Friday, 15 August 2014

How to Survive Financially during National Service (NS) ; Preparing for life After NS.

The reason for this blogpost today is because of an email sent to me by J. (not his real name, duh.)

Now, J was enlisting into National Service soon. As such, he asked if I had any tips for surviving in NS and what to do with his allowance.

Thank you, J. You were the first reader that convinced me my blog wasn't for my eyes only and that people actually read the stuff I write about. :')

It's 5am in the morning but I jumped out of bed to do my research. Personally, I have not yet enlisted but am due for my Pre-Enlistment checkup in late September this year. Oh joy.

That being said, let's begin with the NS Allowance Structure.

Medical and Dental Officers are given an additional $200 on top of the stated rank allowance.

Now, if you're anything like me, this entire list of ranks probably makes no sense at all. What i can figure out is this, your basic allowance would start at SGD $480. Wow. That's less than half of what I got during my Internship. How depressing.

Anyway, moving on. You would serve 2 years as a Full-time National Serviceman (NSF). After that, you would continue to serve until the age of 40 as a NSman. You might be placed into one of the three Uniformed Services
[Singapore Armed Forces, Singapore Police Force or Singapore Civil Defence Force.]

You would begin your 2 weeks in NS, following which you will be entitled to your "Weekend Leave" or what is more fondly referred to as "Book Out Day". Please note that your leave may vary for different Uniformed Services. You would also be entitled to 14 days of Vacation Leave / year as well as Medical and Compassionate Leave. Sounds good eh? *sarcasm*

How to survive financially during NS? 
Now, firstly if you're struggling financially please feel free to apply for Financial Assistance by talking to your officer in charge upon enlistment.

In addition to that you would also be entitled to FREE Medical and Dental treatment at your unit's medical centre and are also entitled to the following:

Outpatient Care
Government hospitals
 Full Subsidy (excluding non-subsidised items*).

Government /
Restructured Clinics
Full Subsidy (excluding non-subsidised items*).

Specialist Outpatient Clinics at Government/Restructured Hospitals
Full subsidy if referred by government/restructured polyclinic or SAF Medical Officer without specifying any consultant.

Private Clinics
Subsidised up to $20 per visit and subject to $350 per calendar year.

For more information visit (

Secondly, you would receive a personalised NSF EZ-Link Card. USE IT. Enjoy the concessions given while it lasts....what with rising travel costs and all. Especially if you're staying at Pasir Ris but your camp is at Choa Chu Kang. (*cries*)

Concession Pass
Bus Concession Pass (BCP)
Unlimited travel on basic fare buses.
Train Concession Pass (TCP)
Make up to 4 train trips per day.
Hybrid Concession Pass (HCP)
Combination of BCP and TCP.

Assuming, your pay is $480. And you have no choice but to spend $111 on transport a month, you would be left with $369.

What should you do with $369? The obvious thing to do would be to save it. Isn't it? Your medical expenditures are taken care off. You get free food and lodging 5+ days a week. If you can opt for stay in at camp, utilise it especially if your home is far from camp. (It all depends on personal preference)

Assuming, you're paid for two full years. $369 x 24 months = $8,856
If you don't require transport, (lucky bastard) that's $480 x 24 months = $11,520.

That's money you can save, invest or put to good use. Are you planning to further your education upon completing your 2 years? Why not begin studying now? Investing doesn't always mean stocks or shares. Investing in yourself is also possible. Extra knowledge is always useful. 

Bras Basah Complex is well known for it's many book stores selling used books or at least affordable ones. For example, say you want to go into Finance. There are many finance books out there that provide a wealth of information. or, if you can find e-book versions it's even better as it's cheaper and more portable. Use your admin time ("free time after training and before bed") wisely. Contact your girlfriend/family members if you must, but prioritise your time.

Don't bother clubbing. Trust me. It's overrated. Sure grinding against girls and getting high on alcohol possibly getting into fights outside nightclubs may be the popular thing to do when you were in Polytechnics or JCs or ITEs. It's not worth the terrible hangovers the next day especially as you're required to be in tip - top condition.

If you have a girlfriend, make sure she knows what you're going through. I have had friends who spent their entire NS allowance on their girlfriend buying her the latest make up or perfume or whatever may have caught her eye. You're blessed if your girlfriend knows exactly what you plan to do and helps you to save! If not, do it yourself, heck you're in NS to become a man. Time to grow up.

2 years is a lot of time to spend serving your country. When you start of find a job, it's not going to be easy. Not with all the Foreign Talents competing with us and we are fresh out of army with no prior experience. (Can anyone spell GG?)

Use that time to learn about your strengths and weaknesses. As my manager told me during my internship, experience can be gained. New jobs often provide the necessary training. What is most important is you know your strengths. What is the company gaining by hiring you? Is it your organisation skills? Your technical knowledge? Utilize your strengths to your advantage by working on it. Trust me, you won't regret it. 

Paper Qualifications isn't everything. I know, that's not what our dearly beloved government has led us to believe. But your EQ, Street Smarts matter too. In NS, you would probably meet many types of people. Learning how to deal with them now, can help you deal with Corporate Politics later on when you join the working force.

Of course, paper qualifications can help too. Constantly upgrade your skills. Go for programmes or courses run by the Workforce Development Agency (WDA) during your leave. 

Success is all about the mindset. If you work hard enough, you may not always succeed. But you would be ahead of those that don't.

And that's it! I hope I gave you a clearer insight into the life of an NSF and what you could do with the money. How would YOU spend your NS Pay? Email me :)

Signing off,
Teenage Investor

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