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Money habits to adopt when you're starting work
working adults

3 min. read

This is the best time to start building a strong foundation to grow your money. Find out how to save regularly, create a budget to control spending and have more for the important things in life.

Starting out

As you enter the working world, you will be earning your own money for the first time.

Even if you don’t think you are earning a lot now, good habits and a plan for your money can help you keep spending in check and save up for the life you want.

Learn to:

  • Save regularly
  • Save first, before spending
  • Create a budget
  • Plan ahead

Create a budget

Take charge of your spending by drawing up a budget and sticking to it.

Get started in 3 steps:

  1. List out your daily living expenses. For example: Your transport, meals, rent and contribution to household expenses, etc.
  2. See if you can reduce spending on each item or cut out non-essential items. Keep to it.
  3. Set aside the rest of your pay and save it. Aim to save at least 20% of your salary. Save more if you can.

Don’t be too discouraged if you are not able to stick to your budget closely. Just try harder next month. It helps to keep your dreams and goals in mind.


Aim to set aside 3 to 6 months' salary for an emergency fund in case anything happens.

Adopt these good money habits:

  • Review your budget regularly. If you find your expenses lower or higher than expected, you may need to adjust your budget. Use a Budget Calculator to help you.
  • Start saving early. Even small amounts can build up the earlier you start putting aside money, as there is more time your money has to grow through compounding.
  • Plan ahead for occasional expenses like a birthday present for Mum or a close friend.

Control your spending

So, you got your first pay. It's only natural if you want to reward yourself for your hard work. But think hard before you get that 'must-have' designer bag or latest phone.

Adopt these good money habits:

  • Spend within your means. Stay within budget and on top of your savings goals.
  • Think twice before borrowing money you can't repay.
  • View loans or credit lines as the last resort. There are costs and complications if you can't keep up with your repayments.
  • Remember not to get carried away by seemingly harmless social or casual gambling activities.

Planning ahead

Make plans for the future. Getting a job is the beginning of your financial journey. List all the things that are important to you. Whether it’s back-packing around the world, a dream wedding, your retirement, your own home, or to provide for your parents in their golden years, make plans to save up and start now.


Time is your biggest asset. With the power of compounding, small savings can grow exponentially over time.

Adopt these good money habits:

  • Start with the basics: Learn and apply money management skills.
  • Make a financial plan: Set out your goals, assess what you need and find out what actions to take to get there
  • Be prepared for financial emergencies.
  • Learn about investing and how this can help you reach your goals

New to paying taxes?

If this is your first job, you may be wondering how to file your income tax and fulfil your tax obligations.

You will receive a letter or SMS from the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS). It will state if you're required or not required to file your income tax return.

Some things you should know about:

Taxable income

Generally, all income earned in or derived from Singapore is taxable. This includes income you earned from:

  • Your employment
  • Doing freelance work
  • Providing a private tuition service
  • Baby-sitting service
  • An online business, etc.

Income tax rates and rebates

Personal income tax rates start from 0% (for annual chargeable income of up to $20,000) to 22% (for annual chargeable income in excess of $320,000).

Singapore’s personal income tax rates are progressive. Higher income earners pay proportionately higher taxes.

Further deductions

You can further reduce your tax payable by claiming tax deductions such as:

  • Course fees relief: For courses leading to an academic, professional or vocational qualification, or is relevant to your current employment.
  • Parent relief: For supporting your aged parents.
  • Deductions on donations, etc.

Find out more about paying taxes for the first time.

Employee benefits

Some workplaces give you benefits which allow you to cut down on your expenses.

Check with your employer if you:

Note: Find out about the benefits and limitations of group insurance schemes. They may not be portable if you change employer. If so, you may want to buy some health insurance such as Integrated Shield Plans if you want more coverage than MediShield Life provides. You should also think about buying life insurance if you have dependants.

Last updated on 13 Jan 2023