Financial prudence important to tide through difficult periods, say askST @ NLB speakers

Learn how to manage your finances to weather the current recession, as Invest editor Tan Ooi Boon and chief executive of SingCapital Alfred Chia discuss financial planning. Watch the full video on ST's Facebook page.

SINGAPORE - Financial assistance can be a useful safety net but people still need to manage their money prudently to tide them over difficulties such as the pandemic.

Property is one useful tool to tap. If you are experiencing cash flow problems, consider pledging your property to get a mortgage equity withdrawal loan at a relatively low interest rate. The funds can then pay off debt with higher interest.

You can also rent out rooms to generate extra cash or sell part of your lease back to the Housing Board to get more retirement savings.

These were among the insights at the askST @ NLB session on Friday (Aug 28), which was held in a video format for the first time and streamed on The Straits Times' Facebook page.

The talks, which started in 2016, are a collaboration between ST and the National Library Board (NLB).

ST invest editor Tan Ooi Boon and Mr Alfred Chia, chief executive of financial advisory firm SingCapital, gave tips at Friday's session on how to manage your finances wisely.

Mr Tan said: "Financial planning is no longer just a luxury, but an essential task. What you do today means a lot down the road."

Mr Tan and Mr Chia summed up the various relief measures available now such as the Covid-19 Support Grant, which provides up to $800 a month for three months.

They also discussed three case studies of how ordinary Singaporeans navigated financial difficulties amid the pandemic.

One featured a couple who wanted to get married and buy a home but the man's parents had chalked up credit card debt. They approached non-profit organisation Credit Counselling Singapore, which helped them to work out repayment arrangements with banks.

Mr Chia said the most important thing to do in this kind of situation is to first address the credit card debt, as it incurs an interest rate of about 26 per cent.

"You can then look at assets you can retrieve, including savings under the pillow or policies you can cash out. After that, you can look at what other things to put in place, such as cutting down on expenses."

He added that financial problems can result in mental health issues, and emphasised the importance of having someone to discuss these topics with, such as family members, friends or professionals.

Read more about their discussion in the Invest section of The Sunday Times. To learn more on personal finance, visit ProQuest Central, a database subscribed by the NLB, at str.sg/proquest, using the keywords "financial management and Covid-19". A library membership is required to access this database.

Suggested titles to read are:

- What you need to know about managing your finances during the pandemic (The Globe and Mail, 2020)

- Managing your finances like an economist (The Guardian, 2020)

- Lockdown exposes looming tech gaps as money management goes digital (The Independent, 2020)

In the next askST @ NLB talk on Sept 25, ST senior health correspondent Joyce Teo and Ms Angie Chew, chief executive of health education and mental support charity Brahm Centre, discuss how to build mental resilience amid the pandemic and economic downturn. Send your questions here.