The financial challenges of facing unemployment in Hong Kong can be overwhelming, especially so when it is an environment where the costs of living are soaring. Whether you are seeking entry to the labor market or an unfortunate victim of a career disaster, it takes discipline and a pinch of financial wisdom to survive this trying phase.
With that in mind, the following guidelines entail strategies to help you manage your finances until you land your next job.
For those of you who might be unaware, Hong Kong provides social welfare assistance for residents who find themselves in financial troubles. Under the Comprehensive Social Security Assistance (CSSA) Scheme, applicants can seek payments, supplements and special grants to help them tide over difficult times.
This financial safety net can go a long way in helping you get up on your feet, and fulfill financial obligations such as paying bills and buying essential items.
It is not much, but the pre-requisites are fairly minimal and it would be detrimental to simply refuse it if you should qualify.
The next challenge is to acknowledge that you may be unable to make payments on all your bills. Your crippling finance leaves little to spare after covering the essentials. That simply means you have to make tough decisions to prioritize the items that cannot be ignored to those that you can, at least for the time being.
The list should run in the order as below:
1. Mortgage/Rent – You do not want to face foreclosures or end up without a shelter over your head. There is no way out on this one.
2. Utilities – A functioning home is still a necessity. This includes the internet, if that is a tool that you use to find a new job.
3. Reserved Cash – Your period of unemployment is undefined, make sure you have some spare cash available to feed yourself.
4. Credit Card Bills – Bank interests can rake up impactful financial damages which can affect you long after you found new employment.
As your savings dwindle, you may find it getting increasingly harder. One thing that most people forget is that there is always a window to request for certain allowances. For example, some insurance companies offer premium holidays as a feature to help policy holders cope with temporary financial issues. For other things, it doesn’t hurt you to ask.
This part is obvious: Your spending power has taken a huge blow, and you simply cannot afford to be careless with your finances anymore!
For a start, don’t try to mask your predicament at the expenses of your wallet. Even if you still have considerable savings in your bank account, it would be wiser to drop habits such as picking up dinner tabs with friends or simply putting up any façade to show that you are doing okay.
Cultivating healthy spending habits will be the key to how long you can sustain yourself. Consider applying the following practices:
• Put a stop to luxury spending such as shopping, expensive dinners, entertainments and gym memberships.
• Opt for cheaper alternatives of public transport, avoid taxis if you can.
• Avoid taking on additional debts.
• Channel investment contributions/returns into your bank account balance for liquidity.
• Refinance your mortgage loan, if that equates to a lower monthly commitment.
The unemployment rate in Hong Kong lurks at an average of approximately 3% in 2013. What is more important is that you understand that the government’s approach towards this problem does not include extensive assistance on financial benefits or cash hand-outs. It is in their opinion that creating jobs should be the primary solution.
Therefore, it is ultimately your responsibility to shoulder your financial well-being until such a time you secure a position that will bring you income.