Living is Singapore is a great bliss — if you always have enough money. If you’re a Singaporean who just wants to save more money because you have new financial goals in mind or a foreigner planning to live in Singapore and wanting to have more money for your daily needs, here are 50 tips split in different categories that include the best apps and tips from experts.
Dave Ramsey’s featured writer and financing and get-out-of-debt expert Rachel Cruze shared her best tips about the best ways to save money and budget accordingly. Many of her ideas coincide with Forbes’ personal finance expert Robert Berger’s guidelines to a good budget and spending flow and even The Muse’s tips on creating a workable budget that helps you have enough savings regularly. Here is a list of the basics we’ve compiled from these three experts.
1. Income Minus Expenses
When making your budget, picture yourself as a company filing for bankruptcy. The first step in doing so is to account for all assets and liabilities. In this case, you’re going to write down your net income after Singapore taxes and your expenses from daily to seasonal. Be completely honest to ensure the accuracy of your budget!
2. Start With The Most Important Aspects
All Singaporeans — and humans in the world — need food, water, shelter, education, clothing, and utilities to survive daily. These are your most important expenses. Next, you must list down other items that you need to prioritise to reach your financial goals or to improve your overall fiscal situation.
3. Manage Your Debt
Speaking of improving your financial situation, getting out of debt is a top priority. Debt consolidation companies and even local Singaporean moneylenders can help you figure out a solution to get you out of debt in no time. However, if you can manage your personal expenses and make realistic (not drastic and unsustainable) budget cuts, then you can save a whole lot more and get yourself out of debt quick.
4. Make The Necessary Budget Cuts
The biggest mistake most budgeters (namely first-timers) make is to create unrealistic cuts that they cannot sustain for an entire month. Realistic cost-cutting means deprioritising items and services that will cause some minor inconveniences. For example, downgrading from a high-speed Internet connection to a modest one because you’re often in the office is a great budget cut. Shopping at discount clothing is another way.
5. Create Payment Schedules (and Avoid Huge Interest Rates)
Make sure you don’t miss your debt and loan repayments to avoid penalty fees. The same goes for utilities, school and college fees, and everything else that has an accompanying penalty fee or interest rate increase.
6. Use a Budget Buffer
A rainy day fund is always essential. All three experts agree that budget buffers allow you to deal with seasonal and surprise expenses without rocking your entire boat. In addition, it helps you anticipate future expenses that might become consistent and become a permanent budget item in the future.
7. Don’t Get Yourself In Additional (Card) Debt
Credit cards are a great way to track expenses. However, this is a double-edged sword. Use your credit card but pay its dues in full regularly always. Being indebted to your creditor using a high interest rate credit card is a surefire way to destroy your budget.
8. Be Accountable For Your Spending Choices
If you’re using envelopes to track your spending and limit it when necessary, then be accountable and follow your rules. You’re not letting anyone down but yourself when you spend more than what the envelope of money can give you.
9. Avoid Comparing Your Situation With Others
It’s never helpful to compare your life situation with other people who aren’t in the same boat. Remember, everyone’s financial situation is different at any point in time.
10. Set Your Financial Goals
The best way to keep yourself conscious about your budget is to set up a financial goal. Whether it’s a college fund or home renovation project, locking on to a financial goal helps you focus on proper spending.
11. Don’t Be Disappointed Failing to Follow Your Budget
When you fail in budgeting for the first time, don’t be so hard on yourself. Tomorrow is another day, and you can always try again.
Case Specific Budgeting: Groceries
Anyone in Singapore (and probably across the world) know how much budget dent groceries can cause on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. While cutting down on your food consumption should be your last resort, the following are great tips to help you decrease your overall grocery costs without having to make that drastic compromise.
12. Discount Periods Before Closing Time
A few hours or even an hour before closing time, some Singaporean supermarkets and mini-groceries tend to slash prices of fresh produce and few-hours perishable goods in half. The time definitely varies from each grocery, so make sure to make your observations and save money!
13. Due Diligence in Price Comparisons
Today’s market competition across different brands when it comes to specific cereal products, milk, bread, and meat is quite tight. This means only great news for consumers because newcomers with similar high-quality products as established brands will always drive prices down — if they know where to look.
14. Look Between Affordable and High-Quality
For you and your family, you only want the safest and highest-quality groceries available in the market. However, low-priced goods do not always mean it is of poor quality. By looking between affordable and high-quality products, you can save money.
15. Measurements, Measurements, Measurements
Unit prices often dictate how much should products cost as they weigh. The knowledge of pin-precise measurements allows you to know if you’re paying for a good deal or not.
16. Which Five Items Will You Return?
Sometimes, you think you need the first few items you put in your cart. By reviewing them and taking back five items you don’t or least need as per your priorities, you can save money in the process too.
17. Wholesaling is a Great Savior (of Budgets)
Bulk buying can quickly take off 15-20% (or even 50% in some cases) from the original product price. Just make sure you take inventory of their expiration dates!
18. Eye-Level Vs. Feet-Level
It’s a proven grocery-shelving trick: eye-level products are more appealing than feet-level products. However, they both have the same quality.
19. Turn Away From Promotional Displays
Worse than eye-level semi-product promotions to make more profit, groceries use promotional displays to sway your decision. Just turn away from them — they’re never great news (unless you’ve been anticipating buying them).
Case Specific Budgeting: Transportation
The SMRT and SBS are world-class and exceptional transportation commended globally for its top-tier capabilities. And it’s truly the most affordable way to get around Singapore. Here are great ways to save up on your travels across the country.
20. Pre-Peak Train Hour Rides
In the past, it was free to ride Singapore trains if you’re there early. Nowadays, you’ll get S$0.50 off your fares if you ride before 7:45 AM. If you look at your long-term transportation budget, that’s huge savings on your part!
21. Credit Card Commuting Rebates
Singapore’s SimplyGo allows you to use your credit card for public transportation. Several SG credit card companies including Maybank Family & Friends, Citi SMRT Card, and more offer great rebates for using the railways.
22. Maximise The Adult Concession Card
While it costs S$120, it seems like a huge dent to your transportation expenses. However, if your job always requires you to move around the country using the trains frequently, it can go beyond S$120 in a single month. Adult concession cards ensure you save more from your on-the-go profession.
23. EZ-Link, EZ-Reward
Aside from SMRT credit card rebates, using the original EZ-Link cards gives you some beneficial rewards. Get some great edible rewards from different establishments depending on the season’s promotions.
24. Routes and Fare Calculator Apps
Zipster is still a new application in its experimental phase. However, there’s no denying it’s one of the best route and fare-calculating app you can use in the country. It’s likely going to include advanced features such as fare and time-saving routes you can take using Singapore’s on-time trains.
25. Car Pooling
A classic method now promoted by many ride-sharing apps such as Grab, car-pooling to save money will never grow old when it comes to saving money.
26. Bus Pooling
Taking the bus to school was normal back in the day. Now, ride-sharing apps such as Grab and Beeline allow you to take rides that go straight to your office and everyone else’s workplaces without having to wait a while in stations — and your seat is guaranteed!
Tracking Everything With The Best Apps
Let’s take a break from case studies and into these helpful tracking apps! As the saying goes, modern problems require modern solutions. Nowadays, Singaporeans and foreigners in the country have access to a great number of apps for all their budgeting needs. Here is a great selection we think you can use to your advantage.
Plum doesn’t even need you to install any kind of app on your phone. With just Facebook Messenger, you can automate your savings. While it’s directed towards the UK audience, it can still work to helping you save money through simple chatbot instructions
It will ask for some information about your bank accounts so it can show you how much you’re spending for different items. Then, it’ll give you some ideas on how to save your money efficiently
30. Oval Money
If you need fun alerts combined with cash saving, then Oval Money is definitely for you. You can set up an alert to save money for doing certain actions, such as sending emails, chatting for hours, or just a regular alarm.
31. Money Dashboard
Singaporeans often contend with overdraft fees. Money Dashboard has a feature that warns you if your spending is leading you towards overdrafting. In addition, it has identity fraud-identifying features that will warn you if there’s any suspicious activity in your account.
Bank fee tracking is one of the biggest problems you could have when it comes to overdraft spending. With Emma, you won’t have much trouble in that department.
Case-Specific Budgeting: On Dating
33. Time It With Discounts
You and your partner can save so much by timing your vacations with discounts. Whether it’s a domestic flight or just a local Singapore venue, discounts can reduce your budget expenses immensely
34. Picnics in Parks
Fort Canning, Pasir Ris, and other national parks in Singapore are great places to spend time together. In fact, you can save a lot and enjoy great-tasting meals by having picnics!
35. Watch a Movie
Enjoying a movie together will always be a classic date. Movies in Singapore are relatively affordable, and many malls are always showing the latest flicks from Hollywood and elsewhere! Netflix at home is a great option too!
36. Set a Date During Promotion Days
Discounts and promotions are different. The former only guarantees you need to pay less to gain a service. The latter is providing an excellent value-packed product or service for less than the price of two items. Having a 3-course meal date when venues offer a value-packaged menu is a great way to save up and enjoy your dates together.
Case Specific Budgeting: Rent
37. HDB Flats Are Great Options Too
The Housing Development Board Flats are a great alternative to condominiums in terms of quality and affordability. Consider them as options too.
38. Take The Hike and Get Healthier!
The best thing about Singapore is even if you’re off-centre from everywhere, the commute guarantees little to no traffic even if you live far away from your work. Off-centre rentals often cost less.
39. Stay Longer and Pay Less
Longer leases guarantee lower regular fees most of the time. Consider negotiating this with your landlord before you agree to their terms.
40. Read Your Tenancy Agreements Accurately
When there’s no gray area in your Tenancy Agreement (TA), then you can schedule your payments and budgets accordingly. About 70% of tenants pay more because of TA contract confusions — so make sure to clarify them.
41. Work With Rental Security Guarantee Companies
Rental guarantee companies allow you to provide a rental deposit while paying for 10% or less than the actual amount of your rental security deposit. In doing so, you can save more money while paying for your total deposit guarantee in increments, allowing you to create an effective budget.
The Right Investments for Your Retirement
You’ll need a goal to save effectively. You can have all the practices and apps to help you, but saving money requires you to have a goal so you can follow it efficiently. Planning your retirement is a great way to direct your finances accordingly
42. Consider Singapore’s Cost of Living
You definitely know how much you spend monthly on food, rent, and utilities, and it’s no joke in Singapore. It’s a great goal to always have old-age contingency costs and emergency savings to help you deal with any kind of situation as your physical capabilities begin to dwindle
43. Two Retirement Ages
In Singapore, there are two retirement ages because both the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) and Central Provident Fund (CPF) have different retirement ages. Budget accordingly to ensure you can maximise both retirement schemes to your advantage. In all cases, you’ll receive money as long as you pay the regular contributions needed.
44. The MOM Retirement Scheme
With MOM, your retirement age is at 62 years old. However, MOM allows you to work past your retirement age until 67 years old. This allows you to gain more from your retirement scheme in the future.
45. The CPF Retirement Scheme
With CPF, your retirement age is at 55 years old. Once you reach 65 years old , you can start getting your monthly payouts provided you met the requirements of the CPF Retirement Sum.