As we slowly inch closer to the end of 2020, we can’t help but reflect back on the past year. For some of us, we might gripe about the inability to travel.
However, for many other Singaporeans, job losses and job instability are very real problems.
The COVID-19 pandemic had a poignant disruptive effect on the global economy as well as Singapore’s. The tourism, retail, and wholesale trade sectors have received the biggest hit, followed by the construction and real-estate sectors.
So how is Singapore’s -7% GDP growth affecting you?
If you’re like most Singaporeans, you’re buying, travelling, and earning much less than in previous years. Sure, our government was one of the most hands-on administrations. They provided Singaporeans with a wide variety of grants in a bid to cushion the impact of COVID-19.
But, that’s not enough.
According to MAS, we should see a moderate recovery during the next quarters if we won’t go through a global resurgence of COVID-19 cases that would trigger other lockdowns. Unfortunately, this recovery will take much longer than that following the 2008 global economic crisis.
So, what can you do to ensure that you have enough to tide you through?
Check out our list of personal finance tips to help you navigate these times of uncertainty!
1. Plan Your Budget
Every finance self-help book in the world starts with this personal finance tip. In fact, it’s so widely used that you might think it’s over-rated.
But you’ll find out that this back-to-the-basics strategy is always the most helpful.
Since this corona pandemic started, you’re not going out or vacationing as much. But, you probably still haven’t saved a lot of money.
That’s because the habit of spending on your wants, such as things that you do not need, doesn’t magically disappear even during an apocalypse. It only stops when you draft a budget.
Making a budget sounds pretty dull, right?
But think of it as an action plan that will help you survive the months to come. You’ll have to write down all your essential expenses. These include your rent, utility bills, food and transport. These are your “needs.”
Next, list down your “wants”, like gym charges, subscriptions, or dining at a fancy restaurant. Analyse your credit card bills and account statements to make sure you’ve found all the extra expenses you can cut.
This plan helps you prioritise your needs even when you’re tempted to forego them in favour of your wants.
For instance, don’t postpone paying your car loan instalments to pay the gym; you can always work out from home. Otherwise, you’ll add up all sorts of late-pay charges to your initial loan, plus your credit score will drop. Also, do you really need another bag, or more clothes? If not, hold that thought.
Okay, so what can you do after you’ve written all this down?
Calculate how much you’re saving and don’t spend it! Instead, put all that extra cash in your emergency fund, which you’ll need if things get worse before they get better.
2. Continue Budgeting
Budgeting thing isn’t over after you draft your initial plan. Tracking your finances is a useful activity that you should turn into a habit.
Making a plan is the first step, but you should continuously be on top of your finances. You should always know how much money you’ve saved, how big your expenses are, and where you can cut down more. Make sure you’re flexible, too.
Here’s an example:
If you have many open lines of credit or existing debt, you can always consolidate that debt into a more affordable loan. So, instead of repaying a slew of loan providers, you’ll deal with just one.
You can also learn to improvise where possible. Fancy a nice restaurant dinner? Why not try recreating the dishes at home? restaurant food at home or build an affordable home gym.
Need help prioritising your expenses? Why not try a budgeting app or address your loan provider for more assistance.
3. Don’t Sell Your Stocks: Get More
“Oh no! The share price of this stock just fell, time to sell before it falls any further!”
Are you guilty of this? You’re not alone!
A lot of people panic when a crisis strikes and try to sell everything that doesn’t bring an immediate profit — for instance, stocks and bonds.
We understand the temptation is enormous but, hold your horses.
Singapore’s economy is going through a challenging period, but so is the global economy. It’s okay to be apprehensive about losing more money, but do you really think selling your stocks at a low price is the best strategy?
It’s just like MAS said: Singapore’s economy will recover slowly but surely. Then, your profits will get back on an upwards trend too.
Wait; there’s more.
If you’re genuinely forward-thinking, invest in more equity. It sounds counterintuitive, but remember that the dollar-cost averaging is skyrocketing, and that means plenty of reputable companies sell stocks at affordable prices.
And in a few quarters, when everything goes back to normal, you can enjoy getting your life back with a side of delicious yields.
Just look around you.
A lot of panicked investors gave up their equity, especially hedge funds. That phase is almost over because more and more people are confident the pandemic is approaching its apex, so there’s nowhere to go but up.
You can already see the effects:
More investors are now looking to take advantage of the decreased stock prices because they sense the pandemic will soon be over after the vaccine arrives. History has shown us that equity makes a much more pronounced comeback than other investments, such as bonds or cash.
Pro tip: Remember to diversify your investment portfolio. Make wise investments and research the most lucrative investments by analysing current trends.
4. Keep Paying Your Loan Instalments
We’ve probably mentioned this over and over again. But, it’s essential to remember it. We also know many people are tempted to postpone their debt instalments because of a variety of reasons.
For instance, you may not have the money, or you don’t think the $60 late-payment charge is much. But, if you total your charges and instalments, you’ll understand how cumbersome they are. Moreover, paying your monthly instalments late will also result in a dip in your credit score.
Here’s what you can do instead:
Talk to your loan provider. If you can’t afford to pay the instalments, be open about your situation. Every bank and licensed moneylender in Singapore knows there’s a pandemic going on, so most have already prepared payment deferment strategies. Conversely, ignoring your debts will lower your credit score as you’re deemed a risky client.
Use debt consolidation. Many people can default on their loans when there’s too much to pay in instalments and interest rates. The solution is simple: consolidate all your existing debt into one to reduce the amount of interest you’re paying anyway.
Ask your family or friends for help. If there’s no other choice, ask someone you trust to help you repay at least one or two loan instalments until you get back on the saddle. Too many unpaid debts will eventually snowball into something too hard to handle. You wouldn’t wish to reach this stage.
5. Don’t Forget Your Contingency Reserves
The adverse economic conditions in Singapore have a poignant impact on the job market. By this time, you’ve probably heard stories of people losing their jobs for a variety of reasons. Companies closing, cutting costs, relocating, etc.
It could happen to any of us.
This is why you need a backup plan.
The rule of thumb is that you need to have enough in your emergency fund to last you for at least six months. If you can save 25% of your salary, you’ll get to this point in two years.
Don’t be discouraged, though. Save as much as you can to ensure that you can pay for at least your necessary expenses in case you lose your income sources.
Pro tip: Keep your emergency funds in liquidity. Don’t use it to invest in stocks or to pay for your “wants.” Remember this fund is just for surviving if you lose your income sources or if there’s a medical emergency.
6. Explore Other Sources Of Income
Living through uncertain times means you have to build as many bridges to certainty as you can, while there’s still time.
This also means working on new ideas to earn more money.
Apart from investing in equity, you can also turn your hobbies into active sources of income. For instance, you can sell your paintings, start a home bakery business, or become a tutor.
Renting a room in your house, affiliate marketing, or peer-to-peer lending platforms are reliable passive-income ideas, too. If you want to be a little more hands-on, you can try blogging, writing an e-book, or selling stock photos.
The best part of all these gigs is that you can do them without breaking social distancing protocol.
But here’s the problem:
Some people are passionate about or too invested in their jobs to have time for these ideas above. If that’s you, here’s what you can do:
Try an online course.
There’s always some way in which you can be better in your job. This might come in the form of some complementary skill or ability you can learn that can secure your current position. But, you have to learn it first. Luckily, there are tons of quality, affordable online courses out there.
7. Lend A Hand To Your Community
None of us lives alone in a bubble. We’re part of a community and, if that community is solid, so are we.
If you’re going through a rough time with your finances because of the COVID-19 pandemic, know you’re not the only one. Chances are that the people around you are not having it easy as well.
Here’s what you can do:
Promote local businesses. Buy from small companies or people you know, then try to promote their products to your family and friends.
If you have a business, they’ll help you too. Or they’ll give you a discount when times get rough for you.
Remember that now’s the time to help disadvantaged people. Offer to do grocery runs for your elderly neighbours, or Skype with them. Make as many friends as you can because you’ll need it.
8. Try A Line Of Credit
Taking a line of credit is a reliable idea in case you deplete the money in your emergency account. Here’s why:
Firstly, you may need it.
Secondly, the pandemic hit banks as well as people. So, considering that people are now skimpier with their spending and loans, banks have made lines of credit more easily accessible. As such, some banks and licensed moneylenders even allow payment deferments, along with more affordable instalments, interest rates, and tenures.
Thus, if you have a small business and the government grants didn’t do the trick, a line of credit will keep your business afloat until the labour market gets back on its feet.
Or, you can use this loan to invest in new technologies or to revamp your business according to current market trends. This way, you can jump from survival mode to profit-making mode.
9. Get An Affordable Loan
If you need money to survive, consider an affordable loan. Do your research first, though. For instance, banks offer lower interest rates, but you may not qualify if you have a low income or if your credit score isn’t stellar.
Licensed moneylenders are an excellent solution as well, considering MinLaw regulates their activity. Although they practice higher interest, these creditors offer more flexible tenures, lend smaller sums, and aren’t that interested in your credit history.
Pro tip: If you get a credit card loan, try for a 0% initial APR card, which reduces the amount charged to you because you’re getting cash back or significant discounts. But the point is to try and pay off your balance while you’re in that 0% timeframe.
Just like the rest of the world, Singapore is going through a tough time too. The economic consequences wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic can destabilise you financially and personally.
Thankfully, our goverment gave out some grants to help cushion Singaporeans against adversity as much as possible. Plus, there are plenty of things you can do to shuffle through this bitter economic crisis.
With the many personal finance tips mentioned, there is so much that you can do. Look for new sources of income, balance your loans carefully, and budget responsibly. The most important advice, though, is to have a secure emergency fund.
Should you require any financial help along the way, Lending Bee can offer you with unsecured loans of sizable amounts. Our well-trained and experienced loan consultants will be able to tailor the best loan package suited to your needs.
Moreover, we understand that the pandemic has dealt a heavy blow to most Singaporeans. This is why we try to practice low interest rates. Apply for a loan with us here today.