Feeling Broke After Christmas Shopping? Here Are 5 Tips To Survive On A Tight Budget
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Feeling Broke After Christmas Shopping? Here Are 5 Tips To Survive On A Tight Budget

Kenneth Lou
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Back when we were students, we largely survived on a shoestring budget, relying on funds from our families, student loans or even part-time jobs.

When we graduate and start working, we start to lose control of our spending…

man shaking head while opening empty wallet
Source: giphy

Even if we try to set aside a budget, some of us might not follow it or it might have already accounted for your splurging habits.

Is it really possible to survive on a tight budget of $500 per month as a working adult in Singapore?


TL;DR – Tips To Survive On A Shoestring Budget In Singapore

Singapore may be one of the most expensive cities to live in, but it’s still possible to survive on a tight budget!

tips to survive on $500/mth in singapore

Here are 5 tips on how we can potentially go back to surviving on a tight budget (e.g. $500 a month) and live like a student again!

  1. Create two bank accounts for a forced budget, which creates a forced expenses limit
  2. Seek out value-for-money group deals
  3. Sync up calendar activities in one day and save on transport
  4. Head over to Johor Bahru for cheaper groceries, personal care and more
  5. Have a cheap hobby

Told you it’s possible!


Tip 1: Create two bank accounts

This is probably the most extreme of all but also the most effective since forced savings creates a forced expenses limit.

The best part of this is that it’s a challenge to you to stay motivated and see how long you can actually last on this $500 (or budget) you set for yourself.

The moment your salary gets credited into your bank account, set up a GIRO automated transfer to your expense account. Do this as an experiment for one month and see how you can survive and adjust accordingly in the following month.

This tip is especially useful here in Singapore since all the big banks have almost $0 fees and good payment options.

It’s pretty straightforward, but here’s an example of how you can carry out this tip:

  • Take home Salary = $2000
  • Transfer to Savings account = $1500
  • Remaining to spend = $500

Tip 2: Seek out value-for-money group deals

Saving money Singapore
Source: Pexels

Apart from the usual online group deals etc, you can consider buying items as a group rather than an individual to save on shipping fees.

Psst, this actually happens quite frequently in the corporate junior world.

Some common examples usually from Taobao:

  • Phone cases, accessories and screen protectors
  • Laptop stands and screen shield
  • Sporting equipment (e.g rackets, yoga mats)

Well, the list is actually endless.

Be creative and consider gathering as many friends as possible, it helps when you’re trying to negotiate discounts with suppliers.

Pro tip: Look for group activities to do together as well as the cost of a group usually much cheaper than if you were to go as alone or a couple. For example, going on a holiday together to Bangkok or Malaysia and sharing the cost of a driver and van.

Tip 3: Sync up your calendar activities

people-mother-family-father
Source: Bridges to Recovery

For instance, say for a particular week, you have three items to check off your list:

  • Go to the SAFRA gym
  • Do your groceries
  • Meet up with a friend for dinner

Assuming your schedule permits, you can try to lump all three activities within a day. This can easily save you at least 50% on transport, assuming they are all located in the same vicinity.

Better still if the activities can be done within 45 minutes, you can actually enjoy the transfer rebates for public buses. Save even more if you usually take Grab or GoJek.

Tip 4: Head over to Johor Bahru!

kuala lumpur
Source: The Crazy Tourist

Depending on what you aim to do, your savings can be rather substantial!

During off-peak hours, Singapore-Malaysia customs clearance on both sides can be done within half an hour.

Top things to purchase in JB:

  • Groceries and staples (usually 2x cheaper or more)
  • Household items (snacks, drinks)
  • Phone accessories (e.g screen protector, cables)
  • Petrol (especially if you drive, at 3x cheaper prices)

Top things to do in JB:

  • Get a haircut by a senior stylist (RM72 compared to SGD60)
  • Watch a movie (RM9 compared to SGD8.50)
  • Get a massage from a local spa (RM62 compared to SGD70)
  • Have a sumptuous meal (RM30 compared to SGD20)

The return bus fare to and from the border will cost anything between SGD3-SGD10 depending on where you live in Singapore and which part of JB you visit.

Pro-tip: Just Grab everywhere in Malaysia, you can get from point A to B in 3x less the price anywhere in Singapore.

Tip 5: Have a cheap hobby

Here are some classic examples we love to share about:

Expensive HobbyCheap Hobby
Spending time going to the moviesWatching free videos on YouTube or online streaming services
Cafe hoppingHopping around hawker centres to savour affordable and tasty local food
Paying entrance or membership fees to train at the gymUtilise free workout stations in the neighbourhood parks or jog for free
Going to museums or paid activitiesExploring the many free parks, such as Singapore Botanic Gardens or Gardens by the Bay

Conclusion: It’s all about minor lifestyle changes!

As a young adult, living on a shoestring budget is an inescapable reality… you have to be willing to make some changes.

With prudence, discipline and good planning, we can make the best of the amount of money we have been given.

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About Kenneth Lou
Passionate about helping people make smarter financial decisions.
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