Tips and Tricks for Managing Your Finances as a University Student in Singapore

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How to plan your finances when college starts soon

Entering university marks a crucial step in a person’s financial journey. There are no fixed hours, no assigned time slots for recess, and no one to manage your budget and expenses except yourself. Therefore, it is important to keep a check on how much money you spend as a college student.

Here is a breakdown of the monthly expenses of a typical college student.

Type of expense
Rising
Remarks
Accommodation $400 – $800 Depends on room type (AC/non-AC), hostel location and single or double room
Transportation $40 – $90 It depends if you stay on campus or have to commute to school from home every day
Food $200 – $450 Based on an average budget of $10-15 per day for meals at food courts/hawker centers
Mobile phone and Internet $20 – $50 Depends on mobile plans and amount of data
Entertainment $50 – $300 Depends on individual lifestyle and consumption habits

As you can see, monthly expenses vary wildly and depend on many factors. For the most cost-conscious student living on a shoestring budget, one can expect to spend a minimum of around $250 per month.

Some hostels also include meal plans as part of their terms of stay. Even though hostel food may not be pleasant at times, it certainly helps to reduce food expenses! If you’re not staying on campus, having dinner at home with home-cooked meals will also help reduce your food expenses.

For personal entertainment, if you just relax with Netflix at the end of the day, your wallet will be more than grateful. However, if you want to hit the clubs and enjoy the nightlife, you may need to increase your entertainment budget.

Discounts and offers for students

As a student, you are entitled to many advantages. Perhaps the first thing that comes to mind is student meal discounts. For this, there are several telegram groups that frequently announce various student promotions, for example, SG Student Promos.

telegram group student promotion

Alternatively, you can check out restaurants like Eighteen Chefs, Pastamania, and Green Dot for their well-known student discounts. LiHo is also famous for its student-only $2 milk tea promotion.

If you want the occasional big-screen experience at movie theaters, you’ll be pleased to know that most movie theaters offer a student rate of $7 Monday through Friday, before 6 p.m. Yes, this also includes college students! However, the caveat is that you have to buy your ticket at the box office itself.

Student loans

Even though higher education is heavily subsidized in Singapore, it remains important for most Singaporean students. As a result, most university students take out student loans to help pay for their tuition while they are still in school.

Maybank student loan

Maybank’s promotional interest rate of 4.45% per annum and a 2% processing fee are among the cheapest available. In addition, the bank offers its promotion to students studying locally or abroad. Maybank also offers loans of up to S$200,000, which is eight times the borrower’s monthly income, making it an optimal choice for those who need a larger education loan.

Read our full review

POSB In-Depth Study Aid

POSB’s student loan is a great option for students who want the flexibility to be slightly behind on their monthly payments. In addition, it does not impose any penalty fees for early repayment. However, make sure your school is included in POSB’s list of preferred institutions to qualify for its low-cost program.

Read our full review

For a more detailed comparison of other education loans available in Singapore, you can view our student loan guide here.

Credit card

student credit card laptop

You might be wondering why a student would need a credit card to go to college? After all, aren’t credit cards just for working adults with a minimum wage requirement?

Fortunately, this is actually not the case. There is a selection of credit cards aimed at students, with no annual fees or minimum income requirements. Plus, you’ll earn attractive cashback on every purchase (with a credit limit of S$500).

DBS Live Fresh Student Card

The main advantage of this card is its attractive cashbacks for eco-friendly merchants. Students will be able to get up to 5% green discount on selected eco-restaurants, eco-retailers and eco-transport services. Some examples include JustDabao, The Green Collective and even BlueSG.

Plus, you can get up to 5% off student-favorite brands like McDonald’s, Starbucks, Golden Village, and other movie and TV streaming services.

Read our full review

Maybank eVibes Card

How does this credit card compare to the DBS Live Fresh Student Card?

The Maybank eVibes card offers a 1% cashback on all spending. Yes, this means that you are not limited to a particular expense category. Other promotions also include discounts for Agoda, as well as Golden Village. It also has a $5 quarterly fee, which is waived if you charge your card at least once every 3 months.

Interestingly, the Maybank eVibes card instead has an annual income limit, in which applicants cannot exceed S$30,000 in annual income. However, this should not be a problem for students.

Read our full review

Savings accounts

student putting coins into piggy bank

Another way for students to accumulate small savings during their studies is to high interest savings account. Fortunately, there are several accounts that offer students a way to earn competitive interest rates without having to worry about minimum requirements or lower fees.

A very popular savings account used by many students is the Frank OCBC Savings Account.

This savings account is a great option for students looking to open their first savings account. There are almost no barriers to entry. There is no minimum income or salary requirement, nor a minimum initial deposit. Additionally, those under 26 are exempt from the minimum average daily balance requirement.

Students with lower balances – especially below S$1,000 – can earn more with OCBC Frank than with most competitors thanks to their friendly interest rates. Therefore, young adults looking for an easy starter account should consider OCBC Frank.

For a more detailed guide to other student savings accounts, feel free to check out our guide here.

Conclusion

Managing our own finances is never easy as a college student, especially when most of us have no experience of budgeting on our own before. However, aside from student loans, credit cards, and savings accounts, the most important value is to always spend within your means and to make sure that you are spending according to your needs and not your wants.

For more general advice on personal finance and the latest promotions, you can check out our guide here as well!

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