“Inflation” is the word on everyone’s lips, and unlike some financial concepts that can seem distant and irrelevant, inflation impacts our daily lives quite directly. From our monthly mortgage to the price of our daily meals at hawker centres, the rise in cost of living is palpable, and here are some ways I’m coping with inflation.
Opting for cheaper options
Going for lower cost alternatives has been something I’ve been practising even before interest rates got a little crazy. I used to spend S$25 for each haircut, until I realised S$12 ones worked just as well, before finally finding a salon that charged as cheaply as S$2. The going rate has since increased from S$2 to S$3, then again to S$4. That’s a shocking 100% increase, but since I’m already spending so little on my haircuts, it’s almost like a rounding error in my monthly expenditure.
Choosing cheaper options does not necessarily mean compromising on quality. You have to find a sweet spot where both price and value make sense, and I have come to realise that many things work well enough at an affordable price, and anything more expensive just gives you diminishing returns on your money. An example I can think of is my Xiaomi vacuum which cost me around S$250 a couple years ago while a Dyson was at least S$650. The Xiaomi is competent and does exactly what I expect a vacuum to do. Does it drop a bit of cat litter here and there where the Dyson would flawlessly clear things up? Yes – or so my friend claims – but it’s nothing an additional sweep of the vacuum wouldn’t solve. The Dyson certainly isn’t 160% better than the Xiaomi even though it costs that much more.
Individually, saving on such items probably won’t amount to anything material, but it can add up significantly if you apply such a habit across the things you spend on on a recurring basis. Think about how much you spend on groceries, utility providers, mobile phone plans etc. and you can see how the savings can stack up over months and years.
Making use of credit cards
When you do have to spend, make sure you are putting them on the right credit card for the best rewards. I am perhaps preaching to the choir here since most of my readers are probably credit card enthusiasts already doing this, but you could forward this article and site to your friends who have yet to optimise their credit card strategy for their expenses.
A quick and easy example I’ve always used for “credit card muggles” is using Citi Cash Back to buy supermarket vouchers for a princely 8% cashback, then rationing the vouchers over the next few months for grocery spend. People who aren’t already doing this are in fact losing 8% each time they buy groceries because opportunity cost is cost, and things are worse now that prices are going up.
I’ve compiled a list of the best cards to use for different areas of spend that will be continually updated, and you should definitely take a look at that to maximise the credit card rewards you can get from your spend.
Also, many banks are still giving generous sign-up promos for their credit cards, and they are like additional subsidies of sort on top of what the government has given to offset the cost of living. Ironically, people who don’t make the income requirement can’t enjoy such perks, but are the ones who need them the most… and that’s something to talk about on another day.
Savings and investing
Making your money grow is an idea that is probably obvious to most these days, but what I’ve realised is that there are so many products being marketed to people that it can be confusing to a layperson what exactly to save and invest in. One telling sign that this is true is that there are people who continue to buy regular premium investment-linked policies despite the notoriety of such products over the past decade or so.
Where and how to invest and save money in will be more of a central focus of my site moving ahead, so stay subscribed to the Telegram to receive updates on this.
Earning additional sources of income
Getting a side-hustle has been something I’ve encouraged since the start of this website, and I continue to believe in such a practice. It depends on one’s personal circumstances, of course, and not everyone has the luxury of time or energy to do this, but those with the ability to do so should try their hand at earning some extra income.
I’ve talked about my experience doing tuition, and it is probably one of the more common side-jobs one can have in Singapore, but there really are a 101 things to do. I’ve even heard of a lawyer who does food delivery because he wants to be paid to exercise!
An additional income source not only alleviates cost of living pressures, but also provides a safety net in events like retrenchment.
As I finish this piece, I realise that most of my tips are things I’ve been
nagging talking about even before inflation became this crazy thing it is now, and I’ve personally benefited from living out my own advice. Hopefully you’ll find them helpful too, and do consider subscribing to the Telegram and join my ongoing journey of leading a financially satisfactory life.
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