With prices soaring high more than ever, even the simple act of grocery shopping can leave a large hole in your wallets. This is especially true in the Philippines, where onions are now considered a luxury for their current price.
In a Jan. 18 interview with Elite Daily, 28-year-old Vivian Tu recalled how she was able to save on food and groceries in the past. She went viral on TikTok in 2021 when she shared with her followers that she managed to avoid going to the supermarket to buy food for two years by going on six dates a week.
"Between 2016-2018, I didn't buy groceries once. Probably saved about $150 (P8,000) a week," she captioned her video. This led to her thousands of viewers jokingly calling her a "genius," while some commented that what she did was "borderline unethical."
@yourrichbff Between 2016-2018 I didnt buy groceries once. Probably saved about $150 a week. #money #lifehack #finance #dating #nyc ♬ jealous girl lana del rey - h.
Tu, however, clarified in her recent interview, which was carried by the New York Post, that she "didn’t start going on dates just for food."
"In my opinion, deliberately going on dates for a free meal isn’t a great idea. I am very much in the camp that you're dating to find love," she said.
She went on, "But if the thought is like, 'Oh, I can go to a fun tapas restaurant for (probably) free, or I can spend my own money on food at the grocery store that I still need to cook. And it’s probably not going to taste as good,' there's obviously subconscious thinking that goes into it."
The TikTok star shared that when she first moved to the bustling city of New York in her early 20s, she "wasn’t looking to date" and "just wanted to be free and independent."
"Slowly though, I started warming up to the dating pool until I was going on a couple of dates per week—usually one to two, never more than three. I was 22-23 at the time, dating around and seeing who I clicked with," Tu said.
When she started having dinner dates at restaurants more often, she realized that her expenses weren't as high as they used to be.
"The amount of money I was spending on food went down. At the time, I thought, 'If I'm going out two times per week now on dates, shouldn't my budget have gone up?' That’s what prompted the video," Tu recounted.
Despite working as an equity trader with a $95,000 (P5,000,000) salary, she stressed that her expenses "were very high" and said that it "wasn’t that easy to get groceries" as the market closest to her apartment had some pricey items. This prompted her to become active in the dating scene as some of the people she went out with treated her to dinner.
"I realized that by going on dates, I was saving about $50 (P2,700) to $100 (P5,400) per week. Added together over time, it amounted to thousands of dollars I did not have before—discretionary income I could spend on other things, like savings, investing, and a black Prada bag to replace my tattered Longchamp tote," Tu explained.
Despite this, she highlighted that there are more strategic ways to save money. "At the end of the day, building a budget is really, really healthy and something you should be reassessing every few months. Of course, it's fun to date, but using this as a money-saving strategy may not work for everybody—and it’s probably bad karma, to boot."