Author Topic: Chinese frugality  (Read 5090 times)

el_ingeniero

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Chinese frugality
« on: November 18, 2017, 03:10:31 PM »
Learned from my mother in law:

takes grey water from washing and bathing is kept in 5 gallon buckets and reused for the toilet
uses meat for a condiment instead of a dish
uses yesterday's leftovers as the starting point for today's meal
Has a pension that's more than enough to live on, but still works 8 to 10 hours, 6 days a week cleaning houses
Sits in the dark unless she actually has to do something
Wouldn't get a smartphone until my wife made her
Wears the same 3 or 4 things every day
Washes clothes by hand

Proof of the pudding is that she has 50 years living expenses saved up.

misshathaway

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Re: Chinese frugality
« Reply #1 on: November 19, 2017, 08:23:31 AM »
Bowing to the real deal.
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Adventine

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Re: Chinese frugality
« Reply #2 on: November 19, 2017, 09:35:12 AM »
Amazing lady.

bigalsmith101

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Re: Chinese frugality
« Reply #3 on: November 19, 2017, 11:51:29 AM »
Learned from my mother in law:

takes grey water from washing and bathing is kept in 5 gallon buckets and reused for the toilet
uses meat for a condiment instead of a dish
uses yesterday's leftovers as the starting point for today's meal
Has a pension that's more than enough to live on, but still works 8 to 10 hours, 6 days a week cleaning houses
Sits in the dark unless she actually has to do something
Wouldn't get a smartphone until my wife made her
Wears the same 3 or 4 things every day
Washes clothes by hand

Proof of the pudding is that she has 50 years living expenses saved up.

That woman is a badass. Hopefully she loves her work, or has massive goals for her earned income. Otherwise, she's working too much :)
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soccerluvof4

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Re: Chinese frugality
« Reply #4 on: November 21, 2017, 06:50:02 AM »
If shes truly happy great. But seems to me she needs to live alittle but that term is different to different people. Definitely badass though.
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okits

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Re: Chinese frugality
« Reply #5 on: November 21, 2017, 06:58:22 AM »
Learned from my mother in law:

takes grey water from washing and bathing is kept in 5 gallon buckets and reused for the toilet
uses meat for a condiment instead of a dish
uses yesterday's leftovers as the starting point for today's meal
Has a pension that's more than enough to live on, but still works 8 to 10 hours, 6 days a week cleaning houses
Sits in the dark unless she actually has to do something
Wouldn't get a smartphone until my wife made her
Wears the same 3 or 4 things every day
Washes clothes by hand

Proof of the pudding is that she has 50 years living expenses saved up.

That woman is a badass. Hopefully she loves her work, or has massive goals for her earned income. Otherwise, she's working too much :)

If she's sacrificing her health, relationships with family, or happiness, then trading 48-60 hours a week for unneeded money is not particularly laudable. 

partgypsy

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Re: Chinese frugality
« Reply #6 on: November 21, 2017, 10:38:41 AM »
My greek grandmother, similar. She came over and worked at a sweat shop as a seamstress, both supported herself and saved enough money (either 20 or 40K back in the 60's) for my Dad and uncle to start their own restaurant. She didn't work a job after that, but was always busy; cleaning, gardening, baking and cooking, crocheting. She lived like a monk, but was in very good health and independent into her 90's. Some people just don't need very much. 
« Last Edit: November 21, 2017, 10:42:04 AM by partgypsy »

Dicey

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Re: Chinese frugality
« Reply #7 on: November 21, 2017, 07:22:33 PM »
Learned from my mother in law:

takes grey water from washing and bathing is kept in 5 gallon buckets and reused for the toilet
uses meat for a condiment instead of a dish
uses yesterday's leftovers as the starting point for today's meal
Has a pension that's more than enough to live on, but still works 8 to 10 hours, 6 days a week cleaning houses
Sits in the dark unless she actually has to do something
Wouldn't get a smartphone until my wife made her
Wears the same 3 or 4 things every day
Washes clothes by hand

Proof of the pudding is that she has 50 years living expenses saved up.

That woman is a badass. Hopefully she loves her work, or has massive goals for her earned income. Otherwise, she's working too much :)

If she's sacrificing her health, relationships with family, or happiness, then trading 48-60 hours a week for unneeded money is not particularly laudable.
Yeah, I'm with okits on this one. There is value to knowing the concept of "Enough". I would agree that she has badass skills, but there is also the issue of quality of life. What's the point of having so much money and sitting in the dark? I actually think it's kinda sad, in a way.
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Inkedup

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Re: Chinese frugality
« Reply #8 on: December 22, 2017, 03:45:56 PM »
Learned from my mother in law:

takes grey water from washing and bathing is kept in 5 gallon buckets and reused for the toilet
uses meat for a condiment instead of a dish
uses yesterday's leftovers as the starting point for today's meal
Has a pension that's more than enough to live on, but still works 8 to 10 hours, 6 days a week cleaning houses
Sits in the dark unless she actually has to do something
Wouldn't get a smartphone until my wife made her
Wears the same 3 or 4 things every day
Washes clothes by hand

Proof of the pudding is that she has 50 years living expenses saved up.

That woman is a badass. Hopefully she loves her work, or has massive goals for her earned income. Otherwise, she's working too much :)

If she's sacrificing her health, relationships with family, or happiness, then trading 48-60 hours a week for unneeded money is not particularly laudable.
Yeah, I'm with okits on this one. There is value to knowing the concept of "Enough". I would agree that she has badass skills, but there is also the issue of quality of life. What's the point of having so much money and sitting in the dark? I actually think it's kinda sad, in a way.

Agreed. It's a different story if she's happy, but if she's causing herself (and her loved ones, by extension) misery, then it's totally unhealthy.

My dad was a lot like this so I know what I am talking about. He obsessed over every little expense, hoarded useless junk, and deprived himself of having any hobbies at all (even after he retired!) because they would have cost some money. The prospect of spending money was a source of unnecessary paranoia. Although he had his moments, he was not a happy person. When he retired, he basically sat at his home computer. It was sad.

What do her children think about the situation? You mentioned them "making" her get a smartphone, but how about her other practices? Do they get stressed out or concerned about their mother potentially sacrificing her well-being in return for saving a few dollars?
« Last Edit: December 22, 2017, 03:49:01 PM by Inkedup »

libertarian4321

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Re: Chinese frugality
« Reply #9 on: December 22, 2017, 04:44:48 PM »
Learned from my mother in law:

takes grey water from washing and bathing is kept in 5 gallon buckets and reused for the toilet
uses meat for a condiment instead of a dish
uses yesterday's leftovers as the starting point for today's meal
Has a pension that's more than enough to live on, but still works 8 to 10 hours, 6 days a week cleaning houses
Sits in the dark unless she actually has to do something
Wouldn't get a smartphone until my wife made her
Wears the same 3 or 4 things every day
Washes clothes by hand

Proof of the pudding is that she has 50 years living expenses saved up.

That woman is a badass. Hopefully she loves her work, or has massive goals for her earned income. Otherwise, she's working too much :)

If she's sacrificing her health, relationships with family, or happiness, then trading 48-60 hours a week for unneeded money is not particularly laudable.
Yeah, I'm with okits on this one. There is value to knowing the concept of "Enough". I would agree that she has badass skills, but there is also the issue of quality of life. What's the point of having so much money and sitting in the dark? I actually think it's kinda sad, in a way.

Yup, it's hard for some people to let go and live a little. 

My wife (also Chinese, FWIW) works ridiculous hours at a job she doesn't like, but she just can't let go of the job.  We're multimillionaires who have been financially independent for years, our financial adviser told her she could have retired years ago with zero chance of outliving our money even if we just stuffed it into a mattress, but every time I think I have her ready to quit, I get the "well, maybe just one more year" routine.


Rosy

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Re: Chinese frugality
« Reply #10 on: December 22, 2017, 08:09:06 PM »
Part of me applauds the badass aspect, but part of me sees it as self-denial - she is denying herself the fruits of her labors and a well earned and well-deserved retirement.
I see it as being incapable and/or fearful of change - you continue to do things that have worked in the past and are incapable of enjoying life, you do not honor yourself.

Let me put it this way - I knew a lady (born in Sicily, moved to the states when she married and had eight kids) absolutely loved life and was a joy to be around. She was a good seamstress and worked in the garment industry all her life, plus she sewed for everyone in the family and made a side income while raising eight kids.
She loved and appreciated clothing and travel and food and managed to live by herself until she was 101. At age 97 she made Pizelli from scratch for me as a gift - to die for:), hemmed my son's jeans and enjoyed a glass of wine every time she came over.
She knew how to make a penny scream for mercy and loved life and her family. Frugality, bad ass or otherwise is only an admirable trait when it makes sense, sitting in the dark and continuing to work eight to ten hours a day after retirement is foolishness in my book.

FWIW - I grew up without a washer and dryer, but you bet I do enjoy having a washer, and no, I don't really have the strength anymore to do a proper handwashing job even if I wanted to.
We don't have a dryer by choice and we often get the look:) - poor thing, so poor she can't afford a dryer. Hey, I live in Florida, it's still 80 degrees today and yup I hung up my laundry today because it makes perfect sense to me.
When the time comes and I can't deal with the heat or the work involved - I'll buy a dryer - no problem.

It all comes down to lifestyle choices and while presumably her choices are rooted in her upbringing, we need to give ourselves permission to grow up and grow beyond the thoughts and values of our youth and become our own person.

There are really quite a few people who need very little to be content, Mr. R. is one of them and I do admire that ability. However, I will say it comes naturally to him, whereas I continually struggle to see the light, but I glimpse it now and then:) and I have my moments and successes.
MMM is a lifesaver for those of us who are not naturally frugal but forgive me if I'm not impressed much less motivated by this particular example of badassity.
It sounds to me like it might be a life lacking in balance and joy.

Acorns

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Re: Chinese frugality
« Reply #11 on: December 22, 2017, 10:53:35 PM »
I'm guessing this is more specific to your mother in law than Chinese people in general - see my edits for my Asian spouse.
Learned from my mother in law:

takes grey water from washing and bathing is kept in 5 gallon buckets and reused for the toilet
        Likes to run the hot shower water while sitting on the porcelain throne reading comic books
Sits in the dark unless she actually has to do something
        Drives me CRAZY by leaving every. single. light in the house on at all times
Wears the same 3 or 4 things every day
        has and wears more t-shirts than there are days of the week

Proof of the pudding is that she has 50 years living expenses saved up.

My slightly tongue in cheek response ;-)

ChpBstrd

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Re: Chinese frugality
« Reply #12 on: December 26, 2017, 07:35:32 PM »
We can't always assume other people have the same motives.

The OP's MIL might be working toward an objective of lifting an extended family out of poverty, permanently. She may be outraged by something going on in the world and has dedicated her life to raising as possible for a charity to fight that problem. Maybe she wants to become a legend to some group of people.

Her motive might also be fear. Fear of poverty. Fear of uselessness. Fear of what others might think. Fear of having to face "meaning in life" questions if she allowed herself time to think. Fear of remembering. Fear of not being a badass who can live on a few dimes a day, and who could survive apocalyptic events and depressions with few or no lifestyle changes. There are lots of people on this forum with such motives.

Many of us are running from something. To me, it's strange to see multi-millionaires thinking about retiring from their 50-70 hour/week jobs "after the next million". We all know there will have to be another million after that. It's a compulsion, not a purpose. And who am I pointing at? I could FIRE to a minimalist lifestyle right now, but instead I keep working. How about you?

Frugality and savings are badass because they enable human beings to pursue their objectives. In the service of fear, however, they are tools of self-repression. We can only hope the MIL has satisfying objectives, rather than crushing fears, but there is simply not enough information in the OP to tell. There's plenty of content here for self-reflection though. Try it.

big_slacker

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Re: Chinese frugality
« Reply #13 on: December 26, 2017, 08:19:17 PM »
We can't always assume other people have the same motives.

The OP's MIL might be working toward an objective of lifting an extended family out of poverty, permanently. She may be outraged by something going on in the world and has dedicated her life to raising as possible for a charity to fight that problem. Maybe she wants to become a legend to some group of people.

Her motive might also be fear. Fear of poverty. Fear of uselessness. Fear of what others might think. Fear of having to face "meaning in life" questions if she allowed herself time to think. Fear of remembering. Fear of not being a badass who can live on a few dimes a day, and who could survive apocalyptic events and depressions with few or no lifestyle changes. There are lots of people on this forum with such motives.

Many of us are running from something. To me, it's strange to see multi-millionaires thinking about retiring from their 50-70 hour/week jobs "after the next million". We all know there will have to be another million after that. It's a compulsion, not a purpose. And who am I pointing at? I could FIRE to a minimalist lifestyle right now, but instead I keep working. How about you?

Frugality and savings are badass because they enable human beings to pursue their objectives. In the service of fear, however, they are tools of self-repression. We can only hope the MIL has satisfying objectives, rather than crushing fears, but there is simply not enough information in the OP to tell. There's plenty of content here for self-reflection though. Try it.

Great post! Many of use have a glaring weakness, and that is assuming everyone views the world the same way we do. I do myself and have to admit I thought the OP's post (particularly sitting in the dark) sounded more horrible than awesome. But we don't know the backstory or motivations.

Zikoris

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Re: Chinese frugality
« Reply #14 on: December 26, 2017, 09:12:53 PM »
I don't mean to be a downer, but I see a lot of this in my partner's extended family (Chinese), and none of them seem very happy. They do stupid stuff like refuse to get a proper working phone, instead using shitty apps and gimmicks that only sort-of work half the time or less, and make it extremely difficult to contact them. We've even offered to give them an old flip phone that they would just need to buy pay-as-you-go cards for (maybe $10/month tops), and they're not willing to even spend that. The result is that most of the time they simply have no sort of working phone service. It's also a nightmare trying to co-ordinate any sort of meeting, because they frequently get held up for an hour or more but have no way to contact us. So we've mostly given up on ever trying to do anything with them, because of the struggle.

Some of them also seem to mostly eat the cheapest instant noodles they can find, rather than nutritious meals, despite having health conditions that make that a REALLY bad idea.

It also sees very common to have virtually no hobbies, never do any activity that costs money, and basically just stay home and watch television constantly.

It seems like a pretty shitty life, not one to try to emulate.

I have no issue with stuff like being careful not to waste food - that's quite sensible, and more people should do it.
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undercover

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Re: Chinese frugality
« Reply #15 on: December 26, 2017, 10:13:30 PM »
How much money is one really saving when you consider the amount of time and mental energy it takes to live like that? It's inefficient. There's a certain point when the amount of time spent trying to save money is actually only making you poorer in the long run. Spend half that time focusing on income and you'd come out way further ahead.

None of the stuff on that list is necessarily insane (except maybe the bath water or washer thing), but as I already said, it only makes you poorer in the long term. It's pretty easy to save 50x living expenses when your expenses are like $5k a year?
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el_ingeniero

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Re: Chinese frugality
« Reply #16 on: January 01, 2018, 04:36:05 AM »
It's pretty easy to save 50x living expenses when your expenses are like $5k a year?
Her income is less than $500/month. I think she could get by on maybe $150.

IMO the grey water thing and sitting in the dark is overboard.  The water savings is not much more than $10 a month, since most of the the bill is a flat fee for sewage and storm drains and the time spent could be put to better use.

I complained at the other day about buying ice melt. But seeing as cities in Northern China don't have plows, I can see where cleaning off your driveway/sidewalk/path every time a couple inches falls might be considered a tad obsessive.  But I'm about 40% of the way to FI and don't really want to lose it all to some lawyer.

ThatGuy

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Re: Chinese frugality
« Reply #17 on: January 07, 2018, 11:12:29 AM »
" poor thing, so poor she can't afford a dryer. Hey, I live in Florida, it's still 80 degrees today and yup I hung up my laundry today because it makes perfect sense to me."

I live in NE Ohio, it has been bitter cold here the last few days.  I live in an area that has a lot of Amish, even in this cold weather they hang their clothes out to dry. (They don't really have a choice).  They even hang clothes out when it's raining.  Not really pertinent to this thread but it popped in my head so I thought I would share.

vatacvalves

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Re: Chinese frugality
« Reply #18 on: January 08, 2018, 11:24:15 PM »
maybe that is the custom of chinese

stashgrower

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Re: Chinese frugality
« Reply #19 on: January 09, 2018, 07:21:39 AM »
Different people find value in different things. My house-mates and I collected grey water in the shower, and I kept the house darker than most people like. It wasn't about money but environmental reasons. I was in no way miserable. Admittedly I wasn't as extreme as the OP's badass MIL!

asosharp

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Re: Chinese frugality
« Reply #20 on: January 10, 2018, 08:52:45 AM »
I think it's the mindset. I'm of Chinese descent and I did laugh at a few "my relatives do this" because I can see some of them would do that. But I can also see that with other ethnic backgrounds as well.

For example I have an uncle who is English. If you think Chinese are frugal, he takes the cake. And no he's not even of Scottish descent!

KTG

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Re: Chinese frugality
« Reply #21 on: January 11, 2018, 01:36:44 PM »
uses meat for a condiment instead of a dish

I learned to do this too, but mostly after watching several documentaries on food in the USA. I was so grossed out and ANGRY. So I switched to organic, but organic free range first if I could. If I couldn't then settle for the organic. I stay away from all the modified crap.

So what this means is that meat cost far more than it used to for me, so I learned to cut back. Next I found myself using egg or something else in place of that for protein. Not long after I found that I didn't really enjoy meat like I used to. Now when I use it, its in a large meatball size at the most.

I guess at the end of the day, the less meat we eat, the less animals have to suffer too. I can sign on to that for the rest of my life.

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« Last Edit: January 11, 2018, 01:38:24 PM by KTG »

Rimu05

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Re: Chinese frugality
« Reply #22 on: January 12, 2018, 08:32:14 AM »
I think it's the mindset. I'm of Chinese descent and I did laugh at a few "my relatives do this" because I can see some of them would do that. But I can also see that with other ethnic backgrounds as well.

For example I have an uncle who is English. If you think Chinese are frugal, he takes the cake. And no he's not even of Scottish descent!

I'm Kenyan and reading this reminded me of my grandma, but I don't know if you guys categorize this as frugal or stingy because I just consider my grandma to be a penny pincher to an unreasonable amount and reading this just made me think, that's grandma alright. She still works, has a good enough income (like really good with no living expenses)  but she penny pinches to a point that she will ask you to take her shopping and end up buying almost nothing because it's expensive.

On that note, I can't use meat as a condiment. I tend to buy meat for the sole purpose of making Kenyan beef stew. It is the one dish, if I make, I will not even be tempted to eat out. I haven't perfected my other Kenyan recipes, but when I make that beef stew, it beats restaurant food.