Categories: Culture

11 Things You’ll Only Learn From Going Through The Singapore Army

National Service Life Hacks

They say National Service is a life-changing experience that shapes boys into men. Your pink IC will resurface after two years, giving you the freedom to once again wreak havoc – but not before you learn some hard lessons.

By hard lessons, we mean life hacks, because every second you waste is an opportunity for your sergeant to scream “KNOCK IT DOWN!”. So here’s a reminder of the 11 things we’re all too familiar with that will help you go far after national service.

1. Black tape solves everything in the world

Fixing things: Pre-NS VS Post-NS



Fixed – at least for another year.

2. A vacuum-packed Ziplock saves you 40% of bag space

Vacuum-packing your ziplock bag:
Leave a small gap when closing your ziplock bag, squeeze as much air out as you can, then close it. Congratulations, you’ve just saved enough space to fit five more ziplock bags of stuff – or more.

It’s the perfect hack during your next Bangkok shopping trip. With the amount of loot you’re bringing back home, instead of getting a second luggage, invest in more ziplock bags instead.

3. Powder baths count as actual baths

During field camp, going five days in the jungle without showering isn’t all that bad. All you need is a good amount of powder – and a strong endurance for body odour. 

4. Soaking things in Permethrin will keep mosquitoes away



The largest Zika cluster – Aljunied – may have closed, but the threat of the virus still remains with Veerasamy Road identified as a new infected precinct. Since it’s known that soaking your number four in permethrin will deem it mosquito-free, start soaking most of the fabrics in your house – especially your wardrobe. You are now impenetrable!


5. Febreze can double-up as cologne

When you run out of cologne or deodorant and haven’t washed your clothes in a few days, there can only be one solution.

6. 101 ways to tie a knot

For some enthusiastic NSFs, the steps to tie knots taught in Tekong are seared into memory. It doesn’t take much effort to tie the Clove Hitch or the Bowline anyway. Life is confusing and unpredictable so you’ll never know when your knot knowledge will come into play. But when needed, it’ll always be accompanied by “You saved the day!” once you’re done. 

7. Double socks – no more blisters after walking long distances

You’ll never be forced to walk another 24 km after NS unless you’re training to be the next Iron Man or participating in some 100 km ultra-marathons. 

Nonetheless, if you find yourself having to walk more than 10 km, remember to ‘half-full water bottle drink up’ once every four clicks, and double up on socks. No more blisters at the end of your walking pilgrimage!


Wear swimming shorts (or any tights) under your running shorts to prevent abrasions.

8. Tucking sheets from below the bed frame

Three words that every Singaporean soldier hates to hear: STAND BY BED.

By the third ‘stand by bed’, you’re already expecting the punishments that ensue, even when you believe your bunk is in the most perfect condition it’s ever been. The floor is sparkling, your wardrobe items are neatly arranged and the bed sheets are so tightly pulled from under the bed frame, you fear it might rip. 


This bed-making technique wasn’t even taught by your mom – the desperation to be perfect drove NSFs to find clever ways to do things. 

A Navy Seal Officer once mentioned that making your bed in the morning will give you a sense of pride that’ll drive you to complete more tasks throughout the day. With this hack, not only will your bed be in top form, you’ll be pleasing the missus and blazing through the day.

9. Bed is also a deadweight

The beret is like a pair of jeans, the more you wear it, the better it’ll look. At the start, when the beret is still immalleable, you’d roll it up and leave it under your deadweight bed to press it into shape. 


Now, everything that requires pressing goes under the bed – especially the ziplock bag with your clothes.

10. Lighter to shine boots


Fire + Kiwi = Shiny boots

Many NSFs endure two years of service without ever knowing this trick, constantly baffled by their platoon mate’s overwhelmingly shiny boots. On the other hand, the wiser ones keep mum about this practice. Everyone wants to spoil market but nobody wants to share the secret.


But since we love sharing, here’s a video tutorial on how to do it:


11. Saving money

One of the most important things learned while in NS is about saving money. While in BMT, the delicious free food served is our saviour, ensuring we don’t fork out a cent for sustenance – which means weekends are meant for ballin’. 

However, NS is more like an opportunity to save up. Being thrifty and kiasu has its perks. The allowance you receive every month is better off left in your bank account than spent in the club or Thai disco. 

For those who’ve formed the habit of saving money since NS, congrats! It may not get easier after leaving the force straightaway, but with your discipline, you’ve proved that it doesn’t take much to save for the future.

Save Money While Serving The Nation

To some, saving money during NS may have been a tedious feat. However difficult it is, all that effort is worth it after looking at how much you’ve saved after two years. It’s a lesson that’s even better than any of the lifehacks we’ve identified in this article!

Sure, there was a level of hardship involved in saving money during those two years of your life, but starting small and bearing the pain from the onset is better than starting to save only a few years after you’ve ORD-lo. Life post-NS isn’t as predictable anymore!

Maximising your savings during these stable two years is crucial to prepare you for the next stage of life as a man. As in a real man, not one who blindly follow orders. To help you along, POSB has designed  a special savings programme for NSFs – Save As You Serve (SAYS) scheme.



POSB SAYS allows you to decide on the amount to save monthly – even an amount as little as S$50 – as well as the date for the sum to be deducted from your account called the Monthly Savings Date. Here’s how it works:

  1. Choose a debiting POSB/DBS account for your NS pay to get credited into
  2. Open a Save As You Earn (SAYE) account
    • Set the amount you’d like to save monthly from S$50 to S$3,000
    • Set the Monthly Savings Date between 1st and 25th of every month
  3. Your debiting POSB/DBS account will be linked to your SAYE account!

In your two years of National Service, POSB will help grow your SAYE account with its 2.0% interest per annum.

Apart from the savings, you can also enjoy 2.0% cash rebate when you make contactless MasterCard payments locally with the SAFRA DBS and HomeTeamNS-PAssion POSB Debit Cards  – time to practice waving. Also, flex your authority as a section leader and refer two of your section mates to sign up for POSB SAYS to receive a S$50 cash gift with its limited period buddy-get-buddy promotion.*

Find Out More About POSB Save As You Serve Here!

*Valid for the first 1,000 SAYS customers only
**This article is not endorsed by the Ministry of Defence, Singapore. 

This post was brought to you by POSB.

Tom Johari

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