To Be Frugal Is Glorious: In Summation

So, I have not been the best at keeping up this blog. It has simply been too hectic!

At any rate, I failed to keep to my 1000 RMB challenge, especially as my CSC scholarship application fees and sending it to America via DHL totaled about roughly 700 RMB alone. This last month was not a good time to try this project, as I should have taken my scholarship application into account! Keeping track of all my expenses also proved to be too time-consuming, even though it shouldn’t have been because some days the total was 0.

All the same, I learned some valuable things:

1. By reducing my subway trips to about roughly 5 times a week, my temper was much improved and putting on 20 RMB onto my IC card lasts for an entire week. Previously, I could easily spend 150 RMB a month on my IC card alone.

2. Biking is the best way to go, not only is it free–except when I have to park it in a paid lot–but my carbon footprint is much reduced. Also, my usage of taxis is now reduced to once a week, when I go off to tutor a student during the evening.

3. The farmer’s market behind me is a super cheap place for food. The hierarchy of grocery shopping: Jenny Lou’s > Walmart > Sanyuanli > my university > shops in my complex > farmer’s market. I prepared all of my meals for the week on the first two days of the week, so not only did I save money on groceries but I also had a meal waiting for me on all the days I got home at 8 pm. In general, 50-70 RMB on vegetables and small amounts of meat went a long, long way, especially as I always make enough to have leftovers for another meal.

4. Not reading expat magazines helps a lot, since the temptation to spend 100 RMB on one meal is greatly reduced when you’re not comparing your meals to say, the Westin brunch.

5. My spending patterns are generally: M-F spend very little, Saturday and Sunday spend a lot.

6. It’s okay to order in sometimes, otherwise I end up going crazy and blowing far more money than I should because I have finally eaten everything I have available.

7. During this project, it’s remarkable how easy it is to feel guilty about spending 10 RMB on street food.

8. Sometimes it is better to spend more money and save time. I learned this especially when I was racing against the clock to reach the medical center for my health check that I needed for my scholarship. I took a bus, got on it at 7:30 am, was still on it at 9:30, and panicked since the center closes at 11 and they have been known to turn people away when they are too busy. In this case it would have been much better to take the subway and then a 13 RMB taxi, although it was so tempting to only spend 4 mao on two buses to get there. In the end, I ended up blowing 35 RMB on a taxi because I didn’t want to get all the way out to the medical center (which is in some obscure corner of Haidian district) and not do my medical check. Bureaucracy is bad for the wallet!

9. As I live out between the fourth and fifth ring roads, the further out you go, the cheaper it is. In fact the cheapest area for food is definitely my university, where if you spend 15 RMB that’s pushing it.

10. The best free thing to do is take the walks in Beijing by Foot.

Also, I would like to thank all of my wonderful friends who treated me to lunch or dinner while I was doing this project. It was greatly appreciated.

So given my spending patterns, I should say that 1500 RMB is more than enough to cover all of my expenses outside of rent, and that includes eating out two or three times a week. I am saving up for a trip to the UK any way, so I’m going to keep this up. I am probably healthier than I’ve ever been because of all the biking I’m doing.

Finally, I am debating the existence of this blog. Not only do I not have the time to update it, but it is certainly a struggle to find truly quirky things in Beijing. Perhaps what I will do is change the focus since what I am really interested in nowadays is the green lifestyle. In other words, more worms, all the time! XD

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2 Comments on "To Be Frugal Is Glorious: In Summation"

  1. Ashleigh
    05/05/2009 at 10:21 pm Permalink

    “Not reading expat magazines helps a lot, since the temptation to spend 100 RMB on one meal is greatly reduced when you’re not comparing your meals to say, the Westin brunch.”

    I thought this was really funny for some reason. I actually chuckled out loud.

  2. Tae
    10/07/2009 at 10:46 am Permalink

    i was worried that i couldn’t get by with 2000rmb for two weeks…
    after reading your posts, i feel really guilty.


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