The economic slowdown in Singapore has affected the job market, and this has caused restructuring and a slower growth of the job market.
What this means for fresh graduates is that they need to work even harder to clinch their dream jobs, and also hold more realistic expectations of their salaries.
Since Singapore has been ranked as one of the most expensive cities in the world to live in, it only makes perfect sense for us to stretch our dollar as and when we can.
Here are five life hacks that can help you get the most out of your salary, and ultimately save you a significant amount of money over time:
1. Catch The Early Train, Or Bus-Pool To Work
As the saying goes, ‘the early bird catches the worm’.
But maybe in the kiasu Singaporean context, the early bird can actually save money by catching the train during off-peak hours.
Singapore commuters can enjoy free MRT rides to 18 designated MRT stations in the city area before 7.45am on weekdays (excluding public holidays).
And if you can’t make it by the cutoff time, you can still enjoy a S$0.50 discount off your train fare if you exit any of these stations by 8am.
LTA has also rolled out a Travel Smart Rewards programme, where you can earn cash rewards of up to S$100 a year for traveling during non-peak hours if you register your EZ-Link card. And each month, two lucky draw winners will walk away with a cash reward of S$1,500 each.
If squeezing on board a crowded train is not something you want to deal with in the morning, then bus-pooling apps like GrabShuttle or Beeline might just be your saving grace.
At a low fare of S$5 or less, you can pre-book a seat from a list of fixed routes, such as from the heartlands to the Central Business District.
If the desired route is not available, you can suggest a new route in-app, which may be introduced if demand is sufficiently high.
To enjoy an even cheaper fare, check out Taxibot for promo codes that you can utilise!
How much you can save in a year:
The average MRT fare to the CBD area costs S$1.70. So if you manage to ride the train early on weekday mornings, you can save a grand total of S$442 a year – that’s almost half a grand!
2. Dining Apps For Discounts
Eating can easily be considered every Singaporean’s favourite hobby – and who doesn’t like dining affordably?
Guess what, there are several existing apps that offer you discounts, 1-for-1 deals, or up to 50% discounts when you dine during a restaurant’s off-peak hours.
One such app is Eatigo, which is a favourite amongst locals, because it lets you conveniently book restaurants as well as enjoy great discounts with numerous dining establishments all in one platform.
An alternative app is Entertainer, which doubles as a digital coupon book. Each coupon book costs S$75, but it has a number of one-to-one offers so it really isn’t difficult to earn back this amount and still save money.
Many people love to use the Entertainer app for high-end dining, as you can easily save a few hundred dollars in one sitting – absolutely great for ‘splurging’ on special occasions!
But if you are a local foodie at heart, you will be pleased to know that you can enjoy S$5 cashback on your hawker favourites when you scan and pay using the QR code via OCBC Pay for the first transaction.
The FRANK credit and debit card also offers plenty of dining discounts at many participating merchants so you can save money while indulging in good food.
How much you can save in a year:
Obviously the best way to save on food is to pack your own meals from home. But let’s admit it, we all don’t have the time to wake up extra early to prep meals so we often end up dining out.
Since an average meal at a regular restaurant in Singapore costs S$10, with a 50% discount or a 1-for-1 dining deal, you can easily save $5. If you dine out 5 times a week, utilising such discount apps can help you save S$1,300 a year!
3. Ditch The Wedding Planners
Some of us are at the stage in life where we have popped the million-dollar question (literally) to our significant others, so naturally, wedding costs are beginning to weigh on our minds.
We all know that weddings can be extremely costly, and you still need to ensure that you have enough for your honeymoon and future home.
At the end of the day, it is not financially prudent to tank all your savings in this one-day affair so a budget wedding is most ideal for those who have not amassed huge savings in their bank accounts.
For one, having a wedding planner may take some burden off your back but their consultation fees can cost you an arm and leg. In fact, wedding planners usually take up almost 15 percent of the entire budget.
In its place, turn to free wedding planning apps to help you estimate costs and even unearth hidden costs that you might not anticipate.
Bridestory or Delegate for instance, offers a list of vendors you need for your wedding, from boutiques to venue providers and florists all in one place, so you can easily trawl through for price comparisons and also service reviews.
This will give you a sense of how much each service could cost, and you’ll then be able to budget for them based on whether they’re an essential or a ‘good to have’.
On that note, you can also save more from non-wedding retailers. For instance, the bridesmaids’ dresses can be bought from a regular fashion boutique or online instead of a specialised bridal outlet.
How much you can save:
This is really iffy to calculate, because it really depends on the vendors you engage for your wedding and how elaborate you want your wedding to be like.
But as a baseline, just ditching the wedding planners alone can help you save an average of $3,000!
4. Spruce Up Your New Home For Less
Beyond weddings, some of us are saving up for a future home – from applying for a BTO to dealing with home renovations, there are so many financial factors to think of.
But here’s the good news: there are plenty of online platforms such as HipVan and Taobao that can help you achieve your dream house with their affordable options of furnitures and home decor.
Blogger celebrity Xiaxue herself has sworn by Taobao’s cheap and eclectic array of homeware goodies!
When shopping on Taobao, you can also save up even more by shopping via Shopback, which offers up to 30% cashback on all your online purchases.
Or if you prefer a ‘one of a kind’ piece of furniture in your home, you can try making and assembling one at a woodwork workshop. This is also a much cheaper option than buying a pre-finish furniture.
How much you can save:
Same as weddings, calculating the savings for interior design is really ambiguous as the spending will vary from person to person.
Nonetheless, a quick look on Taobao shows that their home decor products are priced as low as S$1.40! And you can save even more with Shopback’s cashback!
5. Get Yourself Insured
This last life hack is actually the most important, though some might be wondering how spending money can actually equate to saving money.
Here’s the thing: Buying insurance can actually ensure that you are protected against the uncertainties of life, and it prevents you from breaking your bank should something untoward happen to you in the future.
Not everything in life is within our control, and having savings in the bank is definitely not enough to cover unexpected events.
Having an insurance policy is essentially about giving yourself a peace of mind.
Medical bills can be very hefty, and a few nights in the hospital alone can set your savings back a few months.
The type of ward and quality of healthcare greatly depends on how much you can afford, so you have to make sure that you are well-covered in this area. This helps you recover without worrying about expensive treatments and therapy equipment.
The second most basic insurance is life insurance, which covers death, terminal illness, and even total permanent disability. This insurance is very important, yet many people do not even have this basic insurance!
A key consideration should be the financial impact on yourself or your dependents, should disability or death occur.
The payouts from life insurance policies can also help relieve any financial burdens you may unknowingly pass on to your family (e.g. outstanding loans).
And in the long run, an endowment insurance, which offers annual or lump sum payouts and basic protection, is also good to have.
This plan aims to help grow your wealth, while providing basic insurance coverage.
This is especially great for those saving for the long-term because the earlier you save, the better the compound interest rate – and this makes it possible for an early retirement!
But do note that it does not work like a fixed or savings deposit, and the returns may not be as high as stocks and shares. However, they are generally considered a good option as they are less risky and gives you better returns than saving in a deposit account.
How much you can save in a year:
For starters, you can start with plans that cover the first two important layers and together, they will only cost you S$857.56 yearly.
If your monthly salary is an average S$2,500, this works out to an annual salary of S$30,000; which means that spending about S$800 on this starter kit only eats up 2.85% of this figure!
Hospitalisation and various medical bills can set you back a couple of thousands, so buying an insurance serves as a good investment indeed!
Prepare For The Unexpected
As long as you have money, no matter how little you think you have, a financial plan is a must.
Once this is in place, your financial planner can help you understand which insurance plan is suitable and how much coverage you need.
If you are keen on learning more about the various insurance plans available (those mentioned here are not exhaustive), you can submit your details here and the OCBC Insurance Team will reach out to you to arrange a meeting at your convenience.
It’s better to be five years too early than five minutes too late!
This article is written in collaboration with FRANK by OCBC.
Featured Image Credit: Chee Kuen