If you don’t work in finance, chances are you haven’t used a calculator – other than the one on your phone – since school. That’s okay, we can’t say we blame you. But this does tend to make settling a tax bill or balancing your chequebook a rather complicated matter. To help you get your finances in order, we break it down into the absolute need to know essentials.
Opening a Bank Account
Simple though it may seem, this can be a seriously vexing process – banks are sticklers for paperwork. To save yourself repeated visits and an arduous back and forth process, make sure you have all of your paperwork on hand. Necessary documentation differs from bank to bank, but if you have the following with you, you’re (almost) guaranteed to succeed: your HKID, passport (and visa if applicable), a copy of your employment contract, and proof of income and address, both dated within the last three months.
From health to home and travel insurance, policy options are rife around Hong Kong. Travel insurance can be arranged for specified dates and can even be purchased through the ATM, with rates varying depending on your destination. Health insurance policies differ depending on your inclusions (from GP visits to hospitalisation and more extreme cases) and can be obtained through your bank or through an external provider.
Applying for a Credit Card
Once you’ve got the aforementioned bank account, you’ll receive letters, text messages, and emails offering you loans and credit cards up to your ears. But do you even want one? Need one? Most importantly – qualify for one? Sites like MoneyHero help you compare the perks and benefits of different cards, while account holders can apply for credit cards and supplementary cards through their online banking portal. To skip the arduous process altogether and help cap your spending, the ANGEL Pre-paid Mastercard can be obtained without a credit check and can store up to $100,000 at a time.
Mandatory Provident Fund (MPF)
Nobody likes thinking about pension pots and retirement funds, but luckily you don’t have to because it’s a government requirement for both you and your employer to contribute to one. Employees contribute five percent of their salary each month to the Mandatory Provident Fund (MPF), which employers are required to match. Contributions are capped at $1,500 per month, though you can contribute additional funds voluntarily.
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Sending Money Abroad
When sending money abroad, you need to be aware of how much money it will cost. Look for things such as bulked-up exchange rates, hidden fees, commissions, and also look to see if you will be charged a fee on the recipient end as well as the sender’s end. Companies like CurrencyFair is a simple solution for sending money home or elsewhere abroad at a rate that is up to five times cheaper than the banks. Exchange funds via their user-friendly platform and transfer the funds to whoever you want.
Hong Kong’s tax year starts on April 1 and ends on March 31. Payments are settled either in full or in two instalments. If you’re new to Hong Kong, you’re in luck, because tax here is typically lower than many other countries, with the highest bracket of earnings capped at 17 percent. For the 2017/18 tax year, the Government issued hefty breaks and allowances, resulting in significant savings for many. Do bear in mind that if this is your first tax paying year, you will likely be charged for the year ahead, so your bill will be double what you expect.
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