If you intend to relocate to a new country, like China, or travel to a new country, you’ll be relieved to discover that not everything will be expensive. As many frugality guides suggest, there are numerous ways to save money and enjoy things from a fresh perspective.
Being Asia’s largest country, China naturally offers limitless things to do. It boasts the largest population in the world, has several world wonders (The Great Wall, Yangtze river, and so on), an intricate culture and fascinating philosophies.
A lot depends on the specifics of your itinerary, though. Do you intend to visit only touristy areas or live like a local? You gonna work? Are you here to study? Or are you just passing through?
Either way, there are always ways to save a little bit of money. Depending on the capacity you find yourself in – as an employee in China, an exchange student in China ,or a traveler in China; some complex ways to gain a little bit of cash can always be found.
The Chinese save money in interesting ways. It is important to note, that singular savings don’t carry much weight, but once they start accumulating you’ll realize just how much money gets spent on useless things.
Depending on the tier of the city you choose to live in, costs vary, making saving money in China vary.
29 Ways to Save Money in China
1) Cheap Flights and Student Discounts
Chances are you will be flying here. Book in advance and try to travel off-season for additional savings. We definitely recommend comparing prices at Fly, Skyscanner, and CTrip. And be sure to check for rates a few days before and a few days after your intended day of arrival. New Life teachers, don’t worry. We’ll be helping you find excellent flight rates!
2) Stay in Hostels, Not Hotels
If your living situation isn’t resolved, regular hotels shouldn’t even be considered as an option. They are way too costly for sustained living. In fact, you can get a private room in a hostel and save a pretty penny compared to hotel rates. AirBNB is also a better option than getting a hotel room.
3) Eat Street Food
Eat street food. It’s super cheap, super yummy and way better than restaurants you’re likely to come across with English menus. Just point, grab and eat. This also provides a great opportunity to speak with the locals.
4) Don’t Exchange Money at Extreme Rates
Airports exchange rates are inordinately high. Explore some additional options before you commit. Hotels often offer good exchange rates. And if you want to avoid the exchange rates altogether, you can use Bitcoin (ask us how!) to move money much quicker than a bank transfer would. Plus, it’s the future of money. Just sayin’.
5) Don’t Buy Coffee at Expensive Chains!!
Coffee is a way of life. We know this. We drink it every morning. Don’t splurge on the ridiculous coffee chains in China like Wagas, Costa Coffee, or even Starbucks. There are plenty of cute cafes where you can enjoy a solid cup of Yunnan coffee and even meet some cool people.
6) Find Area Wholesale Markets
Find area wholesale markets – they exist in every city – and purchase your food goods from them. They’re much cheaper. Markets like San Yuan Li here in Beijing are super cheap. Even local restaurants go there! We buy our salmon, bacon, and cheese there 😀
7) Avoid Fast Food
You came to China to experience China. One of the main draws of living in China is its food and culture. Explore local cuisine, not only because it’s cheaper, but it’s way more delicious.
8) Walk. Everywhere.
Transportation exists to provide comfort and convenience, but on crowded streets, it’s bound to be the opposite. Either way, walking is great. Burn some calories, explore your surroundings, and get to really see how the Chinese live.
9) Buy Water Jugs
Let’s face it. You need water to live. But you also shouldn’t be spending 2RMB on a bottle of water every time you need some water. Every neighborhood in China has a water delivery service. You can buy a large jug of water for 15RMB, saving you a ton of money every month.
10) Low-Cost Entertainment
Books, taking up creative writing, and socializing are all great ways to keep yourself busy and get your mind off of the money question.
11) Get a Gym Membership And Get Committed
Yearly gym memberships in China are cheap. Plus you’ll see that gyms here are just as good as gyms back home. Working out at the gym will keep you away from spending money elsewhere. And it’s 2017. Let’s work on that bod you’ve always wanted!
12) Use a Spreadsheet to Keep Your Finances in Check
You can use Evernote to jot down all of your expenses. We have a really cool finance spreadsheet to give you too. It’s 2017, the year of tracking data. There’s no better way to see what you’re spending your money on. Send us a message and we’ll send you the spreadsheet.
13) Use WeChat Wallet
In China, you need WeChat. Not only is it easier and safer than carrying around all of your cash, you can get special promotions within the app.
14) Use Delivery Services to Save Time and Money
Beijing is a massive city meaning you must make use of the awesome delivery services available to save you time and money. There are water delivery services like mentioned above. Organic food delivery from Chunbo. There are even people that will go to IKEA for you and bring you back whatever you want for a small fee. If you’ve ever been to Ikea in China, you can see how this will save you an entire afternoon.
15) Collect Loose Change and Pennies
One of New Life’s own saved all of his 1 Yuan notes for a couple of years. This little hack accumulated him $1,200 by simply just putting them in a box without even thinking about it.
16) Never Waste Leftovers
The Chinese are notorious for ordering way too much food. When you get invited out, don’t hesitate to take the leftovers home. Your friends want you to eat up!
17) Delay Your Purchases
Patient people get rewarded with promotional offers. If you need to buy something, wait for a seasonal offer.
18) Skip the Plane, Take the Train
If your situation takes you across the entire country, taking the train will take more time, but it will be more economical.
25) Be Mindful of Pickpockets
Tourists are known for being careless with their money and can become easy prey for local pickpockets. Keep everything in sight and in close reach, or on your WeChat wallet, like mentioned above.
26) Sell Your Junk
There are tons of buy, sell, trade groups on WeChat. Join one and get rid of your extras while earning a bit of cash.
27) Avoid Going to Malls
Asia’s popular malls may call to you as a way of tourism, but do your best to buy things that you will get more than a couple uses from.
28) Don’t buy long distance phone plans
There are endless amounts of apps that allow us to connect with people from back home. Get your family on Skype or WeChat to talk to them whenever you want..for free!
29) Limit Partying Days
Letting loose and having a night out is important, but for the sake of your health and your wallet, try to go out just 1-2 days a week.
Don’t limit yourself too hard. Make an educated choice and stick to it. In time, you’re bound to find something new and more radical regarding savings. We hope these China travel tips money solutions were helpful.
So there you have it, some easy ways to keep adding to that savings! How do you save money? What tips work best for you? Leave your thoughts and questions in comments below!
This has been a guest post by Lisa Griffin, a blogger and freelance writer whose lifestyle credo is “Traveling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller”. You can contact her via Twitter