Sunday, April 18, 2010

Another way to beat inflation

I was looking at Adrain Khiat's column in the straits times this morning. Wow, he made it to the newspaper already, especially after he revamped his blog. I wouldn't say I'm a fan of his, but I do read his posting on and off. I stopped because there is just to much negativity in the comments. Might want to visit it again soon :)

Anyway, he mentioned something about child education and how inflation can cause the tuition fee for local universities to rise up to an astronomical sum, 20 yrs later. Somehow, I caught on to the idea of inflation after reading this.

I though that yes, inflation will cause the price of things to go up. But wouldn't inflation cause your salary to go up as well? Basically, the price of goods and services go up because the cost of producing these goods and services go up as well. Your salary will form part of the rising cost of these services. I think the bugbear here is not inflation per say, but rather the fact that while your salary increases, it might not rise as high as the cost of goods/services sold. If that happens, then it'll be a problem. You just have to look at the percentage rise in median salary vs the percentage rise in HDB flats over the last 20 yrs to see how HDB is still very 'affordable' to everyone.

Haha, the inflation monster is hiding in the closet!

When I started tutoring 7 years ago, I'm charging a rate of $22 per hour. Now I'm charging a rate of $40-60 per hour. Take $50 as the average rate per hour, this would mean an average inflation of 12.4% per yr. I think this would beat the average 3-4% inflation per year in Singapore.

Am I excessively worried about inflation? Not really. I just make sure that my salary can catch up with inflation. How? Ensuring that I do the best in my job so that I can command a premium rate. I have an advantage that employees do not have - I can determine my own hourly rate and float it accordingly to the times. While I realize that there is a cap to how much I can raise my rates for 1-1 tuition (since it would inevitably lower the demand), I can always aim for another model of business- the low rates, high volume kind, which is typical of group tuition.


Createwealth8888 said...

Most people have this false sense of security that their future earning will increase with time.

Age really matters and may finally determine your retained earning power in a highly competitive environment.

Most employers will not want to employ an older person at the same rate unless the country's law forbid it.

Most people's memory and recalls at 40s, 50s or 60s can't be better at 20s and 30s.

la papillion said...

Hi bro8888,

Hmm, what are you trying to say? Are you saying that it's not good to forecast a higher earnings, but instead forecast a lower earnings?

I think it's good to think optimistically, but react realistically as the situation unfolds. Otherwise it will be a very miserable existence worrying about the future.

What do you think?

AK71 said...

Hi LP,

I borrow your question:
"Am I excessively worried about inflation?"

I also borrow your answer:
"Not really."

I stop borrowing thereafter because the way I deal with the spectre of inflation is different. I would not want to have to ensure that I can command a premium rate at my job. That's too tiring.

What would I do? Here is my answer:


AK71 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Hi LP,

As u mentioned in the earlier post; Hedging is necessary. :)

Human capital is one asset, there are other assets too, some cope better with inflation than others.

Thankfully, sgd is relatively strong & expect to be so in future.. I do take steps against inflation. In fact, at this moment its one of the most important factor for me in financial planning.


la papillion said...

Hi AK and HH,

Well, the title of the post is "Another way to beat inflation". I do know of other ways of beating inflation, e.g. property, stocks etc.

I'm trying to analyse why these asset classes are able to beat inflation. Let's say for stocks - stocks can beat inflation because they are companies that can raise the price of their goods/services according to the times, which partly contributes to inflation. Now if we see ourselves as a company, we can also invest more in our own equity (by training, providing better services..) to beat inflation. Thus, 'another' way to beat inflation is to invest in human capital.

That's the critical pt that I want to raise in this article. Besides other asset classes that are conventionally used to combat inflation, we can actually invest in ourselves.

I don't believe any books that I've read actually mentioned this point before, so I thought it's a fresh angle to tackle this topic, hence worthy to blog about :) In any case, even if someone talked about it before, I've not read it yet, so this is still a discovery to me, haha

Createwealth8888 said...

Another way to cause deflation: failing or weakening human capital

AK71 said...

Hi LP,

Actually, I realised belatedly the point of your post. Clear in the title but I was lost in the content. Pardon me, an aging dinosaur. ;-p

CreateWealth8888 said...

Ak71 has just confirmed it :-)

Most people's memory and recalls at 40s, 50s or 60s can't be better at 20s and 30s

AK71 said...

Hi CW,

Aiyoh, I still in my 30s hor.... for a couple more years. I am a year end baby. But memory not so good, it's true. :-(

Anonymous said...

Hi LP,

When I was in the bank, the boss made it very clear to us. Be out of operational and move into mgt in a few years. Let the young ones take over, they have zeal, passion, creativity and energy. You guys must learn to train others to take over the position. :)

At the end of day, need to move up to "higher value added" and consider leaveraging on other "human capital"?

"Human capital" Should also include family unit. "Economies of marriage" can make human capital more productive, (as qty increase).

My siblings and I were rather useful labor for 15 yrs for our dad when biz was buzzling. I am sure dad did not do family planning for us to be child-labor, but we just have to help out; being borned into shop owner's home. :)

As a family, there are more cost to consider. Some of which, like education may rise up much faster than other cost due of changing policy. Eg. I only paid 2K per year for my uni course, my friend paid 1k just the year before me. It was 100% increase. It is probably 5 times now?

So fighting inflation as a family unit... and deploying financial capital effectively.

Who says life is easy?


KickAss@GohsipInDisguise said...

Hey LP,

can an increasing salary beat inflation? I don't think so.

My dad's first home cost him 20k, His pay cheque was a miserly 1k back then. But think about it. It worked his a** off for 2 years and he paid it off.

Now if my pay is 3 times his ie.3k
Where am I going to find a 60k home? if I can find a 200k one it will truly be amazing!


KickAss@GohsipInDisguise said...

Sorry must add. You can determine your rate of increase. I can't le!
If SEC sue us... lol.. maybe my income decrease.

AK71 said...

Aiyoh, if SEC sues hor, you have to wonder if you would still have a job... ;-p

Createwealth8888 said...

Earlier AK71 has confirmed

"Most people's memory and recalls at 40s, 50s or 60s can't be better at 20s and 30s."

KickAss@GohsipInDisguise may now agree that

"Most people have this false sense of security that their future earning will increase with time."

Createwealth8888 said...

What I have more to say on inflation

la papillion said...

Hi HH,

"You guys must learn to train others to take over the position." - I will remember that.

Fighting inflation as a family unit. Hmm, that's a very interesting idea. Thanks for sharing :)

la papillion said...

Hi Goh,

Well, I've already mentioned that my job is different because I can control my salary to beat inflation. Not so for the employed, with regards to this aspect.

I also mentioned that property just rose faster than salary, dun think can catch up. It's the fact that our salary can't catch up with the general rise in prices, that we can feel the effect of inflation. If our salary rises in accordance with inflation, inflation is not a problem at all.

Createwealth8888 said...

"Age really matters and may finally determine your retained earning power in a highly competitive environment."

Is this not applicable to old private tutor?

PanzerGrenadier said...

Singapore is pretty age-ist when it comes to employment. It's an employer's market. Just think of SIA stewardess vs that of Air NZ or Qantas. SIA employs "sweet-young-things" and can ground you for being pregnant. These type of labour practices will get you in trouble in more developed countries.

In the end, beating inflation requires one to live within our means, to manage our wants and to focus more on needs and to continue to invest in our human capital while workign with an employer that actually cares.

You know this organisations, they typically have people who work until they retire. If your company has no one who retired and it has been around for many years, it's a warning sign :-P

Be well and prosper.

la papillion said...

Hi bro8888,

I've actually seen a few old private tutors before. They seem to be enjoying their lives well after retiring. Some are teaching even when they are in their 60s.

I met one while having lunch. He is a retired teacher. He just took enough classes for fun. His rate is 100 per hour for 1-1 tuition, teaching A'lvl. People still want him because of his experience in the subject matter.

Does age matters for old private tutor? I do not have the answers yet, but I do think that it matters as much. Does an old trader make less money? I also do not think so. In certain jobs that requires mental agility, experience counts a lot.

I recall an incident where a student tries to show off his mental abacus ability. He can do mental sums at such a high speed. I lose to him, naturally. But I gave him a math question to do - he can't do it. Why? A fast computer can memorise more things and compute faster - it doesn't mean that it can think.

And that's the part where I am supposed to come in.

la papillion said...

Hi PG,

I share your concerns on the topic of ageism at work locally. It's a shame because most of the senior workers are doing menial and physical tasks - I see so many at coffeeshops/security/macdonalds. This means they are more in need of money than to find some jobs to pass time.

But I believe this problem have to be resolved eventually. As the demographic of the population goes towards the right end, there are just old people and older people. Companies better start adapting to the greying population rather than discriminating them when they reach retirement age.

Thorny issues.

Createwealth8888 said...

A trader is not paid by his employer. Wrong comparsion I think.

For the same rate, most employers will opt for younger ones. It is sad but the truth unless you are happen to be the few good old gingers that still fetch good price. Most are old gingers and can't really fetch good price.

Anonymous said...

If you are an old tutor that does not have any outstanding mortgage, then happy days. Otherwise, the pressure will even be greater than when you are young.

It would seem that doing your own business would be a better way to determine your own destiny. I believe there are two occasions in time when your destiny is really in your own hands. One, when you decide to take a job and two when you decide to quit. Any time in between, someone else determines your fate.


CreateWealth8888 said...

I fully agreed. :-)

"I believe there are two occasions in time when your destiny is really in your own hands. One, when you decide to take a job and two when you decide to quit. Any time in between, someone else determines your fate."

la papillion said...

Hi mdsk and bro8888,

Well, I do not like to believe that things are predestined. It's only after I tried my best then I would say let God to the rest. And fight hard I would before I will even utter, "I give up".

To mdsk, I would be doing my own business in the future. That's why I'm doing what I'm doing now. It's to build a foundation so that the pieces of the puzzle will fit into place in time to come.

To bro8888, while I respect your views, I do not agree with it. I'm neither overly optimistic, nor am I being pessimistic. Let the years ahead weather my character and world view, then maybe then, I will agree with you.

Createwealth8888 said...

mdsk is not talking about things are predestined. I also don't believe things are predestined.

But when you are employed, your bosses determine your bonus, your pay rise, your promotion, your profile, your pink slip etc. or indirectly your fate in the company.

JOB - Just Obey Boss

Alvin said...

If I am in your shoes, I would like to find potential candidates that can make good tutors and get them to join the firm.

If everything goes well, I would use my experience to develop a teaching method and systemise it. So that the rest of the tutors can adopt and maintain the kind of standard that I desire.

And soon, it becomes a business that generates passive income.

But sadly I am not you. So I do not know the issues and intricacies at hand. Just offer some ideas and it's good to dream sometimes :D

Anonymous said...


Great minds think alike. No, not nothing is predestined, unless after you have tried your best.

The boss of the company determines your destiny in his company. If you do not like the path he chose for you, then you have to take that destiny back into your own hands and quit.

I took the business owner path only 10 years ago and the only regret I have is that I have not started earlier. If you want to be a business owner, start earlier before you have too many commitments so much so that you feel safer with a regular income.


la papillion said...

Hi Alvin,

Thanks for your suggestion. Intending to do that, but not anytime soon. Need to build a foundation first.

And yea, it's good to dream :)