Okay look, so everybody wants to save money right? But how can we as students save money? We spend the bulk of our time studying in school and we don’t have very valuable skill sets to be marketed and used to earn ourselves money. As a student myself, I have thought about this a lot as well.
- Sell your old textbooks
- Utilise your school’s facilities
- Find a passion, and work on it
- Eat in school
- Get your student discounts
- Build the thrifty habit at a young age
- If you are old enough, work part time
I tried scouring the internet on easy ways to make money and have tried some of them. Although some failed, some did work and eventually it helped me save up some money as a 19 year old. So, I am going to share with you some tips that I gathered throughout my schooling years, and they are applicable to all ages! (although primary school students may be more interested in playing animal crossing and watching tiktok)
Sell your old textbooks
The first thing that comes to mind when people ask me how I save money as a student, would be to sell your textbook. As students, we all have textbooks, we all need to buy textbooks and we have owned many textbooks in our lives, whether they were helpful in our education or not.
Once you finished your academic year, the chance of you needing that textbook is close to 0. Why not sell it? Why would you let it rot in your cupboard and collect dust? People often tell me they keep textbooks for 2 main reasons.
I want to keep them for nostalgic purposes.
While this reason is valid, there is just no point in terms of its value. Firstly, you probably can get a more comprehensive set of information that will be continuously updated on the Internet. Secondly, the book will just become “out of syllabus” over time, and you will probably not use it ever again after passing the exam. Once a new edition of your book comes out, the value of your book would drop again. So, act fast if you do not want it to depreciate to the value of a Mcdonald ice cream.
I may use it in the future.
This reason is once again valid. I was definitely a victim of it too. When I graduated secondary school, I was afraid to throw away my materials for JC. I wanted to keep it in case the information came in handy. This led to my cupboard being stuffed with books and notes at the end of my JC days. However, after graduating from JC, I realised that I did not use the secondary school material AT ALL. It turns out that your JC probably provides you with more comprehensive material for the more rigorous curriculum and there is simply no point in keeping it unless you want to pass it down to your younger sibling.
Utilise your school’s facilities
Maximise the use of your school’s facilities! I mean, they are free, so just use it. Why not right? Get your money’s worth.
After a long day at school, you want to have fun and play sports with your friends? Use the basketball courts or soccer field. Wanna lift some weights? Use the gym. These extra facilities are so close to you and will give you a break from the stressful curriculum.
If you are not into sports, you can always look into libraries. Instead of going to public libraries which can be far from where you live, just use the school’s library. The material there may be even more relevant to your curriculum as a student.
Most secondary schools also have dental services, they are often free or offered at a low price. Go there for your annual dental checkups. Also, choose a CCA where you can learn something new for free. Let’s say you wanted to learn a musical instrument. The symphonic band can be a great place to start, without paying a fee for the instructor!
Find a passion, and work on it
People who are able to find their passion early in life, have an unfair advantage in life. When I say early, I mean the age of 10-17. This is because they have a 10 year headstart over somebody who discovers the interest at a later age. Instead of spending your time on something you may not be truly interested in, or something you are fleetingly passionate in, why not find a passion and work on it.
How will finding a passion lead to saving money? Once you find a passion and work on it, you will naturally have some outstanding achievements. These achievements can help you in the future and even get yourself a side gig.
For example, I have friends who were passionate in drawing and handicraft, so they started selling hand-written cards on Carousell and made a few hundred dollars a month. That will cover your expense for MONTHS.
For myself, I started researching strength training when I was secondary 3, at the age of 15. When I turned 16, I felt that I had enough knowledge to actually start. As time flew by, I got more and more compliments from the people around me, as my body transformation became more obvious. (This deserves another post in the future.)
This led to many of my friends asking me for advice. I would always gladly help them. I have even helped one of my friends change his body from fat to fit. (Another future post here.)
So, stop procrastinating, start exploring for your interests and working on them. Who knows? They may really be useful in the future.
Eat in school
The food in your canteen will definitely be cheaper than food at the casual restaurant in your nearby heartland malls. A trip to Saizeriya or Eighteen Chefs will mean an expense of $10 to $15. You can buy more than 3 meals in your school canteen. Make full use of the subsidised food prices.
This will also train your discipline and make thriftiness become a habit. It may not sound as nice as earning a million in a month, but the truth is this. Being thrifty will help you become rich. I will go into detail in a future post. In the future, when you work, if your workplace has a canteen, you will also want to eat there and avoid ordering in using GrabFood or Foodpanda. Stick to your cheaper alternatives. Moreover, if you keep on patronising the food stall, the stall owner may recognise you and give you some discounts occasionally! (Thanks cai png auntie!)
Get your student discounts
Maximise your student discounts, no matter what. When purchasing something, always look for a student price. If you need it for school, there is probably a student price attached to it. For example, Macbooks can be bought at a cheaper price as a student if you visit the education store. Take advantage of your student prices at Pastamania, Saizeriya or Eighteen Chefs. Although the portion size may not be enough and the food at these casual restaurants may not be top-notch, it is good enough for a social gathering with your friends where you just want to hang out.
Seedly has a very good list of student discounts you can check out!
Build the thrifty habit at a young age
Being thrifty is so important. As the saying goes, “it takes 21 days to build a habit and 90 days to build a lifestyle”. I cannot agree more.
Form this habit of thrift at a young age, look for discounts, scour for deals and never buy something at its full price. I like to follow this guideline, because the price of an item will eventually go down in the future, depending on its demand. So, grab the item only when you feel that the item justifies its price.
Once you have built this habit of being frugal with your money, you will naturally be able to save some money from your daily/weekly/monthly pocket money. Although it may seem negligible, it will add up. Let’s say you save 20 cents a day from your primary school days to your JC/Poly days, that is 12-13 years of schooling. Adding them up, it will give you about $900 to save. Although it may not seem much, this estimate is already very conservative and this is also proof that you have succeeded in saving money and you have built a lifestyle out of it.
If you are old enough, work part time
Generally, when you reach the age of 16, you can start working part-time jobs. For most people, that is Secondary 4. So make use of this opportunity and go out there to find part-time jobs!
There are many avenues you can use to find your part-time jobs. For example, I found my first part-time job as a warehouse packer on Fast Jobs. You can also apply for jobs at Challenger on Chope Shift. Otherwise, if you have a passion that you have built over the years, market yourself and sell your goods or services.
For example, after my A levels graduation, I went to find private tutor jobs and became a tutor. Although it may seem daunting and difficult to find, don’t be afraid and put yourself out there. Just google “tuition agency singapore” and apply for all the jobs you can on the first 5 results. You are bound to be shortlisted. Another way I find my students would be through Carousell. I put up a paid listing (that’s how it works in Carousell), and offered my tuition services. I will go into detail about how you should market yourself and price yourself in a future article. But for reference, I offer my services at $30/hr for secondary school students and $35/hr for JC students.
Instead of spending unnecessary money, you are spending your time productively earning money while cutting down on expenses. By the time you exit your schooling days, you are bound to have a considerable sum sitting in your bank account. I will post an article in the future explaining why you should use a bank account and why I feel that schools should really start educating students on personal finance.