In previous Money Journals, we got a glimpse into the financial lives of Kang and Ming, two primarily self-employed Malaysians.
This time round, we get up close and personal with the founder of Singaporean personal finance blogger thefrugalstudent as he shares with us his journey from engineering to personal finance to IT.
IT business analyst by day, personal finance blogger by night
Thefrugalstudent started his personal finance blog at 24, while still a student at the National University of Singapore (NUS). As a chemical engineering major, his days were filled with chemical process designs and mathematics. In between all the labs and lectures, he would be busy comparing interest rates and analysing portfolios.
Fresh out of university at 25 years old, thefrugalstudent has dived deeper into his passion for finance, stepping into a full-time role as an IT business analyst in the finance industry.
IT business analyst in Finance
Hopping from engineering to IT isn’t too far a leap. Both are highly analytical, methodical fields with an emphasis on problem-solving.
So, what led thefrugalstudent down this path?
“I knew I wanted to pivot out of engineering for my career and work in a position that’s involved in IT.” he shares. “I wanted something that would also make good use of my analytical skills from my background as a student in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics).”
Since then, thefrugalstudent has decided to explore the path of either a business analyst or data analyst, the former being more in line with his passion in personal finance. To bridge the gap between his engineering skill set and that required of an analyst, he took up online courses in programming and data analytics on his own time outside of uni.
Since then, he’s managed to land himself a full-time role as an IT business analyst with a finance company, which sees him spending his days managing IT projects and more.
Thefrugalstudent’s spending style
Thefrugalstudent is – as his blog suggests – frugal. The 25-year old may not limit himself to restricting budgets, but he diligently monitors his expenditures to keep track of where every dollar is going.
While he may be thrifty with himself, thefrugalstudent doesn’t necessarily extend that principle to his loved ones. Big on giving, he tends to loosen his purse strings and spend more generously on his loved ones.
“I would describe my spending behaviour as strict and frugal with myself, but lenient with my loved ones,” he says.
“I’m not really one to buy things for myself unnecessarily — only if I need it or if I’ve been wanting it for a long time. If I can find a way to get a discount on it, even better!”
Thefrugalstudent’s typical monthly expenditures
Thefrugalstudent lives with his family here in Singapore, so he gets to save on overhead living costs such as rent and utilities. He also doesn’t have any debts nor financial commitments just yet, allowing him to focus on growing his career and purchasing power in the meantime.
He allocates his income by setting a majority aside for savings and investments, leaving behind a portion for spending. “Moving forward, I plan to set a monthly budget of 20% of my income for all my personal expenditures, plus another 20% of my income to give to my parents too,” he says.
- $150 for food (dining, groceries etc.)
- $80 for transport (including taxi cab fees)
- $65 for drinks (coffee/bubble tea/alcohol)
- $90 for cosmetics and skincare
- $40 for entertainment
- $80 for other miscellaneous expenses
Check out the snapshot below for a detailed breakdown of his typical monthly expenditures made in the Planner Bee app.
Thefrugalstudent holds three accounts — one for emergency savings where he keeps 6 months worth of savings in the event of a rainy day, another for specific savings goals, while the other serves as a short-term savings account.
These three accounts include DBS Multiplier, a high-interest savings account which awards bonus interest rates for fulfilling specific criteria. He also opts for GIGANTIQ and Dash EasyEarn, both of which are insurance savings plans. Such plans combine the best of traditional bank accounts with an insurance component rolled into one. Check out some other insurance savings accounts here.
On the investment end, thefrugalstudent holds his funds in various brokers, but doesn’t categorise them into separate investment goals. As his income grows, he plans to allocate a further 20 – 30% which will go into low cost index Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs).
Read more: What to Look Out for When Investing in ETFs?
Financial goals and principles
Within the next three years, thefrugalstudent has plans to settle down with his long-term partner and purchase a property of his own. Saving up for a wedding and house are big milestones and needless to say, very expensive too! For now, his sights are set on a target savings figure of $40,000.
In the longer term, the financially savvy 25-year old plans to FIRE in his 40s! FIRE stands for Financial Independence, Retire Early, a movement first coined in the 1992 best-selling book Your Money or Your Life by Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez but has recently gained greater exposure.
At the heart of FIRE is the idea of living within your means, while setting aside enough to retire completely. While thefrugalstudent has yet to lay out a step-by-step plan, he’s drilled his primary investment method down to passive index investing.
Don’t get it twisted, the analyst-cum-blogger isn’t all about frugality and thriftiness. His financial philosophies are simple and wholesome – only make educated investments, and don’t miss the forest for the trees (but don’t miss the trees either!).
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