Listen up, students. We know some of your classmates drive to campus in cars their parents bought for their 18th birthday and are more likely to be seen eating than working at a restaurant. But that doesn’t mean you should try to emulate them.
While student life can feel like a neverending stretch of being broke, trust us, it doesn’t necessarily get better when you’re an adult, especially if you are too quick to sign yourself up for financial burdens like vehicle and property purchases.
As your spending needs are likely lower now than they will be when you enter the working world, it’s actually a good idea to get a head start building a nest egg while you’re still at school. While many students leave school in debt, there are always a few who quietly graduate with a nice four or five digit sum, amassed thanks to part-time jobs, giving tuition or starting small businesses. Here are some tips for doing the same.
Sell your old textbooks
There is no point in sentimentally keeping your old textbooks. Like a car, textbooks lose their resale value the longer you hold on to them.
When you consider that university students can spend as much as $500 per semester on textbooks, selling the old ones to make way for the new makes perfect sense.
And the time to do so is right after you’ve finished your modules for the textbooks you have and chosen your modules for the next semester.
Don’t wait too long, as once a new edition is released or the professor decides to start using different books instead, you will no longer be able to pawn your textbooks off on the next batch of students.
If you’re the sort of student who hardly uses your textbooks and leaves them in pristine condition, you can advertise them as being brand new and sell them off at close to the same price as you bought them for. Just knock off a few dollars to give new students an incentive to buy from you instead of heading to the school book shop.
Use your school’s facilities fully
The thousands of dollars you pay to your university each year are not to be sniffed at. Unless your parents are footing the bill, you can expect to be in debt for years after graduating.
So you really want to make sure you get your money’s worth and do not end up paying for things your school already provides.
For instance, NUS students are allowed to use sports facilities such as tennis courts, a soccer field and the gym. As such, there is really no need for students to pay extra to use such facilities elsewhere. Likewise, NTU students are allowed to use facilities like swimming pools at a very low fee.
Even if your institution doesn’t have an Olympic-sized pool, unless you’re studying at the school of hard knocks, you should have access to a library that you can use without paying an additional fee. Instead of hitting the library only when you have to study, use it to check out books and films you would otherwise be paying for.
Finally, you might not be a “joiner-inner”, but if your university has CCAs that mirror your own interests, it makes a lot of sense to join them so you can learn and practise at subsidised rates rather than doing it on your own. For instance, avid bowlers can join the school’s bowling club instead of hiring a coach privately to improve their skills.
Get student discounts whenever you can
There are more student discounts out there than you think, and by not bothering to find out what benefits flashing your student card can give you, you’re throwing money down the drain.
As a general rule, it’s a good idea to always ask if there’s a student discount before you pay for anything.
- Before buying a Mac or iPad, make sure you’re paying the student price.
- NUS students can enjoy a range of discounts thanks to the NUStyle programme, including 20% off at KPO and 10% off at Molly Roffey’s.
- Students get discounted movie tickets on weekdays before 6pm at all the big cinema chains, namely Cathay Cineplexes, Golden Village and Shaw Theatres.
- Enjoy PartyWorld KTV’s happy hour student promo, where you get to sing for 3 hours before 8pm for $12 to $15.
Make it a point to get the student discounts instead of just hoping you’ll be in the right place at the right time—for instance, if you and your friends want to watch a movie, plan to do so on weekdays afternoons.
Make sure you’re earning a little money of your own
Uni students in Singapore can be divided into two groups—there are those who have already started earning money, then there are those who survive on allowance from their parents. Even if you don’t really need the money or are getting enough allowance from your parents to enjoy life, it’s a good idea to start earning a little to put aside right now.
Giving tuition, working part-time in F&B or starting small businesses like blog shops are all popular amongst undergrads. I have more than a few friends who started successful online businesses or became insurance agents during their uni days.
There are many working adults who don’t manage to save $10,000 or $20,000 even after years of work. A 2013 survey revealed that 41% of the Singaporeans polled hadn’t put aside a single cent towards retirement.
On the other side of the spectrum, I have friends who consistently earned $1,000 or $2,000 each month throughout three or four years of uni, which could translate into considerable savings.
Instead of spending all your money at Zouk or buying clothes from blog shops, focus some of your energies on earning and saving money. It might actually make life easier for you when you graduate.
Do you have any other money-saving tips for students in Singapore? Tell us in the comments!