In a 2015 Mastercard survey, it was reported that Singapore’s financial literacy declined the most in Asia Pacific – Singapore is now in sixth place out of 16 Asia Pacific countries, from second place.

The people behind the survey also said, ‘people in Singapore are finding it harder to keep up with bills, budget effectively and manage unsecured loans’.

This finding is especially worrying for new graduates who just entered the workforce – if people around you make bad financial decisions, you might normalise those dangerous habits yourself.

If you are a new graduate, here are 6 money tips that you must know to improve your money management skills.

Don’t Try to ‘Keep Up’

When you first enter the workforce, you will be tempted to spend your money on so many things. The office fashionista might encourage you to dress up (we understand – you don’t want to look drab in comparison). The office gadget-head might make fun of your ‘old’ gadgets while he/she sport the newest devices (“This Fitbit tracks all my moves!”). The concert/rave junkie might boast about his/her next Coachella trip.

All of these are fun things to do, but undeniably costly… and unnecessary if you don’t share the same passion. Buckling under pressure and trying to keep up with all of them will cause you to spend more than you can afford.

Instead, choose to spend your money on what makes you happy. Here’s a research correlating spending and happiness.

6 Money Tips New Graduates Must Know and Master For The Future

Save Money Consistently

Many people save money. Not many people save money consistently. There is a difference between the two.

If you regularly feel guilty about not saving money, but felt better after thinking about that S$100 you saved six months ago, then you have a problem. Saving money should be a consistent habit, not a one-off event.

There are many methods to encourage you to save money – find one and stick to it. Some people like doing money challenges (have you seen this 52-week savings challenge in Pinterest?) Some people automate their savings by automatically deducting a portion of their salaries. Some people like to save every S$2/S$5/S$10 note they get.

Need more ideas to save your money? Here’s how you can save S$10,000 a year by making small changes.

Make Financial Decisions that Benefit YOU

A lot of people don’t realise that personal finance is not and should not be a static thing – insurance rates, investment returns, credit card rates, tax policies, and many more financial-related policies change all the time. It is up to you to keep yourself updated in order to make better financial choices for you.

For example, when was the last time you checked your insurance policy? For all you know, there could be a better insurance policy out there for you, that costs less than what you are paying now.

Similarly, you could be making short-term CDs (Certificates of Deposit) at low rates, because you didn’t shop around for better rates.

Great financial decisions will come with experience, so don’t get too overwhelmed. Thankfully, we at The New Savvy are passionate about keeping you updated. Here are 6 financial planning actions you can take today.

Make Good Choices in Your Dating Life

We know, we know, the heart wants what it wants (thanks, Selena Gomez).

However, that doesn’t mean you should throw out all rational thought when you navigate your way through the dating world.

Here’s a gem of a relationship advice – people can be broadly categorised into two: a ‘saver’ and a ‘spender’. If you are a ‘saver’, you can date both ‘savers’ and ‘spenders’. However, if you are a ‘spender’, try not to date a fellow ‘spender’ – both of you may end up encouraging each other to blow away all your money.

If you are ready to look for ‘The One’ to settle down, you should ask your date these 10 questions.

6 Money Tips New Graduates Must Know and Master For The Future

Don’t Get Into Debt if You Can Help It

One of the wisest moves a new graduate can make is to not get into debt. Specifically, bad debts. Bad debts are the worst (here’s how to determine whether a debt is good or bad).

Bad debts are credit card balances after unjustified shopping sprees. Bad debts are personal loans to cover your rent money. Bad debts are vacations you can’t afford, fast food you can’t resist, clothes you can’t use to further your professional career.

Unfortunately, bad debts also tend to carry the worst interest rates. There is literally nothing good about bad debts – avoid it like the plague.

If you find yourself already in debt, follow this 5 simple ways to clear it.

The Best Time to Save for Retirement is Now

Retirement. Such a foreign word, especially for a new graduate like yourself. You just started to join the workforce, and now you already have to think of your exit?

Yes, and here’s why. A 2014 survey found out that the majority of Singaporeans are unprepared for retirement. A 2015 survey found that many Singaporeans are anxious about their small retirement incomes.

We don’t know about you, but we definitely don’t want to end up both old and poor. Women, especially, have to be more diligent about saving for retirement as we tend to outlive men (on average, we live about 4.6 years longer).

Don’t worry though, we got you – here’s how to plan and save for retirement in Singapore.

Conclusion

Being a new graduate and finally entering the workforce as a young professional is an exciting new chapter in your life. We hope that the 6 money tips above can help you to achieve your best potential!

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C.E.O @ The New Savvy
Anna Haotanto is passionate about finance, education, women empowerment and children’s issues. Anna has been featured in CNBC, Forbes, The Straits Times, Business Insider, INC and The Peak Singapore. She was nominated and selected for FORTUNE Most Powerful Women conference in 2016 (Asia) and 2015 (San Francisco, Next Gen). Anna has 10 years of experience in the financial sector and is currently a Director in Tera Capital. Her previous work experience includes positions at Citigroup, United Overseas Bank, a regional role in Business Monitor and a boutique private equity firm based in Shanghai. She graduated from Singapore Management University (Finance and Quantitative Finance).