Personal Finance

Tips and Tricks on Managing Your Finances as a University Student in Singapore

Managing your budget as a university student is not easy, but it is possible. Find out how to be financially savvy and stretch your money with these tips.

How to Plan Your Finances When University Is Starting Soon

Stepping into university marks a crucial milestone in one’s financial journey. There are no fixed timetables, no assigned time slots for recess, and nobody to manage your budget and spending, except yourself. Therefore, it is important to keep a handle on how much money you are spending as a university student.

Here is a breakdown of how much a typical university student might spend monthly.

Expense Type
Amount
Remarks
Accomodation$400 - $800Depends on room type (air-con/non air-con), hostel location and single or double room
Transportation$40 - $90Depends on whether you stay on-campus, or have to travel to school from home everyday
Food$200 - $450Based on an average budget of $10-15 per day for meals at food courts/ hawker centres
Mobile Phone & Internet$20 - $50Depends on mobile packages and data amount
Entertainment$50 - $300Depends on individual lifestyle and spending habits

As you can see, monthly expenses would vary wildly, and are dependent on numerous factors. For the most cost-conscious student living on a shoestring budget, one could expect to spend a minimum of around $250 a month.

Certain hostels also include meal plans as part of their staying requirements. Even though the hostel food at times might not be pleasant, it certainly helps to reduce how much one would spend on food! If you do not stay on-campus, having your dinner at home with home-cooked food will also help reduce your food expenses.

For personal entertainment, if you are content with winding down with Netflix at the end of the day, your wallet will be more than grateful. However, if you are all about hitting the clubs and enjoying the nightlife, you might need to expand your entertainment budget.

Student Discounts & Offers

tapping into mrt gantry

As a student, you are entitled to many benefits. The first thing that comes to mind might perhaps be student meal discounts. For that, there are multiple telegram groups that frequently announce various student promotions, for instance, SG Student Promos.

telegram group student promotion

Otherwise, you can check out diners like Eighteen Chefs, Pastamania and Green Dot for their well-known student discounts. LiHo is also famous for their $2 milk tea promotion, just for students.

If you are keen to have the occasional big-screen experience at cinemas, you will be delighted to know that most cinemas offer a $7 student price from Monday to Friday, before 6pm. Yes, this includes tertiary students as well! However, the caveat is that you are required to purchase your ticket at the box office counter itself.

Student Loans

Even though tertiary education is highly subsidised in Singapore, it is still a large amount for most Singaporean students. As a result, most university students sign up for study loans to help pay for their fees while they are still schooling.

Maybank Education Loan

Consider this if you are able to obtain the bank's promotional rates
  • Early Repayment Fee
    • 1% of loan prepaid
    • Late Payment Fee
      • 3% min $30
      • Age
        • 18 & Above

        Maybank’s promotional interest rate of 4.45% per annum and a processing fee of 2%, are among the cheapest available. Additionally, the bank offers its promotion to students that study either locally or abroad. Maybank also provides loans of up to S$200,000 or eight times the borrower’s monthly income, making it an optimal choice for those that require a larger study loan.

        Read Our Full Review

        POSB Further Study Assist

        Consider this if you need a student loan and are worried about making on-time payments
        • Early Repayment Fee
          • N/A
          • Late Payment Fee
            • S$30
            • Age
              • 17 - 65

              POSB's study loan is a great option for students who want the flexibility to be slightly late on their monthly payments, Moreover, it imposes no penalty fee for early repayment. However, do ensure that your school is included in POSB’s list of preferred institutions to qualify for its low-cost program.

              Read Our Full Review

              For a more detailed comparison of other educational loans available in Singapore, you can check out our study loan guide right here.

              Credit Cards

              student credit card laptop

              You might be wondering, why would a student require a credit card for university? After all, aren’t credit cards only meant for working adults with a minimum salary requirement?

              Fortunately, that is indeed not the case. There are a selection of credit cards targeted for students, with no annual fees and minimum income requirements. Furthermore, you will be earning attractive cashbacks with every purchase (with a S$500 credit limit).

              DBS Live Fresh Student Card

              DBS Live Fresh Student Card
              DBS Live Fresh Student Card
              Consider this if actively like to shop on e-commerce sites and make purchases with mobile payments
              • Pros
                • 5% rebate on select merchants & 5% rebate on sustainable spend
                • No minimum spend requirement
                • Annual fee waived 5 full years
                • Cons
                  • Just 0.3% rebate on general spend
                  • otal rewards capped at just S$50/mo

                  The main perk of this card is its attractive cashbacks for eco-friendly merchants. Students will be able to get up to 5% Green Cashback on selected Eco-Eateries, Eco-Retailers and Eco-Transport Services. Some examples include JustDabao, The Green Collective and even BlueSG.

                  Furthermore, you can get up to 5% cashback on favourite student brands, such as McDonald’s, Starbucks, Golden Village and other movies and TV streaming services. Read Our Full Review

                  Maybank eVibes Card

                  PROMO: APPLY AND S$50 CASH CREDIT
                  Consider this if you want to maximise cashback on everyday spending
                  • Pros
                    • Students & NSF earning less than S$30,000/year
                    • People looking for easy cashback on all spend
                    • Individuals hoping to avoid paying an annual fee
                    • Cons
                      • Young adults who’d prefer a card with EZ-Link functionality

                      How does this credit card compare against the DBS Live Fresh Student Card?

                      The Maybank eVibes Card offers 1% cashback on all spending. Yes, this means you are not restricted to a particular spending 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 S$30,000 in annual income. However, this shouldn’t be an issue for students.

                      Read Our Full Review

                      Savings Accounts

                      student putting coins in piggy bank

                      Another way students can accumulate small savings while they are studying is through a high-interest savings account. Fortunately, there are several accounts that provide students with a way to earn competitive interest rates without having to worry about minimum requirements or fall-below fees.

                      One highly popular savings account used by many students is the OCBC Frank Savings Account.

                      PROMO: Pair your FRANK account with FRANK Debit Card for 1% Unlimited Cashback
                      Consider this if you're a young adult looking for a starter account without fees or requirements
                      • Min. Age Requirement
                        • 16
                        • Min. Initial Deposit
                          • S$0
                          • Min. Balance Requirement
                            • S$0 if younger than 26 years old, S$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, and no minimum initial deposit. Moreover, those under 26 years old are exempt from the minimum average daily balance requirement.

                            Students with lower balances - especially below S$1k - can earn more with OCBC Frank than with most competitors with their friendly interest rates. As a result, young adults looking for an easy starter account should consider OCBC Frank.

                            For a more detailed guide about other savings accounts for students, feel free to check out our guide here.

                            Conclusion

                            Managing your own finances is never easy as a university student, especially when most of us have no experience budgeting on our own prior. However, student loans, credit cards and savings accounts aside, the most important value is to still spend within your means, and ensure that you spend on your needs and not your wants.

                            For more general tips on personal finance and the latest promotions, you can check out our guide here as well!

                            Fiona Ling

                            Fiona is a full-stack marketer working in the digital sphere for more than six years.
                            A self-proclaimed foodie and bargain hunter, she wants to bring the best deals and value to the community around the world. When not working on her pet projects, Fiona can be found sipping a coffee while reading a paperbacks or watching mystery thrillers on Netflix and Disney+.