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Recently I have instituted a weekly budget.

My allowance is 5000 yen a week.

Any out of pocket expenses must come from this fund, and I am not allowing myself to exceed it at this point in time for any circumstances.

By out of pocket expenses, I mean, for example,

electricity bill (once a month)
miscellaneous expanses (stamps, photocopies, etc.)

This means all of my meals and other various expenses can not exceed 5000 yen a week. Last week, went wonderfully, and I even had 2000 yen left over to put into savings. This week has been more difficult, because I've had a lot of miscellaneous expenses.

At this point in time, I have 158 yen left to get me through today and tomorrow.

Although I may eventually have to revise my budget, I have deliberately kept it small for a number of reasons.

First, by restricting myself to a tight budget, I make myself more conscious of how much money I am actually using. This consciousness should make me plan better how to use money for things like food and gasoline, etc.

Second, it tears me further away from consumer culture by essentially removing all unnecessary spending from my list of options.

Third, if I can stick to this budget, my total monthly expenses will be under ninety thousand yen (assuming that I can get rid of the car). The rest of my salary can then be put into other uses, such as savings and what not.

This leads to main reason why I've been so intent on using less money and saving more in the first place. I used to naively think that when I got married, my wife and I would support each other, so I would have her to rely on should things take a downturn for me. (Of course I intended to do the same for her.) Now I realize that the only person I can rely on to support me in times of need is myself. Seeing as I never was very interested in saving money until now, I have a lot of ground to cover.

Finally, if I find myself without a job at any time in the future, I want to make sure that the money I do have will stretch as long as possible. By committing to a stiff budget when times are relatively good, I reduce any possible shock if I am later faced with poor times.


It does make sense to be frugal, especially now that the prices of everything is going up and will continue to go up come fall. Even I find myself moving away from brand-name products to the cheaper ones at the supermarket.

I wonder whether 90,000 yen is a tight budget for a person who lives alone... I'm saying that because I've heard of a family of four living on 120,000 a month. There's only so far that you can save on the basic utilities. Maybe you should look into the "miscellaneous" stuff?
A lot of people save by packing their own lunches and making their own drinks rather than eat out or buy at a conbini.

My husband and I rarely eat out, mostly because we work at home and have little need for "gaishoku." It also helps that both of us can cook, and the one not busy at the moment cooks the meal. Our budget level hits a high when we eat out often (like once a week) during the month.
OK, that's a good point about the family of four.

I'll break down the entirety of my budget, so please tell me what you think!

Rent: 55,000
Gas: 2,500 (in the summer, more in the winter)
Tel/Internet/Cel: 8,000
All else: 20,000 (5,000 per week)
Water: 1,000 (on average)

That comes to 86,500. If I could remove rent from my list, wouldn't that be nice!
I wonder epigene, is the 120000 yen per month include rent? If so then thats really good!

When I was speaking to my abroad coordinator about living in Japan, she said to expect your expenses to be about 2000dollars (200000 yen) per month. I thought surely you can live cheaper than that by yourself. So I find it quite encouraging that your expected expenses come out to around 86500 yen per month.

I think 86500 yen per month with rent included is a pretty sweet deal! Although sometimes controlling things like gas, electricity and water expenses can be hard...

Well, it depends on how willing you are to stay on top of things. It's very easy to get stuck in a groove and spend money before you know it. I think that the best thing to do is to be aware of how you spend money. Honestly, before I got married, I don't have a clue where over half my money went!

If you want help on how to save money while in Japan, I can try to help you as best I can. Now is a good time, as it is a topic which interests me quite a bit!
Yeah, If I go to Japan in 2009, I will definitely be thinking about ways of living as frugally as possible yet still have a good time...

If I go as an exchange student its unlikely I can work in Japan...so I will be living off savings/scholarship money. If that time comes, would I be able to get advice from you Mikawa-sensei? :)
NO problem. But actually, you can legally work part time as a student if you get an extension on your visa. The international center at your school will have information about that for sure, and even if they don't, all it takes is a quick search to find out!
Its not so much being able to legally work in Japan (I know you can get approval to work while you study from immigration), its finding the actual work that I'm worried about. My Japanese really is quite weak...

Teaching english is one avenue I'd like to go down, but I'm not sure how I'd go about it...that and I hear that Japan doesnt exactly have a shortage of english teachers...
The 120,000 yen a month budget I mentioned is an "extreme" case where the family had very serious reason for having to be thrifty. I don't remember the details, but the life the family lead was really strained and not at all happy to me. I confess I was never able to do that while raising the kids... 😌

The $2000 a month for an exchange student I think takes into account that a foreign student would want to enjoy the country--going out with Japanese friends, excursions, eating out once in a while to have a taste of Japanese cooking, etc.

The budget I mentioned excludes all such niceties, very little snacking, frugal meals, no hanging around with friends, etc., not needing to do any sightseeing or interacting with Japanese that someone from another country would want to do.
So, if Mikawa-san really wants to cut down expenses, I think you'll have to give up nearly every little pleasures in daily living! That's the only way you can cut down the 5,000-yen a week expenses.

Another thing I noticed--do you need both wired phone and cellphone? A lot of young people live on cellphone alone.

Also, what is the ampere level for your electric power supply? Is it at the lowest? If not, you should have the electric power company to reduce it the lowest (I don't remember what). It changes your electricity bill immensely.

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Mikawa Ossan
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