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How To Survive On $500/Month

Often, many students are surviving on a shoestring budget. Most of us either rely on funds gathered from our families, student loans, bursaries or even part-time jobs. On average, I dare say we would probably have a few hundred dollars of spending allowance each month. Much as we hope to earn more, this is often not the case due to our hectic school schedules and obligatory family commitments. Thus, the pertinent question – How are we to survive on that meagre stipend every month?

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Seek out value-for-money deals

Apart from looking from the usual student/Groupon deals etc, you can consider doing activities as a group rather than an individual. For instance, if you and your peers need a particular item (ie special-purpose calculator), you can consider gathering as many friends as possible and try to negotiate a discount with the suppliers. Another, not so common example will be something like this – you have a group of friends living in close proximity who are diehard durian lovers, the group of you can go and savour durians regularly. When you guys patronize the outlet often enough such that the stallholder feels that he can get a guaranteed minimum sales from you guys, you can negotiate with the stallholder such that whenever you guys come and make a purchase, you will get a special price or discount.

Editor Pro Tip: A local startup Grouphunt Singapore allows you to not only discover the latest tech gear, but group buy them at a heavily discounted price! Such as the latest tech gadgets and Kickstarter and Indiegogo best sellers.

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Synchronise your activities

For instance, say for a particular week, you have three errands to run. Firstly, to give tuition, then do your groceries and meet up with a friend. 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.

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Head over to Johor Bahru!

Depending on what you aim to do, your savings can be rather substantial. During off-peak hours, customs clearance on both sides can be done within half an hour. For instance, purchasing a week’s supply of organic vegetables in JB for a family of four can save you at least SGD15 as compared to purchasing the same identical vegetables in Singapore. Add in other groceries/household items such as mosquito repellent, fruits, snacks, and sundries, and you can easily save at least SGD50. A designer haircut in JB costs RM39 compared to SGD30 in Singapore. Likewise, movie tickets and restaurant food are significantly cheaper across the border. 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.

Have a cheap hobby

Instead of spending time gaming in the LAN Café or Café hopping, why not hop around hawker centres in Singapore and savour hawker food which are affordable and tasty. Instead of going to the gym to train and incurring entrance/membership fees, why not utilise the free workout stations in the neighbourhood park or to undertake activities like jogging where you do not have to pay for facility usage. If you have good ball sense, consider an activity like basketball or soccer where you can play the game with your neighbours in the nearby court. Eventually, if you play often enough and are reasonably skilled, you can start to coach part-time. If you are into reading, you can drop by a public library and borrow some books to broaden your horizons.

As a young adult, living on a shoestring budget is an inescapable reality. However, with prudence, discipline and good planning, we can make the best of the amount of money we have been given.

Seedly is an everyday personal finance assistant that aggregates your financial data across up to 6 local bank and card accounts and gives you a complete personal financial picture. We currently serve over 6,000 users and growing in Singapore and are supported by NUS Enterprise, TOP 9 DBS HOTSPOT startup and East Ventures. We aim to become the #1 personal finance management app in Singapore and the region.

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