Thursday, October 30, 2008

Surviving through lean times - Part 1

Possibly facing my first recession since I started work 5-6 yrs ago, I think it's a good time to figure out how to tide over this rough period. Fail to plan, plan to fail, they say. I think I need to think about 2 aspects of coping with the possible recession - How to save more and how to cope with it psychologically. But for this post, I'll just focus more on the savings part. Maybe more on the psychology part at a more opportune time.

How I'm going to save more

The golden rule applies : Savings = Income - Expenses

To raise savings, I need to increase my income and decrease my expenses. As I've not been through a recession since I've started working, I do not yet know if my job is recession proof. Well, I do hope it is! What I intend to do is to market myself to the upper middle to upper class segment, for I deem them to be able to ride it out better than the average Singaporeans. In fact, I even plan to increase my rates. The good thing about my job is that I do not have to rely on any company, hence during recessionary times, I do not have to worry about being retrenched or suffer a pay cut. I believe that's a big relief factor for me, especially if I intend to take on more debts in the near term for housing and such. I guess it's a different mentality for me because for my job, security is never taken for granted. In fact, it's never secure. I have to fight my way to reach my previous pay every year. Haha, in a way, I'm having a recession every Nov to Jan period where I have to experience pay cut and no work :)

To prevent credit crisis in my job (where people are unable to pay), I think my usual diversification strategy works. I take in around 30 streams of income, so if one fails, it will not hit me too hard. I work on a credit basis - meaning that I provide service and give credit for around a month before I get paid. I might need to adjust the collection period to increase my own liquidity. Perhaps I'll shorten my credit term to two weeks for some. That will have to depend on situation, depending on how bad it gets.

Another integral part of the savings equation is to decrease expenses. I already have cost savings measures in place, regardless of recession or good times, so it's not as if I'm going to tighten my belt or anything because it's already tightened. I'm a valueskate, not a cheapskate.

Recently, I reviewed my insurance policies and found that it's not up to standard. I mean I could get much more for the same buck. That will have to go. As mentioned in my 'valueskate' post, I don't mind paying more if it's going to give me more bang for my bucks. After learning the that price is not equal to value, I think my perspectives opened up. Cheap need not necessary be better. Nor is expensive stuff necessarily good. I'll try to source out valuables at cheaper price, not necessary cheapest price :)

I seldom frequent restaurants, so nothing to cut from there. One trick I learnt is not to buy drinks when having meals. Drinks usually cost 80 cts to 150 cts, which is easily 50% of what I paid for my meals. I simply cannot imagine why. As such, I bring own bottle of plain water and probably saved myself $2 a day, which adds up to $700 a year. I don't buy a lot of clothes, so nothing to cut there. But I do love my Springfield brand, so I'll get it only when they have super discounts from 30% to 50% :) yummy!

After trimming what we spend and shoring up what we can earn, the remainder will be savings. I do hope to maintain at least 50% savings to income ratio even when times are bad. Currently, I'm doing all that I can to save around 70 to 80% of my income, so this will provide me with a truckload of ammunition to fire sparingly at critical levels of the market. I'm happily sitting on a near 80% loss in portfolio - truly an extraordinary time for me :)

Try being an arctic fox. Eat more during good times and ride out the winter during bad times. Rule of nature yes? Do that to your savings now :)


dream said...

Err...I don't think recession is relevant to super tutors!

Anonymous said...

something that you might wanna way of looking at the savings equation kinda differs slightly. I'm more of a expenses = income - savings person. ie. I fix a fixed amount I wanna save a month, withdraw it when my salary comes in, and allow myself to spend whatever's left. I feel its a more disciplined approach.

btw, its a cool blog u haf...keep it up! =)

la papillion said...

Hi emsii,

Thks for visiting :)

Oh, I think most pple will do it your way because the salary comes in with one lump sum at a fixed date. My income streams in every week with different amounts per month, so I cannot put it a fixed amount every month and have to react accordingly :)