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With inflation still remaining a problem for the foreseeable future (up to two years, according to 2023 Global Risks Report by World Economic Forum), how can you mitigate the rising costs of life? Well, the only proven way is to… make more money.
Singapore is among the less affected countries but even so, at an estimated six per cent, inflation in the city-state wasn’t exactly low.
In addition, one has to remember that it’s just an average figure for an arbitrarily determined basket of goods and services, and how each one of us is affected by rising prices depends specifically on what we buy.
For many families, monthly expenses may have gone by double digit percentages, far above what broad statistics would suggest. This is particularly true for those renting rather than owning properties, or driving a car.
So, how can you leap ahead and get your salary up by double digits as well? Here are some options for 2023, ranked by their relative difficulty.
1. Easy: 5 to 10 per cent increase
At this level, most people won’t have to do anything. This is because headline inflation is projected by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to reach around 5.5 to 6.5 per cent in 2023.
On average, incomes can be expected to grow by around two to three percentage points above the rate of inflation, what would put them at 7.5 to 9.5 per cent off the bat.
But these are averages — some are getting more, some are getting less. If you’re in a slightly more generous company, your annual boost could be well into double digits, particularly if accounting for bonuses.
So, really, unless you’re in a struggling business that is exposed to possible economic stagnation or global recession, you could end the year bringing home up to 10 per cent more than you did in 2022.
However, what if you are not so lucky? Well, paradoxically, it’s both a challenge and an opportunity in disguise.
2. Advanced: 10 to 40 per cent increase
People who want to boost their incomes by more than 10 per cent and those who are stuck in a stagnant business have, surprisingly, a similar way of achieving their goals: changing jobs.
According to the latest global salary survey for 2023, published by British recruitment company Robert Walters Group, if you are willing to part with your current job, you may be looking at an average increase of 15 to 20 per cent within the same industry in Singapore — and up to 40 per cent in professions with acute shortage of talent (like tech).
It is hardly a surprise given that over 80 per cent of companies in the city-state report shortages of qualified workforce, according to quarterly employment outlook surveys released by ManpowerGroup — placing the country third among 40 countries covered by the study.
The pressure on the labour market is compounded by the fact that resident employment is already 4.4 per cent above the 2019 levels while non-resident numbers are yet to return to pre-pandemic normal.
This means that local labour is stretched thin, while employers still reported over 100,000 vacancies in the third quarter of 2022. It’s definitely employee’s market right now, giving you greater bargaining leverage — and it is higher the more qualified you are.
For the list of the six most attractive professions in the year ahead, check out our previous article, also based on the data from Robert Walters.
The sooner you make your move the better, as there’s no guarantee good conditions will last.
But given the confluence of positive factors, boosting the value of qualified workers, now is the time to shop around for the best deal and get yourself a 20 per cent increment by hopping over to a different company.
3. Expert: 40 per cent increase, or more
If you’re adventurous, entrepreneurial and ambitious, you may want to consider one more path, although it’s not suitable (and often not even available) to everyone.
Given the acute labour shortages we’re talking about here, employers are also more likely to consider employment of part-time or full-time remote contractors on very flexible terms.
As long as your job can be performed away from office and does not require much interaction during very specific hours, you can always offer your services to more than one company, effectively drawing two or more salaries — and they wouldn’t even have to be in Singapore (businesses that are open to employing remote talent often aren’t bothered where you reside since it does not make much difference).
Because work-from-home arrangements revolve around results not mindlessly clocking hours, it’s quite likely you could get away with working only marginally more in terms of time consumed — or maybe not at all, if we consider time saved on a daily commute, which was the norm for most people before the pandemic.
Covid-19 has, in fact, accelerated the trend so much so that it has become a topic of discussion for moral, legal and tax implications in Washington Post (among many other outlets) last year.
Meanwhile, one survey commissioned in 2021 found that as many as 45 per cent of Americans working remotely took on side hustles in addition to their regular job:
Some have opted to do it clandestinely, but it’s better to be safe and agree on the terms with your primary/first employer, just in case.
The fact is, however, that it’s perfectly doable, especially if you’re proficient at your job.
One extremely clever bloke reportedly managed to automate his mundane but well-paying US$90,000 job by writing a simple computer script that performed the tasks for him, as was reported last year.
While he is obviously an outlier, the truth is that most jobs that require only a computer can usually be performed in fewer hours than the standard 40+ per week, especially if you are willing and able to lean on technology to help you.
If you really know what you’re doing, this may even develop into a business of your own.
Why merely draw a salary when you could start a company and provide these services to your current or past employers, and other companies?
Since so many can’t find the right talent, they may be more than willing to outsource it to someone competent on a contractual basis.
Such a venture could eventually grow as it would be much easier for it to remotely employ aides in other countries that you could train to offload some of the tasks from your shoulders.
Admittedly, complexity of such an approach is much higher and it is not applicable to all professions, but if your industry faces no obvious obstacles, it might just be the best time to become your own boss and use your expertise not only to bump your income but outright multiply it.
The demand is clearly there.
Featured Image Credit: Chonnatun via depositphotos