When I came to Japan, one of the first things I did was freak out about how expensive everything was. I had to pay key money (mine was $3,000) just to put my foot in the apartment door, not to mention pay rent, buy stuff for my apartment and work — and oh my god, look at the price on that apple! Oh yeah, and since I was fresh out of college I had a pile of school loans that made me sick to my stomach. Awesome.
Well, rather than wallow in self pity, I decided to do something that I was certain would terrify me: I looked my finances square in the face.
The first step of working towards becoming a financially-reponsible adult lies in not being afraid of your money. Stop. Look it square in the eye. And remember money is just math, which may not be exciting, but it’s pretty damn consistent.
This month, if you want to become a Japanese millionaire (by which I mean have 1,000,000 yen) you’ve got to know what you make and what you spend. Here’s how:
- Update your bank book. Japanese banks give you a bank book. Find it and make sure it’s updated. It shows what has been deposited into your account (your wages!) and what has been withdrawn (for bills, spending money, etc.)
- Save your receipts! (and if you’re really good, make a note when you buy from vending machines or pay for a bus or train, too) Don’t forget your online purchases as well.
- Make a “receipt box” and throw your receipts into it for the next month. I’ll get back to you on this in October.
Here’s the idea: If you save your receipts and track your spending for a month, you can look back on it to see how much you spend in a month. (If you want to really do this well, you should also write on your receipts what kinds of purchases you made — “clothing”, “work”, “food”, “gift”, etc. You should choose categories that are meaningful to you personally. Then you can see exactly how you’ve been spending, so if you need to cut back in an area you can easily do so.)
At the beginning of next month I’ll do a post about Step 2 to becoming a Japanese millionaire, but you really can’t do that without having a realistic idea of how much you’re spending! So go, make yourself a place to stash those receipts, and we’ll get back to them next month.
Until then, happy saving!
(P.S. Even if you’re not suffering financially as I was, this is still a great way to learn how to pad your wallet with a little extra yen each month.)