Here are some money hacks in the U.S. (with referral links!), available to international students. If the links are expired, please comment/message me and I can provide the new ones.
💵 Reduce Fixed Cost
Choose an inexpensive mobile plan: Mint
- Mint offers the best plan that I’ve ever known of. 15$/mo for 4GB. The unlimited GB plan is still inexpensive compared to other couriers like ATT, Verizon, and T-Mobile. The connection is good.
🛒 Reduce Variable Costs
- Try Foodbank. Most universities have a food bank, a non-profit program where volunteers give out free food for people with low income, like graduate students.
- Vegetables and meats are generally low-priced in Asian supermarket chains, e.g., H-mart, 99 Ranch, and Zion.
- If you are living as a family/share groceries with roomies, a Costco membership would pay off.
- General items
- Walmart is good for consumable goods (e.g., toilet rolls, detergents), Target is good for general goods (e.g., stationaries, towels, plates)
- Use Temu instead of Amazon
- Used item shops are called “thrift stores” in the U.S. Famous ones are Goodwill and Salvation Army. They sell not only clothes but also furniture etc.
- Flea market is called “Swap meet” in the U.S.
- There is not much you can do until your 5th year on an F1 visa. The standard deduction is not applied to non-residents unless there is a tax treaty between the U.S. and your country.
💰 Grow Your Assets
Apply for Credit Cards with Rewards
The first card to apply when arriving in the U.S.: Chase Freedom Student
- In the U.S., you have to build “credit history (the record of your credit card)” to show your trustability when you rent an apartment, etc. But when you first arrive in the U.S., you can’t get a credit card because you don’t have a decent credit history … this card is perfect for getting out of the loop.
- It’s a student card that you can create without a credit history. You’ll only need to show documents to show your identity (visa etc.) to them.
1.5% back on any purchase: Chase Ultimate Freedom
5% back on Amazon purchases: Amazon Card
1% back on rent payment: Bilt
- You may have to pay rent by check to use Bilt … it’s not as bad as you think though!
Deposit Cash In High Yield Saving Account
Checking account with high interest: Wealth Front
- Free unlimited transactions, unlike savings accounts. Simply amazing.
Open Roth IRA account
- Tax differed … after you become a resident.
Purchase Series I bond
- US Bond to protect your cash from inflation. Interest rate = inflation rate, so you are not going to gain any but won’t lose the value of your money either. Called the “safest investment” in the US. You can liquidate it (cash it out) after 1 year of possession.
🪙Other Tips for Japanese Students
- 収入に課税されるかどうかは、これを確認すればよい (but it’s complicated)