Japan has many temptations, we all know this. How do we steer ourselves on the right path to saving when we’re dazzled so much by all the awesome snacks, karaoke, purikura, gacha gacha and so much more?
Here are 10 ideas you could incorporate into your everyday spending habit:
- Live off of a cash budget
Take out a set amount of cash at the beginning of the month, and only live off of that for the month. Put the stash in a secondary home piggy bank. This is also a great way to save on service charges for using the ATM!
- Track how much you spend on what for a week (or a month if you really want to know your spending habits)
One of the best ways to save money is to know where your money is going. By scrutinizing how you spend money will give you an idea on what you need to be vigilant about. Use this knowledge to inform you on how much cash to use for Tip #1!
- Cook your meals
Japan has many packaged condiments that allow you to cook tasty foods super easily. My personal favorites are curry rice, mapo tofu, and veggie stir fry. Japanese super markets often carry packaged sets to make cooking easy, such as stir-fry veggie set, udon set, etc etc… Also, make sure you eat everything you buy! Shop and cook smart so you don’t let things in your fridge go bad, or else you’re just throwing money away.
- Even better, cook vegetarian meals a few times of the week!
Meat can be pricy in Japan, especially red meats that they have to import. Get creative with eggs, dairy, tofu and beans for healthy, cheap alternative to get your protein. Going pescatarian is a good option too, if fish is on sale. Chicken can be relatively cheap if you are anti-fish and anti-rabbit food.
- Cut down on buying novelty goods
Ask yourself before you put that novelty good in your shopping basket whether a) you really need this and b) can you bring this back when you go back to your home country. Disciprine goes far, my friend.
- Have a solid goal for why you are saving, and know how much you eventually want to save. Motivation… so hard to keep up.
- Know which supermarkets offer what deals, and on which days.
You can even ask if you have any coworkers who are willing to bring in ads for sales at supermarkets near you!
- Ride your bike
Especially if you live in a flatter area, biking to places is a piece of cake. Even taking the train for one or two stops can add up at the end of the day.
- Keep your utility bills down
Washing your clothes on the speed cycle, only turning the water on to rinse the dish soap off your dishes, using a slow cooker instead of a gas stove, slightly dimming the lights, reading instead of watching TV, and sweeping the floors more often to reduce vacuum use are some ideas that collectively could lower your utility bills! Seeing if there are any ways you can decrease your internet or phone bill by removing unnecessary services can help lower your monthly costs.
- Use hacks for travelling
We all want to see everything we can see while we’re in Japan. Going to places on a packaged deal, using flight booking hacks (google it, you’ll be surprised) and booking accommodations online that has coupons are some ways you can travel for a cheaper price. Staying at hostels or 民宿(みんしゅく) are ways to still travel in style but keep the cost lower than staying at hotels. Getting creative with omiyage could lower your travel costs as well!
If all this sounds like a hassle, you can always open a bank account that automatically draws out money and saves it for you (called つみたて).