Even China Has Bargain Bins for Expats
When my wife and I first arrived in China for our assignment our priority was adjusting. I knew it was going to be a big change for both of us and whatever we could do to make the transition easier was a priority for us. The easiest thing we could do to make us feel at home was go out and enjoy western food almost every night.
Of course I got a wake up call after I computed our net worth after the 1st month of us living here. I was shocked to learn how much we had spent eating out even though I knew it would be more than we were used to. We had spent ~ $1400 on groceries and dining out.
After the realization of just how much we were spending we started using the paper envelope system to try and control out spending. I put about $215/week in the envelope -- still a huge amount of money for us to spend on food each week. The money had to last us the week - and if it ran out we borrowed from the next week and so on, until we recovered. It worked fantastic - it was enough to still let us go out and enjoy ourselves a couple nights a week, but forced us to think about staying in a few nights a week to even things out.
As time has gone on, we have made additional progress by reducing the weekly amount to less than $200/week. We came up with several dishes we could regularly cook at home and limited our dining out to the more reasonable restaurants. We have made even better progress than it sounds because we were able to pay for a good part of food we shared with visitors we have had here.
Now we have taken it a step further. Just like back in the US, I now know where all the bargain bins are at the shops we frequent. I go trolling for deals, looking for dented can foods, and other bargains waiting to be uncovered. I think we have finally reached our last step in adjusting to living here.
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