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If you earn MORE because of currency, then you better INVEST.

When we have the opportunity or rather we found a way to work overseas and we earn in a currency which is 3 times higher, what do we do with the salary over there? Well, let me tell you a real story.

My brother works in a multi-national factory and he eats in the cafetaria occasionally. He says that the foreign workers, they will pile their rice high and then just pour curry gravy on the rice. No vegetables, no meat, no eggs. Just rice and gravy. They have been doing that for years. During dinner or weekends when they (foreign workers) cook, then they will have some meat but mostly vegetables.

They were doing this because they know that they have to SAVE the money and SENDs it back to their home country. By the way, I have friends who visited their colleagues who were foreign labours here in Malaysia. They actually OWN the property they stay in their home country. It’s only in the overseas country which they work that they stay in hostels or rent a room.

Nope, I am NOT telling anyone who earns three times the salary in ringgit because of currency exchange to start eating just rice and gravy in that foreign country. I am telling you that you have such a HUGE advantage. 3 times… If you just save half of the salary. Say you were earning SGD4,000 and you save just half, that’s SGD2,000 and that’s over RM6,000. Have you every imagined what would have happened if you have invested this instead? Well, it’s RM6,000 x 12 = RM72,000 per year. At 7% per annum returns, this same RM72,000 will become RM720,000 in 10 years and that’s just based on that first year total invested!

Of course, one may also prefer to earn in that country and spend as usual in that country. Instead of the SGD4 chicken rice, maybe it will look more classy to be in a restaurant and having a lunch set at SGD12 instead… Of course, instead of SGD500 for a decent smartphone, it will be okay to buy a SGD1500 for the top range smartphone. (since RM1,500 cannot buy that same model in Malaysia…)

I could go on but it will not include a car because in some countries, buying a car will mean the end of any savings because of the many requirements including cost of parking, fuel and toll. All in the local currency where one earns their pay…

A good question is thus, when you earn MORE because of a better currency, do you INVEST to create more wealth? Do you INVEST on yourself so that you can also keep upgrading and up-skilling and could soon be earning double your salary instead of almost the same pay and are scared that you may lose the job because someone from your home country may be willing to do the SAME job for the SAME pay as you are getting today…

Be prepared yeah. Employers will not be increasing your salary every year if one day they realise they could hire someone from your country for the same pay as what you enjoyed in the beginning a few years ago. The reason is also because of currency strength. It is not because you were no longer good in what you do. Happy understanding that this is just fact of life. We take advantage of whatever advantage we have.

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Next suggested article: Malaysians, we have salary increments. How high or low?

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Charles Tan The Founder The Writer Kopiandproperty
Charles Tan

Charles is Founder of He writes from his investment experience for the the past 20 years in investments including property, stock, unit trust and more as well as readings and conversations with many property gurus in the industry. is an independent property blog which is not affiliated to any media company, property developer or even real estate agencies.

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