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5 Ways To Earn A Side Income For Students Who Are Broke AF

5 Ways to Earn a Side Income for Students Who Are Broke AF

profileDion Lim

University years are usually the best time of your life.

Be it you are a new freshman or a fresh graduate preparing to head out to the job market. 

This is something that you and I have definitely heard before. 

But, having been in university for the past 2 years.

I believe that there is another key phrase that is definitely missed out.

That is, university years are also one of the MOST BROKE times of our lives. 

Costs Incurred During University

Unlike most working adults, undergraduates like me don’t have a regular income

And on top of that, we have to pay for the following expenses…

Note: The following amount is the estimated annual cost that I incurred as an undergraduate.

1. School Fees 

The average total cost of a degree is about $32,800. 

Generally, the cost of a degree varies in terms of the industry and field of study. 

As for me, the total course fees for my degree in accounting sums up to $28,200 in NTU. 

2. Hostel Accommodation

There’s a joke that goes that NTU is an island by itself. 

We all call it — Pulau NTU. 

As someone who stays in the infamous north end of Singapore, the distance between NTU  and my home is probably a 3-hour journey to and fro.

Therefore, having hall accommodation is definitely a much more convenient option for me. 

Staying in a double room in NTU, the cost of the hostel accommodation for an academic year sums up to be $2,835. 

Rounding off with all the administrative fees, the total sum is about $2,900.

3. Food Expenses

As for food wise, NTU halls do not provide meal plans.

By tracking my expenses prudently, I would average my food cost to be about $2,625 ($5 x 3 meals x 5 days x 35 weeks).

Considering that I also eat supper at times…

Let’s make it $3,000 then.

4. Transport Expenses

Despite staying in a hall, I still incur transport costs in the tune of $500 when I travel back home over the weekend. 

5. Miscellaneous Expenses

Beyond all the seemingly big-ticket items, there are still miscellaneous costs during the academic year as well. 

Such as the cost of textbooks and the printing of notes.

That sums up to another $500.

5 Ways to Earn A Side Income For All The Broke AF Students Like Me

It is not surprising at all that we students are broke AF.

That being said, I found some lobang that we as students can use to earn some quick buck on the side.

1. Scholarships

Having a scholarship is essentially getting paid to study.

It provides you with annual allowances as well as other beneficial perks. 

What’s more, scholarships help to cover most, if not the full sum of tuition fees for your degree as well!

Which saves us the bulk of our expenses in our university life.

Or any potential student debts and tuition fee loans.

The best are the bond-free scholarships if you are scared of being tied down in one place after graduating!

Since the academic year has yet to start, hurry to apply for the scholarships!

Or you could do so during the academic year based on your latest results.

While not everyone has the opportunity to get a scholarship, it is definitely an income avenue if you work hard and achieve good academic results!

2. Work-Study Scheme

In each school, there are work-study schemes being offered to students as a form of a training programme. 

Examples of such jobs include:

  • Library Student Assistants
  • Research Assistants
  • IT Services
  • Teaching Assistants
  • Temperature Screener (Given the latest COVID-19 situation)
  • School Vendor Helper (e.g. Bookstores, Recreational Stores)

Beyond those offered in schools, SkillsFuture also offers work-study opportunities for us students. 

Given that most of these jobs are within the campus itself, it is much more convenient for undergrads to work while studying. 

3. Part-Time Internship

While some students are all about getting a first-class GPA, there are some students who’d rather pursue more work experience while studying.

After all, it is important to build your portfolio and resume for your future you

And to earn some quick buck at the side too, of course. 

If you don’t know where to look for internship opportunities, don’t say I never jio

4. Part-Time Jobs

I have friends who did part-time jobs beyond their studies. 

One of them was a sales associate at a bicycle store (because he loves bikes) and another was a pharmacy assistant at a neighbourhood clinic.

A few of my friends were also private tuition teachers over the weekend, earning about $250 per month per student. 

For me, it would probably be my part-time job here at Seedly, which I thankfully chanced upon last year.

5. Adhoc Hustles 

For many students, it may be tiring to handle a part-time commitment on top of their studies.

P.S. It is true when they say that university is similar to having 2 years worth of A-Level education crammed into a 13-week semester. 

As such, many may prefer some adhoc side hustles instead, which is more of an OTOT basis.  

For example, some of my friends have opened their very own home-based businesses to sell their second-hand clothes to earn side income. 

Alternatively, there are also online jobs that allow us to work from home and yet earn up to $2,000 per month!

Or, if you want passive income, you can consider starting your investment journey

The power of compounding in investments has the potential to turn $1,000 a month into $1.5 million over a span of 40 years! 

Tips and Tricks to Reduce Expenses As a Student

The number 1 rule for Broke AF Students like us is to BUDGET.

Given that we do not have a constant stream of income, it is even more important for us to watch our expenses. 

At the end of the day, we should always aim to maximise our savings

Here are some tips and tricks to reduce your expenses as a student:

  • Get the Undergraduate Concession Card to cut down on travelling expenses.
  • Make use of all the Student Meals, Discounts, and Deals by simply flashing your matriculation/student card.
  • You can consider getting second-hand textbooks. You can buy them on Carousell or from seniors for as cheap as $20 per book, which is almost 20% of the original cost.
  • Print your notes in school instead of at shopping malls. The rates in school are at $0.02-$0.04 per page whereas the rates outside are as high as $0.20 per page.

Thoughts On University Life

While university days may be the best times of our lives, we should also prepare ourselves financially in view of the ‘adulthood path’ ahead.

As well as the inevitable quarter-life crisis.

It is definitely not easy to balance both studies and work at the same time.

But, as my work mantra goes:


I mean, this is probably the last stage of our lives to have so much freedom and control of our time to do anything we want. 

Before we get stuck in the 9-5 work cycle.

All those who are going through it (aka me) will definitely ask you to cherish your time as a student. 

So, go bold and try everything!

(Other than all the bad habits, of course…)

About Dion Lim
Busy undergrad by day, an aspiring entrepreneur by night. Fuelled by floorball and doodling, I chomp on bite-size pieces of finance to prep for an adventure that won’t make me yawn.
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