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5 steps to being a better borrower

20 Jul 2023

Better borrowing starts with you. To maintain a healthy attitude to money, it’s important to take a holistic view of your finances. 

1. Know what you can afford 

Be honest with yourself about how much you owe and where your money goes. Make a note of your take-home pay, then offset that against your regular and variable expenses. Don’t forget credit card balances, personal loans or any other loans. You will soon get a good idea of whether you’re spending within your means (you have some cash left after everything has been paid for) or living way beyond your means.

2. Monitor your repayments and adjust when necessary

Now that you’ve seen how much of your income goes on repaying debts you already have, see what you can do to clear them more quickly. If you can pay more, do so. If you’re earning less and overstretching yourself, then reduce it accordingly. But make sure you review this as soon as your earnings go back up, so you keep your repayment plan on track.

3. Obey the rules of balance transfer

According to Fidelity's Global Sentiment Survey1, 11% of Hong Kong respondents cited debt management as their most pressing financial need. Credit card loans are prevalent in Hong Kong and some Hongkongers repay their credit card debts late which incurs additional charges. There are lots of ways available in the market to clear credit card debts. For instance, many credit card companies offer 0% interest when you transfer your balance to their card, but if you do this, make sure you pay off the balance on time before the 0% interest offer ends. Beware that even though there are no interest charges involved, you will probably to pay some type of fee for a credit card balance transfer, typically ranging from 3% to 5% of the amount you transfer.

4. Reviewing your finances occasionally

Remember the palaver when you were taking out your mortgage? All the endless research you carried out in order to decide which lender was better, whether to opt for a fixed rate or tracker, and how you'd cope with the interest rate hike? While you might breathe a sigh of relief now that those days are over, you should check that the interest rates for your credit card, current account or personal loan are competitive. If not, switch.

Regularly reviewing your borrowing is crucial. If you can trim even a small amount off your mortgage payments, reduce your credit card balance or pay off your loan sooner, it’s time well spent.

5. Seek help immediately if you get into difficulty

Debts don’t go away if you ignore them, so it is important that you take actions. Speak up at the first sign of a debt problem. See how to get help with debt problems. To get more information on how to manage the debts, please check out IFEC’s guide.

Fidelity Global Sentiment Survey’ s data collection, research, and analysis for the above markets were completed in partnership with Opinium, a strategic insight agency. Data collection took place between August 2022 and September 2022. The sample consisted of 20,000 respondents (1,000 respondents came from Hong Kong) with the following qualifying conditions: Aged 20-75; Either they or their partner were employed full-time or part-time; A minimum household income of: Australia: A$45,000 annually; China: RMB 5,000 monthly; Hong Kong: HK$15,000 monthly; USA: US$20,000 annually; Canada: CA$30,000 annually; UK: £10,000 annually; Mexico: $4,500 MXN monthly; Ireland: €20,000 annually; Germany: €20,000 annually; Netherlands: €20,000 annually; France: €20,000 annually; Italy: €15,000 annually; Spain: €15,000 annually; Japan: 3m yen annually; Brazil: R$1,501 monthly; India: 55,001 annually; Singapore: SGD$2,000 monthly.



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