Don’t get used to living paycheque-to-paycheque. We show you how to stretch an entry-level salary in Singapore so you’ll never go broke.
New to the workforce and excited about earning a full-timer’s salary? It’s a lot more than getting pocket money, for sure. But having that mindset is borderline dangerous. A rookie’s mistake lies in thinking he can overspend now that he has more money.
Here are some smart ways to stretch your entry-level salary:
1. Avoid Drinking Binges
When you’re young, have a pocket full of cash and need a night out, the temptation to go on drinking binge can be almost irresistible. Especially if all your friends or colleagues are going.
But think about it this way: how many hours would you have to work to pay off those drinks? Say a pint of beer costs S$12 and you earn S$15 an hour each day. You’d have to work four hours before you can afford five pints. Worthwhile? We think not. That S$60 could get you a week’s worth of meals for lunch.
2. Same Goes for Shopping Sprees
Yes, you’re part of the working class earning money now. It might be really exciting, seeing thousands of dollars in your bank account when you’ve only been living off pocket money.
This doesn’t mean you can go off running into the nearest mall for a shopping spree “to treat yourself”. Before you know it, you’re down to your last few dollars, scrimping for the next three weeks until you get your next paycheque.
As per point 1, think about how many hours that dress or pair of shoes is going to cost you before you buy it. Another common tip people use is to weigh how much you want it versus how much you need it. If your want outweighs your need, you’re better off without the item for now.
3. Turn Down Expensive Lunches with Colleagues
Sometimes your colleagues want to dine at places that charge S$20 for an appetiser. While it’s only courteous to lunch with them, it’s not a good idea to spend money you don’t have.
They might cajole you, and you might want to cave into the pressure. But as politely as you can, turn them down. Tell them that you’re on a tight budget, and you will join them another time. Trust us, your bank account will thank you after.
4. Keep All Your Receipts
There are moments where you’ll have to spend your own money for something the company needs. Or you’ll have to take a cab somewhere the company sends you. Always keep the receipts.
As much as this might seem like the obvious course of action, we’ve heard many a time of people carelessly throwing their receipts out. The accumulation of all your claims can amount to a huge sum–you don’t want to be losing a single cent at all.
Company expenses are, most of the time, claimable. Check with your boss or your company’s policies before you make a purchase.
5. Use Your Credit Card to Pay Your Company’s Expenses
When you have to pay for your company’s expenses, why not use a credit card like the HSBC Revolution Card and collect points at the same time? Since you’ll be getting the money back anyway, charge the purchase to your credit card to get an additional benefit.
The moment you get your claims deposited into your account (or handed to you in cash), run off to pay off your credit card bills to avoid incurring interests.
At the end of the day, you’ll have a great credit score and a bunch of rewards points you can use to redeem for food or shopping vouchers.
You can use SingSaver.com.sg’s free comparison tool to find the best credit card for you.
6. Attend Courses Paid for by the Company
Well, you don’t have to wait for SkillsFuture to happen to further develop your skills for work. Ask your HR department or your boss if there are schemes offered to employees to attend courses paid for by the company, and if you’re qualified or eligible to do so.
These courses can charge right up to the thousands–an amount that would really burn a hole in any new working adult’s pocket. If you can get your company to pay for it, you should definitely push for it.
Attending these courses will, of course, be a great addition to your resume, and you’ll be able to command a better salary or negotiate for a raise in the future.
7. Put Aside Money Once Your Pay is In
Regardless of how much you earn, there’s always room for saving. And you’ll want to start saving as soon as possible. Because if you ever have a rainy day, you’ll be glad you’re financially secure for it.
The moment you get your pay for the month, put it in a separate savings account. Don’t give yourself a chance to even touch that money. If it helps, automate the process. Bank accounts such as the POSB eMySavings Account that transfers fixed sums to save monthly.
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By Ryan Ong
Ryan has been writing about finance for the last 10 years. He also has his fingers in a lot of other pies, having written for publications such as Men’s Health, Her World, Esquire, and Yahoo! Finance.