EARNING THE ‘EXPERT MISTAKE-MAKER’ TITLE
After a two-week stay in the United States I returned to China intending to travel for the duration of February. However, on February 11th when I arrived in Beijing panic set in: I was nearly out of money! You see, being an “expert mistake-maker” means that budgeting and responsibility aren’t my strong suit. But if you, dear readers, are able to plan, save, and resist impulse buys: you’re my hero!
On February 15th, two weeks before payday, I left Beijing with all the money I had in the world: $11 or ¥75. That breaks down to roughly ¥5 or 78¢ a day.
HOW TO SURVIVE ON 78¢* A DAY
- Take stock of every thing you have that can be safely ingested. Food. Spices. Condiments. Petroleum jelly. Whatever.
- Plan all meals. I don’t like math, but this helped me: (how much food you have + minimum necessary/day) X (number of days ’til payday) = how much food you need.
- Shop smart. Noodles and rice are always cheap (and filling). Add fresh fruits and veggies from the local market. I purchased a few different types of ramen and added fresh vegetables and spices. Hot, nutritious, and filling! I also perfected homemade hash browns!
- Only buy essentials. Alcohol, cigarettes, and Justin Timberlake’s Suit & Tie are not essential.
- Learn to cook. If you don’t know how to cook: you will die.
- Be on survival mode. Maybe for dinner you’re cooking a cup of rice with a crushed clove of garlic. The goal is to continue eating the minimums until you can afford the Kobe beef you really want.
- Don’t go out to eat. The only exception is when someone else is picking up the tab or cooking for you.
- Plan for the worst. Hope for the best and HAVE FAITH. On four separate occasions perfect strangers invited me into their home to share a meal. As I’ve mentioned: the Chinese are gracious and hospitable.
- Conserve energy. Don’t expel energy you don’t have. Hibernate for a bit.
- Don’t lose hope. Keep your eye on payday. Its getting closer every second…
On payday I had ¥14* remaining AND I was still alive!
Good luck with your poor financial choices, friends!
* = Had I not eaten a McChicken or taken two cabs: ¥50 ($8.05).
PS… In case you’re curious here’s the Cost of Living Comparison Between China and United States via Numbeo.