Frugal Woman Saves Up To 90% of Her Monthly Salary, Buys 2 Homes in Nine Years

A Chinese woman has sparked controversy online with her extremely frugal lifestyle, which involves spending as little money as possible, even if it means giving up on some of life’s small pleasures.

Consumerism may be at an all-time high in the developed world right now, but the minimalist lifestyle trend is also becoming increasingly popular. In China, hundreds of thousands of people share “money-saving tips” on private social media groups, with some members standing out through their frugal lifestyles. One such individual is Wang Shenai, a 32-year-old woman from Nanjing and member of a 400,000-strong online group called Frugal Women’s Federation. She has achieved celebrity status among her peers for her extreme money-saving techniques, but also sparked controversy among the general public, after a recent interview she gave went viral.

Wang Shenai sat down with Tencent’s “Talking to Strangers” program, discussing her money-saving strategies and her views on consumerism and minimalism in a lengthy interview. The 32-year-old woman said that she grew up poor and that her family always tried to save as much money as they could. Her mother would always put the money she saved in the refrigerator, and whenever she would give her any small change, she would throw the coins on the ground in order to teach her that money was hard to come by. These early experiences stuck with her long into adulthood.

Growing up in a small, run-down house, Wang Shenai couldn’t help to get her own place, and as soon as she could get a job, she started saving up for her own place. While most people feel happiest when they spend money on things they believe will bring them happiness, Wang says that she has always been happiest saving money. Spending money makes her feel anxious and vulnerable while saving up her finances gives her a sense of security.

Over the past nine years, Wang Shenai and her husband have managed to save roughly 90 percent of their monthly income, despite raising two children, and were thus able to acquire two houses. Her achievements were not without sacrifice, though, even though the 32-year-old woman doesn’t see them as such.

Wang doesn’t shy away from using used things such as furniture if it means saving some money, she only spends 100 yuan on underwear every year, with all the other clothes being donations from friends who don’t want to wear them anymore, and going out for drinks or a meal with friends is considered way too expensive.

These confessions have attracted Wang Shenai a lot of criticism online, with people calling her “stingy” and claiming that she must be suffering from a mental illness. However, she has pushed back against her critics, clarifying that she has never encouraged anyone to follow her example and that every person is different and free to do as they please.

Wang said that, having worked at an advertising and marketing company, she learned that brands created artificial needs to increase shopping behavior, which ultimately led to compulsive shopping. She gave the example of young girls who start by buying popular cosmetic brands; over time they will have higher and higher quality requirements, and their expenditures will increase as well. So they end up paying for goods they can’t really afford, just to feel fulfilled.

Wang’s frugal lifestyle created controversy on Chinese social media, but despite having her share of critics, the 32-year-old is regarded as a mentor by many of the members of her private minimalist tip-sharing group.

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