Beating Inflation: 5 Stuff that Are Actually Cheaper Today Compared To The Past
By reputation, Singapore is among the priciest countries to live in. However this wasn't always the case. At one time previously when daily essentials and luxuries for example food, clothes, transport and entertainment were cheaper.
For example, during the 90s, a typical plate of chicken rice costs $2 as you're watching a movie on the weekday would set you back only $5.
Even though inflation is the primary reason why things are more expensive now, it is not entirely true that all things have be expensive today.
Here are 5 common items and services that many of us spend on today, which we're paying less for when compared to past.
#1 Investing In Stocks And Funds
Let's start with our favourite topics – stock investing.
Back within the Teletext days (still remember what that is?), purchasing stocks was much more expensive. To buy a regular, you need to call your broker, and a one-way transaction would set you back a minimum of $35. This means exchanging stock would set you back at least $70.
These days, investing in stocks is a lot cheaper. Brokerage houses for example DBS Vickers charges a minimum of $10* per trade, or 0.12%* per trade for their Cash Upfront Trade. What this means is a $10,000 investment will cost only $12*, cheaper than investors previously would need to pay.
*Fees are only applicable to stocks exchanging the SGX market.
For those wanting to invest a smaller sum every month, regular savings plans like the DBS Invest-Saver allows you to start investing in asset classes for example Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs) and Unit Trusts from less than $100 each month. This allows investors to take a position without having to worry about timing the market, also known as dollar-cost averaging (DCA). Through DCA, you purchase more units of stocks when prices are lower and lesser units of stocks when costs are higher.
Transaction fees payable will also be comparatively lower, just $0.82 for any $100 investment (0.82%). This wasn't even an option for investors back in the 90s.
#2 Technological Devices
Technological devices within the 90s can't be when compared with what we have today. Back then, video games could be installed with under 10MB of space and lots of computers had total space for storage measured in hundreds of MBs. Other devices such as mobile phones and digital cameras were also a lot more primitive, while being large and unwieldy.
Yet, we paid exorbitant prices for technology back then, even by today's standards.
For example, back in the 90s, the first computer that my family had cost us about $3,000. Upgrading laptop or computer parts were also expensive and straightforward add-ons like a joystick or mouse can certainly cost close to $100 each. A beginner digital camera would cost you a minimum of several $ 100.
Thankfully, technology products are far cheaper today.
You can buy new desktops and laptops with excellent specifications for less than $1,000. Quality smartphones can be purchased for under $200, plus a functional built-in camera that would make anyone within the 90s jealous.
#3 Telecommunication Services
In the past, making an overseas call can cost you $1 a minute and doing a video call was close to impossible, even if you were prepared to pay for it.
These days, with platforms and apps such as WhatsApp, Skype and Zoom, calling a buddy overseas and enjoying video conference calls is virtually free, using the only cost you have to pay being your mobile data plan or your home broadband service.
Even so, mobile data plans and residential broadband services are far cheaper today. Besides the faster 4G network speeds that people enjoy, we are also paying less of these services than the usual decade ago.
Home broadband plans today can start from less than $30 per month while SIM-only mobile plans may cost under $10 monthly – far less expensive than the simplest mobile phone plans in the past.
On surface of that, free WiFi services such as [email protected] permits us to enjoy high-speed broadband for free as we travel around Singapore.
#4 Travelling Overseas
Before COVID-19, Singaporeans were among the most well-travelled categories of people in Asia, in terms of how often we travel, and just how much we allocated to our travels.
As such, we would be glad to know that travelling overseas is among the few stuff that have got cheaper because the 90s. With more budget airlines competing alongside full-service carrier, prices for airline travel has reduced significantly. The likes of Airbnb have also created alternate and cheaper accommodations.
Singapore travellers are not only seen spoilt with choices in terms of destinations (with visa-free admission to 190 countries), but could also choose the cheapest and many suitable flights based on their travel dates. When you purchase the best dates, regional flights can sometimes cost less than going for a Grab ride across Singapore.
To allow you to find the very best flights and hotel accommodations, travel aggregator portals such as the DBS Travel Marketplace can help you find suitable flight and accommodation deals according to your financial allowance. By allows you to conveniently compare prices, you receive the best bang for your buck – after COVID-19 has ended, of course!
#5 Electricity Within the Household
Due to COVID-19, many of us are finding ourselves spending more time in your own home. As a result, we may be using our air-conditioning all day every day, binge watching television or spending more time gaming. Each one of these, in addition to other daily activities, will lead to a rise in our household electricity consumption.
However, as shared by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in his 2021 National Day Rally speech, electricity tariffs are lower today than it was at yesteryear.
For example, in 2008, the electricity tariff was 25.07 cents per kWh. For that period of 1 April to 30 June 2021, the electricity tariff was reaches 24.63 cents per kWh. It has since declined to $20.97 cents per kWh for that duration of 1 July to 30 September 2021. All costs are including GST.
This means that according to current tariff prices charged by SP Group, Singaporeans are paying about 21% less for their electricity today than in 2008.
However, many Singapore households are paying even lesser compared to (reduced) tariff today. Using the Open Electricity Market, now you can buy electricity from different licensed retailers, at a lower price when compared with what SP Group is charging.
Through DBS Utility Marketplace, you can compare the prices being offered by different licensed electricity retailers. You may also filter for the best plans according to your choice, such as a fixed price, discount off tariff plan or you want your provider to become only using clean energy.
Source: DBS Utility Marketplace
As of July 2021, plans that offer households a fixed price could be from as little as $0.1700 kWh (including GST) with different 12-month contract, which is about 13% cheaper compared to SP prices. Or choose a discounted rate off the tariff that gives a price that is about 21% lower compared to the tariff price.
In addition, POSB Everyday Card cardholders who pay for their utility bill will also get to savor one more 1% cash rebate.
Not Everything Is More Expensive Today
While inflation is definitely an inevitable part of economic progression, it doesn't mean that everything we purchase today is automatically more expensive as compared to the past.
By being prudent in the manner we spend, be it buying value-for-money technology devices, investing in a cost-efficient way or using comparison and aggregator tools like the DBS Marketplace to find the best deals, we can find ways to reduce our monthly expenses without needing to feel like we have to deprive ourselves from the comfort that modern living provides.