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 university 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/ambulant centers.|
|Mobile phone and internet||$20 – $50||Depends on mobile plans and amount of data.|
|Entertainment||$50 – $300||Depends on individual lifestyle and spending 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.
Student discounts and offers
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 advertise various student promotions, for example, SG Student Promos.
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 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.
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 their fees while studying.
Maybank student loan
- Prepayment charge: 1% of loan prepaid
- Late payment fee: three percent min $30
- Age: 18+
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 $200,000 or eight times the borrower’s monthly income, making it an optimal choice for those who need a larger student loan.
POSB In-Depth Study Aid
- Prepayment charge: N/A
- Late payment fee: $30
- Age: 17 – 65
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 that your school is included in POSB’s list of preferred institutions to qualify for its low-cost program.
You might be wondering why would a student 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 and no minimum income requirements.
Plus, you’ll earn great cash back with every purchase (with a $500 credit limit).
DBS Live Fresh Student Card
- Five percent discount on select merchants and five percent discount on sustainable spending
- No minimum spend requirement
- Annual fee waived for five full years
- Only 0.3% discount on general expenses
- Total rewards capped at just $50/month
The main advantage of this card is its attractive cashbacks for eco-friendly merchants. Students will be able to get up to 5% green rebate on select eco-restaurants, eco-retailers and eco-transportation 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.
Maybank eVibes Card
- Students and NSF earning less than $30,000/year
- Individuals looking for easy cashback on all their expenses
- Individuals wishing to avoid paying an annual fee
- Young adults who prefer a card with EZ-Link functionality
How does this credit card compare to the DBS Live Fresh Student Card?
The Maybank eVibes card offers 1% cash back on all spend. 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 $30,000 in annual income. However, this should not be a problem for students.
Another way for students to accumulate small savings during their studies is to open a 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 OCBC Frank Savings Account.
Frank OCBC Savings Account
- Min. Age required: 16 years old
- Min. Initial deposit: $0
- Min. Balance requirement: $0 if under 26, $1,000 for 26+
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 $1,000 – can earn more with OCBC Frank than with most competitors with their friendly interest rates.
Therefore, young adults looking for an easy starter account should consider OCBC Frank.
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.
This article first appeared in ValueChampion.