A poll released by online job bank Yes123 on Saturday showed that under the current economic climate where prices for gas and electricity have risen and the real wage level has reverted to what it was 16 years ago, 28 percent of salaried workers polled were unable to save more than NT$3,000 (US$101) a month.
A total of 37.2 percent of respondents indicated they felt that they were living from paycheck to paycheck, and although 13 percent said they felt they were able to save anywhere from NT$4,000 to NT$15,000 per month, 28 percent said they only had NT$3,000 or less by the end of the month.
The poll also showed that more than 87 percent of respondents did not own property due to high real-estate prices, but even without the pressure of mortgage payments, 65.4 percent said their main economic pressure came from eating out, 46.2 percent said transportation fees where high, and 36 percent said recreation was the biggest drain on their bank accounts.
The respondents’ answers showed that they felt the most pressure from rising costs of eating out, gasoline, water and natural gas over the past year, showing that average expenses this year increased by NT$4,216 per month from last year.
The poll showed that 48.8 percent of salaried workers said that they had not received a raise in over a year.
Two-thirds of respondents said their wages had been deducted through alternative means, such as slashing overtime fees, holidays and year-end bonuses.
They also said that a salary of at least NT$43,000 a month was required to live in Taipei.
The poll was conducted online from Sept. 10 to Tuesday last week, with a total number of 589 valid samples collected.
However, the poll does not mean that workers who earn less than NT$43,000 a month in Taipei cannot find ways to live an interesting life outside of work, as evidenced by the story of Miss Liao (廖).
Liao said that she had been forced to live frugally over the past few years, citing a period in college when she had made do with NT$200 for more than 20 days by eating plain white rice with a small serving of fermented soybeans.
Liao said that though she made NT$25,000 per month at her first job, she had to help her family and pay off her educational loans.
Eating at home, taking leftovers to work for lunch and leaving work early to get a free parking spot were ways to ensure that the money lasted, Liao said.
After about three years, Liao had saved between NT$60,000 and NT$70,000, and she quit her job and went to Australia to work for a few months before taking a more leisurely trip around Australia.
Having a tent and sleeping on the occasional sofa helped her save a lot of money, Liao said, adding that even after she came back to Taiwan she had saved about NT$600,000.
Liao said she did not spend much and the money helped to support her family, adding that she also plans to visit India next month, and she hoped to make the most of her life while she was still young enough to travel.