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  • Shanne Gan

Tips for Managing Expenses

The school year has only just begun, and yet you’re already starting to see an increase in your spending.Be it from the coffee you’re buying, to the meals you’re having with friends after class – the balance in your bank account seems to be dwindling day by day. Trust me, you’re not alone. Being a full-time undergraduate takes up a lot of time, especially so if you’re overloading on modules. There’s hardly any time to earn any extra income, and even if you do, it’s hardly enough compared to your expenditure. But fret not – here is a list of tips on how to manage your expenses as a university student that will hopefully come in handy.

#1: Plan a budget.

It is important to plan out how much you’re planning to save and spend each week/month. Write it down and make sure that you stick to it. If you’re eyeing a huge purchase but see that you’ve already reached your spending limit for the month, perhaps it’s time to re-evaluate your purchase. Is it a need or just a want? If it’s something urgent that you need – purchase it but remember to lower your expenditure for the following month. It’s important to ensure that you set aside a portion of your money each month to add to your savings pool. Always plan for a rainy day!

#2: Use a budgeting app.

I’m sure that all of us use our smartphones for everything these days, so why not make use of different applications to help us keep track of our expenditure? Here are some apps that might come in handy in trying to plan out your weekly/monthly budget.

1. Wallet – Daily Budget & Profit, Seedly, Spendio

These apps are useful budgeting systems to help you plan and stick to your budget. Not only can you add your bank accounts to see your balance across all your different accounts, they allow you to record your expenses and also show you your saving progress through charts and diagrams. While they are mostly similar, each app has different features that make them stand out from each other.

This app is for those who have incurred debts. Key in whatever loans you have, and the app will help you come up with a plan to stick to in order to pay them off.

3. Splitwise

This app helps you manage your expenses whenever you’re out with your friends. It is a personal favourite of mine as I use it often whenever I go for a meal with friends and someone helps to pay for the entire group. All you need to do is create a group in the app - for your different friend groups or even family members - and just add in how much you’ve paid each time you go out with them. The app will automatically calculate how much each person owes. You can choose to settle your loan by simply paying for the group the next time and keying it in the app to offset the debt, or by settling the debt in the app itself.

#3: Choose the thriftier option whenever you can.

Try to opt for the cheaper option whenever possible, or simply strike a balance between treating yourself occasionally and knowing when to cut back. This applies to everything you purchase – e.g. food, clothes, and even textbooks. When eating out, perhaps consider a meal at the hawker center or food court instead of a restaurant. Authentic hawker food makes for a great meal anyway! P.S. make sure you always have your student card with you - there are usually student deals available!

Do you really need that expensive dress from Zara? Sure, if you’re planning on spoiling yourself every once in a while. However, if you’re nearing your spending limit for the month, perhaps it’s time to consider cheaper options from online stores such as Shein and EZBuy. If you’re against fast fashion – go thrift shopping! Not only are these secondhand clothes affordable, you’re also doing your part in saving the environment.

We all know that university textbooks are expensive. If you manage to secure a pre-owned copy from a friend or senior – lucky you! If not, you still don’t need to spend your money on these books. Head to and for free downloadable versions of your textbooks. They also have a wide range of fiction and non-fiction books available!

#4: Always be on the lookout for promotions and offers!

Yes, this sounds extremely Singaporean but it really makes a difference. It may seem hard to keep track of all the ongoing offers and promotions happening. Here’s a tip for you –join a telegram group that broadcasts the current deals available.

Here are some telegram groups that send out new discounts and promotions in Singapore on the daily:

  • SG Kiasu Foodies (deals for food in Singapore)

  • GoodLobang (deals for everything including food, attractions, clothes etc.)

  • SG Fitness & Health (deals for activewear, free workout trials etc)

  • SG Student Promos (deals for Singaporean students)

  • SG Budget Babes (deals for beauty and fashion sales)

With the subscription of these groups, you won’t ever miss out on a sale/discount again!

Well, that’s about it! While these are the things I’ve done to help manage my expenses in university, there might be more that I’m not aware of. Do let us know if you have any more useful tips for helping university students stick to a budget!

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