COVID-19 may leave a long-lasting impact on the economy and many are left scratching their heads on how to get out of the unemployment line.
All right, so this is it. With the government mandated shutdowns, circuit breaker measures and the Solidarity Budget, we are now in a crucial turning point in our struggle against COVID-19. These are put in place to curb the spread of the ultra-contagious virus, which has brought titans of industries down to their knees and, subsequently, kicked many out of employment.
While we hunker down in our homes to safeguard both our health and rice bowls, it is inevitable to worry about our livelihoods. But even during such trying times, we have to persevere — consider these six crucial things to do as a buffer against this time of job loss and near-unemployment.
Be open minded to alternative opportunities
These are certainly worrisome times, but giving in to fear will only paralyse you. Instead, keep an open mind and accept alternative solutions. In practice, this could mean asking for an internal rotation within your company, accepting a contract or temp role, or widening up to types of work parallel to your skillset.
Let’s say you have been let go from your job as a digital designer, could you try your hand at UX/UI design instead? Are you able to take on freelance projects to find out more about the sector on the job, while earning your keep to keep the lights on?
While some of the top industries for career switches include healthcare, fintech, hospitality, education and IT, some of them have undoubtedly taken a hit in the COVID-19 era. Instead, pivot towards work from home vocations that have consistently proven to be flexible, in-demand and lucrative: copywriting, web (or app) development, localisation, social media marketing, consulting, illustrators, public relations and voiceover narrators (or podcasting).
One of the help measures include bringing forward the use of the SkillFuture Credit top-up, of which DPM Heng said, “I hope this will help many more workers, job seekers, and self-employed persons make use of the down time to learn, develop new skills, and stay employable.”
Indeed, now is the best time to take stock of your career wants and needs. Do you want to stay on in this industry? What else do you want to learn? Or is there something else you want to do in a related field?
Once you have gotten some clarity on how you want your professional path to turn out, write down the skills you need to improve or learn to help you get there. Then, head over to skillsfuture.sg, or other online platforms like NTUC LearningHub and Udemy, to check out the available courses and programmes. Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the government has enabled an early use of a one-off S$500 SkillsFuture credit top-up that was originally slated for implementation in October.
Some have proffered that this is an opportunity to go back to school; if you’re thinking of coughing up S$55,000 to S$70,000 for a local university M.B.A, all over the hype of a large pay increment, try weighing the dark side of further education first. Depending on the industry you are breaking into, you might be better off with a professional qualification.
For example, a full-time digital marketing immersive course at General Assembly would only set you back S$4,550 after subsidies (for Singaporeans and PRs), a more risk-averse investment you could easily fund with a low quantum personal loan — we suppose you would want to preserve your personal savings at this time.
They say that your network is your net worth. Therefore, it might be time to scroll through all those old Whatsapp chats and namecard collection and rekindle conversations and job leads once abandoned during busier times.
This whole COVID-19 situation couldn’t have been a better excuse to initiate a check-in, and casually mention that you’d be happy to take on any assignment that your correspondent might be looking to offload.
Also, expand your job-seeking channels beyond traditional job portals and websites. Update your LinkedIn settings to make it explicitly clear that you are searchable and open to talks. And while you are on the WWW, look through gig portals such as GetCraft, Facebook and Telegram groups, and even Carousell to really scream “I’m available!” on the job front.
Be insured, stay insured
Other than paying the bills to keep the roof over your head, paying your insurance premiums should, similarly, be classified as an essential. Let’s say it crossed your mind to cut corners by first cancelling a couple of insurance policies. You might save a few bucks in the short run, but the coverage amount you are compromising could prove to be a huge cost to your long-term needs. More importantly, given the extent of the pandemic at the moment, it may be wise to keep your insurance close to you and ward off unforeseen circumstances such as hospitalisation.
According to relief measures outlined by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), you now have the option to apply for deferred premium payment with your insurer. The premium deferment scheme is available for all individual life and health insurance policies with a policy renewal or premium due date between now and 30 September 2020.
Depending on the insurer, benefits such as COVID-19 coverage, daily cash payouts and discounted premiums have been introduced to bolster existing life and health insurance plans.
Be revamping your lifestyle (less is more!)
With so much time on our hands now, there is really no excuse not to be reevaluating our monthly expenses and aligning our spending with this new reality. Chances are, there are luxuries that you can afford to cut out, and now is the time to do so.
The good news is, this circuit breaker period is forcing us to do without our gym memberships and pricey dine-ins. But this stay-home-at-all-cost rhetoric could also mean ramping up our food deliveries and fancy takeouts to distract ourselves from the madness. Since we are talking about upskilling above, why not do the same in your own kitchen, unleash your inner Ramsay, and treat yourself while preserving your wallet?
Be smart about your debt
There may also be money habits that need your attention: here, we are talking about credit card spending and high-interest credit card debt. Common wisdom dictates that we pay off our debt as soon as possible. But given the current uncertainties, the need to hold on to personal savings and cash takes precedence for most.
One ‘loophole’ you could employ to accomplish both debt repayment and cash savings is by means of a personal loan, something that offers a relatively low interest rate at an average of 4% per annum. It overrides the 25% p.a. you would have had to pay on your credit cards. Now, with financial institutions joining the fray to roll out relief measures, check with your bank to see if they offer even lower interest rates or deferred repayment.
Time to repay debt: 12 months
|Credit card||Personal loan|
|Monthly repayment||S$300 (min. payment)||S$865.67|
|Annual/Processing fee||S$192||S$0 (promo)|
Read These Next:
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5 Ways to Cope With Financial Setbacks Hitting Singaporeans Hard Amid COVID-19
Best Personal Loan Promotions In Singapore 2020
Fixed Deposit vs Singapore Savings Bond (SSB) vs Savings Account: Where To Put Your Money?
6 SkillsFuture Courses Worth Spending Your $1,000 Credits On
By Alevin Chan
An ex-Financial Planner with a curiosity about what makes people tick, Alevin’s mission is to help readers understand the psychology of money. He’s also on an ongoing quest to optimise happiness and enjoyment in his life.