There’s a hi-bye friend of mine who decided to share his story with me, because he thought it was the right thing to do: that given the materialistic mindset of Singaporeans, there’re cracks that needed to be mended.
He prefers to keep his identity anonymous, but he’s known fondly as Mr Ng to many of his students. Mr Ng is a Gen-Yer, having been through the Singapore education system and signing a bond to be a teacher.
After a few years of teaching, he realized he was earning more from teaching private tuition—getting a respectable $100 per hour from teaching at the comfort of his house.
Three years ago, he resigned from teaching and gave private tuition full-time instead. Within a year, he was getting over $200 by teaching four students at one go. Every day, he would teach from 5:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m., and 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. on weekends. Pay was over $20,000 a month and that was enough for the then 28-year-old.
But he realized something. He was teaching when his then girlfriend, an accountant, was free. He was free when his girlfriend was working. The strain in the relationship persisted, but Mr Ng just wanted to earn enough so that he could marry his girlfriend. Just a few months back, he proposed to his girlfriend.
The girlfriend said something that made so much sense that he went back home to ponder about it: “How can we start a family when you’re working while the family is free, and vice versa?” It struck him and he told me, “I was earning a lot without working long hours, but the fact is, I’m still losing precious time with my family.”
He admitted that the money did draw him to giving private tuition, but he didn’t realize that it could be a short-term thingy. After all, he couldn’t delegate the work to others—the students, he said, trusted only him and all of them were by referrals. They all wanted his time—and he gave it to them at the expense of family time.
Eventually, he stopped teaching altogether. His girlfriend, now his fiancee, was pleased, but he could not go back to teaching in a school as the hours, he mentioned, might be office hours but it was “too long”. With just a degree, he started afresh as a fresh graduate, drawing $2,500 a month.
But it was all worth it.
“Teaching private tuition has high pay, but there’re no prospects,” he says. “All it takes is a few students failing and there goes my $25,000 per month. But essentially, I realize something—I’ve lost over $20,000 a month but am now happier than ever.”
I don’t know about anyone of you, but he sure make a point with an action that I believe many would not take. What do you think?
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