With the recent mass layoffs in tech companies, job security is increasingly a concern for many Singaporeans. Losing a job can be unsettling and anxiety-inducing. In these uncertain economic times, job security can’t be taken for granted. Should you find yourself in a situation where you are suddenly unemployed, here are some practical steps to take.
How to plan and budget after retrenchment
1. Check your employment contract and severance package
First, check your employment contract and ensure that you receive a severance package or retrenchment benefits as stipulated on it.
According to the Ministry of Manpower, the prevailing norm is to pay a retrenchment benefit of between 2 weeks to 1 month salary per year of service, depending on the company’s financial position and the industry. If possible, negotiate with your HR team for a better severance package, or check in to see if your company is able to help you find new employment.
2. Check how much savings you have available
Calculate how much cash reserves you have. If you have an amount that is less than 6 months’ worth of expenses, you should be prepared to take measures to ensure you have enough to tide you through the next few months of job-hunting. Review the various areas of your expenditure and consider what you can do to improve your financial situation.
3. Start tracking your expenditure
Enforce a strict emergency budget to cover all essential expenditures, such as groceries, utilities, phone bills etc.
Cut out any unnecessary expenditure that are “nice to haves” and not “must haves”, such as dining at costly restaurants.
You should also be mindful of using your credit card for expenses, as you are at risk of racking up significant debt if you fail to pay your bills on time.
4. Review your assets and liabilities
Consider what assets you can liquidate to provide an additional cash buffer. Take note of the penalties or costs involved when liquidating your assets. If the penalties are too high, it may not be worth liquidating.
However, if there are any riskier assets in your portfolio, it may be wise to liquidate them to reduce the risk of further financial loss.
Next, review any liabilities you may have. This may be a mortgage loan or a car loan, or simply a recurring expense that you have to budget for on a monthly basis. Objectively evaluate your liabilities and categorise them based on your level of need. When doing so, take note of loans with high interest rates and budget to pay those off first, if possible.
For example, if you are in need of money urgently, you may consider selling your high-cost liabilities, such as your car. While it might mean losing some convenience, this will significantly reduce your monthly expenditure, and save you on high interest rate car loans.
If you have debts due to your liabilities, you may need to restructure them. Go to Credit Counselling Singapore for assistance.
5. Reassess your insurance policies
If you have insurance policies with ongoing premiums, you should speak to your financial advisor on your available options. You can explore taking a premium holiday to reduce your expenses until your situation improves.
6. Manage your monthly cash flow
Once you’ve reviewed all your assets and liabilities, take note of your monthly outflow and ensure that you have enough savings to cover your monthly expenses and loans.
For example, you live in a 3-room HDB flat and have to pay a monthly mortgage of S$1,600. Assuming you spend about $450 every month you will be looking to have a cash outflow of S$2,050 every month. Check if your emergency savings are able to cover this. Alternatively, you may consider some of the side hustles (listed below!) to help cover your expenses.
It is important to track your expenditure to ensure you keep within your budget. Record your daily, weekly and monthly expenditure on a spreadsheet, or use free apps such as Planner Bee to make budget tracking a breeze.
7. Prioritising your financial goals
Long-term financial goals such as saving for retirement and your children’s education should be put on the backburner. Reallocate these funds to your emergency cash reserves until your financial situation has stabilised.
Any large planned expenses (home renovation, car upgrade, holiday etc.) should also be postponed until you are financially healthy.
Side hustles to consider to tide you through your retrenchment
While you look for your next job, you can consider part-time work, freelancing or side hustles to bring in some income to support yourself. The following options offer flexibility of time, so you can make ends meet and also have time to look for your next full-time job. The additional time will be helpful if you are taking courses to upskill yourself for a career change!
Here’s one reason to keep your car if you have one. You can consider being a ride hailing driver, by joining the various ride-hailing companies on the market (Grab, TADA, Ryde etc.). Depending on the company and incentive structure, you can earn upwards of S$2,000 a month by devoting a few hours to driving each day. If you do not have a car, these companies do offer rental vehicles, but take note you would have to drive additional hours to cover the cost of rent.
The tuition industry has been doing well in Singapore, and there is still a high demand for tuition teachers. Depending on your academic qualifications and the subject you are able to teach, you can earn between S$20 to S$80 per hour.
With the pandemic, teaching online has also become a viable option. This allows you to work from home, as well as expand your reach as you can tutor students from other countries!
Animal care services
If you have an affinity for animals (or being with pets relieves the stress of your financial woes), you can consider offering dog walking or pet sitting services. People who love animals can offer dog walking and pet sitting services. Pet sitters can earn between S$10 to S$45 per hour in Singapore, and dog walkers can earn up to $20 per walk.
Website or App Testing
With the increasing demand for higher quality, customer-centric user interface, companies are now paying for users to test and provide feedback for their websites and apps. You can earn up to S$60 an hour, as long as you meet the specific prerequisites. Take note that you will need to have your own computer with a stable internet connection.
Support available in Singapore for retrenched workers
There are resources available to support you in case you find yourself suddenly retrenched
WSG Careers Connect
Workforce Singapore’s Careers Connect can help you with job matching and career guidance. They also offer services such as needs assessment, career profiling, workshops and training opportunities to help job seeking Singaporeans put their best foot forward. Workforce Singapore has centres in Tampines, Paya Lebar and Woodlands. You may go to one of their outlets for assistance, or find out more through their website.
ComCare provides assistance to low-income individuals. Depending on your needs and eligibility, you may receive short- to medium-term help or fee subsidies for children if they are in childcare, kindergarten or student care centres. Find out more about the support you can receive from ComCare by visiting their website.
Find your footing again after a retrenchment
Retrenchment isn’t the end of the world, so it is important that you stay calm and positive as you navigate the temporary difficulties. Take some time to recalibrate your focus in life and take positive steps to improve your situation. With the right mindset, you may find yourself in a better place than before.
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