Survivng when you're broke - tips on how to get by

Hi guys,

I read on a website about Living in Japan a thread on “surviving when you’re broke”
& was wandering if anyone has any tips for here in Taiwan.

Not that I intend to lose my job but it would be good to have some ideas if I had to get by on the cheap for a while.
The Japan site listed things such as:

  • the days that grocery stores discount their prices.
  • eating at university cafeterias even if you’re not a student as it is perfectly legal & the the meals are dirt cheap.
  • the names of wholesale food outlets that sell things imported foods at highly discounted prices in bulk.
  • eating brown rice over white rice as it is much cheaper although it does have a slight laxative effect.

It even went so far as saying that, McDonalds & other fast food restaurants dispose of their leftovers
in separate bins (containing no other rubbish) at the end of each night.
U would have to be prettty desperate to go that far but!!!

Any ideas for Taiwan would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks alot


Go to the all-you-can-eat restaurants. There’s an all-you-can-eat vegetarian restaurant on Zhongxiao East near Xinsheng North that costs only $69. You can really load up there. There are plenty of places that have all you can eat “tea time” for less than $200, which can be enough food for 3 days if you really pack it in.

Eat eggs for protein. They’re really cheap!

Go to join the other homeless people at the Anti-Chen rally. Bien Down! (It means free lunch boxes and drinks and everything else.)

Your rent is probably too high. If you can find a place to stay for really cheap, that’s the ticket. Maybe you should live in the country and grow your own food.

Good topic.

I knew a student a while back who tried to live by only eating once a day at the cafeteria at Shida but he said his health didn’t last very long doing that. he felt weak after eating 40 dollar lunch boxes for a month.

The only thing I can think of is basically cutting out any extra expenses, right down to the dollar (nt). Saving on transportation by biking or walking everywhere. Grow your own veggies? I haven’t had to buy any dark green stuff for a while. Do you really need cable TV? Join a book club or go to the library. Making tea at home is cheap.

I am spending about 1000 a week now including fuel and having a coffee once in a while. My rent, utilities, and tuition runs about 18,000 a month. That’s pretty cheap and there are some things I could cut out I guess. I’m not earning much money and I wouldn’t spend much more if I was. I could spend a few thou on clothing and dental and stuff like that but it’s not pressing.

I live by myself and I wouldn’t have it any other way, so I don’t save there. I have a nice place with a good view and I spend a lot of time here so it’s worth it.

I Like this idea.

I just eat the food the local toss into the lane for the stray cats. Tonight I had fried chicken.

mmmmmmmmmmmmm…fried chicken :homer:

i survived on 300NT for 2 days. menu was as follows:

breakfast mantou 10NT, do jiang 10NT
lunch biendang 50NT
snack coke 15NT
dinner dzah jiang mien 25NT

but that’s EATING OUT. if you really wanna go cheap, just take 300 to the grocery store. did that too:

4 meals worth of meat (divide wrap and freeze) 70NT
veggies to stir fry with the meat about 20NT each
6 pack a coke i forget
whatever ect etc

anyway 300 dollars can feed you for a week if you go to the traditional market!!!

how the f’ck could you be that broke in Taiwan??? Imagine if you had to work in 7-11! Thats 80NT / hour.

Geez mate… you need to pick your game and either stop boozin or rootin prosti’s

Eggs with soup mix go a long way.

I never had to this and hope none of us ever have to but know that I’m thinking about it, I eat occasionally at a small off the beaten track cafeteria in Banciao. I get a large bowl of rice and a couple of side dishes of veggies with some bits of pork and pork fat for flavor. Probably doesn’t sound all that great at first read but it was damned delicious and was only 40 NT. I also got a cup and an offer to help myself at the tea tub at no extra charge. Now, considering that I don’t eat but twice a day anyway, 80 NT per day for 2 well rounded meals sounds do-able.
Back in my U.S./Canada backpacking days, I could usually find a flop and a couple of meals in exchange for doing some kitchen clean-up at many resteraunts. I wouldn’t want to try that here. Too much competition.
EDIT: I also used to carry a small bag of rice and another of pinto or red beans when I was on the road. If I got caught out in the middle of nowhere, I would just bed down, get me a little fire going and use my back packer camp kit for a cheap and nutricious hot meal. A cup of coffee to wash it down and gaze at the stars. Aww, hell, those were good old days - and rock bottom cheap.

Easy. Just make friends with language vultures.

Rent is the big money drain - you can save by finding a cramped taofang in a cheap part of town. Or renting a bigger place and splitting the rent with roommates.

I know an all-you-can-eat vegetarian place for NT$75. You can also get bowls of noodles at street stalls for NT$25-35. Or cook your own food.

Hmm I reckon I can eat cheaper by eating street food than by cooking. Maybe when I cook I only use expensive stuff as it is such a rare event. Anyway I seriously hope I am never in this position. College was hard enough but thankfully that was 15 years ago now!

ah…the old starving days. ramen noodles. mash in a potato or two. plop it all on cabbage leaf. flavor with soy or mustard or whatcha got.mmmm…good.

do churches over there have can drives? check out the back and help yourself. you are the needy.

keep an eye on the local trees. i knew a rastafari in hawaii who never had money and never had a job. as he said “there is always fruit on the trees”.

cut out the sugar and caffein as such leads to hunger/cravings…even better- stop in a learn some mediatation. learn to sublimate those desires dangit.

no worries brah, lucky you live taiwan.

[quote=“theposter”]i survived on 300NT for 2 days. menu was as follows:

breakfast mantou 10NT, do jiang 10NT
lunch biandang 50NT
snack coke 15NT
dinner dzah jiang mien 25NT

but that’s EATING OUT. if you really wanna go cheap, just take 300 to the grocery store. did that too:

4 meals worth of meat (divide wrap and freeze) 70NT
veggies to stir fry with the meat about 20NT each
6 pack a coke i forget
whatever ect etc

anyway 300 dollars can feed you for a week if you go to the traditional market!!![/quote]

Yep, cooking at home is definetly cheaper (especially if you are a couiple). I always calculate with my girlfriend and we’re always supprised that we finish around 60 NT per meal and person.

For example if you buy a kilo of italian pasta (70 NT) + Pasta Sauce (that Prego one is nice, costs around 100 NT) = 170 NT and enough for 4 to 5 meals (less than 50 NT including gas). And thats imported foods.

You don’t have to go to traditional market. RT-Mart and YKL are cheap enough. Wellcome,7-11, FamiliMart is expensive, don’t go there for shopping unless you look for something only they offer or really got cheaper.

Also, if you buy a lot of water buy the 5.4 Liter bottles and check the prices cause there are huge diffrences.

I spend too much money on cookies :laughing:

The following information is given for reference only. No intention to induce should be inferred.


You didn’t hear it from me, but besides the lowering rent option and walking everywhere (both are useful options), you can also eat for free.

Visit the supermarkets. They always have samples. You may have to go to several in order to get full, but you will eventually get as full as you want. It helps to show interest in what they are making/selling. The more questions you ask, the more samples they give. :laughing:

I had a friend in Japan that survived by doing this. Not something I would want to do, but if you are in real dire straits…

I was thinking this exact same thing this evening when I was browsing through the Breeze Center Supermarket!

Wow, that’s cheaper for you? I typically spend 60-80NT per meal eating out for every meal. If you factor in the opportunity cost of your time for shopping/cooking/cleaning, staying in and cooking is actually more expensive. If I had a kitchen, I would probably cook some Italian every now and then for nostalgia’s sake, but I’ve never seen decent riccota cheese or Italian sausage in any of those fancy western supermarkets in the city (I’m sure someone will correct me now.)

On the other hand, something like completely giving up on buying beverages and only drinking water from work could save you a bit of money without too much hassle.

As mentioned above, if you really had to scrimp on something, cutting your housing expenses would be the way to do it.

Four ketchup packs from McDonalds with a cup of hot water makes some mighty fine tomato soup.

People on a shoestring budget don’t have opportunity costs the way someone on a high salary does, so that’s probably not relevant.

However, if you buy a bunch of ingredients at a pricey supermarket to make a dish which just uses a little of each, and then you let the rest go to waste, the cost of a meal at home CAN be higher than cheap restaurant food, sure.

On the other hand, if you buy wisely and use it all, and cook extra portions and refrigerate or freeze them for reheating, you can definitely save money (and eat healthily) cooking at home.

Homemade pastas are usually a much better deal than outside, and they’re cheap and easy.


, but if you are in real dire straits…[/quote]

if i was really in Dire Straits i wouldn’t be here. i’d be right behind Mark Knofler backing him on rhythm. my dream gig!

Use both sides of the toilet paper.

It all adds up…