Min-maxing: 100 ways to spruce-up your personal finances

Min-Maxing (which has its roots in role-playing games) is the process of minimising weaknesses and maximising strengths. The desired end result is for optimisation and better results.

Min-Maxing is all about taking many small steps to ruthlessly cut your weaknesses and making many small incremental gains to improve your personal finance.

Select two ideas to implement each week and you’ll be done within less than a year.

Personal finance basics

1. Have an overall financial plan.

2. Set S.M.A.R.T. financial goals.

3. Have a three- to six-month emergency savings.

4. Pay yourself first when you receive your salary.

5. Have a budget and stick to it.

6. Manage your debt.

7. Grow your net worth.

8. Maximise your tax benefits.

9. Know your retirement numbers.

10. Give generously.

General spending

1. Cut expenses on unnecessary spending.

2. Use generic alternatives when shopping.

3. Bring your own (reusable) water bottle when dining out.

4. Calculate the price per unit when buying groceries.

5. Pay off your credit card balance in full every month.

6. Avoid lifestyle creep as your income goes up.

7. Get and stick to a retailer/groceries membership programme.

8. Apply and use a cash back credit card like Maybank 2 Card.

9. Download and spend using e-wallet apps like Boost App that offer cash back (referral code: ste5fno).

10. Earn cash back using cash back sites/apps like Shopback.

General income and savings

1. Save/invest at least 20% of your income.

2. Apply for a high yield bank account like the OCBC 360 account.

3. Already a Maybank M2U account holder, apply online for M2U savers.

4. Take advantage of the latest best FD promotional rates.

5. Renegotiate your pay to increase your income.

6. Jump to a different company or different industry and be rewarded.

7. Sell your junk online or to a cash converter location.

8. Take up a part time/side income/online business.

9. Use your hobbies/gifts/talents to earn some moolah.

10. Take online YouGov surveys.

Dining and entertainment-related

1. Cook in bulk and freeze.

2. Organise a pot bless (pot luck) instead of dining out every time.

3. Skip sweet drinks when eating out (even Nando’s has free water now).

4. Get the Entertainer App.

5. Use dining deals offered by your telco (phone) provider or credit card.

6. Download the restaurant apps that give you better savings like the McD app.

7. If you frequent Starbucks, get the Starbucks card/mobile app, and Starbucks tumbler.

8. Get free movie tickets via GSC birthday month/TGV membership.

9. Borrow books from friends/library.

10. Buy books on sale especially Big Bad Wolf/Popular book fair.

Travel and tech-related

1. Get a credit card with travel/lounge benefits.

2. Select a flight rewards/membership programme with an airline/alliance you like:

• OneWorld

• Star Alliance

• Sky Team

3. Search for the best value flights using Skyscanner.

4. Travel during off-peak season if your vacation time is flexible.

5. If you travel often, buy annual travel insurance.

6. Make use of the Apple student discount.

7. Don’t chase the latest phone models.

8. Check if it’s worthwhile getting a free/discounted phone with a locked-in


9. Use TIME Broadband if available in your area.

10. Use strong passwords.


1. Get sturdy tyres (Malaysian roads suck).

2. Save costs long-term with regular on-time service, proper tire pressure, and regular rotation.

3. Bring own engine oil instead of using the marked-up expensive one at the shop.

4. Wash your car yourself.

5. Consider buying almost new cars and save on the massive early years depreciation.

6. If buying pre-loved, get a good mechanic to check to avoid buying a lemon.

7. Don’t text while driving (the risk of an accident far outweighs the time you save).

8. Check online pricing before selling/trading to a dealer.

9. Get rid of junk weighing down your car.

10. Buy auto insurance.

Health and risk management

1. Exercise regularly.

2. Consider exercising from home or with a low-cost home gym.

3. Eat more vegetables.

4. Buy own fruits (not cut fruits).

5. Have fruits-/oats-only diet days.

6. Cut sugar from your diet.

7. Brew your own coffee (and skip the sugar).

8. Go through a regular insurance policy review.

9. Get at least a basic will written.

10. Make sure your nominees for EPF, insurance, unit trust, PRS (Private Pension Administrator) are up-to-date.


1. Have a personal investment plan.

2. Sell/switch your losers; ride your winners.

3. Avoid money games and get-rich-quick schemes.

4. Don’t follow “hot tips”.

5. Don’t panic over short-term price movements.

6. Have an investment strategy.

7.Have an entry and exit plan.

8. Have a long-term perspective.

9. Reinvest your dividends.

10. Always look to pay lower/discounted fees.


1. Location, location, location.

2. Calculate your projected yield and returns.

3. Know your ideal tenant profile for rental properties.

4. Check the developer info and track record.

5. Buy property with low/zero downpayment.

6. Check for the best property insurance MRTA/MLTA.

7. Consider property refinancing for better rates/unlocking equity.

8. Be prepared in case of interest rates hikes.

9. Consider outsourcing property management.

10. Consider indirect property investment e.g. REITs.

Equities investment-related

1. Use a low-cost local shares brokerage.

2. Don’t gamble.

3. Know your circle of competency.

4. Avoid following the crowd.

5. Invest in equities via long-term fundamentally strong opportunities.

6. Build a diversified equity portfolio over different sectors and industries.

7. Record all your investments via an investment journal.

8. Invest not only in Malaysia but globally.

9. Use a low-cost global shares brokerage.

10. Learn how to read and understand how the economy affects the market.

This article first appeared in https://mypf.my