“I got into non-profits to get rich”, said no one ever.

Let’s face it. We don’t go in this line of work for the money. We don’t do it for the riches. If it leads to that, it’s a (great) side bonus, but it’s not likely to be the main focus. At the end of the day, we hope that our time and effort will make a dent in making the world a better place.

The nonprofit sector is infamous for being synonymous with “overworked yet underpaid”. In an article by CNN Money, Stressful Jobs That Pay Badly, many of the jobs listed are not only ones with low-median pay, but include titles you’ll find in the nonprofit sector- social workers, events coordinators, and fundraisers. Not everyone can have United Nations salaries.

But don’t fret, because money doesn’t have to be an additional source of stress. With proper budgeting, you can prepare yourself better for that nonprofit career of your dreams. Start now and make the transition easier. Let’s look at some tried and tested budgeting tips.

Track your spending

Without knowing where your money goes, it’s hard to allocate it well. Tracking your spending is one of the most over-given advice when it comes to budgeting tips, but for good reason: it works.

Most people don’t realize their own financial leaks. For some people, that may be lattes. For me, it’s the once-in-a-while app-buying sprees that turned out to be a fairly regular occurrence. It’s good practice to realize your slip-ups and take concrete steps to improve that expense category.

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You can track your spending in many ways. Pen and paper method is old school but cool. I use a budgeting app. Every month, it gives me a summary of my spending habit and totally spent for the month. My aim is to always spend less than I earn.

Tackle the three biggest expenses first

The three biggest expenses for the average person are housing, transportation, and food – usually in that order. If any of your “non-essential” spending items made it in your top three, you have some explaining to do – to yourself.

By taking measures to reduce the cost of these three categories, you can shave a lot from your monthly expenses.

For housing, consider any of the following: get a roommate(s), downsize your home, and rent out an unused room. Moving somewhere new for that job? Check out this new apartment checklist.

For transportation, consider any of the following: move closer to work (once you are confirmed. Bonus point: less commute time!), carpool, and cycle to work. If you have no choice but to buy a car, avoid these 4 car-buying mistakes.

For food, consider any (or all) of the following: pack your lunch, give yourself a budget for networking sessions and stick to it, do weekly meal planning, and buy food with long shelf life in bulk. Get more tips on saving money on food and groceries here.

Automate as much as possible

There are two main things that you need to automate here: your recurring bills and your retirement allocation.

Your recurring bills should be automated because it can shave off at least a couple of hours of work a month. Those couple of hours are important because it can be turned to a couple of hours of leisure instead. Do this, and you’ll be thankful for your still-intact sanity. Just make sure to periodically check your bills to look for possible inaccuracies and be strict on those bills – no non-essential subscriptions, please!

Your retirement allocation should be automated because it’s common to be too busy to save the world and forget to save yourself in the process. Do yourself a favour and contribute a healthy amount every month in a safe retirement account.

You can even run the extra mile and invest in ethical companies through exchange-traded funds (ETFs). Websites like Ethical Consumer has a free guide to Ethical Investment Funds, as well as tips on how to choose an ethical fund.


These budgeting tips are not exhaustive, nor are they exclusive for those pursuing a career in the nonprofit sector. However, it’s a good place to start in addressing your financial health. Being in the nonprofit sector can be very rewarding for the soul. Make it financially rewarding as well.

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Founder @ The New Savvy
Anna Haotanto is the Advisor (former CEO) of The New Savvy. She is currently the COO of ABZD Capital and the CMO of Gourmet Food Holdings, an investment firm focusing on opportunities in the global F&B industry. She is part of the founding committee of the Singapore FinTech Association and heads the Women In FinTech and Partnership Committee. Anna is the President of the Singapore Management University Women Alumni. Anna invests and sits on the board of a few startups. Anna is also part of the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce & Industry Career Women’s Group executive committee. Anna’s story is featured on Millionaire Minds on Channel NewsAsia. She hosts TV shows and events, namely for Channel NewsAsia’s “The Millennial Investor” and “Challenge Tomorrow”, a FinTech documentary. Anna was awarded “Her Times Youth Award” at the Rising50 Women Empowerment Gala, organised by the Indonesian Embassy of Singapore. The award was presented by His Excellency Ngurah Swajaya. She was also awarded Founder of the Year for ASEAN Rice Bowl Startup Awards. She was also awarded the Women Empowerment Award by the Asian Business & Social Forum. Anna has been awarded LinkedIn Power Profiles for founders (2018, 2017), Tatler Gen T, The Peak’s Trailblazers under 40 and a nominee for the Women of The Future award by Aviva


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