) During a conversation - Listen attentively to the person you are talking to.

People love to share their personal stories. In other words, humans love to talk about themselves.

And people love it even more when there is someone that is willing to listen to them.

As an introvert, the skill of listening will prove extremely useful when it comes to socializing and networking. In fact, knowing how to listen is THE key to get what you want from any person you meet, not talking.

By listening attentively when a person shares their interesting work/projects with us, we effectively build trust with the person we are talking to. Little details while listening such as constant eye contact, reaffirming a statement to simple action like nodding your head while you are listening will make people feel comfortable talking to you.

Hence, never underestimate the power of listening!

(5) Ending a conversation - Always make it a habit to leave an impression.

By leaving an impression, what I am trying to say is to make people remember you after the conversation.

After listening to the interesting things that one does, always remember to share the one thing that you would like the person to remember you for. As an example, if I know Jason could use some information in investing, I would share about my investment articles on No Money Lah.

In addition, make it an effort to offer help such as "Let me know if you need any help in your projects". While people might not need your favor right away, but they will appreciate your offer and remember you for this. Just make sure that you are truly genuine to help when you ask the question.

By the end of any conversation, be sure to stay in touch with the person by either exchanging name-cards or get connected in social media.

Dear introverts...

In life, as much as we feel uncomfortable and uneasy with big crowds and people, it is without a doubt that we will come across a time where we will need to be out there building relationships.

Hence, instead of avoiding them, my experience has taught me to embrace every social and networking opportunities that I would attend.

Again, the key to a fruitful conversation with people in any social events is to prepare, prepare and prepare! Even now, I still follow the 5 hacks above whenever I am attending any kind of social and networking events.

If this 5 social hacks could help introvert like myself to overcome my uneasiness with big crowds and people, I am confident that it will help you as well!

With this, I wish you a fruitful experience in all your future social and networking events!

Stay awesome!

Yi Xuan.

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Leave a comment at the bottom of this post or write to me via the contact box below if you have any thoughts and feedback on this topic! I cannot wait to hear from you.

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How Can You Make The Best Out of The Last 90 Days of 2018?

"Great, the last 3 months of 2018 and I have barely achieved much."

I was a little frustrated looking at the calendar knowing that September 2018 is coming to an end. Early this year, I had so many plans.

According to plan, I was supposed to finish the design and launch No Money Lah back in March/April 2018. Yet, I only managed to launch and get everything done by late September.

According to plan, I was supposed to achieve a certain return for my trades by August/September 2018. Yet, I am still far away from my target by September.

According to plan, I was supposed to speak fluently in my Toastmasters speeches by now. Yet, I still trembled and went blank when I was out on the stage last week.

According to plan...kononnya.

The thing is, it is not just me that feels the same way

In fact, many lost their direction towards the end of the year. Typically, the only thing that many would be looking forward instead is their long vacation when they clear their annual leaves.

I refuse to submit.

For those who have yet to give in and refuse to settle for 2018, this one is for you

And you know what? It is totally fine if you messed up the past 9 months of 2018 - as long as you are keen to do something from now on. There is still time to make 2018 your best year ever.

If you feel that you can achieve and do so much more for the remaining 90 days, keep reading. This is my game plan for the next 90 days and here are what I am going to do:

(1) Focus on specific goals. Be concise.

For the remaining 90 days of 2018, set a specific goal for important parts of your life - career/studies, health, relationship, and finance. Write down your 90-Day Goals, and scope it down to Monthly Goals and a Weekly Action Plan.

The key here is to be extremely specific with the goals. Start small and move on from there. If your plan is to get more rest by sleeping before 12:00 am everyday, and you've been sleeping at 2:00 am all these while, it is only rational to have a marginal progress instead of a sudden change of your sleeping routine so your body can adapt better.

As such, here is how one of my 90-Day Goal (Habit & Health) looks like:

  • 90-Day Goal - Sleep by 12:30 am everyday. (I've been sleeping around 1:30 am for quite some time)
  • Monthly Goal (October) - Sleep by 1:00 am for the month of October. (Marginal progress: 30 minutes earlier from the initial 1:30 am)
  • Weekly Action Plan (1/10/2018 - 7/10/2018) - No more social media by 12:30 am to ensure better sleep quality.

Be concise with when and what you are going to do. If you are to sleep by 12:30 am, then be sure that you are already at bed by the time specified.

(2) Start journaling. Plan ahead and end your day with gratitude.

Ever had a long day filled with unproductive work, meetings, and meaningless networking, only to feel overwhelmed and exhausted at the end of the day?

Start the habit of journaling. Wake up 10 minutes earlier everyday (yes, even weekends!) and plan your day ahead. In fact, there're only 90 days left in 2018 and we do not want to waste any moment on unfulfilling and unproductive tasks that do not contribute to our goals.

Again, be specific. Write down what you are doing to do for the day at each session (morning, afternoon, evening) and tackle the hardest task in the morning. With that, you will feel more productive and efficient, and the day would be less daunting and overwhelming.

At the end of the day, before you sleep, take some personal moment to reflect on the day and write down things around you that you are grateful for. With time, the practice of gratitude will boost your happiness without you realizing as you will start to see things with gratitude and appreciation.

The best thing about journaling? It is a super effective way to boost the day and the habit only takes up 15 minutes of your day (10 mins in the morning, 5 mins at night)!

(3) Weekly & Monthly Goals Review is a must.

The reason why people tend to divert away from their goals is the fact that many do not look back and review on their progress once the goals are set. Hence, many lost their way while pursuing the goals.

It is super important to keep track of our progress as we pursue our goals. Keeping track of our progress on a weekly and monthly basis keep ourselves in check and make sure that we have a clear macro view on this 90-Day journey.

Every end of the week and month, take note of what has been done and not done. What could be done better? Celebrate progress, even the little ones. Embrace mistakes and failures along the way. Own your mistakes and set an action plan to do better next week/month!

(4) Commitment & Consistency are the (open) secrets.

Ultimately, plans and goals will always remain on paper unless we are committed in executing them.

In this last 90 days of 2018, strive to commit to the cause that you've planned to pursue and let nothing diverts your precious attention. Be committed to strike consistency in what you are doing. One of my 90-Day Goal is to not use social media for entertainment before 12:00 pm on weekdays. Wouldn't it be meaningless if I do it only when I feel like doing so?

The 90-Day Game Plan starts today!

The best time to invest was 30 years ago. The second best moment is now! I believe the similar message applies to not just money, but ourselves as well.

Look, we might have made mistakes in the early part of 2018. We might have procrastinated for the past few months. But let's not have our past judge and decide our moves for the remaining 90 days of 2018.

Start with the believe and desire that you will make the last 90 days of the year the best days ever, and kickstart your 90-Day Game Plan now! Be patient, stay committed, strive for consistency.

Potentially, this might be our turning point for an amazing year ahead, and I cannot wait to see the best from us all!

Stay awesome!

Yi Xuan.