Emerge financially stronger from the Covid-19 crisis
Over the last few weeks, I have been asked when the best time is to be investing.
The conversations range from whether the ship has sailed or if we are just at the start of the storm.
I have no easy answers to this, as while we can draw certain parallels from past events, it should also be clear by now that there are many unknowns as we go further into this crisis.
What is clear, though, is the massive disruption Covid-19 has unleased on everyone - from the daily rated worker to the business tycoon.
The unemployment and retrenchment rates are expected to rise, despite the Singapore Government stepping in with additional relief measures to save as many jobs as possible.
As we hunker down for a tough ride this period, now is as good a time as any to take stock of how we can emerge stronger from this whole situation. I leave with you three lessons we can take away during this circuit breaker period.
1. Take stock of what you have
The current low interest rates may not be ideal for deposit savers, but it is a boon for mortgage holders who stand to save on their current mortgage rates if they were to refinance. Some people may consider taking on more loans to take advantage of the current situation, but that is not advisable given the uncertainties ahead. The point is here is to take this valuable time while at home to review what you have. It may be a perfect time to review your loan package to save a bit more of money, or to run through your expenses to see if you are spending in excess unnecessarily. It is during this period that I hope we can all realise what truly is “essential”.
2. Plan for the future
It may seem to be the darkest of days, but there will be light at the end of the tunnel. Now is a great time to start planning and putting your finances in order. If your cash flow is tight, the various government and bank initiatives to defer payments may help to provide some breathing space. Now is the best time to start a savings plan to set aside some money for a rainy day, like what this Covid-19 situation may be for some. This can all be done in the comforts of your own home on the OCBC Life Goals planner on our digital banking platforms. Take this time as breathing space to start planning for the future. Data shows that 73% of Singaporeans are not on track for retirement, and if there is one thing we can learn from Covid-19, it’s never too early to start planning. You may be shocked at the figures and future retirement projections, but knowing your target retirement figure is the first step. For others, you could also use the time to settle your will. With our online will generator, you can plan for such eventualities, for free, and without leaving home.
3. Manage your expectations
The Covid-19 situation is a good wake up call for Singaporeans. With jobs at risk and incomes being cut, the days of living our lives based on expected salary increments and having a steady job has been turned on its head. This means that you need to manage your cash flow when times are better and put aside money for a “perfect storm” emergency fund. Having a financial buffer will make the difference between worrying about daily expenses and being confident you can continue to put food on the table for your family. This applies to all facets of life. When you go through your expenditure and realise that by not paying $5 for that cup of coffee over 20 days while at work, you can translate that to a sum of money that you can put aside for savings or for a regular investment into a fund.
As Winston Churchill once famously said: “Never let a good crisis go to waste”.I hope that we can all take this opportunity to take stock and review what is truly important in our lives. Take the first step right now while you are at home with your loved ones. Take care and stay safe.
Written by Kelvin Goh, Head of Wealth Advisory, OCBC Bank.