By Jessica Wee

Anwar Ibrahim’s epic installation as Malaysia’s 10th prime minister has brought many tears of joy as some have given up hope of seeing this day in their lifetime.

The elephant in the room remains whether a more favorable political scene is enough to reverse the brain drain, namely, getting the Malaysians working in Singapore to return home.

It is not a secret that Singapore has been poaching Malaysia’s smartest and best by giving out the ASEAN Scholarship to students between the ages of 15 and 17 to further their studies in Singapore.

Most ASEAN scholars would end up staying in Singapore to work before taking on the PR and eventually applying for a Singapore citizenship. 

For those who cannot move to Singapore for personal reasons or simply can’t find a job there, how can one earn SGD without leaving our beloved country?

Since the 80s when I was born, I have never experienced the joy of seeing the appreciation of MYR ( especially against the Singapore Dollar). On 9 August 1965, Singapore separated from Malaysia to become an independent and sovereign state. The value of SGD1 = RM1 and today (25 Nov 2022), SGD1 = RM3.27. 

Here are some ways that you can earn in SGD without physically living there.

  1. Buying SGD denominated investments. For conservative portfolio management, consider buying a Singapore bank’s bond ETFs and REITs. All these holdings will pay good dividends in SGD quarterly or semi-annually. Singapore ETFs may not make sense as the market generally faces no volatility and hence, not much upside.

Consider Singapore bond ETFs which pay yearly dividends which you can buy by investing in ABF Singapore bond ETF A35 or Nikko AM SGD corporate bonds, MBH.

There are two easy ways to start buying Singapore stock, you can open an account with InteractiveBrokers (IBKR) and pick the stocks you prefer, the fee is minimal.

Otherwise, you can open a local brokerage account which charges a higher fee than IBKR.

2. Selling products online

You can look for a distributor of Malaysian made products and sell physical products from Malaysia to Singapore via e-commerce sites. Some of the popular searches to sell online include electronics, fashion and beauty, toys, DIY and personal care. In fact, you can do this and sell globally through Amazon! Earning in USD is a great option too!

3. Selling your services online

Have you tried freelance work and selling your service to Singaporeans or in fact anyone in the world? There is Upwork and Fiverr which can help you start selling your expertise globally. You can easily make USD10-100 per hour depending on your competency level.

All kinds of freelance work are in high demand especially as more companies offer remote work for services such as website design, content writing, accounting and consulting, you name it. There are many ways of earning side income if you are creative enough. 

4. Find a job that pays in SGD but allows you to work remotely in Malaysia

This is the most ideal scenario and you would need to approach major Singaporean companies. Someone I met works as a legal consultant to Singapore’s largest airline and she gets to do all her work remotely.

Team meetings are done only once or twice a month when she needs to travel to the lion city.

Another idea is to set up a company in Singapore, this is most feasible for financial related businesses. Many Malaysians have a Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) licensed fund which allows them to ‘work’ in Singapore but they can spend most of their time in Malaysia.

Their earnings are in SGD, they pay Singapore income tax which is only 17% but their expenditure is mostly in Ringgit Malaysia (RM).

Whichever method you choose (one or in combination), we should instill a habit to continue diversifying our investment portfolio geographically and monetarily in different currencies.

What do you think of the above? Which option would you go for?

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