Who among us can forget the time when we had to memorise a long list of Malay proverbs back in school? Of course, our sole objective then was to ace our Bahasa Malaysia exams, but now that we’re all out of school and busy achieving our life goals - pay off our debts, travel the world, get married, or even start our own businesses - perhaps these old proverbs can serve as our guidance towards a better financial life.
Here are some of the old proverbs from the wise, who probably did not expect them to be bordering genius money management tips:
1. Yang Dikejar Tak Dapat, Yang Dikendong Berciciran
Meaning: It’s better to hold onto something that you already have than risk losing it in pursuit for something better.
One of the most used proverbs, this one throws shade to the worst habit to have when trying to maintain a stable financial life; greed. It can serve as a reminder for you to always be careful when it comes to investing your money, and not become victims of get-rich schemes or similar high-risk investment plans.
Research and understand the product thoroughly before committing to any investment plan. You don’t want to lose all your hard-earned money while chasing some unicorn windfall do you?
2. Ukur Baju Di Badan Sendiri
Meaning: Only do the things that are within your abilities.
Perhaps you’re more familiar with its English counterpart; ‘cut your coat according to your cloth’. This proverb helps to remind you that you should only buy and spend on things that are within your budget.
After all, the surefire way to get broke in no time is by spending beyond what you can afford.
3. Sedikit-Sedikit Lama-Lama Menjadi Bukit
Meaning: Be consistent at something once you’ve already decided to do it, and you’ll reap the rewards in due time.
Ever heard of the phrase ‘In for a penny, in for a pound’? This Malay proverb carries the exact same meaning to it. It’s best applied to building your savings for your emergency fund, retirement fund, or even to reach a particular goal - such as saving for a new laptop.
The most important thing to remember is to keep at it - consistently - and you’ll have the satisfaction of watching your savings grow larger and larger as time goes by.
4. Sambil Menyelam Minum Air
Meaning: Solve two problems at once, with a single action.
This proverb is literally translated to; take a drink while you’re diving. While we don’t advise you to take this proverb literally (because, gross?), it can serve as a great money tip for those who are looking to save and grow their money at the same time.
Whether it’s your emergency fund or EPF account, look into growing your money while continually adding to them. Invest them in fixed deposit accounts, EPF-linked investment accounts, or similar low-risk investment channels.
5. Gali Lubang, Tutup Lubang
Meaning: Paying a debt with another debt
This is one of the best proverb to remember in your personal financial management. Paying an existing debt by way of another debt is a huge no-no, as it’ll lead you to a deeper financial pit.
Work off your debt slowly, talk to your borrowers and work out a repayment plan, and commit to it. Of course, there are instances where it’s financially advantageous to take out a loan to pay a debt, but that would depend on several factors - like if the loan’s interest rate is lower than your current debt’s interest rate.
If you’re thinking of paying off a debt with a low-interest personal loan, have a look at our comparison page for the best personal loans in the market.
6. Sudah Terhantuk Baru Terngadah
Meaning: To prevent something bad from happening when it’s already too late.
Only one word of advice is needed to sum up the financial lesson in this proverb: save. Always put aside a portion of your income and channel it to your emergency fund - or retirement fund - for those rainy days.
You never know what might happen that would call for a large sum of money, your car might break down in the middle of the month, you might lose your job, or your cat might need an emergency veterinary care after eating some chocolate you left on your table. You never know.
7. Ikan Lagi Di Laut, Lada Garam Sudah Di Sengkalan
Meaning: Make preparations to enjoy something that is yet to be obtained.
Say you’ve just gone through a performance review at work and are looking forward to receiving a bonus, but you’ve yet to know how much it is or if you’ll even get it in the first place. But you’re so eager that you blow all your savings in one go, thinking you’ll get your bonus at the end of the month.
Now, what if you didn’t get your bonus? You’ll be left with an empty bank account, and possibly end up in debt as you’ll have less money to pay for bills and expenses. That is the valuable lesson taught by this proverb, and one that you should always remember to achieve a balanced and stable financial life.
We’re sure there are many more proverbs that can teach us invaluable money management tips, and if you do have any suggestions other than the ones mentioned, feel free to share with us in the comment section below!