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How long could you survive if you suddenly lost your income?

20 Jul 2023

Imagine you’re heading to work, just like you always do. The sun’s shining, you’ve got a packed day ahead. It’s business as usual. Then you get the news. You’ve lost your job. Or you lose your earning ability because of a sudden accident.

The recent Fidelity Global Sentiment Survey1 indicated that majority of Hongkongers have the habit of savings, with 25% citing that they have increased their savings in the past six months. It is still important to prepare for the unexpected. Here are a few ways to stay prepared:

1. Knowing how much life costs

When you lose your job what you mustn’t do is live as though nothing’s changed until your money runs out. You must take immediate steps to cut cost. And to do that you have to know exactly how much day-to-day living costs. How much do your rent/mortgage, household bills, phone and food shopping cost you in total each month? Now reduce that down to just the essentials.

2. Keep six months’ salary for emergency fund

In Hong Kong, if you are dismissed by reason of redundancy or laid off, you may be entitled to severance pay or long service payment. This money may help you solve some short-term financial problems.

But it can take some time to find a new job, so to be cautious we suggest saving up to six months’ salary. On a yearly income of HK$300,000 that is HK$150,000 to save. Start by adding a little money into a savings account each month. You’d be surprised how a small, but regular payment into an ‘emergency fund’ will soon add up.

3. Where you put the savings?

It can make sense to separate your emergency fund from your spending money and other types of savings. You can put emergency funds in a savings account which can be convenient and easily accessed. Do remember that interest earnings on those accounts may not be considerably high.

As an alternative, you may consider putting a portion of emergency fund in fixed term savings account. Because it generally offers better rates than a typical savings account. In return for the higher returns, you committed a fixed savings period. You may therefore be penalized for taking money out before the account matures.

When you need to dip into your emergency fund, consider withdrawing from more liquid accounts first. An example of a liquid account would be a savings account where your savings are easily accessed at no cost.

4. Ask for external help

Should the unexpected happen, you may consider seeking some external help. Check with your financial providers for any help they may be able to provide. For example, it is quite common that insurance companies give policy holders a grace period on premium payments when you have financial difficulties. You may consider checking with your insurer if they allow such an extension without affecting the insurance policy in place.

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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