Being frugal or “kuripot” is my most effective way of putting up my Savings Fund. There are a lot of misconceptions about saving, such that only people with high salary can save up and have an emergency fund. It’s definitely not true. With a salary of as low as 15,000 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.


For instance, Juan’s expenses which include his bills (rentals, electricity, water, etc), allowance, and spending money for branded clothes and high-tech gadgets reached to 25,000 PHP in a month. With his numerous credit cards, endless shopping became his costly habit.

But the real dilemma comes in because his monthly income is only 18,000 PHP. How will he be able to survive then?

This is an example of a person living beyond his means. I know many will feel guilty. This is the most common scenario which explains why most people are unable to save up. A solution to this problem is to discipline yourself to use the money that you currently only have.

My Frugal Ways

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 someone else’s standards but since I was used to living simply, doing these are not so troublesome for me to do.

1. Taking bus rather than a taxi

For long distance trip, I take the bus for only 7- 13 THB (11- 21 PHP) compared to a taxi with a starting fare of 45 THB (73 PHP). Obviously, taking the taxi will give more comfort and 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’ll get late to work or when I carry a lot of heavy things, it is absolutely a must to take the taxi.


2. Walking rather than taking a motorcycle

For short distances, I practice 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 for 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 without hurting your budget, then by all means, go ahead. Remember, it’s all about you wanting to save money. However, if you sacrifice spending from eating out once or twice a month, the money you should have spent will be added to your fund.

Then again, we know that 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 sensibly.


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 they 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 to only visit the mall once or twice a month if possible because we can easily be tempted to spend money when we go to the malls. This is also true with window shopping because when we see something we like, it will form a desire of buying it in the future. Eventually, the desire and want is too high to resist.

Set an amount before going shopping. One trick that I found useful is to bring just the exact amount that I plan to spend. I don’t bring anything extra other than that.

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 would 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 meals 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 THB (90 PHP). I tried to calculate it for 5 days a week, it’ll be 275 THB (447 PHP) and in a month, it’ll be 1,100 THB (1789 PHP). That is something I want to rather save up.


7. Carpooling

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 went with my cousin using their car going to school. I was able to save my 7 PHP fare for a tricycle. Inside the car is also comfortable.

The disadvantage is that you have no control especially of the time. Oh well, 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, cardboard, 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 sale. Where 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 depositing 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 so I can save an amount in my bank account. Just like on the list, it was not comfortable at all. I sacrificed a few times. There was a time 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?

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My name is Ira, twenty-something OFW, currently living and working in Thailand. It has always been my dream to start a blog. My goal is to share my life experiences, travels and my personal journey towards financial freedom.
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