Wednesday, March 6, 2013


(I've had this sitting in Drafts for a while, sorry)

Turns out when using an automatic, driving is kind of awesome. I had a small heart attack when I merged on to the motorway for the first time, and then again when I had to do my first big island solo, but after that things were sort of great. Every time I overtook a lorry I started humming the Indiana Jones theme tune. Not having to worry about stalling the car was really nice.

I can't believe I'm actually saying this, but I've had to sit and think about my 5 year plan just recently (which makes me feel about 50 years old) I want to go back to university and become qualified as a teacher. That means (somehow) getting on a program (my biggest worry) and then supporting myself through the time I'm studying. This in turn means saving enough money in my time left in China to do all this.

(end of draft)

I'm trying to look upon the budgeting as an opportunity. In order to make my budget I'm going to be doing a few things, and those things usually directly correlate with me losing weight, so everything should hopefully start to fall into place. I want to save at least 5000 kwai (£500/$800) a month, something that's actually completely doable in China. In order to do this I've been looking at my basic income and come up with this:

Salary: 12,450 (after tax)

-5,000 savings
-3,000 rent and bills/month

4,450/31 (max days in a month) x7 (days in a week) = 1004.84

I'm rounding that down to an even 1,000 (£100, $160) a week for simplicity's sake.

Every Monday I go to the ATM and get the thousand out, then I live from the cash in my wallet until the next Monday. This helps me keep track of what I'm spending and what I have left. No visits to the ATM in-between or paying for stuff on cards! I walk to work so commuting coasts aren't an issue, but anything else (taxis, groceries, any eating out/fun things I do) will come out of that money. If I use up that money by Wednesday, I'd better be ready to scavenge meals from what's left in my apartment and freezer until next Monday.

When Monday arrives, if I have any money left from the week, I will top it up to 1,000 so that I'm starting with the same all the time. Anything I don't spend can be extra savings.

Even though I budget for my rent/bills every month, I only pay them every three months (in a lump sum, very common here in China). I just did my most recent payment this week, so after every rent payment from now I will go to the bank and send what savings I have home. I find this a lot easier than having the money in China, as once it's in my home savings account the money doesn't exist for me in the same way it does in my Chinese bank. I'm much more likely to chip away at it here.

I'm at the end of the first week now and things went great this week. A big part of keeping to this is not eating out at work so much! It's all we go right now and it siphons away your money fast! Not to mention that eating at MacDonald's every day loses its appeal rather quickly and is really bad for you. I brought meals in 4 days this week and ate out of the 5th, which is about where I want to be. I'm not banning it, I just want it to be an occasional thing instead of everyday. This, in turn, is meaning I finally lost a little weight this week (1.5kg) so I'm hoping to keep this going.

There aren't 31 days every month, and 3,000 is the top estimate fore my bills, so it's entirely possible I will save more than I am planning. Also, 1,000 a week is quite generous if I keep to my plan of making my own food. I'm going to keep on the 1,000 a week for the next month while I try things out, and if I find I have quite a bit left over at the end of the week (as I did this week), I may lower my weekly budget and try and save 7,000 a month instead. I don't want to budget myself into the ground though, to the point where I feel like I can't do anything so I say forget it and blow a load of money on something, so the next month should show me what a comfortable compromise is.

Sorry if this post got a bit boring! I'm trying to keep things laid out and straight in my head to keep it going.