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Free Food in Shinjuku - Anytime (as long as you give blood)

February 22nd, 2007 at 04:19 am

So today my girl and I decided to do something good and get something out of it as well.

This is part of my RAoK (Random Acts of Kindness) of the month.

We had a fancy lunch at this BBQ restaurant (Rice, soup, salad, tofu, raw meat that you could cook on your own via the grill in the center of the table).

The price for this amazing lunch? about $15 each.



After that, we went shopping and then to Shinjuku (JR East side) to donated blood.

Donating blood in Shinjuku isn't difficult. In fact, you could see tons of young people waiting in line to donate blood.

Why? Well, because we have great hearts....and we would like to have free drinks and food at the same time.

The menu at the Red Cross Center was amazing. There were three vending machines that had at least 40 different kinds of drinks served either hot or cold.

I had 'Hot Lemon', 'Hot Corn Soup', and 'Hot Chocolate'. They were all served in standard paper cups.

I also had the chance to eat Haagen Dazs Ice Cream (your choice of chocolate, vanilla, or strawberry - though I think they had more flavors than that).

There were plenty of all-you-can-eat cookies, biscuits, and Japanese rice crackers (Sen-be).

On top of that, they also served hot dogs & buns, as well as donuts from Mr. Donuts. Mr. Donuts is my favorite donut shop in Tokyo --- See my Fukubukuro (Lucky Bag) entry for more info.

So My girl and I had a nice snack just before dinner. We both donated 200ml of blood each, and had a nice rest at Red Cross.

Btw, when you donate blood in Japan, you get to sit in this relaxing reclining chair that comes with a mini TV and VCR set. You can even select a short film to watch at the front desk before hand.



They have automatic/electronic monitoring systems that measure your blood pressure and the blood contents as you donate your blood.

All and all? Amazing technology that is worth a sight!! So give blood, eat free food, and relax in the chair - all in the heart of Shinjuku when you are tired from shopping and you don't want to pay to sit down at a cafe!


$50 raise!!

February 12th, 2007 at 05:31 pm

Okay. I must say my new $50 raise isn't a lot of money!!

First, my $50 raise is per month, not week, and certainly not per day.

That works out to about $2.30 extra per every working day.

But I guess I can't complain. They are thinking of promoting me to branch manager in April. That'll be another extra $100 something per month on top of my raise.

I like the new idea of me being the branch manager though. My branch is relatively small, but, nonetheless, it'll mean that I get to do more sales promotion.

cool.

Today is tuesday, so in two more days, I'll be on my 3-day vacation to Hokkaido!!

woohoo




Day off - $20 Day Trip of Fun in Tokyo

February 8th, 2007 at 05:49 pm

So yesterday was my day off. I only get a day off this week. I've already made a post of the additonal work I must do, and hence my one day weekend.

However, I had a great time with my girl. All for less than $20 (or 2000 Yen). $20? You may still think that is a lot. Well, it is, and I didn't spend all that money on my trip.

Let me explain.

In the morning, I made us tuna cheese sandwiches, potatoe salad, boiled wieners, and coffee in a thermo bottle.

WE then hopped on our bicycles and rode for 45mins to Kichijoji (a nice area on the West side of Tokyo). Kichijoji has a nice park called the Inokashira park and it also has a nice zoo and a small aquarium.

I got my exercise my riding my bike to and from the place (two hours in total), and I also saved train expenses of at least $5 (or 500 yen).

The admission fee to the zoo was $4 (400 yen) for both the Zoo section and the Aquarium section. It was small but still pretty good. We ended up spending 2 hours there and we had our picnic lunch there as well.

After that, we had to park our bicycles somewhere in order to walk around Kichijoji station/general area. So, we had to pay a parking fee for our bicycles unless we buy something at that department shore that was over $5 (500 yen).

My girl's gloves had tears and holes on both hands, and she didn't know how that happened since she only got them earlier last year (less than 1 year of use).

So we replaced that and bought a nice pair of gloves at the department store. The gloves were on sale anyway since it is almost spring and they had the winter clearance sale.

However, that expense wasn't included in my budget.

My girl wanted to buy some fancy pre-made salad at the shop as we strolled by. But, I thought the salads were overpriced and too oily (since they use a lot of salad dressings for flavor).

So I told her that we should hit the market and that I would spend at least $10 and make the best salad for her.

Well, my salad? It was awesome and a whole lot cheaper than the pre-made ones. I had leftovers of course and for a large bowl of sald, mine worked out to be $2 per person.

My daily expense?

Admission to the zoo $4 (400)
Train fees? $zero (Rode our bikes)
Lunch? $Zero (our own picnic)
Dinner? $14 (Groceries not just for one dinner, but for lots to come in the week).

Total: Less than $20 and a fun day full of exercise, beautiful weather, and a great time taking photos with my girl.

Smile

Not feeling quite like myself....

February 6th, 2007 at 05:51 am

Work has been pretty stressful lately.

I've been handed extra workload and I felt very rushed throughout the day. Not only that, I was getting bored of the same routine.

I am in desperate need of a change. But I know I can't afford to leave my job just yet. Just 13 more months...they're all I need before I can quit for good.

I am also feeling stupid today...as if I cannot achieve things. I guess I am feeling like a loser. I feel that....I don't know....I feel that maybe I can't do a good job.

But I am already trying my best. Hence, the disappointment. I am doing the best I can and I still feel like a loser.

I've lost my motivation for the day. I tried to cheer myself up by using extra money. However, my frugal cheap nature didn't let that happen. I didn't even have the impulse to buy things.

My daily expense in Tokyo today? 580 yen (or $5.80).

So I resorted to comfort food.....ah...which makes me feel even worse since I have a diet challenge to do..

All and all.....a bad day

Rant - Financial Retards

February 2nd, 2007 at 12:29 am

So today is my day off, and of course I am online.

A NET-friend of mine (who is a lot older than me...she is 34 now) messaged me on msn. She and I met somewhere in the cyberspace back when I was young and when I was in different chatrooms. I have long forgotten where/why I have her on my msn.

Over the years, she would drop a hello here and there, and we would chat as if we were old friends, but we have never met each other before in real life.

She said "Hi" this morning, and after chatting for a bit, she asked me,
"Why are you home?"

My response of course was, "Cuz it's my day off." (I work on weekends and on 3 weekdays as well - full-time job).

She then proceeded to say.."Well, get your ass offline and go out and do something productive."

I got offended by this comment. She just assumed that I wasn't doing anything productive, and that I was merely sitting in front of my computer and chatting to her.

Hell no! I was actually in the middle of updating my previous Financial Review for Jan. on this blog when she made that comment. Which, by the act of even checking my budget, staying on track, and meeting my saving goals, I have already exceeded all of her financial achievements. (From previous chats about her life, it seems that she is living with her sister due to financial reasons, unmarried, and doesn't have a full-time job).

Then, she made a quick excuse to say that she now had to call her boyfriend to talk!

A few hours later, she came back online and messaged me again to see if I was at my computer.

I replied, "of course". And within a few mins, the same comment popped up, "why don't you get offline and do something productive. So you can enjoy the 'real world'."

Only this time, I got angry. I told her that I've just spent the last 2 hours browsing through MorningStar.com and learning about Mutual Fund investments and earning credits like I said I would in my previous post.

She replied by saying.."Sounds boring."

It ticked me off even more and I responded, "Well, it may be boring, but it'll mean that I get to retire early and spend all that extra free time to do whatever I want."

Her response? Unreal.

She said, "Great, then you can spend all that time online."

Unreal.....truly unreal.

Here I am, in my mid-twenties. I've got a good stack of savings. I just came back from my 5 day vacation and I am planning my second trip.

I have a partner, and I'm also learning about investing and saving for a downpayment on a house...and here's this cyber-know-it-all telling me to get my ass offline?

OMG. I am just at loss for words. Where do some people get the idea that they can just tell other people what to do!!

No. 1 - I didn't ask for her advice on how I should spend my day off.

No. 2 - Not all the time spend in front of the computer is useless and unproductive.

No. 3 - Sometimes by not going out translates into a no spend day which not only helps my budget, it also helps my retirement plan, and as well as the environment!! I don't need to create extra waste of energy or consume other goods.

No. 4 - Saying that investing is boring means that the person is financially retarded. And unfortunately, in the real world? Financial ignorance translates into a world of stress (unless you are super rich already and you never have to worry about money)!

On the other hand, being financially fit means you'll have a better chance of surviving and leading a more productive life!!!

It means self-dicipline, goal-setting, not being selfish by being financially responsible for yourself and your loved ones everyday and not just in case of emergencies!!! It means not being wasteful, and thinking of creative ways or even cheap/inexpensive hobbies!!!

I have made up my mind to remove this person my msn list, since chatting in the future will serve little purpose and will only make me more irritated.

end of rant.

*I apologize for my harsh terms like financial retards.

MorningStar Education Challenge

February 1st, 2007 at 07:52 pm

Inspired by Broken Arrow!

(BA, if you are reading this, here is to you mate!)

I've decided to start the free MorningStar self-education program to earn some credits and as well as to educate myself about stocks, funds, and other investment techniques.

I like the quiz section of each chapter.

The goal is to hit 790 Credits by the end of March. I figured that will give me what...8 weeks or so to study on my own. If I can complete 4 section a day, I could earn 12 credits.

And let's do the math (i like this part)

16 credits x 5 days a week x 8 weeks = 640.

That's not 790, but I figured it is the progress that matters. And setting small goals are better than setting one giant one that i'll never reach.

Well, off I go to hit the books!

End of Month Review

February 1st, 2007 at 06:40 pm

Wow, so January is finally over. I am glad. For some odd reason, January felt really long to me.

I did meet my saving goal for this month. I saved approximately 50% of my monthly salary, if not, a bit more.

I also managed to take a small 5-day vacation with the rest of the money. My trip to KyuShu (the southern island of Japan where Fukuoka Prefecture, Nagasaki prefecture, Oita Prefecture, Miyasaki Prefecture and Kumamoto Prefecture are located.

I could have missed a few other smaller prefectures, but that's not the point.

The point is that I managed to have a wonderful vacation without breaking my bank. My total was around $400 for 5 days.

This included $240 for the plane tickets, and play money. hehehe.

Next month, I plan to go to Hokkaido for a trip around $400 as well. See if I can make the numbers work.

-----

Exercise update.

I failed completely here. hahahaha. I guess when it comes to money, I am just better at it than I am when it comes to exercising.

ahhhhhhhhhhhhh....it can be so frustrating.

I am about 110 lbs, but I have 27% bodyfat. I'd like to go back to having 23% bodyfat or less. But certainly not under 20%.



Mid-Month Financial Checkup

January 15th, 2007 at 07:05 pm

Okay. So yesterday was pay day in Tokyo. Strangely, people in Japan usually get paid once a month. Which means, people here really gotta manage their money well or else they'll be screwed for the month.

Through a casual conversation I found out that a few co-workers live dangerously from pay cheque to pay cheque.

One guy only had 1000 yen left (about $10) in his wallet and zero in his bank the day before pay day.

Scary. I don't think I could sleep. I guess security means a lot more to me than fun o entertainment.

Anyway, my mid-month update:

1. So far I am doing very well. I earned "Free Money" of $110 (see previous post if you are interested).

2. I've only managed to spend about $120 on groceries for two people for 15 days!

3. I did my finally calculations for December 2006, and I had about $400 USD in excess after I've already put away 40% of my monthly income!

I am in great shape this month, though, some expenses are about to come since I will be on a mini-vacation to southern Japan next week for 5 days.

Nevertheless, my rewards travel fund should suffice.

Free Money Psychology

January 14th, 2007 at 06:48 pm

So I went to work yesterday when I really really didn't want to. I mean, I wasn't sick or anything, but I was having one of those days where you just don't feel like going to work.

I so wanted to call my boss and make up a lame excuse of coming down with a stomach virus or something. The last time I called in sick was in June, 2005.

Anyway, I didn't. I went to work on time, as usual, and I made about $110 yesterday.

I am happy. Since that feels like a bonus or free money to me. So yesterday after work, I bought my honey some treats (chocolate cakes), and Sashimi (raw fish) and we both had a feast.

I wanted to use more of my "free money" but we only ended up spending $15. Pretty good eh?

Yup, feels like extra cash to me!

Odd mentality!

Charity - I did it!

January 11th, 2007 at 08:01 pm

So earlier this year I said I would donate some money every month to a charity organization for my cause.

Well, I did. I did my donation in a lump sum value too, rather than monthly payments.

I figured, might as well start now and get it over with. It wasn't a lot of money, just $50. But I hope that helps.

This year I donated to a centre for Battered Women, and domestic abuse.

Next year, I will donate my money to Gay & Lesbian Youth Support agencies.

The year after that, Heart and Stoke Fundation.

Wow...good to know that my charity plan is all done and taken care of. Yay!

Good to learn that I am also true to my own words!! hehehehe


The Joy of Eating & Cooking & Saving

January 10th, 2007 at 09:03 pm

I have been living on my own for almost 2 years now, and all I can say is that life is great!!

It is when I stop and really take a look at my life do I realize just how lucky I am - to learn the skills I have now and to continue to learn new skills everyday.

***

My mother is a wonderful cook. When I was living with my mom, she would make these amazing Asian dishes!! Things like sweet & sour pork, sushi rolls, steamed buns easily surfaced from her kitchen.

I, on the other hand, was a terrible cook. Even, my younger brother was better than me.

I remember I used to wait around on Sunday mornings for my younger brother to get hungry so that he would jump into the kitchen first and make lunch for the two of us while mom was away.

I was never a picky eater so things worked out just fine. Except, every once in a while, my family members would call me 'LAZY' or 'SNEAKY' for always letting others do the work for me.

Well, that all changed when I moved out and started living on my own. Since then, I have managed to train myself to make all sorts of delicious things!!

The other day, I even baked and decorated my own cake. I never thought that was even possible. Haha.

The best part? Not only can/do I cook everyday, I actually enjoy cooking!! I enjoy shopping and finding good grocery deals too!!

I bring my own lunch box to work everyday, and I eat out about 3-4 times a month on average.

Whereas my co-workers would spend roughly $12-$20 a day in Tokyo on food, I would spend about $5. I eat healthier and better!

Tokyo is extremely expensive, so, I am doing really well in terms of being frugal and healthy at the same time.

Bottom line? I loveeeeee to cook and I never thought I would say that!! So cheers to a new me, and the ability for anyone else to change their habits for the better!!

If I can do it, so can you!




How to Stretch a pack of RAMEN (Instant Noodles)

January 9th, 2007 at 06:33 pm

Okay, who in the right mind would try and stretch a pack of inexpensive, or should I say, dirt cheap Ramen?

Well, I would. For reasons that may or may not suprise some of you.

For starters, we all know that Ramen is bad for our health, and we should never ever eat Ramen if we could help it.

Sadly, that is like telling people to quit drinking, quit smoking, quit eating chocolate bars, and quit a shitload of other things that are unhealthy.

Sometimes when we are busy and hungry, we need that quick-fix dinner, something that can be prepared on the spot for less than 5mins.

Well, if this idea appeals to you, then here are my personal suggestions that can help bring out a better meal (at least better than instant Ramen alone).

Step 1 - Smash the pack of RAmen before you open it up. Yes, that is right, I said smash it!! Pound it, and hit it like you mean it!! Break the dried noodles into smaller bits and pieces.

Step 2 - Find rice or have a small pack of rice handy. Rice is easy to make and you can freeze and storge rice by wrapping rice in individual packages via Saran Wrap.


Step 3 - Open the Ramen pack and divide the package in half. Use half now and save the other half or later. It won't go bad as long as you store it in a plastic bag and in a dry place.

Step 4 - Cook as usual, and add in the rice to make a porridge like meal. Add in some veggies if you have some lying around.

Step 5 - Use HALF and only half of the soup base package. This will cut down on the amount of SALT and other crap you put into your body.

There you have it!!

Healthier, and just as delicious, if not better snack/quick meal.

The flavor should be just as strong if you have a porridge like paste instead of a watery meal. So the key is to add in less water.

I am no expert, but my common sense does tell me that this is better than the original alternative!

Enjoy!