Saving 101 in the US

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

Prepaid Phone Plans with Unlimited Talk, Text, & Data | Mint Mobile
Shop our unlimited talk, text, and 5G•4G LTE data plans—starting at $15/month! With reliable nationwide coverage and a money back guarantee, you’ll wonder why you didn’t switch sooner.
  • Mint offers the best plan that I’ve ever known of. 15$/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


  • Groceries
    • 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 items

  • 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.

Tax Benefit

  • 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
Banking with Chase | Refer-A-Friend Bonus
Get a bonus $200 | Open a new Chase Total Checking account and set up direct deposit. Plus, your friend can get a bonus too.
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
Earn 4.55% APY with No Account Fees | Wealthfront Cash
A high-yield account with free transfers and checking features.
  • Free unlimited transactions, unlike savings accounts. Simply amazing.

💹 Investment

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


  • PhDの雇用は福利厚生(Benefit)で歯科保険がカバーされていることが多い
  • アメリカの歯科保険は色々カバーされるので活用すべき
    • 歯列矯正がカバーされる(上限あり)。歯列矯正する予定がある&歯科保険に加入しているなら、日本でやるより米国でやったほうが安い
    • 歯のクリーニングがカバーされる(年に2-3回無料でやってもらえる)


  • Wiseが手数料が一番少ない
Wise: Online Money Transfers | International Banking Features
Banks charge a lot for overseas transfers. We don’t. Transfer money abroad easily and quickly with our low cost money transfers.


  • 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)
Japan – Tax Treaty Documents | Internal Revenue Service
Japan – Tax Treaty Documents

2 responses to “Saving 101 in the US”

  1. Sandy Mccaulley Avatar

    I would like to know where you got your website theme or design. Could you please share that information with me?

    1. rarakihydro Avatar

      Hi! It is a WordPress theme called “Riverbank” By ThemeIsle. If you are not using WordPress, I recommend this website that has good templates as well

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