To study and stop working – Cost of living in Singapore

I have a friend who is contemplating to go back to school after being in the workforce for some time. She had a few concerns, one particularly related to money management. Her degree is going to be a three year long study period and therefore would significantly impact her finances.

Over the weekend, we sat down together with another friend to go through her personal cash flow. The list looked something like this:

Fixed expenses

Monthly Yearly
Rent  $        350  $    4,200
Food  $        300  $    3,600
Bills (Phone)  $          45  $       540
Transport  $        100  $    1,200
Insurance  $        100  $    1,200
Parents  $        200  $    2,400

Variable expenses

Monthly Yearly
Social  $        200  $    2,400
Travel  –  $    1,000
Daily necessities  –  $       300
Miscellaneous  –  $       500

Total monthly expenses: $1,295

Total yearly expenses: $17,340

I didn’t expect the calculations to amount to such a significant amount! For someone who is not working and burning through $17,340 per year… That is really hard especially with a total of $13,140 coming from fixed expenses.

Even on the account of being very frugal (taking away socializing, travel expenses and parents allowance), a sum of $11,540 is not something to be taken lightly.

With her current savings, she is only able to survive at least 1.5 years and that is merely only half way through her studies. Which means she would have no choice but to take up a part time job while studying full-time.

This brought me back to the days when I was a student. Back then while pursuing my diploma and degree, I worked part time after school hours. I worked pretty long hours (even on the weekends) and had trouble coping with my studies during the first semester  of university because I didn’t have any time to catch up on tutorials and to revise.

So I had to work lesser in order to have more time, although I never stopped working.

I hope that my friend would be able to cope with her studies and not let her part time job affect her too much. With some part time income of at least $1,500 per month, it should just be enough for her to get by. We were seriously pondering on how she will be able to earn that kind of money part time though… But on second thought while typing this, I don’t think it would not be that difficult unless she is quite fussy.

Would it still be worth it to go for a degree? In the current standard that we live in, I would say a big yes. In fact, having a degree is so common nowadays that if you randomly throw a stone while walking down Orchard Road, that person would most likely be a degree holder. It’s not just a good-to-have anymore. A degree opens a lot more doors in terms of career opportunities and I believe that there are a lot of people here who experience the same in their own workplace.

I can’t imagine how advanced our education levels would be by the time my future kids grow up. I have a few China colleagues which all minimally hold a Master’s or PhD, just because everyone has one. And if you don’t, you are already one step back.

Having to stop working and going back to study would also be a good decision, in my opinion, if you are still single and do not have any dependents. It so happens that my friend checks off both criteria and fits that profile perfectly. I mean, you can’t really choose to stop working if you’re living paycheck to paycheck with a family of four to feed. It just doesn’t make any financial sense to me, and I don’t see why it should to you either.

But this figure of $17,340 would be a number that will resound ever so subtly in the back of my mind. I have shown how I managed to save 50% of my take home pay and surprisingly, that amount is very close to that figure. I will definitely make another cash flow statement for myself before the end of this year.

Thanks for reading!

Miss Niao xoxo

Author: Miss Niao

Hello! I blog about financial matters and things that average people can do to have a better retirement. I want to inspire people to take control of their money and have a better understanding about it. If you are interested to know more, follow me @! :)

6 thoughts on “To study and stop working – Cost of living in Singapore”

  1. I reckon going back to school for an undergraduate degree is a worthwhile investment especially in Singapore, which has more of a focus on academic qualifications even when it comes to jobs. However, your friend’s savings seem insufficient to tide her over the 3 years without working. She can consider tutoring as a part-time job since that should generate sufficient side income to stretch her savings and the hours are decent!


  2. Actually it is a very personal decision. It depends a lot of current and future commitment and what you hope to get out of the post graduate education. I did my post graduate education on a part time basis very soon after I started. I did want to do full time as I felt it would not pay off the loss of years of working experience. I wasn’t looking for a complete career change. If the person is, then a full time education will help to accelerate the transformation. A part time education was tough and draggy. Some of my friends gave up but I was glad to be able to pull through. For your friend, if he/she still needs to support parents ($200/month), that can be quite a financial drain. The best would be to work a bit longer to accumulate sufficient wealth and then find a right time to do the education. It will be tough to be a full time student and yet be expected to provide for the family. Some sacrifice is definitely needed – your friend will need to be very clear on his/her priorities in life and what he/she wants to get out of it. I wish your friend good luck and all the best.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t know why this comment appeared in spam!!!! -_-…
      Kudos to you for completing your degree! I know how tough taking a part time degree is. My friends tell me that it’s as if cannot see daylight that kind. Lol.
      Anyway, I think her parents are doing fine, and she just chose to add that expense in. But I believe that expense could be eliminated if she has to live below her means.
      Ya lor, she wants to change her entire career actually. On a side note, I did get an update from her and she has found a new option to studying from an Online university, which offers a lot more flexibility. Best part, she doesn’t need to quit her job either! 😉
      Thank you still for the advice (and luck! I’ll tell her :p). I am sure it would benefit others who might be going through the same dilemma and hearing it from someone who’s been through it before.

      Liked by 1 person

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