TIPS FOR SAVING MONEY WHILE LIVING IN JAPAN
Japan is not a cheap country to live in. In fact, it is one of the most expensive countries in the world with a high standard of living. Tokyo was ranked as the third most expensive city by the Mercer Cost of Living Survey as of 2020. We can feel it especially when we have to deal with utility expenses. If one isn’t wise enough to budget or to find ways to stretch their hard-earned yen, it is hard to save and we fall short of our budget.
Depending on where we live, either in the city or countryside, we can still enjoy living in Japan if we know how to find the best deals and appreciating what we have. By following these helpful tips, it can make a difference in your bank accounts.
KEEP TRACK OF YOUR EXPENSES BY SETTING UP A BUDGET
It is easy to track your expenses if you keep the receipts of your purchases and write them down in a journal or notebook. You can purchase a household journal in the school supplies section of the store so that it is easy to jot down your expenses. If we don’t keep track of what we buy even the smallest things, we end up with little to no savings without knowing why. It is always good to live within your means so that you can achieve financial independence, peace of mind, and extra funds in case we need money in uncertain situations.
COOK MORE MEALS AT HOME
By cooking more meals at home, you don’t only save but enjoy your customized food, taste, and servings and I find it more healthy as well. It doesn’t mean that you don’t go out dining anymore but a few occasional trips to the restaurant will not hurt your budget. You can save more than dining out often and buying ready meals at convenience stores.
It is also wise to invest in a coffeemaker if you are a coffee lover. It can save a lot of yen than having a regular trip to the coffee shop. You can help save the environment as well by reducing the amount of trash from paper cups used in coffee.
FIND THE BEST DEALS IN GROCERY SHOPPING
In every supermarket in Japan, they have a special price day (usually during weekdays) where they have special discounts on some products like egg and vegetables. It is a good opportunity to shop during these days because you can save a lot. And shopping about 2 hours before closing can mean bigger discounts on fresh items like meat, vegetables, and fruits. They discount up to 50% off on selected items. Campaign flyers also can be found at the entrances of every supermarket where they inform customers about the latest deals.
EXPLORE YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD FOR FRESH PRODUCE
Get to know your neighborhood by exploring the streets and gardens and you will find a small shop with vegetables and other produce. They are usually home-grown organic vegetables free from insecticides. They may not look very pretty compared to the supermarket vegetables but it’s a great deal. More volume and cheap vegetables nourish our bodies.
VISIT A NEARBY ROAD STATION (MICHI NO EKI)
It is the best place to unwind (some road stations have playground and entertainment corners) and to shop local and homemade goodies. I prefer hanging out here than in shopping malls because you got to know the local products which are more natural and merchandise quantity is lesser than in shopping malls in which you will resist impulse buying. Most comfort rooms are clean and spacious as well.
TAKE ADVANTAGE OF FREE ENTERTAINMENT AND EXERCISE
Most of Japanese cities and countrysides have spacious green areas and public parks free of entrances. It is a great place to have a walk, hike, run, or cycle without having to pay more than having a monthly gym membership. Some parks have exercise types of equipment for adults which is also absolutely free. In bigger cities like Tokyo and Yokohama, there is free entertainment at the parks (for example in Yamashita Park, Yokohama City ) especially on weekends where you can see talented people doing magic shows, dancing, or playing musical instruments. These are all free events to enjoy.
Spring is a great chance to do hanami in parks under the beautiful cherry blossom trees. For movie lovers, there’s a lot of free online movies on the internet but it may not be the latest film to watch.
BUY SECONDHAND CLOTHES AND FURNITURES
Second-hand stores like Off-house, Book-Off, and Second Street are a haven for surplus lovers and it’s all in good condition. Some items are new and unused and you can buy these at super low, low prices. Clothes, accessories, and furniture, most of them are branded and very affordable. Most of these products are slightly used but durable and may last for several years.
USE YOUR POINT CARDS WISELY
Don’t forget to use your point cards regularly like T-point cards, Aeon, or Trial Drugstore cards. When the points are accumulated, they can be used as a discount on your purchases which is a great way to save.
SET-UP A VEGETABLE GARDEN
No matter how big your living space is, it is a practical idea to plant vegetables, especially around summer. You don’t have to buy at the supermarket and it can help you save. Planting vegetables adds beauty to your garden as well. If you live in the city, you can plant them in pots on the balcony or veranda.
AVOID IMPULSE SHOPPING, LIVE AN INTENTIONAL LIFE
And lastly, find a hobby that entertains you, something that avoids you from having that retail therapy and impulse buying. Writing, arts, playing musical instruments are some wonderful hobbies that make your brain young and relaxed. Managing our finances depends also on our mindest so instead of thinking that Japan is an expensive country to live in, you can live here frugally and be able to set aside money and time for the things that truly matters to you.