All the mafan things about personal finance and life

Mafan is slang for “annoying” or in Malay for “malasnya nak buat”.

If you find personal finance mafan, you’re not alone. There are so many things that you have to sort out to be at least semi-good at it.

But that’s adulting for you. This post is all about things you have to do in order to be “good” at personal finance, and life in general. But beware – some are more mafan than others.


Get insured

Insurance is important. Leaving money behind for your loved ones and not having to worry about medical bills are things you can get behind.

But please, insurance companies, do us a favour and stop all this lack of transparency nonsense. Can’t you put an auto-calculator on your website that gives us an instant quote? Must you make us find agents and do manual comparison ourselves?

Apparently insurance companies do this so their competitors can’t find out their rates. They’re afraid the industry will resort to price-slashing to attract customers. That means less profit for them. If you’re from the insurance industry and reading this, please by all means go ahead and counter this argument.


Paying bills and taxes

Tracking and diligently paying bills and taxes takes up a lot of mental space but has got to be done.



Truth is, you’d love to spend all the money you have today and the only thing stopping you is Future You.

For some, Future You is freakishly strict, like the discipline teacher in school, who walked around with a rotan. Present You often goes, “Oooh that looks fun, I want to buy that” but Future You quickly says, “NOT ON MY WATCH”.



Future You plays a big role here too. She nags and nags until action is taken and an investment product to put money in has been found.

Learning about investments in the first place can be hard. The biggest issue is knowing who to trust.

Investment companies play all sorts of mind games to appear more trustworthy. They get likeable ambassadors. They use non-threatening cheerful colours and slogans. They invite you to talks and seminars and events.

The dodgy ones even make promises they can’t keep, like saying, “Double your investment in a month”.

You have to cut through all the niceties and get straight to the products they offer. Asking the right questions help. Who makes up your management team? Are they reputable? How much will you charge me for this service? What are the terms? What are your reviews like – not the paid ones, the real ones?


Invest in yourself

There are a few components to this section but to simplify things, here are the three most important: invest in your education, invest in your health and invest in your appearance.

• Invest in your education

If you’re lucky, you had an education after high school. If you’re luckier, it was fully or partially paid by yourself, your parents or a scholarship. But that’s as far as luck will take you, because education doesn’t stop.

Take the initiative to continue learning, so you can climb the corporate ladder, grow professionally, and avoid becoming redundant in your organisation. Education comes from many sources: books, online and offline courses, events and seminars, networking sessions, etc.

Investing in your education costs money and time. The internet has drastically reduced this barrier, but not quite – you still need a device and still need to pay for internet access.

• Invest in your health

We’re not talking about only exercising to keep fit, but also preventative care, like eating well and sleeping well and walking well. Good food, a good mattress and good shoes all cost a hefty sum.

Most of us live relatively care-free lives until we get to the age when we realise we have to start taking care of our bodies.

Eat well on a budget. Get over that “Sayangnya duit’ mental block when buying a RM1,000+ mattress instead of a RM200 one, among others.

• Invest in your appearance

Skincare. Clothes. Makeup. Accessories. In other words, things that make you look professional and presentable. People do judge, like it or not. It’s quite essential to commit some money to this category. While some find the whole process of figuring out what works and what doesn’t quite mafan, others love this type of “investing”.


Lastly, back to you

Remember, humans are complex. Just because we complain about something doesn’t mean we don’t and can’t do it.

You CAN acknowledge what is unpleasant in your life. And hopefully, some startup founder out there is listening, and s/he will create the exact solutions you’ve been waiting for all along.

We’ve already seen this with the financial products comparison platforms and education/health/education-focused platforms.

This article first appeared in

Suraya is a corporate writer-for-hire and the blogger behind personal finance website Ringgit Oh Ringgit. She is more of a minimalist, less of a consumerist, a konon DIY enthusiast, a let’s-support-small-businesses-over-big-corporations kinda girl. Prior to her current role, she worked in various capacities within the non-profit industry.