Congrats on landing that dream job you’ve always wanted! You’re now officially a working professional. It may be tempting to indulge in that newly found spending power as you receive your very first paycheck, but remember you’ve also gotten some very grown up obligations like bills, taxes and expenses.
Here are some tips on how you can structure your budget based on an entry level salary:
Budget your salary according to your CPF contribution
All Singaporeans and Permanent Residents employed in the country are mandated to contribute 20% of their monthly salary into the Central Provident Fund (CPF), a social safety net will provide for retirement and healthcare needs in later years. Employers are also required by law to prepare their employees for retirement through additional CPF contribution of up to 17% of their monthly salary.
For the benefit of employees who are new to the workforce, only 80% of your monthly salary is discretionary income. Considering the high standard of living in Singapore, it pays to keep this in mind when budgeting for future expenses.
Perfecting the 50/20/30 rule
Financial experts recommend the 50/30/20 rule as a guide to help individuals set aside sufficient savings for rainy days. This rule suggests that 50% of your monthly salary go into paying for essentials like rent, utilities and insurance premiums, 30% be allocated as a discretionary fund that can be used for entertainment, traveling and personal maintenance and 20% go into savings.
It is also recommended to set aside at least three to six months’ worth of your wages as a safety reserve. Should unexpected scenarios – such as a medical emergency or sudden unemployment – occur, there will be adequate funds to help without compromising too much on the current lifestyle.
Track your expenses to ensure you are on budget
Why set budgets if you don’t plan to track your expenses and analyse them regularly? Pay close attention to your bank statements and tally them against an expense tracker to keep your spending habits in check. There are plenty of tools and apps out there that can help you with this, even with something as simple as an Excel sheet.
Should you face difficulties sticking to your budget, it’s time to reassess your priorities. There are no hard and fast rules to these benchmarks, and there should be flexibility to tailor them according to your lifestyle needs. The key is to have the discipline to follow through.
Maintaining your student lifestyle
If you’re just starting out on your career, don’t be so quick to lose the student in you. You might be better off keeping your expenses low as you slowly transition into your professional life, at least for the time being. Your expenses should only increase as you rise through the ranks and climb the salary ladder. So, start off by setting the bar for your monthly spending rather low.
Additionally, you can make adjustments by finding better deals. For instance, if mobile data is your priority, look for mobile plans with the best data bundle. It doesn’t hurt to renew that mobile plan before you graduate so you will stand to offset some costs as your transition into a working adult.