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How To Save And Grow Your Money While Serving NS

Whether you're a reservist or a full-time national serviceman (NSF) enlisting in 2024, you probably know by now that you're in for a treat: You'll be getting $200 in cash credits as a token of appreciation for your contribution to Singapore's defence.

These credits will be handed out in November and can be used at over 100,000 merchants that accept payments through PayNow or Nets QR. The best part? You have a whole year to use them! Eligible recipients will get a heads-up via text message, and you can easily access and manage your credits through the LifeSG mobile app.

Meanwhile, let's talk about national service - a rite of passage for all Singaporean males. It’s an opportunity to grow physically and mentally as you undergo two years of mandatory military training.

But did you know it’s possible to grow your wallet as well?

See, the free ang bao that an NSF gets every month may not be a large sum by any means – but with the proper financial habits, it’s possible to grow your money and save up to the thousands by the time you reach your ORD (Operationally Ready Date). Huat ah!

Here are five things an NSF can do to start saving – and no, we don’t advocate moonlighting hor.

1. Take advantage of the cookhouse

This is for the ones who are lucky enough to have access to the canteen in camp.

We get it. You’re bound to feel sian when you eat at the cookhouse every day. Despite the ever-changing menu, the food looks like the same grey mush every time you stare at your plate.

Meanwhile, the canteen’s seducing you with its tasty, flavourful treats and non-HPB-approved drinks, making you just want to drop a few dollars on food every day for indulgence’s sake.

Little did you know, the few dollars do add up over time - and there’s a good chance you end up blowing close to $200 a month on canteen food just like yours truly did back in the day. That’s close to 1/3 of a recruit’s allowance!

We recommend taking advantage of the free food and sticking to the cookhouse as much as possible if you want to save money. Not to mention, it’s healthier and the quality of food’s improved significantly compared to what our forefathers used to get (shoutout to rubber band bee hoon)!

2. Utilise your e-Mart credits

This goes without saying – use your e-Mart credits generously before they expire. It’s free money for you to buy things. Who lets free money go to waste?

Not to mention, some e-Mart items are actually of solid quality and are much cheaper than their retail counterparts. You can’t call yourself a Singaporean if you can’t take advantage of good bargains!

Take for example the PT shoes, which cost less than $40. Where else in the world can you find good quality branded running shoes for less than $40? We’re also big fans of stocking up on cheap white socks and admin tees aka the most comfortable top ever made on this green earth. #teamcozy.

3. Get your hair cut at the camp barber

In a world of expensive salons, Snip Avenues and QB Houses, the camp barber tends to be the odd one out when people talk about where’s a good place to cut your hair.

But hear us out. Depending on which camp you go to (we can’t vouch for the quality of every camp’s barber), you’ll be able to get an actual, decent haircut for about $5 to $10. That’s usually about the same price or cheaper than your neighbourhood barber.

Barbers in the SAF tend to be wise, skilled, and experienced – all the qualities you’d look for in a solid barber, which would equate to an equally solid barbershop experience. Just ask the writer of this article, who had his mind blown when he received a fade/gentlemen’s haircut at his camp barber for just $5. Shiok.


4. Set up a savings deposit account

Psst! Your savings can earn you some extra moolah!

Setting up a savings deposit account under POSB’s SAYS (Save As You Serve) programme allows you to receive up to 2% extra interest on your monthly savings – simply link your regular savings account to a POSB SAYE (Save As You Earn) account and set a fixed deposit amount every month at a contribution date of your choosing!

Furthermore, as an NSF, signing up for the programme entitles you to a SAFRA DBS or HomeTeamNS-Passion-POSB Debit Card which gives you exclusive NSF-related perks and up to 2% cash rebate with no minimum spend.


5. Control your spending out of camp

The weekends and days off are great for some R&R, but they are also easy traps for your NSF allowance.

Cut down on the cab rides to and from camp, and take public transport instead, if possible. Cut down on the drinks and siam diu visits. Try to stay in more if your unit allows you the flexibility to stay in and stay out.

You’ll be surprised how much you can save each month by building up financially healthy habits.

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