frugal

Nail Your Finances as a PES E9 NSF

Okay, you are PES E9. You are probably a clerk. In fact, this article should be relatable for the stay out PES unfit personnel. You don’t have a cookhouse or have accommodation. But don’t worry, this is how you can nail your finances as an NSF.

TLDR

  • 3 aspects: Savings, Expenditure, Investment
  • Eat-in camp, go for the bang for your buck option
  • Calculate your daily transport fee and consider purchasing a concession card
  • Consider a Regular Savings Plan for investment

Background

Personally, I am a PES E9 clerk. I am a stay out personnel. Every time I tell my friends about my life, they tend to feel jealous and I tend to feel left out. So, I prefer not to talk much about our army life, though it is inevitable.

Nail your finances as an NSF clerk.
Yes, I stare at the computer all day.

I enlisted just this year. After BMT, I have been a stay out personnel. Although it has been quite a good life as compared to most NSFs, it has not been very kind to my wallet.

Now, I have to pay for my meals every day. I no longer can take extra rice for free from the cookhouse. I have to pay for my public transport fees. Wow, public transport is really expensive as an adult. I still remember the days when topping up $50 on your EZ-link card could last for MONTHS.

I have talked to my peers there and some of them feel the same way too. But here is how I intend to nail my finances as a PES E9 NSF.

Total allowance

Firstly, let us calculate how much we can earn as a PES E9 clerk over the 24 months. As we are not considered IPPT fit, we all have to serve the full 24 months instead of the 22 months.

Nail your finances as an NSF.
Rank Structure for us.

As a recruit and a private, you will only earn $630 a month. This will go on for about 10 months, 2 months of Basic Military Training (BMT), and 8 months of being a private.

After that, you will rise in rank, to lance corporal, which will earn you $650 a month. Yea, a measly $20 increase, how pathetic, sigh.

Then, you will rise in rank to corporal after another 8 months, which will earn you $700 a month. Though it is not much, it is what it is. Embrace it and move on.

If you are outstanding and well-liked by your superiors, congratulations. You will be able to get the corporal first-class rank for the last 2 months of your service. This will earn you $740 a month.

Assuming you do not become an admin specialist (3SGT rank)

You will stay as a man and thus earn a total of $15,700 to $$15,780. A difference of $40. Whether it is worth it to chiong sua or not? It is up to you. I personally don’t find it worth it. You can spend your time better on your own personal commitments, given that you get to go home daily and thus you can work on your passion projects.

In addition, we do not have risk pay. So that is really the maximum you can get, unless you are posted to Tekong. It is not a good thing.

Bank Account

So now you need a bank account so that SAF can credit you the money every month. I recommend all NSFs to start the Standard Chartered Jumpstart account. It really is the best account for anyone below the age of 26 currently.

I will explain why in a future article.

Every 10th of the month, you will feel slightly happier because your salary will be credited to your account.

Allocation

Now you have to decide how to split up your money. Personally, I aim to spend only 30% of my monthly pay. That means about $189 or about $200.

This is possible if you are very strict with yourself. The rest of the money will go into my savings in the Standard Chartered Jumpstart account and my Regular Savings Plan.

How do I save my money?

I will explain more thoroughly in a future article. But here it is briefly.

Every day, I will eat a $5 meal for lunch, maximum. Breakfast and dinner I will eat at home, so it comes at no cost to me. As for transport, I allocate another $100. So given 30 days, that is about $200 a month. This is how I nail my finances as an NSF.

Investment

Next I will put my money into a Regular Savings Plan. Basically, I invest in exchange-traded funds (ETFs). They are diversified across the whole market.

“If you can’t beat them, join then.” By buying an ETF, you are essentially buying the whole market. So if the market goes up, your value goes up, vice versa. However, the most famous ETF, the S&P 500, has been recommended by Warren Buffett, one of the greatest investors of our time.

Nail your finances as an NSF by learning from Warren Buffett.
One of the greatest investors of our time.

Throughout its history, the S&P 500 index has averaged 7% per annum. Let’s say you save $300 dollars a month. By doing it for 40 years, from 20 years old to 60 years old, you will earn have a total of $768,994.45. This is considering the fact that you have only invested $144,000.

That is the magic of compounding, the 8th wonder of the world.

-Albert Einstein
Nail your finances as an NSF by learning from Albert Einstein.
Not sure the accuracy of the quote, but it works.

Although ETFs are not just a bed full of sunshine and rainbows, it is the easiest way to begin and the best way of passive investing.

I will explain more in the future.

Broker

Personally, I use a custodian broker, FSMOne. This is only for one reason, which is because they have the lowest fees. I recommend depositing at least $300 every month to make the fess worth it. I will explain in a future article.

At this age, I would recommend we brush up on our investing knowledge before diving nose deep into the stock market to minimize losses.

Personally, I started off with this book due to its recommendations. It is also based in the Singapore context so it is very relatable for us. Though some information may be outdated, the idea of the book is still very useful which is based on the Bogleheads’ three-fund portfolio.

Savings

After your investment, the rest should go into your savings account for your future use. You will bound to use the money in the future. There is no doubt.

So, save it. You will not regret it. That way, you will nail your finances as an NSF.

Other expenses

But what about weekends and other expenses? Like my phone bill? My nights out with the boys?

Opt for the cheaper option. If you want to go to the club, opt for some pre-game. Go to the convenience store to drink some beer beforehand. The price there is way cheaper as compared to the hideously marked up prices in the club.

iPhone X
Phones are part of us.

As for my phone bill, I am lucky that my parents pay for it. But for those who are not as lucky as me, opt for a cheaper SIM-only plan. I no longer see the case for contract plans. They are expensive and tie you down to a contract.

A SIM-only plan is cheaper and also flexible. It allows you to switch service provider if you feel unsatisfied with them.

Personally, I use giga! They provide me with Starhub quality service at a price of $18 a month because I got the pop-up plan offer. I get 20GB of data, 200 min of SMS, and 200 min of talk time. All of them are more than enough for me. (My referral code is: rvO1Qd) thanks in advance lol

In the future, I will do a more in-depth comparison. I had also used Circles.life before, and I was a very early adopter of their service. I switched to giga! only 2 months ago. Their service has been smooth for me.

You can view Seedly’s article for SIM-only plans comparison. They are pretty in-depth and they offer customer reviews too.

Conclusion

You can save money as a PES E9 NSF too. In fact, you can nail your finances as an NSF. Don’t worry about that. Just because we don’t get significantly higher pay than our peers, it does not mean we do not need to save.

In fact, it means we should save harder. Find ways to utilize the free time you have at home. Start a business! Find side hustles! You can refer to my article here to become a tutor in Singapore. (PS. it’s good money)

hustling is good for extra cash.
The hustle never stops.

In fact, you can end up earning more than your officer friends. 🙂

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