In the May issue of beijingkids, the team spent a long time chatting with Beijing families to find out where they spend their hard-earned money and how they pinch pennies during these tough economic times. After scouring the money feature at least three times, I decided to take a closer look at how I spend my cash. My discovery? My caffeine addiction costs me more in a week than my entire phone bill costs in a month. Foreigner or not, it is a crime against all that is goodly to spend RMB 560 a month on a beverage.
So today I am departing from my Chinese language adventures to share some small steps to save money.
Coffee is the first thing to go. Now, before you start hyperventilating, there is no such thing as a coffee-free lifestyle for this little black duck. My solution: good ol’ Nescafe. Nescafe sachets will set you back around RMB 30 for a giant box. A box will last you around a month. For the cost of one coffee, you can have 35 cups at home, saving you around RMB 530. Holy moly!
Another great way to save is to cut back on your taxi trips. From my humble abode in Shuangjing, a taxi ride to Dongzhimen costs around RMB 30. Catching the subway costs me a whopping RMB 2. My math is terrible, but I figure that’s a bargain, right? Obviously, if you have kids in tow taking the subway can be a pain, but cutting out just four cab rides a month will save you around RMB 120. That can get you a massage, or a storybook for the little ones.
My final tip: spend some quality time at your local Chinese restaurant. A family of four can eat themselves to a standstill for under RMB 100 at a decent little Chinese place. My partner and I regularly eat at our local restaurant for RMB 30. The best part is we always have leftovers for lunch the next day, saving the cost of another meal. Compared to western restaurants, which can range anywhere between RMB 200 and RMB 400 for a family of four, the savings are huge. I know what you’re thinking – I can’t live without fresh salads or pastas either. But cutting back on one western restaurant meal a week will save you a minimum of RMB 100.
It’s easy to lose track of the little things, but follow my sage-like advice, and you can save in the realm of RMB 750 per month. It may not be much, but it will add up to a nice little bundle of over time.
Despite all my words of wisdom, I am not the doyen of saving (obviously, since I had no idea I was spending over RMB 500 a month on coffee). But I’m sure there are those of you out there who are budgeting pros, so why not share what you know with your fellow Beijingers.
Head on over to the beijingkids forum and start chatting!
Flickr photo by scottfeldstein published under the Creative Commons licensed content.