It is Dec. 30th here today in Tokyo. I am sitting at home peacefully on a beautiful sunny afternoon.
I just had three wonderful days off work and I saw some old friends. We had great conversations and some good times.
Then I realized that this is what life is all about. It is about spending more time with people you love and doing the things you love.
I am very fortunate to have had a wonderful year. I thank my partner for her support and her love. In fact, I think I'll write her a letter later today before she comes home from work and make her a special meal.
I also realized that I haven't given much thoughts to charity. I've been saving and I've managed my money quite well this year, but I didn't give anything back in return.
So I've decided to give away $5 a month for the entire year of 2007.
$5? Maybe some people will laugh at the small amount of contribution I've decided to make, but....it adds up. It would be $60 by the end of the year.
This still may not sound like much, but at least I am trying. I also want to increase that amount next year in 2008.
My plan? I'll drop it into a box when nobody's looking. And I will do so around Tokyo each month. From disabled charity funds to rain forests, etc. I vow to help and take no credits.
Since this entire blog of mine is anonymous anyway, I thought I make an entry more for myself as a self-binding contract.
Having saving and giving!
Archive for December, 2006
It is Dec. 30th here today in Tokyo. I am sitting at home peacefully on a beautiful sunny afternoon.
So I decided to check just how much money I have left before I exceed my monthly budget of 1000 US dollars.
Well, I have just under $90 left. I have plenty of frozen meat, pasta, a can of tuna, 3 cans of peaches, instant noodles, rice, cheese, and what not.
So if I stay home, I will have enough money to get through December.
However, tomorrow will be my last day of work before I get a chance to enjoy 10 days off work. I am so excited!!!!! I can't wait.
I've made a few plans here and there, and I guess a bunch of friends and I are going to hit an indoor batting center.
My plans so far along with projected daily expenses:
1. wed (lunch at a restaurant)- $9
(krispy Kreme Donuts new to Tokyo) -- $4
Cafe with friens when we are tired of walking -- $5
Wed projected total - $18
2. Thur. (new shopping centre) - Window shopping only. I will try not to buy anything. It's likely that i will buy some snacks or go to a cafe again for some rest.
Thur. projected total - $20 (with public transit fees)
3. Fri. (baseball batting center) - I can bat away a lot of money.....so....maybe I will need at least $20, and we are going out for dinner at an inexpensive restaurant following by a drink or two at a bar.
Fri. projected total - $50 with transit.
4. Saturday ----------- no money left.....as you can see I have already spent all of my money. I still need some money for the weekend, sat and sun. What can I do to stretch my money without looking like I am poor when I am out with my friends.
How can I get around batting away less money? I guess I can watch them play more often, and only go for a few rounds....mannn...
money money money..
This morning as I am typing this entry here, I asked myself the question "am i too cheap?"
The answer, is likely to be yes, but I am not too sure.
Yesterday I spent 7 times more than my daily budget, that is, around 70 dollars USD or 7000 Japanese Yen.
I guess because I keep track of my expenses, I know exactly how much and where I've spent my money. And yesterday's budget was:
1. Train pass (good for about $12 worth of train value for me) for $11
2. Dinner party for my birthday at the scary/horror themed restaurant - $35
3. Karaoke with friends where we sang Christmas Songs - $10
4. Donuts and Coffee to cure my afternoon sugar cravings - $3
5. Buying bread and vitimin to eat at home - $8
6. A small baseball present to a friend for christmas - $5
Well, I had a great time yesterday, but why do I feel like I've splurged? hahh, and why do I feel semi-guilty about using that money?
I mean, honestly, I've already budget for those expenses, and yet, a part of me still wants to saveeeeeeeee...
And I did! I used coupons for the restaurant and for karaoke.
Ah well, maybe I am just addicted to saving money..
Ever wonder how much money the average Canadian, American, Japanese, etc make?
Ever wonder about the average amount of credit card debt each person carries in your country?
What about the average personal debt? And the amount of cash in one's pocket/wallet?
What about the average number of credit cards that each person has? How about bank cards?
What is the average networth by age? and what about the average mortgage size and term?
Social Comparisons can be fun and also depressing. The question is, where are the data? Where can I find the answers to my questions? Does anyone know?
Has anyone else been as curious as I am? Why do we lack such info? I've spent the past hour searching on the web for some kind of money stats page, but I have been unsuccessful.
Hmm..maybe no one else cares..
Hi all, this is completely off topic in terms of finance, but...
I am addicted to sugar!! Or so I think I am. I can't help myself. Everything I get cravings for sweet things and I am so afraid of becoming excessively overweight.
Over the past two years, I've lost a great deal of muscles and I probably have about 25% bodyfat as of now.
I eat large meals three times a day, and I snack in between as well.
Help!!! What can I do? I don't exercise as much as I used to anymore, but I do try to walk for at least an hour each week (usually on my weekends).
I think I could somehow cut down on my junk food budget, but I can't seem to have enough will power to say no!!
ah.....now, xmas will be here soon....more food...yummy....in Japan we have a lot of chocolate xmas cakes...
Thank you everyone for your kind replies to my previous posts, and also thank you for your happy b-day wishes!! It really brightened my day.
This week, I will have a birthday party in Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan. Now, this place is totally awesome. It is a themed restaurant where I will get lockup in a jail with some friends, and there are people dressed in monster costumes to scare us.
The dinner is a 7 course meal for 5 people plus 2 hours of all-you-can-drink alcohol. The price is a bit expensive, but it is worth it. It is around $40 per person.
However, me being frugal, I rarely dine out. And I have even managed to find a $5 off coupon for everyone. So instead of paying $40 per person, we will pay $35 each. I am saving my friends some cash too!!
For those of you interested in visiting Tokyo, or if you just want to check the website with scary pictures, here's the link to the restaurant!!
But it is in Japanese though. Nonetheless, some pictures and you can see the menu as well.
I wonder if there are many themed restaurant like this in the US. Perhaps, this can be another money making business idea!
How I did it Ė Saving 30K before the age of 25 Ė Final Part
As promised, I said I would write all three parts of my article before I actually turn 25, which isnít too far away from now. My birthday is extremely close to Christmas, and I guess I could be called a Christmas baby.
Anyway, this year, my greatest gift for myself is the amount of money I have managed to save up over the course of 2-3 years of working full-time. My job pays about the national average in Japan. It isnít great, but it certainly isnít bad. But thatís another story.
In part 3 (the final part), I want to share with you guys my budgeting system, and some of my personalized features that may be interesting. Feel free to comment, or use, or change any part of my budget system to suit your own needs. Or if you donít budget at all, this will hopefully be another entertaining piece of article to read.
A look at my own budgeting system
How do I save? Well, to start, there are 4 categories to my budget system. I will group each in the following:
Category A Ė Total Income for the Month
This group includes earned wages, earned interests on deposits, investment
gains, reimbursed travel expenses, and other unexpected income or bonus.
Category B Ė Total Savings for the Month
-Pay yourself first.
-This is where I pay myself. Currently I am paying myself a value between
40%~50% of my monthly income.
-Your savings will grow faster or slower depending on how much you can pay
yourself before everything else.
Category C Ė Total Projected Expenses
-There are 3 subcategories in this section:
1. Fixed or committed expenses such as Rent, Taxes, Insurance, Phone, Utilities.
2. Varied expenses but necessary such as Food (groceries), transportation (gas), household items.
3. Varied but not-so-necessary things such as Food (eating out), fun money or entertainment money, and unexpected expenses.
For 1.Fixed-or-Committed Expenses, I try to allocate 40% of my total expenses (spending) to this group.
For 2.Varied Expenses, I try to aim for 30% of my total expenses.
For 3.Varied But-not-so-necessary Expenses, I try to spend another 30%.
Category D Ė Total Reward Fund
-In this group, I write down things I want to buy or trips I want to take as a motivator for me to save. Of course when buying the items listed in this box, I would exercise good bargaining and price-comparison skills. It is good to be a smart shopper.
Next, putting it all together:
minus Category B
minus Category C
Equals X > 0
(For Category D)
Note: X should be equal to, or greater than zero in this equation. If X is a negative value, it means that you have overspent this month and that you have a negative cash flow for the month.
Are you still with me? Now, if X is greater than 0, it means that Iíve managed to use less than my projected expenses. Then the entire amount of X is placed towards Category D Ė Total Reward Fund. As you can see, Category D serves as my motivation to spend even less than my projected expense budget. This is good since it eliminates the need to splurge even with the budget framework.
Category D can also serve as a carryover account for emergencies or other unexpected expenses. An example here is the repair costs or replacement costs of large household items. Note that there is already an unexpected expense subcategory within Category C. So, this is just another backup plan.
Well, there you have it, my complex personal road map to my financial success. Saving takes a lot of self-discipline, and hard work. But if I can do it, so can you.
So I've been reading about the grocery budget on the net, and I must say, most people do not provide enough information for me to get an accurate view of how much the average budget should be.
For example, most people ignore the location factor. Where you live and where you shop clearly affect your grocery budget. Living in Tokyo is extremely expensive.
Second, I often see things like $105 per person, and I get confused. Is that $105 for 1 person per week, or month? Is that the average mean?
Is it even accurate for us to simply divide the total amount of money spent on grocery by the number of people within the household?
I mean, isn't the additional person an increment to the grocery budget in a value less than the first person, and therefore implying a curved mathematical function?
Okay....confused yet? I sure am. But, let me illustrate my point with an example. Take me for example, when I lived alone I needed to spend a base cost of at least 40 dollars (US) a week on groceries. I would cook most, if not all, of the meals for the week from scratch.
However, ever since my girl and I started living together, I would buy groceries for the two of us. Of course I would spend more money, but most definitely not 80 dollars (US) a week. I would spend between 60-70 dollars. Which means, the additonal person (my girl) actually caused an increase in my grocery budget by about 50% ($40 + $20 = $60).
Hence, my point, is it okay for me to simply divide my new grocery average by 2 and say my new personal average is $35 a week? This would mean that having my girlfriend around is actually helping me save money? Or is there a logical error here?
How can I accurately find out just how much I can live on in terms of food? How can I compare my budget value to those of others? How can I know where I stand? How do I measure up? How can I trim my budget even more?
Some questions for me to think about over the cold winter break. At least I know I won't be bored.
A friend of mine asked about some dating ideas, and he basically wanted a cheap but romantic date with his girl.
I thought of a few ideas, but I was hoping to find additional ones to the list.
1. Park and picnic date
2. museum date with discount tickets/coupons.
3. eat out for lunch instead of dinner.
4. movie date at a second-run theater
5. rent some dvd's and cook and eat at home.
6. go ice skating
7. go shopping or window shopping together
8. go to a second-hand bookstore
9. go to a cafe and spend hours talking to each other over coffee.
10. go learn something new together like going to a latin dance bar/club with free dance lessons.
Any more ideas?
How I did it. Saving 30K before the age of 25 - Part 2
Hello again everyone. Thank you for reading part 1 of my achievement. Here is part 2. In this part, we will look at some of my strange mentalities. So, welcome to the world of Lez Save Money.
Principle # 1 Ė Develop a Sense of Shamelessness
A lot of times when you are on your journey to financial independence through saving and investing, you are bound to face many psychological challenges. For example, do you remember how you felt the first time someone called you a cheapskate? A miser? A thightwad? Stingy? A penny pincher? A scrooge? A no-fun-stay-at-home-loser?
They havenít yet? Well, they WILL at one point or another, Ďcuz thatís just plain old human nature for ya. People gotta put down other people in order to feel superior and to pamper their inner insecurities. So the questions really are, ďWhen they do call you by such negative terms, what would you say? How would you react? Would you feel hurt?Ē
How you answer the above questions will determine how you view your sense of self-worth and your commitment to your financial goals. For me, I just decided to have no shame, and I guess I donít really care what others think or say about me. Although, sometimes I do tend to break down and let others affect me negatively. Like I have mentioned before, the world today can be a cold place for people who refuse to accept the norm Ė whether the norm be heterosexuality or consumerism.
So back to Principle # 1, train yourself to become shameless by fostering your sense of self-worth internally, rather than externally.
Principle # 2 Ė Think of Financial Goals as a Video Game, Monopoly, or other Board Games.
Thatís right. Life really is nothing but a game. Sometimes you have control over your actions, sometimes you donít. Sometimes life will deal you a good hand, and other times a shitty round. The thing is, it doesnít really matter! What matters most is how you approach the games and what you can build out of the things you already have.
Let me rephrase myself. If you want to be successful, you have to learn to control your emotions. Think of life as a game. I mean, if I were to lose a basketball game tonight, would I get so depressed that I would jump off a bridge? No, cuz that would be stupid. It was just a game. If you cannot accept certain risks associated with making investments, then, donít play. If I know I am a terrible basketball player and I still wanna play, well, I gotta find other ways to train myself. For example, work out more often, learn to run faster, learn to shoot better, etc. Practice, practice, and practice. And once youíve done that, and you still canít win? Play with players who are worse than you, so you can rip them off. LOL. Just kidding. Find a new game to join.
Remember, wealth can be created in many different ways.
Principle # 3 Ė Think, Talk, and Act like a Self-help Book
One of the most obvious factors to my financial success of having a positive net worth of 30k USD is largely due to the amount of self-help books Iíve read. I find that reading self-help books on personal finance, as well as on self-esteems, motivations, goal-settings, and relationships, have helped me become a better person. But what is more important is that Iíve managed to cement fundamental savings/investing rules into my brain through the process of repetition.
Each day, I would track my daily spending, and visualize my goals. I would repeat my goals for the month as well as for the year. For example, if I wanted to save 10K over the next 12 months, I would already envision myself in possession of that money. And, if you have ever read the book, Think and Grow Rich, by Napoleon Hill, youíll know exactly what I am talking about!!
So yes, train yourself to think, talk, and act like your favorite self-help book and youíll be well on your way to financial independence.
Let me end on principles one to three, these principles are your insights into my strange mind. I believe that how we think affects how we act and vice versa. So, part 2 focuses on the importance of psychological factors that I call ďthe power of financial freedom.Ē In part 3, we will look at practical tips that we can all use to save 30k before the age of 25, or after, if you like.
So, it is Dec 4th today for me here in Tokyo. And soon, I will be 25 years old.
I thought I write an article about myself and how I have managed to save my money since my graduation from my university.
This article has 3 parts.
Part 1 - My obsession with money and financial independence.
My parents have always been savers rather than spenders. They've managed to pay off their entire mortgage in less than 6 years for their house. My mother always tracked her spendings, though, she lacked well-planned investments and a sound budget.
To my mother, saving every penny was important, but investing and planning weren't. Hence, she didn't really have any goals....or dreams..of what to do with life. Nor did she have any dreams of building up a stream of passive income so that she no longer had to work for a living.
So, at the age of 19 when I first entered university, I became a spender. I spend and spend what little money I had on things I didn't really need.
Why on earth would I do that?
Well, my actions were a result of my psychological need to be as different as I could from my mother. You see, back then, I simply hated my mom. She was homophobic, narrow-minded, selfish, and unreasonable. I wanted to enjoy life, and be free from her constrains. So what better way to live than to do everything she despises.
However, I was fortunate to have my wake-up call at the age of 21. My younger brother was 19 at the time. He and I suffered in the same negative household that my mother reigned. He too, wanted to get away and have a place of his own. But, how? We were so young and we had no jobs. He had became interested in personal finance and investment. He showed me that by using term deposit accounts with higher interest rates, I could get free money.
And I love the idea of getting free money! I mean, who wouldn't?
So we started to hit the libraries together on weekends and we picked up some personal finance books. From then on, we opened separate investment accounts with our banks, and by the end of that year, I had my very first investment portfolio.
My investment of 10k grew at an annual rate of 10% over the course of 2 years. I had managed to come up with that money by working at various part-time jobs and saving my scholarships and awards.
Hey, scholoarships and awards again, are like free money!!
After, I graduated from university and found a full-time job rather quickly.
From then on, I became extremely frugal. Money was all I thought about as I hated the real world. I mean, I have to spend 8 hours a day just to earn a living. To me, that was inefficient and stupid. I wanted to be free!! I want to work whenever I wanted to work and do things I loved with my time. Life is short!!!
So my obession started and I place my financial plan into action. What plan would that be? Well, read part 2.
63 Gift Ideas for Under $10 - For Any Occasion of the Year!
Thank you everyone for your replies and ideas!
I found this on the web. Maybe this will help some ppl with xmas gift ideas!
Yes...so, yes..I need help.
I've been trying to do a xmas wish list for myself and for my girlfriend....but I have been frugal for so long, I realized that I don't have any wants.
I mean, I dont know what to buy for myself!! I have been staring at my blank wish list for the past 15mins trying to come up with something.
I think....this is not very healthy. I want to splurge, but on what?
Does anyone else here feel the same way? I mean, have you been such a saver to a point that you find little material rewards for yourself that you truly want verus truly need.
I always tend to just buy what I need. Something very practical.