How I Invest My Money as a Self-Employed Person (Detailed Breakdown!)

Where do I invest my money?

In this article, I want to talk a little bit about the breakdown of my (boring) investment portfolio. I’ll also shed some info on the asset classes involved and what I want to improve or refine further. 

By the end, I’ll share some of my core investing mindsets (or principles, whatever you wanna call them) that I follow closely in my decision-making process.

Have a good read!

Now, a few caveats…

1. The market is dynamic (so is life). Our financial priorities change as we grow older. Hence, I am pretty sure how I invest today will evolve along with time and my priorities in life. 

2. The focus of this discussion will be on my long-term investment portfolio. This means that invested assets will be focused 100% on achieving my financial goal (Financial Independence, or FI). 

They will not be cashed out for other purposes other than portfolio rebalancing. 

3. Money allocated for savings and emergencies will NOT be included in this discussion. This is because there is a high chance that these monies will be used for purposes other than to achieve my financial goals. 

Read my articles on savings and emergency funds HERE and HERE

4. Money allocated for short-term trading will not be included in this discussion. The nature & purpose between trading and investing are extremely different and there is no reason for me to add them to this discussion.

With that in mind, please approach this post with a pinch of salt. Your investment approach and style should be aligned with your own priorities in life, risk profile, and more. 

Do consult a licensed financial planner if you are serious about building your own investment portfolio. I am also working with my personal financial planner and have written about my experience HERE

No Money Lah’s Investment Portfolio + Breakdown Discussion – June 2020

#1 Cash in Hand for Investment Purposes

There are a few reasons why 40% of my portfolio is in the form of cash.

Reason #1: Risk of income fluctuation as a self-employed. 

There are certain months where my income may be less than my intended average figure. 

Hence, at this point in time (June), I have a 3-months cash buffer allocated for my monthly investment routine as you’ll read in this article.

Reason #2: Cash reserved for different opportunities.

We never know what’ll happen in the market tomorrow. 

Especially in this current market condition, I have extra cash reserved to take advantage of any opportunities that may come knocking on the doorstep. 

#2 Stock Market (REITs) – Active Income Investing

How I Invest: Every month, barring nothing special happens, I will pump a specific sum of money into my selected REITs.

When it comes to the stock market, I focus particularly on Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs)

This is the part of my investing routine where I am involved actively to research and study what to invest.

The reasons why I focus on REITs are because REITs’ volatility is generally milder relative to other sectors in the market, and I like the idea of consistent dividend payout from REITs (something like collecting rent as a landlord). 

Simply put, REITs are my niche and it is a sector that I can utilize my thought process & analysis skills with high competence to generate alpha (edge).

What I’d like to refine further: Starting to expose myself more to foreign REITs (ie. Singapore, HK & US REITs) for the 2nd half of 2020.

Note: Click photo to access this article.


p.s. I am often asked if I feel ‘sayang’ for missing out on all the hot headline stocks. To be honest, I don’t.

For one, I do not have time to study these companies for long-term investment. Secondly, the moment you see a stock appear on the headline, you are probably way too late to join the game.

I focus on my niche and strength, and will not touch something that I am not familiar with. 

#3 Robo-Advisors (StashAway + Wahed) – Automated Passive Investing

How I Invest: Monthly automated debit order.

Yes, I am aware of the risk of overconcentration by just investing in REITs. 

Hence, I am also passively invested in robo-advisors like StashAway and Wahed to diversify my portfolio into ETFs of various industries and other asset classes (ie. Bond, Commodities, Sukuk). 

In terms of risk profile, I am mainly focusing on medium-risk portfolios from both platforms (StashAway: 14% Risk Index, Wahed: Medium Risk Profile).

The beauty of robo-advisors is that I can invest passively at a reasonably lower cost than conventional unit trusts. 

What I’d like to refine further: Nothing.

p.s. Use my: StashAway Referral Code and get 50% off your management fees for 6 months, as well as Wahed Referral Code (Code: YIXCHI1) and get RM10 bonus fund!

Note: Click photo to access this article. 

#4 PRS – Passive Investing

Just to take advantage of tax and government’s previous incentive.

Note: Click photo to access article

#5 Gold – Monthly manual debit order

How I Invest: Manual debit via HelloGold’s Smart Savers program

Personally, I think of Gold as a wealth preservation asset and a correlation hedge against overall market volatility. 

The reason why I choose to stick with HelloGold is that it allows me to be extremely flexible with the purchase amount, whereas other platforms have a minimum purchase of 1g. 

What I’d like to refine further: Increase monthly allocation in Gold, and start to have exposure in Silver in line with the increment of my income in the near future.

Note: Click photo to access article

#6 EPF – Passive Investing

How I Invest: Monthly manual debit order

EPF is an interesting matter to me as a self-employed. This is because unlike normal employment where there is a standard to how much you and your employer will contribute to your EPF, I have to manage my own EPF account.

This is done by opening my own EPF i-Saraan account and manage my own EPF contribution.

What I’d like to refine further: Increase monthly allocation in line with the increment of my income in the near future.

#7 Bitcoin – Not adding any positions 

Presently, most of my bitcoin positions are my unsold positions during my purchase in mid-2017.

They are relatively small as I was lucky enough to sell off the majority of my position nearly at the height of bitcoin’s $20,000 peak by the end of 2017.

That said, I am also eyeing to start increasing my holding on digital currencies moving forward. Just gotta dive in and do some research first.

What I’d like to refine further: Do deeper research into digital currencies.

#8 ASNB – No Luck

Seriously, if you can get your hands on Amanah Saham Fixed Price Funds, get it. 

The consistency of return and the nature of ASNB unit price (fixed at RM1.00/unit) makes it a no-brainer if you are looking to invest passively.

Unfortunately, I never really got much luck to get many units since I’ve written my piece on Amanah Saham last year *sigh*

Note: Click photo to access article.

Context: My Situation

I am 26 this year. As a self-employed, I run this blog and actively organize live REIT Income Investing coaching sessions – both of which I have a lot of fun doing.

In my downtime prior to Covid-19, I am also an International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) certified table tennis coach (though that stream of income is no more today).

More importantly, I am also passionately working behind the scene to become a full-time funded trader (*fingers crossed*). This part of my life requires a dedicated post, but suffice to say it is a very challenging, yet exciting journey.

I am single and currently living with my family (it’s a blessing). Hence, I am able to reduce my living expenses significantly which enables me to pursue my goals wholeheartedly, while maintaining a respectable savings ratio.

All in all, my situation is likely going to be very different from many people, as I do not have a fixed monthly income. 

Financially, my situation requires me to be extremely disciplined with money. It also pushed me to think 2 to 3 steps ahead in terms of my income streams, which is why you’ll see things like cash buffer in place for my monthly investment routines.

My Investing Mindset + Approaches

1. Create a disciplined financial and investing routine. For me, I review my financials and investments every month-end, so I am always aware of my financial state. 

2. Take time to discover your investment style. Not everyone has the time & commitment to pick individual stocks. Not everyone can invest in volatile businesses. Everyone is different. 

For me, a hybrid routine of active REIT income investing coupled with low-cost passive investing makes the most sense to my personality, time, and commitment. 

3. Foundational skills like how to analyze a financial report is a MUST in active investing. I think there’s really no shortcut here. 

4. A stock investing plan without an exit strategy is NOT a plan. Market and businesses are too dynamic to buy and hold forever. 

5. 99% of headlines are mostly for entertainment purposes. Until you know what you are looking for, headlines and news can be extremely overwhelming. 

p.s. I don’t really care about the hottest stock in town. 

6. Leverage on technology. Low-cost passive investing platforms like StashAway and Wahed helped complement my investment routine so I am always diversified in other industries. 

7. Avoid investing with borrowed money. I avoid leveraged accounts and invest only with the money I have (ie. Cash Upfront account on Rakuten Trade).

8. Learn to make independent investment decisions. I use various resources to help me gather insights, but ultimately, I make my own investment decisions. 

Nothing helps me improve more than taking ownership of how I invest my own wealth. 

9. Focus on the process – keep learning and stay humble. Whenever I feel like I know everything, the market will prove me otherwise. A little humility goes a long way in the market. 

10. In the long run, successful financial goals and investing depend on one’s habits, mindset, and skillsets. And yes, it’ll take time. 

No Money Lah’s Verdict

Oh my, this is a long article! Thanks for reading till the end, and hopefully you find this post an insightful one!

Ultimately, it is crucial for us to acknowledge that investing is a very personal matter. How I invest will likely be very different from you, and there is really no right or wrong approach here.

Either way, personal finance and investing is a life-long journey. Our money and investment routine have to evolve as we step into different stages of life.

Hence, keep learning, stay humble.

p.s. Curious, where do you invest your money in? Feel free to share with me at the comment section below! 

Talk soon! :)

This is an article that I’ve always wanted to write about. In fact, I have several drafts for this topic, yet I never really landed on an approach to this article.

Big thanks to Mr-Stingy’s article on 'How I Invest My Own Money' (check it out!), which has helped me decide how I should approach this topic. You can also check out a similar topic from Ringgit Oh Ringgit HERE.

You Might be Interested: What'd I do If I Were to Start Investing All Over Again?

How to Diversify & Grow Your EPF Savings? (psst.. Tell your parents about it too!)

Retirement supposed to be a phase in life where we finally put down our burden in life and start enjoying life, right?

However, according to EPF, 70% of members who withdraw their savings at age 55 use up their savings in less than a decade after retiring.

Simply put, for most people, having a good retirement life seems to be a huge challenge.

The challenge, though, is to figure out ways for us all to retire comfortably in the norm of the rising cost of living and stagnant wage growth.

Now, to be fair, for you to better prepare for your retirement, you probably should contribute more to EPF.

Considering that is done, is there any other way for you to diversify & grow your EPF savings beyond the boundaries of returns that you are getting from EPF themselves?

(Yes, there is a way – share this with your parents too!)

EPF's Dividend Rate since 2015. (Source: EPF)

EPF Members Investment Scheme (MIS)

EPF MIS is an initiative by EPF to allow eligible members (eligibility details below) to invest in EPF-approved unit trust funds in order to allow members to diversify and potentially grow their retirement savings.

There are essentially 2 ways for a qualified EPF member to take advantage of the MIS initiative.

One of them is via a Fund Management Institution (FMI) agent that’ll conduct face-to-face advice while aiding members with fund selection & document submission.

On the other hand, the alternative way is via EPF’s latest i-Invest online platform.

Introducing EPF i-Invest

EPF i-Invest is an initiative introduced by EPF in August 2019 to allow fellow EPF members to diversify their EPF savings into EPF-approved unit trusts under the Members Investment Scheme (MIS) – all at the convenience of our very own devices.

Under EPF i-Invest, eligible members can diversify up to 30% of the amount in excess of the basic savings in Account 1 into EPF-approved unit trust funds.

Simply put, we now have more flexibility over where their EPF funds are being invested.

Source: EPF

Okay, Which Fund Manager Should I Use? (hint: Principal Asset Management Berhad)

As of now, there are 10 financial management institutions that you can choose from to invest via EPF i-Invest.

Of all, Principal Asset Management Berhad (“Principal”) is an established fund manager that has been running award-winning funds since 1994.

One of the highlights of investing your EPF funds with Principal EPF i-Invest is that there will be no sales charge (a.k.a. 0% sales charge!*).

Simply put, you can save up on your upfront fee to invest in EPF-approved unit trusts!

But personally, I think the biggest opportunity here is the chance for members to DIY their EPF investments (ie. research, buy & sell anytime) all at the convenience of their devices.

EPF-Approved Funds from Principal Asset Management

As of the time of writing, there are 30 EPF-approved funds (both conventional & shariah-compliant) that are being offered by Principal for members to invest via EPF i-Invest.

I can’t go through every single one of them, but these are 5 highlighted funds by Principal Asset Management that you can check out.

Are You Eligible to Invest Your EPF Fund using EPF i-Invest?

For one to take advantage of the investment using EPF i-Invest, you’ll have to be:

  1. A Malaysian, OR a Permanent Resident (PR), OR a Non-Malaysian that is registered as EPF Member before 1 August 1998
  2. Have sufficient savings with the EPF (more below)

How would we know if we have sufficient savings with EPF?

Essentially, for an EPF member to be considered to have ‘sufficient’ savings to invest via EPF i-Invest, one will have to have an excess of savings in Akaun 1, beyond the basic savings amount set by EPF according to a member’s age.

Then, a member will be able to use 30% out of the excess savings (minimum RM1,000) in Akaun 1 to invest in unit trusts through EPF i-Invest.

Below is a sample of eligibility calculation:

Source: EPF

To get more information on EPF’s basic savings requirement, check out the link HERE. Otherwise, you can also view, at a glance, the amount that you are eligible to invest by logging in to EPF i-Invest.

How to Invest via EPF i-Invest?

EPF i-Invest is essentially a feature under EPF’s digital platform – EPF i-Akaun.

Hence, to get started to invest with Principal Asset Management via EPF i-Invest, an EPF member will first have to get an EPF i-Akaun.

If you (or your parents) do not have one, be sure to head over to your nearest EPF office to open your account.

Once you are done with that, just follow these 4 simple steps:

Step 1: Login to Your EPF i-Akaun

Source: EPF

Step 2: In the main menu, click ‘Investment’, then select ‘Transaction’, followed by ‘Buy’.

Source: EPF

Step 3: Select “Principal Asset Management Bhd” as your Financial Management Institution (FMI) and choose your preferred fund.

Source: EPF

Step 4: Checkout with “Principal Asset Management Bhd” and complete your transaction.

Principal EPF i-Invest 1st Year Anniversary Promo (yay!)

Find out more HERE

In conjunction with the 1st year anniversary of the launch of Principal EPF i-Invest, Principal is rewarding all EPF i-Invest’s investors with a special reward!

From 7/7/2020 to 9/9/2020, get rewarded up to 0.55% of your net investment value in the form of Touch ‘n’ Go e-Wallet reload pin when you invest a minimum of RM2,000!

Terms & conditions apply. You may refer to the T&C here.

No Money Lah’s Verdict

With technology enabling innovation in the financial industry, I am happy to see that we have more flexibility to use our retirement savings in EPF to gain access to different investment solutions to diversify and grow our savings – all at the convenience of our fingertips via EPF i-Invest!

Now, are you or any of your family members eligible to invest using EPF i-Invest?

Be sure to check it out, and start growing your retirement fund today!

Disclaimer: Investment involves risk. As a general rule, you should only trade in financial products that you are familiar with and understand the risk associated with them. Click HERE to find out the specific risk and details of the funds mentioned in this article.

p.s. This article is kindly sponsored by Principal Asset Management.