12 tips to save money as a student in Singapore

by | Jun 17, 2021

Saving money is essential as it helps to reduce financial burdens. But how do we save money as students in Singapore?

Having a steady flow of income or allowance is good but sometimes we tend to be impulsive and splurge on our wants. And before you know it, we don’t have any money to save.

This habit of spending first and saving later can be disastrous as we progress into adulthood.

An OCBC survey of 1000 working adults conducted in May 2020 showed that only 1 in 3 had savings that could last them beyond 6 months if they lost their jobs.

This survey result is shocking as it goes to show how important financial habits like saving can be in times of emergencies like the Covid-19 pandemic.

As such, to cultivate the right financial habits, it’s best if we start now.

You’ll be surprised by how much you can save over time if you follow these 12 tips on how to save money as a student in Singapore!

Needs vs Wants

How do we actively maintain discipline in saving money?

Identify what your ‘needs’ and ‘wants’ are.

‘Needs’ refers to essential expenses like food, transport and household bills. Whereas, ‘Wants’ are things you desire, even though you don’t need them to survive.

By understanding your needs and wants, you can better manage your money by discerning what is necessary and not.

Thoughts like “Is this something I should be buying?” or “This isn’t something I need” are more likely to pop up as you recognise your needs and wants.

This cultivates self-awareness and encourages a disciplined mindset focused on being thrifty.

2.) Cultivate a ‘Save first, spend later’ mentality

This means that you allocate your pocket money or salary into your savings account first and only spend the remaining. You should aim to do this so that you can save a modest amount every month!

Once you start, you should refrain from withdrawing any money out. It is recommended to keep these monthly contributions in a separate savings bank account too. This way, you will be less tempted to withdraw money. 

3.) Budget for different expenses

This is the method I use to save money. You could allocate a budget for various types of expenses. But, you need to understand your spending habits first.

Start with a ‘test run’ by recording your expenses for a month before you start your budget plan.

I use an app called ‘Money Manager’, it’s a simple app that helps to track my expenses!

Here are other money management apps for student apps that you might be interested in.

Once you’ve figured out how much you’re spending per month on average, put a realistic fixed budget to each category of expenses including but not limited to:

  • Food (need)
  • Transport (need)
  • Financial emergencies (need)
  • Special occasions (want)
  • Shopping (want)

Then review your progress again to see if you’ve been meeting your budget.

Another budget method to go with is to follow the 50-30-20 method!

This means that 50% of your income or pocket money goes to ‘needs’, 30% goes to ‘wants’ and 20% goes to savings!

If you’re new to budgeting, you can use this budgeting calculator by Moneysense to help you!

4.) Set SMART saving goals

What are SMART goals

Setting such goals is crucial when you save. If you stay disciplined and follow through with your budget plans, you are guaranteed to save effectively!

If you have any other specific saving goals, it will also encourage you to save more comfortably. Personally, one of my goals is to have financial freedom, so that I can allow my parents to live comfortably.

Without a goal in mind, it’s likely that you’ll stop at some point due to the loss of motivation.

Here’s an example of a SMART Goal as seen in the table below:

Smart goals practical

5.) Take advantage of student discounts!

One of the most popular methods students in Singapore can save money is to look into the various student deals that you are entitled to, while you still can!

Generally, ‘steal deals’ and discounts are available for food. You could search up for dining outlets or fast food restaurants that offer student discounts.

If you use Telegram, subscribe to local channels like ‘GoodLobang’, ‘SG Food Deals’ and ‘SG Student Promos’ to stay updated on great deals offered by some dining outlets that will only be available for a limited period!

You can also source for discounts from the all in one campus app Uwave!

6.) Switch to a SIM-only mobile plan!

If your mobile phone is currently under the 2 years contract plan, you may consider switching to a SIM-only mobile plan when your contract ends.

SIM-only mobile plans are significantly cheaper because they don’t include any phone cost.

A SIM-only plan offers data, talk time, and SMSes at a fixed monthly cost. They are postpaid plans and function just like any traditional mobile phone contract.

However, unless you already have this, you’d need to buy a new phone at retail price.

It may be costly, but you’ll still be paying less than a fixed contract plans in the long run.

There are several types of SIM-only plans available. Some examples include GOMO Singtel and Circles.Life!

7.) Prepare your meals and dine out less

To save on food, you can prepare and bring your meals whenever you head out. This way, you won’t have to spend on dining elsewhere.

However, the preparation may be timely, depending on what you’re preparing. A few examples of simple meals you could prepare also include sandwiches and pasta!

Another way to save when you’re out is to carry lunch boxes too. That way, you don’t have to pay for the plastic containers when you take away your food!

You will be surprised by how much you can save in a month just on food if you do so.

8.) Keep constant track

Saving money requires a lot more discipline than you may think.

A survey by Smartwealth found that among 984 adults those aged 18 to 24 are the least likely to know how much they spend.

To students reading this, if we can’t track our expenses now, then how can we expect to save money?

Therefore, it’s important to put in the effort to keep track of your expenses constantly.

Start off by classifying your expenses in the following manner as seen in the table below:

Different types of expenses

Personally, I use excel to document all my expenses over long periods of time. 

This doesn’t mean that you should ignore money management apps. Since your phone is always with you, you can use these apps to record transactions you make at any point in time.

What I like to do is to check the app for those transactions and include it into the excel sheet at the end of every month.

This allows me to monitor my expenses across the 3 different categories and decide if any changes need to be made.

If you don’t have a budget template, you could try using this minimalist budgeting template!

9.) Don’t buy on impulse

Sometimes, we tend to make impulsive purchases that we may come to regret over time. To prevent this, it’s important to put in some thought before buying anything.

This isn’t a direct tip to save money, but it’s something you need to constantly remind yourself of if you want to save money. Many people tend to satisfy their wants immediately and overlook consequences.

To prevent making choices you think you might regret, give yourself a 1 week to think it through.

If you are still interested in getting them, at least you have given yourself ample time to think about the consequences — that you have to save more in the following months.

10.) Sell and purchase preloved items

Selling away your preloved or pre-owned items is also a way to earn some money while saving some!

If you have items that you no longer use but are still in good condition, you could sell them online. The popular to go app is Carousell.

Moreover, you could also purchase preloved items and enjoy various discounts. For instance, certified phones can be purchased up to 70% cheaper than the actual price on Carousell!

Another example is to purchase used textbooks, e-books and notes online. If you’re going to be needing them for a year or semester, you may want to reconsider getting an entirely new one.

11.) Open a growing interest bank account

You can create a separate savings account so that you can credit a portion of your pocket money into it. 

The following table lists some popular examples of high-interest savings accounts.

Savings accounts in Singapore

Note: Singlife will be revising its crediting rates from 1.5% p.a. to 1.0% p.a. for the first S$10,000 from 1 July 2021

12.) Get a part-time job

As a student in Singapore, getting a part-time job is a great idea to save and make money fast.

But depending on the nature and flexibility of the job, you’ll need to sacrifice time that could be better spent on improving your grades.

From my experience, I worked part-time in the F&B industry for 2 years during my polytechnic years and it was truly challenging to manage my time. Eventually, the job took a toll on my health at some point.

You should get a part-time job only if you can balance both school and work commitments.

If you are comfortable looking for jobs under a recruiting agency, you may join these Telegram groups via the following:

In summary,

Saving money is not easy, just as the saying goes – nothing good comes easy.

We should put in our best effort and plan for the future as we enter adulthood. After all, t’s better to save up now than to do it later.

The earlier you start, the more you’ll save anyway.

So why not start saving your money now while you’re still young? With the right mindset and attitude, you are guaranteed to save plenty!

We hope you enjoyed reading our article on how to save money as a student in Singapore! Do give our Instagram a follow and subscribe to our telegram channel for bonus student tips.