Over the years, I’ve accumulated a lot of money-saving tips as a Cheap, thrifty Asian who loves personal finance. I wanted to document some of those tips so that someone following a similar path can have a head start.
Before we dive into these tips, I want to emphasize that living too cheaply is not the optimal option. I have learned the hard way many times that trying to save money has hidden costs of time and even health. Your long-term goal should be to get rich enough so you can spend more. And sometimes, even while you’re poor, you should choose the bit more expensive option to save yourself hassle, frustration, and avoid a product that breaks sooner than expected or doesn’t work.
- Always ask for a discount, especially for small and medium businesses, you’d be surprised. I’ve got discounts on all sorts of things that you’d expect I wouldn’t, including food and excursion events. Anything that’s not a large corporation has opportunity. When you’re buying anything from an individual person, you’ve got to bargain.
- Try to buy used, like new off Ebay or Mercari. Or even Facebook marketplace. There’s often tons of stuff you can get, including clothing, shoes, electronics, and more that is as good as new for a fraction of the price. Some people buy it and never use it or only use it once and can’t return it.
- Spend an afternoon at Barnes & Noble’s and read all the books or manga you want in a comfy setting for free. My parents would drop me off here. It still works great. You get brand new books and a greater selection than a library.
- Buy used video games and consoles. Play the games and resell them back for the price you bought it or higher.
- Find a good public library and tap into their extensive access to manga, comics, books, DvDs, and e-audiobooks.
- Pitch your workplace for tools and resources that are relevant to your work. Whether it’s an online course, event, premium meditation app, or Audible subscription, if you learn to pitch well and show how that can help the organization, you may just get approved and have it paid for free. Expect some rejections. That’s okay; they’re learning experiences.
- Stay on top off deal websites (like Ben’s Bargains) and subreddits like /frugalmalefashion to get notified of top deals before they run out. But don’t get sucked into the temptation of buying things you wouldn’t have bought anyways or don’t need just because you see deals. Instead, I aim to decide one specific essentials I need first around certain brands (Hydroflask water bottles or Ultraboost shoes, for example), so I can focus on browsing or monitoring for price drops for those items.
- Stay on top of all free food deals and coupons by following websites or googling for what restaurants are offering deals today (e.g., Google “top food deals today”)
- Use events websites like Facebook Events, eventbrite.com, and meetup.com to find free events around you that offer free classes, food, and other benefits
- Don’t see movies on release at the theater. If you wait a couple years, you’ll eventually get to see them for free at social gatherings, at the library checkout, or through a subscription service (Netflix, Disney plus, etc.)
Once again, while these tips will get you far for a while. Your goal should not be to stay at this level and penny and dime everything. You want to increase your income so that you don’t have to worry about making these purchases anymore.
I’ve got a lot of free food from attending events, app promotions, and signing up to email newsletters. But it’s usually fast food that’s bad for your body. I realized I want to eat healthy and nourish my body instead.
Plus, there’s time costs in driving to these places and filling out the forms. I had plenty of time while I was young, so that’s not a problem. I still have time, but you want to get to a point where you’re not wasting 30 minutes to fill out some app to join their newsletter for a free sandwich.
And Buzzfeed’s Worth It series has proven numerous times that he most expensive product isn’t always the best choice. But I’ve learned that always buying the cheapest product can cost you the most in the long run. I’ve trashed various electronic accessory products because the cheapest version didn’t last long before it broke (phone car holders as one example). It’s worth it to invest in the medium-tier price. Boots are another example! Don’t get boots under $100 unless you want them to look and feel cheap after a couple wears.