By: Ashley Lim
Note: While this article is written primarily for members of the transgender community, many of the points are applicable for the general public as well. Though the situation in every country is different, these are some general tips to help you build financial stability. As a personal financial consultant based in Singapore for 13 years I have worked with many clients from the LGBTQ community with very diverse backgrounds.
When the Coronavirus Disease took hold in the early part of 2020, global economies were shaken. Sectors such as tourism and retail were among the hardest hit, severely affecting the livelihoods of millions around the world.
Life has never been what it used to be for most, and the transgender community is no exception. According to the Trans Resilience Report done by APTN, 81% of the recipients from the COVID-19 Community Support Fund reported a loss of income, reduced income or were forced to go on unpaid leave. In these times, what are some ways in which transgender people can attempt to make ends meet as they, like the rest of the world, seek to find a new normal?
Many of my clients had to suffer pay cuts, being forced to take unpaid leave, was retrenched and lost their job when the company closed down. Here, I offer tips in six areas to build financial stability and enhance social protection in a world that is still coming to terms with the wide-ranging implications of COVID-19.
One of the biggest benefits of living in a digital age is the ability to perform many essential activities from the comfort of your own home. Beyond creating the possibility to meet friends and family members virtually via a video call, or indulge the inner shopaholic, the World Wide Web expands job accessibility and options with career portals (like monster, jobstreet, fastjob) and remote work opportunities. Social media is an avenue for job opportunities too. Platforms like Linkedin; which is designed for professional networking and job seekers, and even facebook, which has various groups for job seekers, are also avenues to explore. Do note that when using social media platforms for job searches, there is a potential to be scammed.
Explore part-time job options
Consider becoming a delivery service provider with Deliveroo, Grab, or Food Panda, a part-time driver if you own a vehicle (Uber, Grab, Gojek), or a freelancer (with Fiverr or Upwork, for example). Freelance work opportunities run the gamut, including areas such as web and graphic design, photo and video editing, translation, and copy writing. If you are able to provide a service, like helping others to make up, cleaning someone’s home or even running an errand like queueing for the latest iphone, these are also potential avenues for you to have a side income as well. Apps like iTask, helps connect people who need tasks done and those who get tasks done.
Become an online vendor
Do you have items strewing your room which you no longer use but which are still in a relatively good condition? Sell them online! There are many apps and online platforms which allow you to do this: Carousell, Etzy, Lazada, Shopee, Rakuten, Ebay, and Amazon, among others. If you have a skill, like painting, creating art works, knitting, sewing etc, you could also make and sell them online. Many people have become home cooks or bakers during this period and started a small business selling food online as well. You may just unleash the hidden master chef in you!
Engage in self-improvement
I believe in investing in self. Indeed, if you ask me, it is the best form of investment. So why not avail of the myriad free online or government-subsidised courses such as Coursera and LinkedIn (which offers a free one-month trial period). There are free courses from top universities like Harvard and Standord University, across a wide spectrum of topics like computer science, languages, business, personal development, art & design to name a few. If you have been wanting to change careers, or to learn a new skill to better equip you for that dream job, now is the time. Knowing the skills of your chosen trade is crucial but other soft skills like communication, leadership, time management are skill sets which will help in your career as well.
Find a government or local support grant
Many governments offer grants or other kinds of assistance to those affected by the pandemic. Stay abreast of local news to be duly informed and reach out to your local government bodies to check if you are eligible for assistance. Other support includes local charities, organisations and mutual aid network. Do reach out to them as well to find out what kind of support are availability.
Request for personal assistance
Sometimes, all we have to do is register our need for assistance with concerned family members or friends to help us tide through these tough times. There is no shame in reaching out and asking for urgent aid on a one-time basis, whether this be help with looking for a job (recommendations are always useful in landing a job), or opportunities for freelance work like baby-sitting or errand-running.
It can be overwhelming to do something different or to make a big change amidst the instability that is going around you. But I invite you to take baby steps in the direction that you want to move toward and you will be surprised at how that small change can create a big impact in the future.
Chartered Financial Consultant