5Aug

Money-saving tips for new graduates

Ah, yes. Graduation.

Finally!

Independence!

Freedom!

The world is your oyster…if only you had the money.

Graduation creates this illusion of immortality for fresh graduates, especially for those belonging in Asian or other conservative families wherein they usually live with their parents or remain tethered financially until they hold a job of their own. So, the moment that the diploma is received, a surge of energy initiated by a newfound sovereignty course through their veins.

It makes sense though. You’re a youngblood with high hopes and dreams, you’re seeing the world beyond the books for the first time. You don’t have a curfew, homework, or a parent to answer to.

All of this rush of adrenaline doubles that moment you get employed because job equals money equals “add-to-cart”, right?

For a moment, there is harmony in your cash-ins and cash out. But at one point, maybe on the day when your employer can’t give your salary on time or when somebody gets sick, you’ll realize that you do not have a cent in the old piggy bank. Then, the reality of adulthood sets in. It’s time to decrease the “YOLO” and start saving.

Here are some tips money-saving (and maybe even earning) tips for all our fresh graduates out there:

1)   Invest

While having saved money in your account is good, placing them in good investment is better. Rather than letting them just stay in your account until your next impulsive buy, why not make them do the earning for you? Aside from insurance companies, some banks provide services on investments wherein you can start small, just enough for the entry-level salary.

2)   Wants and needs

Do you need another pair of shoes for work? My Economics professor once told the class, “If you can distinguish your wants from your needs, then saving is easier.” and that is financial wisdom I still hold today.

Needs which are your basic food and drinks, toiletries, clothes.

Wants are your 5-star meals with a bottle of champagne, Jeju face masks, and plain, white shirts that cost five digits.

Always reflect before you buy: “Need or want?”

3)   Allocate

Once you fully recognize your needs, you need to be very familiar with your cash flow and where to place them. It is important to list down the daily, weekly, and monthly expenses so setting a budget is easier.

4)    Something on the side

If you have an 8-hour job, especially one that keeps your weekends open, I would encourage having a sideline. Something non-committal, that you can do from the comfort of your home and that will take only a few hours of your time. It can be writing, copyreading, editing pictures, translating, even online tutorials.

There are such jobs out there.

Once you receive your pay, keep it safe. Don’t spend it. That’s your side hustle money.

When you’re a young investor, it doesn’t hurt to earn a bit more cash.

5)   Be wary of your circle

Friends and workmates are a great influence even in young adulthood and, sometimes, when one of them declares a night out or a trip to somewhere pricey, it’s difficult to say no.

There’s nothing wrong if your friends have more money than you, just as there’s nothing wrong if you have less money than your friends. But it’s important to remember at which part of the spectrum you are, and not get carried away. Also, be mature enough to not be insecure about the financial differences that you feel the need to spend money like them to achieve validation.

Learn to decline when it no longer hits your budget. If your friends are really good people, they’ll respect that.

6)   Splurge money

As contradicting as it is, it’s also important to spoil yourself every once in a while.

Have “splurge piggy bank” and invest a fixed portion of your savings to it.

It can be money for a concert happening in a few weeks or a monthly shopping spree/fancy dinner dates for yourself.

The point is, you have to spend money on you too. Sometimes, we impulse buy because we’ve been deprived for so long. So, it’s just better to just have a controlled source of cash for an “I deserve this” splurge. Just make sure that the “I deserve this” days aren’t every day.

7.) Get insurance early.

If you buy permanent life insurance early, this gives you a longer period of time to put money into the insurance plan and also allows you to draw interest on your money for a longer period of time. We help expats in Hong Kong find the best personal insurance. Get in touch with us today.

14Jul

How cancer burns through everything including your savings

Cancer takes more than lives. It also goes after a hefty amount of your savings.

In just a span of two years, half of all US cancer patients breeze through their funds, accentuating a total of $92,000 in twelve months.

This is all detailed in a new study called “Death or Debt? National Estimates of Financial Toxicity in Persons with Newly-Diagnosed Cancer” which was published this month. According to its findings, these heavy costs are mostly of risk to be shouldered by the elderly and those without insurance, among others.

Killer expenses

In the US, cancer comes second to heart disease as the undisputed title-holder of the most notorious killer.

But unlike heart disease which has a pool of research and funds dedicated to it, the cost of cancer treatment, for any country is financially unfathomable. Annually, 1.6 million new Americans are diagnosed with cancer. From this, 600,000 barely finish treatment and die.

The healthcare system credits to spending $87.8 billion yearly for patients. Specifically, unfinished treatments resulting in death leads to a $130 billion cost.

A huge portion of treatment expenditure still falls on the patient. The American Cancer Society along with the Cancer Action Network reports that as of four years ago, findings revealed that patients still shouldered a total of $4 billion on their end just for seeking cancer treatment.

Crunching beyond the numbers

The core of the study took 9.5 million patients and 16 years to see completion (1998-2014).

Setting aside the statistics, the medical study delineates the kinks that needed to be worked out when it comes to medical budget and productivity.

The journal is an updated study from the same set of authors from five years ago and is published in the American Journal of Medicine. Initially, in the study’s first findings, it revealed that cancer, specifically, breast cancer, accounts for 33 million sick days among the US working citizens annually.

The update to the study echoes a more heartbreaking revelation: half of the cancer-afflicted patients within their study have started and been easily sunk into bankruptcy due to treatment expenses.

This brings a new reality to the table: that the economy pulls a really tensioned string even to cancer patients who struggle with the cost of treatment.

When toxicity seeps to your finances

A big danger lies in the fact that the risk for financial toxicity goes greater with cancer treatment. After years of fluctuation in the economy, one would think that the financial burden on the patients would’ve lessened but has so far remained consistent.

Grant Skrepnek, one of the paper’s writers believes the results were “shocking,” seeing as to how figures have reached higher levels, which he has seen in his 20 years in cancer research.

Despite the advent of immunotherapy, which is pegged as a vital tool for the possible elimination of cancer, Skrepnek believes that it also has downsides, such as its ability to hamper predictions for cancer trends.

Jennifer Singleterry believes otherwise and sees a bigger threat in short-term healthcare plans.

Singleterry, a senior policy analyst from the American Cancer Society is concerned with the coverage of these health care plans, which have a limited coverage and “caps” – which hurts finances as it doesn’t include cancer treatment.

She adds that dependency to these short-term plans will only be harmful to those afflicted will illness, who will be left with even higher insurance premiums.

What this ultimately reveals is another layer of fear added to cancer: first the diagnosis, and now the financial horrors.

Village Insurance Direct helps expats in Hong Kong find critical illness insurance. Contact us for inquiries.

 

25May

More Hong Kong insurers will cover pre-existing illnesses

Due to a movement made by the Voluntary Health Insurance Scheme (VHIS), various insurance companies in Hong Kong will expand its services. Generally, this means coverage for people with minor pre-existing medical conditions.

The program, which was launched last April, saw the VHIS extend its utility, albeit to a limited extent, to patients who can prove to have no prior knowledge of their underlying ailment. This is a major development both in the Hong Kong insurance and healthcare scene, considering that a majority of private health insurers do not consider these types of illnesses as part of their range of services.

However, it won’t be long before the city providers follow suit. Alexander Chiu believes that Hong Kong’s providers will soon include mild known pre-existing illnesses, although with higher costs. Chiu, who is the medical director of health at AXA Hong Kong considers that demand is not met by policies that have already been established, as the new VHIS system only covers pre-existing ailments that have yet been diagnosed. Chiu also believes that many are willing to buy into health insurance, but are unable to do so because they are limited by their conditions.

VHIS, which is endorsed by the Hong Kong government, was conceptualized to rally for healthcare. It was made to encourage citizens to heavily invest in their future state of health, should a necessity rise to the occasion. Overshadowed by mostly a geriatric population and a slowdown in government investment, Hong Kong aims to expand on this concept to relieve a convoluted public hospital system.

VHIS promises to provide coverage for individuals until they reach a hundred years old and hopes to cater to about five million Hong Kong citizens who do not have any form of private health insurance.

To be made certain of a pre-existing condition means that the patient must not have been given a diagnosis prior to carrying the effects of the disease. A wide example of these pre-existing conditions covers a number of diseases from non-alcoholic fatty liver diseases to brain arteriovenous malformation, both of which takes years to form without any form of symptoms.

VHIS differs from the “Obamacare” of the West, which was developed by the previous administration of the US. “Obamacare” covers ALL pre-existing conditions, and its costs are distributed across the areas that are insured.

Chan Kin-por, a member of the Legislative Council of Hong Kong, said that recent years have been more accepting of clients with pre-existing conditions.

“Insurers (have) been willing to offer coverage excluding certain diseases directly or closely related to the pre-existing condition, sometimes at a higher premium depending on the case,” he said.

However, the endgame is still a big question. A long term solution to coverage for chronic diseases will need the Hong Kong government to gather more funds to help the statistics with high-risk individuals who have pre-existing conditions.

 

30Apr

Don’t Take Cybersecurity for Granted

The future is NOW…and so is the danger.

Upon its introduction, the general idea of the world wide web was connectivity. The payoff, however, was a veil of anonymity that can easily be abused.

The workplace, with its updated support on technology, should serve as one of the frontlines of cybersecurity. Online criminality knows no bounds, and they aren’t picky when it comes to targets. Both established and infant corporations are always prone to various forms of attacks.

An extra layer of liability comes with computers being used outside the safety sphere of work, such as in idle browsing and social media. In a 2017 survey conducted by International Data Corp (IDC), it was revealed that 30-40% of internet access in the workplace is spent on unrelated matters.

To avoid possible data theft and hacking, employees of all companies should be oriented on how to be safe online. The key is to instil constant vigilance and promote awareness of the biggest cons of the internet.

Something as basic as a wrong click can lead to a range of issues from lewd pop-ups to full-on breaches such as data phishing. Strong security starts with an investment in highly effective anti-virus software. Like buying goods, it is necessary to do a canvass. Apt research prior to purchase is needed particularly when you intend to purchase for a network. The software can be expensive, and not every product can be efficient despite its tag price.

Monitoring software for the administrator is also a must. This does not only ensure that employees aren’t straying for work or slacking off but also checks for potential security threats. This is an effective way to trace the origin of a malicious link or program, to eradicate it at the earliest time.

Social media is now used as the top key to potential hacks. As it has become a trend among people, a lot of employees enjoy indulging in it, even during work hours. This should be a top security priority for administrators. However, it shouldn’t necessarily get the axe in the workplace. The effort should be taken to awareness instead. Employees should be given lectures on how to sort out suspicious links. Since it is now a core addition to technology use, social media training should be integrated into every cybersecurity module.

Despite the protection that it promises, cybersecurity isn’t a perfect concept. The best bits that it offers goes hand in hand with cooperation among the employees. Full dependence on software is a reckless that idea that shouldn’t be taken to heart. The best approach, still, to company security is more than software and compliance together, but rather a constant orientation among employees about work and internet use.

In this age where data is easily accessible, cybersecurity must not be taken at face value. When everything has been done, the cherry on top is the perfect lease on quality cyber insurance. A number of services are available from independent developers and established corporations alike. There is no reason to underestimate a good form of cyber insurance, particularly when the majority of your finances depend on it.

15Feb

Don’t Pass Up on Cyber Securty

Computer viruses are just the beginning in the long line of possible cyber threats. The spectrum extends to limits still unexplored, and are still expanding to very this day.

Cyber attacks are very real and aren’t limited to the four walls of fiction. At the top of your head, the closest examples of cyber attacks when it comes to business involve phishing and credit card scams.

Phishing is defined by what it sounds like. It happens when notorious online parties put an effort to steal sensitive information such as passwords and personal details to either gain leverage or to put to fraudulent use.

Credit card scams lure you into any way possible to provide key information so hackers can simply pluck away from your bank account.

Various media such as films and books may give us the false idea that these threats only cover high-profile targets, but anyone with as much as a mobile phone is easily vulnerable these days. Even their respective fields have been no stranger to these incidents: from early leaks to unprecedented releases.

In the tough world of business, data still tops the pyramid as the most valuable resource, not contingent to other factors such as potential clients and revenues.

In this case, it’s conclusive to say that a breach of data is just as much as a loss such as losing potential clients.

As responsible business owners, people have to know better than merely investing in physical security. A business dictates its own network, and having many devices on that very line increases the risk of having your data stolen.

2018 marked a sudden spike in cyber attacks from across the world. Juniper Research predicts that the United States for example, will account for half of all total data breaches by the year 2023.

According to a survey ran by The Harris Poll in 2018, nearly 60 million Americans have been victims of identity theft. Attacks have been slowly rising by the moment, and it’s always good to have security in the case of an incident.

Just recently, International company Beazley has reported on alarming numbers of “sextortion” cases. This is a cyber scam that attempts to extort money from people by claiming they were filmed through their device’s built-in camera. These photos are threatened to be leaked into circulation unless payment will be made, usually in the form of cryptocurrency.

Insurance has taken its steps even in the digital world. Cyber insurance exists for a reason, and a sensible one. It is an actual product that aims to help businesses put a fence on the growing dangers caused by the various strings of cyber crimes.

Be it a multi-layered company or small business, cyber insurance works for good aid that may attenuate issues.

It doesn’t matter if you’re just starting out or already an established name. The number of applications tangled with work increases the risk of a possible attack. Prevention is always better than cure, and the repercussions of having your employees’ payroll details may leave cuts that may never be healed.

There was a time when usual online errors could be pinned on the lack of discipline of internet users. Technology and technique have both evolved since then, and safety isn’t really a question on everyone’s minds these days unless you take it up a notch.

The threat of data breaches from cyber scams originates from discrediting that cyber insurance will do you any good at all. If business moves on as usual, it will be easy to overlook an extra pinch of security. By the time the damage has been done however, things will have been too late.

14Jan

2019 Global Insurance Trends: What to Expect

The advent of modern times has brought about new workarounds to various issues at hand. However, it comes as a double-edged sword in the case of insurance or business, which are also hounded by new issues of the last decade.

Organizations work like clockwork and will stop at nothing to catch up and still make waves in the modern world. And as modernization goes, there is a need to understand the trends to follow this year to properly take on these newly-presented challenges.

Blockchain and Cryptocurrency explained

The previous year has explored (and exploited) the notoriety behind these two words.

Blockchain often described as a “distributed ledger”, is by literal means, a chain of digitalized information. The blockchain is the main gear that makes “bitcoin” tick. Bitcoin is the very heart of cryptocurrency and is by far, a more familiar term with the masses.

Some corporations are eyeing blockchain as the next form of technology of use. However, some have yet to jump to the bandwagon as it is still slow in traction because of the lack of familiarity and the cost of upgrading systems.

The future: AI and Driverless cars

What was once a mainstay of sci-fi fiction is nowhere. Even if the thought scares you, there’s nothing else to do but to take advantage of what’s already in store.

Automobile accidents and other road-related problems are complicated even after the incident. Insurance companies and manufacturers scratch heads when it comes to the legality of things. However, with the arrival of driverless cars, and the absence of human control that comes with it, there will be a shift when it comes to drafting insurance policies.

Artificial Intelligence has also reached new heights this year. A concept already baked since before the dawn of the 21st century, it has opened new avenues in the industry, such as from customer service and communications to advanced “chatbots” that are all over the web for different purposes.

“New is always better”

Old business may have a few tricks up its sleeve, but technology and the internet will always have their own edge. As for the case of commoditization, for example, there are some net pages called “aggregator sites” which provide the consumer comfort and ease when it comes to comparing prices. The advantage isn’t always with the one who offers the best products: but with the one that provides the best user experience.

As far as globalization trends go, for example, corporate giant Amazon has been involved in rumors regarding discussions with certain insurance executives in the United Kingdom. This move, for example, can cause a big shift as the entry of a big corporate entity when it comes to business may cause changes even in this specific field of insurance.

The gig of the “Gig Economy”

Everything these days comes through an “on demand” service. Airbnb and Uber are just the starts of the many items on this list. The heart of these services rests on the idea of a “gig economy.” It isn’t just them either: Even P2P or Peer-to-Peer based activity of several online based platforms are making waves. The best strategy is to be aware of how services like these can change insurance policies and separate what functions as commercial to personnel policies, and/or to add them as “add-ons.”

For inquiries on insurance for expats living in Hong Kong, get in touch with us today.

 

30Apr

Singapore or Hong Kong? Where Best to Do Business

Singapore and Hong Kong are two of the best east Asian countries to start establish a business. Hong Kong has taken the lead for the past years but Singapore has been quickly making great strides to compete further.

Companies and brands from the US and UK have had relatively easy entries to both markets. The most common business has to do with building a regional headquarters for a global company as an expansion strategy and amass the Asian market.

HERE ARE HELPFUL INSIGHTS FOR EXPATS WHO ARE CHOOSING BETWEEN HONG KONG AND SINGAPORE TO DO BUSINESS.

As an overview of the two country’s strengths:

  • Singapore has the top destination for maritime trade.
  • Hong Kong is your choice if the objective is to eventually start business in Mainland China.
  • Both have incredibly accessible international airports with hundreds of direct flights from Western regions on a daily basis

LEGAL PROTECTION

It’s a must to have business cover like public liability or product liability insurance. It’s a pre-requisite for any business in Hong Kong and Singapore.

Both countries have strict legal systems with regulations in place to help you with intellectual property rights and dispute resolution departments. However, Singapore wins over Hong Kong in terms of enforcing contracts and property registrations.

GLOBAL RANKINGS

World Bank’s 2017 Ease of Doing Business ranking places SG at #2 and Hong Kong at #5. New Zealand was #1 last year.

In the annual Z/Yen survey of global financial centres Hong Kong beats Singapore but as the entry way to China, Hong Kong is the 3rd most powerful financial hub globally. Singapore is currently in 4th place.

Hong Kong ranks 1st in terms of financial services and financial technology.

The criteria for the rankings above are:

  • infrastructure
  • business environment
  • financial sector development
  • human capital
  • reputation

Business registration can both be done online via website registration.  The headline Singapore tax rate is 17% whereas it’s 16.5% in Hong Kong. There are also many tax exemptions available for both.

In Singapore, one of the directors must be a citizen while Hong Kong allows 100% ownership by expats.

Ready to get started with your new businesses? Get in touch with us for all your business insurance needs.

4Feb

Do I Need Life Insurance After Retirement?

Retirement does not always equate to having financial stability. A few possible circumstances that leaves you in this kind of situation are:

Forced retirement

Failed investments

Providing financial support for an aging family member or children who are still living at home

If you find yourself in debt or  responsible for someone’s well-being, then the short answer to the question is, “YES” you need life insurance even after retirement.

HOW MUCH INSURANCE DO I NEED?

It’s important to evaluate where you stand financially upon retirement. How much are your monthly expenses? Are there federal or state taxes that need to be paid? There are also things like probate costs, administration costs; there might be final debt or a mortgage on house, too. So as long as there is some type of financial exposure, you need life insurance to match up with that.

CAN I STILL GET INSURED AFTER RETIREMENT?

Yes. Of course, premiums will be higher which is why it’s advisable to get life insurance cover as early as your 20s or 30s. The greatest value of life insurance after retirement is that surviving family members or your spouse is left with financial security after the insurance holder’s death.

WHAT OTHER BENEFITS ARE THERE IN GETTING INSURANCE AFTER RETIREMENT?

Other benefits is that you can use the sum to help you pay for medical expenses–this is if you feel that you will no longer need the death benefit. This is called the accelerated death benefit provision. You have the option of choosing permanent life insurance to have money safely tucked away with zero risks.

You may also need to think about getting health insurance since more seniors are prone to health complications–thus more spend on medical needs. Although Hong Kong has a wonderful healthcare system, retirement will most likely lead to more trips to the hospital and getting more prescription drugs to maintain your health.

Ask us about more details on life insurance or health insurance or email us at info@villageinsruancedirect.com.

 

5Dec

Prostate Cancer Information in Hong Kong

Prostate cancer is among the most common cancers affecting men. In Hong Kong, it’s the fifth most common cancer with over 1,600 new cases every year and is the 3rd most common type of cancer among men in Hong Kong.

2-11

The prostate is a gland that’s only found in men. It’s usually the size of a walnut, and is located below the bladder, surrounding the first part of the urethra, which allows urine to pass from the bladder to the penis. The prostate produces semen, a thick white fluid that mixes with the sperm produced by the testes. It also produces a protein called prostate specific antigen (PSA), which turns the semen into liquid. Prostate cancer is generally a slow-growing cancer, typically occurring in men over the age of 50. Research shows that over a third of men over 50 have some cancer cells in the prostate, while almost all men over 80 have some cells. The cause of prostate cancer is unknown, but generally the chance is increased if there is a positive family history; it is also more common in Western men.

SYMPTOMS

The symptoms of prostate cancer include:

  • reduced flow of urine
  • increased frequency in urination
  • uncomforatble urination
  • persistent pain in lower back, hips and thighs
  • in some cases, bloody urine.

EXAMINATION

The diagnosis of prostate cancer may include a digital rectal examination (DRE) by a doctor. Digital here is different to the “digital” in electronic equipment. Apart from DRE, PSA can be tested in blood to detect the presence of prostate cancer. However, PSA alone is not very accurate in diagnosing cancer.

It is important to have one’s self examined once you hit 40. Village Insurance’s best practice for recommending covers for males is to find insurance that also covers diseases such as prostate cancer. Insurance can cover treatment and maintenance for cancer.

We can help find the best global insurance for expats in Hong Kong. Get in touch with us for any inquiries. We’re always quick to revert.