Being frugal or “kuripot” is my most effective way of putting up my Savings Fund. There is a lot of misconceptions about saving such that only people with high salary can save up money. It’s definitely not true. With a salary of as low as 10,000 PHP, a person can make a conscious decision of saving up 500 PHP- 1,000 PHP as long as he is able to budget his expenses properly.
A frequent tip to becoming financially free is to live below your means.
What does it mean? It simply means that your expenses should be lower than your income.
Let’s say your monthly expenses including buying luxurious things such as clothes, gadgets, etc will reach to 25,000 PHP because you have credit cards left to right or you have family and friends you can depend on to borrow money when your bank account goes down to 0. But, your regular monthly income is only 20,000 PHP.
This is an example of living beyond your means. You are spending too much but your money isn’t enough. This is the most common reason why most people are unable to save up. The only solution to this problem is to use money that you currently have.
Now, here are my ways of frugality while working in Thailand. I decided to live within or below my means so I can build up my Savings Fund. This can be harsh to your standards but since I was used to living simply, doing these are not so difficult to do.
1. Taking bus rather than taxi
For long distance trip, I take the bus for only 7 Baht- 13 Baht compared to taxis starting fare of 45 Baht. Taking taxi will give you more comfort but the bus can be crowded and smelly. But there is definitely money that can be saved with this option.
I have exceptions to this rule though. In some instances that I get late to work or when I carry a lot of heavy stuff, it is absolutely a must to ride the taxi.
2. Walking rather than taking motorcycle
For short distances, I practiced walking as much as I can. This is one frugal way that I know people will raise their eyebrows and would comment, “The fare is only 10 Baht, why walk?”.
There are many considerations for this but for me, I think of the benefits of walking. Aside from its free, you get to have a good work out as “Walking is still the best exercise”.
I can listen to music or just enjoy the surroundings. I also get to enjoy the time by myself. It gives me the time to think about my life or my future plans.
3. Limit Eating Out too often
I know people love to eat out in restaurants. I am not saying that it’s wrong. What I am saying is to not to do it very often.
But how often is “not too often”? I would say that it really depends on you. If you can still afford to eat out every week or twice a week, then go ahead. Remember, it’s all about you wanting to save money. Obviously, if you sacrifice spending from eating out once or twice a month, the money you should have spent will be added to your fund.
However, we know the food is a basic need. I am not recommending that you don’t go out and try different kinds of food. As a matter of fact, I advise that you do. Try as much as you can but always eat healthily and wisely.
4. Shop wisely
Don’t be pressured into buying only the branded clothes. If there will be cheaper options, then go for it. Check for sale or discounts to your favorite shopping malls from time to time.
You can also buy from ukay- ukay. A lot of my friends and aunts find good quality clothes from it. Of course, they disinfect and wash it properly.
One thing I love in Thailand is the cheap shopping. This is a country where people don’t really care about the name of clothes they’re wearing. But Thai people still look fashionable and elegant. There are few shopping centers that sell cheap but fashionable clothes in Bangkok. Where I usually go shopping for clothes is in Pratunam and the street market in Ramkhamhaeng area.
5. Limit shopping /window shopping
Everyone loves shopping especially for women like me. Try visiting the mall once or twice a month if possible because people are easily tempted to spend money when they go to the malls. This is also true with window shopping because when you see something you like, it will form into a desire of buying it in the future. Eventually, when the desire is too high you will most definitely go back and buy the thing.
Set an amount before going shopping. One trick that I found useful for me is to bring just the exact amount that I plan to spend. I don’t bring anything other than that especially my ATM or credit cards.
Oftentimes, our friends will also invite us to join them shopping. What I do in this situation is to bring just enough money for my meal and snacks. I don’t bring too much when I go to the mall because I know that sometimes I can be tempted to spend more than what I want. Then I regret buying the things afterward.
6. Bringing of lunch box at work.
This is something new to me, to be honest. I realized how this can be a way of saving money if lunches are not for free at work.
It can be a hassle cooking the food ahead and cleaning up your own utensils afterward but the savings are really worth it.
An example is in my workplace. Lunch is not free so I thought of bringing my own lunch as often as possible. Our meal costs 55 Baht. I tried to calculate it for 5 days a week, it’ll be 275 Baht and in a month, it’ll be 1,100 Baht. That is something I want to rather save up.
Carpooling is a great way to save up for transportation and help the problem of air pollution. This is only applicable to those who go through the same route to work or school every day.
I learned to do it when I was in high school. I joined my cousin going to school in their car. I was able to save my 7 PHP fare for a tricycle and inside the car is more comfortable. The disadvantage is that you have no control as to what time you want them to go. Just enjoy the free ride.
8. Avail of Free Stuff
Whatever career you have, there should be free stuff that you can enjoy. Get advantage of these things.
Working in a school, there are things available for me to use such as papers, pens, cardboards, etc. Instead of buying, I use these available resources in creating my visual aids or classroom decorations.
Health and dental insurance are also another examples. If you have free dental services, go ahead and use it to have your teeth checked. You can have your teeth cleaned or whitened for free every few months. Don’t let it go to waste.
9. Be a frugal traveler
If you like to travel like me, find flights that are on promotions. What I often book when traveling is AirAsia airlines. They have these promotions to Asian countries with flights + hotel bookings to as low as 3,000 Baht. You only then have to save up for your food and allowance during your stay of the place.
10. 3R’s- Reuse, Reduce and Recycle
These are terms you should have learned in your science class. Although they are from Science subject, I really try to follow these so I can also help the environment.
What does the 3R’s mean?
To reuse is to use something again instead of throwing it away or sending it off to a recycling company.
To reduce is to use less.
To recycle is to turn items into new objects instead of throwing them in the trash.
Saving up my first 100,000 PHP didn’t come easy for me. I failed the first few months because I was still a spender at that time. After putting 5,000 in the bank, I caught myself withdrawing it the week after because I saw something I want to buy in the mall.
HOwever, after a few months, I was able to get a good hold of my money. I knew how to manage it properly. Just like on the list, it was not comfortable at all. I sacrificed a few times. There was an instance that I had to stand in an hour on a bus going home.
Nevertheless, this is an achievement for me and as a reward, there is this growing fund that I can use when an emergency arises. Read my post about How My Savings Fund Helped Me after I was Laid Off from Work.
If you have your Savings Fund, pat yourself at the back for a good job but if not, believe in yourself and do your best to save up.
Do you have your Savings Fund?
What are your ways of saving?