With average inflation in Singapore at just above 2% from 2008 until now1, you may not feel the pinch of inflation slowly eating into your savings. But with the average interest of a bank's savings account at just 0.1% to 0.8%2, you are indeed losing purchasing power over time.
To put it into simple terms, inflation represents the decline in real purchasing power. The S$1 that you used to buy a cup of Kopi in year 2000 can't buy you that same cup now. Instead, you may need to pay S$1.50 to S$2 for it today. The amount may seem small, but think about the same effect applied to more expensive items - your HDB flat, or what about a medical bill?
Inflation is also frequently presented as a percentage change over a year, which means that you may not see the cumulative effect over a period of time. This is why the Consumer Price Index gives a more representative indication.
Sometimes, you may see the term Consumer Price Index (CPI) and inflation used interchangeably. The difference is that the CPI is calculated using the prices of a representative basket of goods that consumers pay for. This may include common foodstuff, transport, healthcare, clothing and other essential items. These items are then included in the index using a weight system to represent the various percentages they stand in a typical household.
The problem is that most people assume inflation to be a number applicable over different categories, but the truth is that the price increase can vary depending on the type of goods, as seen in Chart 1.
Using the medical and dental treatment fee as an example, we can see that prices have actually increased by 21.7% since 2007. Do you now see why your money loses value if you put it in a normal bank savings account?
To do nothing and continue leaving your money in a savings account is nothing short of dangerous in your overall financial planning. Thankfully, there are many ways in which you can solve protect yourself against inflation.
1. Work your savings harder
You can consider alternative savings plans which provide higher returns relative to a normal bank savings account.
One such example is a fixed deposit account. A fixed deposit account is good for those who have a larger sum of money and are able to forego the liquidity of their cash for specific periods of time. Each account has a different annual interest rate that can range between 0.10% to 1.15%3.
Higher-interest savings accounts are now provided by a number of local banks such as DBS4, OCBC5 and UOB6. The downside is that it requires you to fulfill several banking conditions - monthly credit of your salary, minimum monthly spending on credit card and a minimum number of transactions on your bank account. While some give out up to 3% annual interest, the hassle of having to track that you fulfill all requirements on a monthly basis can prove too much for some people.
However, both fixed deposit accounts and higher-interest saving accounts are covered under the SDIC’s Deposit Insurance coverage for up to $50,000 per account7,8, this is a convenient method to grow your savings if you are risk-averse.
2. Insurance Endowment plan
Most insurers offer some form of endowment plan tied to an insurance policy - enjoy protection while getting potential returns till the policy matures.
Take for instance, the , an insurance savings plan that offers you the choice of receiving cash payouts annually or leaving them with the insurer to achieve potentially higher returns.
3. Investing in Stocks
Some people with greater risk appetite may consider investing in stocks. The main problem is that stocks are vulnerable to market volatility, hence you are also exposed to the risk of not getting any returns, or worse, losing part or all of your capital. On the other hand, investing may give you the opportunity for potential returns.
Inflation is a fact of life - to do nothing is to look at your purchasing power being taken away from you over the years. Safeguard your future today and consider some of the alternative ways to help you reach your financial goal.
These insurance products are underwritten by Manulife (Singapore) Pte. Ltd. (Reg. No. 198002116D). This advertisement has not been reviewed by the Monetary Authority of Singapore. Buying a life insurance policy is a long-term commitment. There may be high costs involved if you terminate the policy early, and your policy's surrender value (if any) may be zero or less than the total premiums paid. Buying health insurance products that are unsuitable for you may affect your ability to finance your future healthcare needs. This advertisement is for your information only and does not consider your specific investment objectives, financial situation or needs. It is not a contract of insurance and is not intended as an offer or recommendation to purchase the plan. You can find the full terms and conditions, details, and exclusions for the mentioned insurance product(s) in the policy contract.
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