frugal= avoiding waste

Many of you are now maybe shaking their heads. With all the trash and plastic bags, overfull plates in the restaurant, how can this place actually be frugal?

Well it seems like they are frugal in all the strange areas and big spenders in all the other areas.

Here are four things where Chinese are very frugal:

  1. They eat everything…not just pretty much every animal out there (bugs, monkeys, snakes). They also eat everything of the animal. The brain, the heart, even the feet. What gets thrown away in other parts of the world, gets eaten here. The leftover go to the dogs. No expensive dogfood, they get the same food. Is it the best for them? Probably not, but in rural China it is not possible for most people to afford dog food.
  2. They fix everything until it falls apart. And then they use Tape to fix it once more. There are cars and bikes on the road you won’t believe are still driving. The seat gets fixed with tape, the tank gets fastened to the car with even more tape and nothing a couple of nails and wood can’t solve. A scratch in the car? Well that doesn’t justify throwing it away yet.
  3. They don’t heat much in the winter. Not at least until it gets under 0 degrees and even then just for a couple of hours. Which doesn’t help much because most buildings are very poorly isolated (something else where they are very frugal, a house exists just off the bare basics). So it is common to freeze even in Hostels and Hotels during the winter.
  4. They are also very frugal with space. Ever seen the way they transport stuff? I don’t even know how they manage to get everything on top of their cars and bikes. It is not uncommon to have 4 people on one motorbike or 3m high trash mountains on a small tuk-tuk. They really do know how to save space and thus time and in the end money for the gas.

While the richer part of the population wastes a lot, the poorer people try to save waste on every corner.

The plate gets finished, you don’t waste water, you don’t waste electricity. Yes this is because of money issues, but it is absolutely amazing how creative they get with fixing things.

China is frugal
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This is how you fix a broken seat 😉

They only time they are less frugal is when it comes to things where people are expected to spent a lot of money, like on weddings or funerals. If they don’t, some fear to lose face. But even that is changing with new laws against overcharging of funerals and offering more affordable alternatives.

All in all the government is even trying to be more frugal. For a long time officials could spend a lot on expensive Hotels and Restaurants, but the state drastically cut the expenses they were allowed, so much that now the businesses complain about a lack of customers.

It’s no surprise that Chinese have a tendency to be frugal.

First you have to be very creative when you maybe don’t have the money to spent and also because it is part of the tradition. It is considered a virtue since Confucius and probably already a long time before that and these teachings are ingrained into the culture.

It sometimes feels like two extremes clash.

On one said the big spenders of china, building castles, buying more than a person ever could use and on the other hand the normal population, trying to find a way to live their life the best way possible with the possibilities they are having.

This house in Shanghai was so space efficient, every corner was used for some small flat or storage space! So frugal living!

It is not uncommon for people to try to save at least 50 % of their income, because they are smart.  It is always better to be prepared. Disaster can strike and I have to say I admire their precautions.

We probably all should be a bit more frugal and try to fix stuff instead of throwing the old away and just buying something new. The same way we should just buy the food we need, instead of wasting tons of good food every month.

Resources are limited and being frugal is a skill we really can learn from the Chinese.

They have perfected it ^^

Yes, China is frugal…sometimes to the extreme 😉

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