All images were provided by Suraya Zainudin of Ringgit Oh Ringgit. 

Ringgit Oh Ringgit started out as a humble chronicle of a Malaysian millennial’s journey into personal finance.

Four years on, the website has gained a sizeable niche following and founder, Suraya Zainudin has carved a reputation as a finance blogger, often quoted on subjects related to money and personal finance.

Finance might seem a boring subject, but for Suraya, it’s her passion.

Even on holiday at historical locations, the 30-year-old communications consultant finds more interest in the financial portfolio of olden day kings and the capital it took to build a grand palace than the more obvious spectacle of architectural  grandeurs.

“There I was at a walking tour in the UK, wondering how the royal families managed to fund their extravagant lifestyles – was it through taxes? Borrowed money? If yes, from where and whom? Did they wage wars to get more resources?

“In contrast, the couple beside me were happily discussing the beauty of the building’s aesthetics and my friends who came with me were more keen to know about the religious history of the place,” Suraya tells Eksentrika.

In exploring her favourite topics, Suraya became among the rare female pioneers, filling a digital content void on Malaysia’s bread and butter money matters.

She is the only woman amidst a handful of Malaysian thought leaders in the online financial literacy cicuit.

Now, after making a mark in cybersphere, Suraya is charting into the material world of publishing through her debut book, Money Stories from Malaysians: Volume 1. 

 

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Suraya Zainudin is the beautiful face behind the personal finance content website, Ringgit Oh Ringgit. IMAGE: Suraya Zainudin.      

The anthology is a close collaboration between 10 finance nerds, including Suraya, to share 10 unique tales that offer advice in short story form.

The endeavour mimics the approach of a classic finance literature, George S Clason’s The Richest Man in Babylon.

Classon’s 1926 publication has been regarded as an insightful guide for wealth seekers and investors. Its unusual structure, which dispenses financial advice through parables surrounding a fictional Babylonian character has also inspired many modern works.

“Our book provides a local context that we believe would strike a chord with our fellow Malaysians.

“It’s also in line with the very reason I started my blog, to provide more localised perspectives on spending, savings and investing,” Suraya explains to us via email.

While Suraya’s debut book could still be deemed insightful for financial awareness, she is quick to dismiss the idea that it puts a price on financial advice.

“Afterall, I am already providing free financial advice through my articles in Ringgit Oh Ringgit.

“Think of this book more like an edutainment take of personal finance, a creative spin on a stereotypically ‘dry’ topic,” she says.

Suraya also considers her latest labour of love as a combination of three favourite elements; delving further into her the realm of personal finance, learning the ropes of self-publishing and monetising a product, to add to her passive income stream.

The project itself was turned into an experimental investment vehicle when Suraya offered the other nine writers a proposition in return for their involvement.

They could choose to be paid a single, up front payment of RM100 for their contribution or a percentage cut from the book sale royalty within a year.

“If we manage to sell all 1,000 copies of the first print, each of us would get between RM500- RM1,000. (initial estimates; figures may change)

“Those who decided the royalty option understood the risks, while those who needed immediate cash took the one off payment,” Suraya said.

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Suraya Zainudin is one of Malaysia’s prominent thought leaders when it comes to personal finance. IMAGE: Suraya Zainudin.

Suraya invested some RM10,000 in initial capital in hopes of creating a worthwhile product, that readers could appreciate.

These mainly funded aspects of the book design including illustration, professional editing, proofreading, layout, printing, marketing and miscellaneous fees required in self-publishing.

It would seem like Suraya has been embarking on one brilliant idea after another but she admits that each adventure she undertakes presents its own set of challenges.

“First, I suffered from writer’s block. Then I wasn’t sure whether I should self-publish or go with a traditional publisher. I learned the hard way about what I could have outsourced from the start instead of doing everything myself.

“While it has been stressful, I value the learning process and the experience. I’m grateful for the opportunity to learn while doing.”

After mulling on whether to release the project as a purely digital ebook or print, she decided on a combination of both.

In the spirit of sharing knowledge and being transparent, Suraya has also produced a guide to self-publish a book in Malaysia and a case study based on her project.

 

You can expect to discover familliar yet varried narratives in Money Stories from Malaysians: Volume 1. We hear it entails encounters of battling Ponzi schemes, benefits of quitting cigarettes to ideas of transitioning into a system of universal basic income.

These stories were written in close collaboration with writers Jouhari Ali, N.T. Cloever, Sarah Anne, Eu Leon, Sumi S, Aina Izzah, Juntaki, Jonathan Kam, Chan Ai Sin, and of course, Suraya herself.

As of the time of writing, Suraya shared with Eksentrika that she has managed to recoup more than RM10,000 of her initial capital within the first month of book launch.

Does this mean Volume 2 will soon be in the pipeline? Suraya says from a business standpoint, the odds are definitely likely, if she is able to reap 100% profit from Volume 1.

In other words, the sequel is probably already in the making!

By the way, Suraya’s not the only one who has been successful when it comes to self-publishing. Urban fantasy writer Nazri Noor has been making waves in the self-publishing scene. Find out how he topped Amazon’s bestsellers’ lists here.

How did Nazri Noor top Amazon best sellers lists through self-publishing?

Did you know that a 2014 study by S&P Global Literacy Financial puts Malaysia’s financial literacy rate at a meagre 36%?  Whether you fall on the better or worse end of that yardstick, you should definitely check out Money Stories from Malaysians: Volume 1. Purchase the book directly from Suraya Zainudin here. Keen to advertise on Eksentrika? Drop us a comment or send us an email at editors@eksentrika.com!   

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