4 Smart Ways To Spend Your First Salary

Don’t spend your first paycheck without first reading these personal finance tips on what you should do with it.

piggy bank coins saving growing money

Getting your first salary is something to remember. For many of us, we can’t forget how it felt to see it in our bank account for the first time. It doesn’t take long for disappointment to set in as we see taxes, CPF deductions, and other monthly expenses carve out what we bring home. For others, you were surprised with how much you’ve earned and could think of a dozen ways to spend it all in one evening.

But in order to accumulate wealth and stay on track towards financial stability, managing your salary wisely is key. Here are a few prudent and practical things to do with your first paycheque.

Prioritise Debt

Many Singapore students work part-time while attending university. The last thing you want to think about is the four years of debt you’ve been incurring—especially if you took on an interest-servicing education loan in Singapore. However, you should prioritise your debt first for this simple reason: the longer you take to pay off debt, the more interest you pay over time.

average cost of education loan

If you have credit card debt instead, your priority should be to reduce this debt as quickly as possible. Credit card debt usually has higher interest rates for younger individuals building credit. So make it a priority before buying that new mobile phone. Ignoring debt will not only negatively impact your credit rating but will end up being significantly more expensive.

Pro tip: If you have multiple sources of debt (i.e., education loans, personal loans, credit card debt), pay off the debt with the highest interest rate first. Then begin moving down the list with the goal for you and your family to become debt-free.

Compare Best Debt Consolidation Plans in SingaporeFind Out More


Budget for the Essentials

woman budgeting with calculator and phone
Source: Pexels

It may seem strange that this isn’t at the top of the list. The truth is we often inflate what we deem as essential. So in the interest of prioritising debt over often unnecessary “essentials” (i.e., the best mobile phone plan, monthly subscription services, etc.), it has been moved slightly down the list.

This by no means suggests essentials are not as important as clearing your debt. In fact, when we think of a budget, it usually begins with rent, utilities, and food. Rightfully so. Unfortunately, not everyone makes a budget to start, let alone a prudent one. Make it a habit to be more conservative and cut out the “fat”, so to speak. This is your first paycheque, not your last. Create healthy spending habits early and give yourself a fighting chance to build up your wealth.

Pro tip: Monthly subscriptions and expenses add up and are not so obvious to track. Schedule out a few times a year to regularly inspect your bank statement to see what automatic subscription services are draining your wallet. It may be worth it to ask yourself: are subscription services slowly making you poor?.

Save Early and Earn Compound Interest

The Singapore government automatically allocates earned income into retirement contributions and your Medisave account. Aside from this, you should consider automating additional savings for a rainy day. This is your safety net. No matter how large or small, set up automatic deposits into a savings account for emergencies. The total amount is entirely up to you. However, a good rule of thumb is between three to six months worth of expenses.

Additionally, educate yourself on compound interest and take advantage of high-interest savings or investment accounts now. Let’s see what happens if you manage to put away S$25 per month in a brokerage account for a rate of return of 5% per year.

Compound Interest of S$25 Per Month Over 30 Years
compound interest $25 over 30 years
Even S$25 a month can make a difference in your early 20s. The longer you continue to contribute to a brokerage account, the more you take advantage of this exponential growth. With savvy new applications and trading platforms, Singaporeans can begin investing immediately with as little or as much as they can afford.

Compare Online Brokerages in SingaporeFind Out More


A lady using her credit card to earn frequent flyer programme points
Source: Unsplash

If you’ve made it this far down the list, you’ve done your due diligence. You are on the road to becoming a personal finance guru, and your first salary survived the onslaught of responsible budgeting. After following the first three steps, you deserve to have some fun. You might not be able to book a private jet off the island, but you can spend a little on yourself for this special moment. You’ve earned it. Take yourself out to a special dinner and expand your food budget for the month. Treat yourself to a pedicure or whatever simple pleasure is worth your while. You will have many more paycheques to come.


Ready to spend your first paycheque? Begin your wealth accumulation journey with the best savings accounts and online brokerages in the market today!

Compare Best Savings Accounts in SingaporeFind Out More

Compare Online Brokerages in SingaporeFind Out More


Read More: 

5 Personal Finance Habits To Build Now To Retire Rich
Guide To Retirement Planning in Singapore
A Guide to Understanding Your CPF OA (Ordinary Account)
Safe-Haven Investments— What Are They and How Can You Invest in Them?
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