Posted in Everyday Life, Humor, Money, Shopping

Feed The Cat!: My Crazy Attempt to Save Money

I have never been good with saving money. I am good with numbers though. I can crunch the numbers, budget, and even balance books. But its seems that being good with numbers and actually saving money are two different skill sets.

I will admit that I like to shop. I use shopping to take my mind off of worrisome things, entertainment, and as a reward for working so hard. It gives me something to look forward to. I love going to the recycle shops to find bargains for things that I don`t even need. The high that I get from finding those bargains only last for a little while though and then I`m on to the next item I can find. I have tried to curve this need to shop by actually trying to budget. I use the Envelope Method to help me break down how and where I spend my money. This has helped me a lot since I am able to visually see my money and where it is going. But this has not helped with my shopping habit however. And I often find myself dipping into one envelope to save another or most often than not to buy something that I don`t need. And here is the catcher, if I make it to the end of the month and I actually have money left over, its SHOPPING TIME! I work so hard right? So I should reward myself with something nice. And there goes my savings. It truly is a vicious cycle.

So how do I combat this never ending cycle of this zero net savings? Enter the Cat!

“I demand tribute! “

Meet Nikki. She is a Maneki Neko (Lucky Cat) and the equivalent to a piggy bank in the west. Nikki is a very greedy cat who likes to be fed every time I make a little luxury purchase that doesn’t contribute to me being able to live. Yes, I might need things such as toothpaste, but do I really need that fully organic peach flavor Hello Kitty toothpaste? Here`s how she works:

  • When I buy a luxury item or go shopping I have to feed her 10% of whatever the total cost of ALL the items I purchased. This also includes any transportation fees attached to it. For example, if I get a manicure that cost 4,000¥ I have to feed Nikki 10% of that cost. Also, say I have to pay for parking that`s 800¥. Well that means that Nikki needs 10% of 4,800¥ which is 480¥. Mind you I have to pay this on top of the sales tax that I`m already paying to retailers which is 10%. So that means in total I pay 20% taxes! This is the NIKKI Tax!

Pretty harsh right? Maybe, but I`m hard headed and I love shopping. By adding on the NIKKI TAX I hope to curve my shopping habits because it leads me to a series of questions. (In my friend Emma`s voice of course because she`s usually the one asking me when we shop together)

  1. Do I really need the item or do I just want it?
  2. If I want it, do I really desire it or will the feeling pass?
  3. Is it worth spending a 20% tax on it?
  4. Can I afford to feed Nikki her 10% tribute? (She`s very demanding)
  5. Will I be financially OK after I spend the money?

So far I have had very positive results using the Nikki Tax system. It`s only been in place for about a month and I can already say that it has kept me from spending as much as I usually would. I`m sure other circumstances are part of the reason that I`ve been holding back on my shopping habit but having to pay the extra tax on top is the perfect extra layer. Here`s to saving money and my attempt to be a responsible adult.

Posted in Everyday Life, Health

Help is out there!

“Instead of worrying, a strong man wears a smile . “

Japanese Proverb

This is a famous proverb that is often said to people who are facing problems here in Japan. From a young age this is taught to students in an effort to help them deal with everyday issues such as homework, tests, and even bullying. Students carry this into their adult lives as they face the daily stress of work, family, and social obligations. This and this alone seems to be the only tool/ words of wisdom that are given to them to make it through their entire lives. I believe this to be very troublesome for a few reasons including but not limited to school bullying, Karoshi (death from overwork), and the high suicide rate that plagues Japan. Despite all of this, I will not address Japanese mental health today. That topic itself deserves its own post and since I am not Japanese or a specialist I can’t speak fully on it at this time. No, this post is for us foreigners living in Japan and the problems we face and the help we can get to aid us through it.

As foreigners living in Japan we have our own set of unique problems and stress that we have or will face during our time here. Things that weren’t even a thought in our home countries suddenly become prevalent in our daily lives. Let’s look at the most common issues faced by foreigners.

  • The inability to communicate effectively
  • Culture Shock
  • Home Sickness
  • The feeling of isolation
  • The Stares

Some people can face those issues just by having a few beers with a friend and having a good old rant fest, but what about those who might be a little more sensitive or those of us who have yet to meet a trusted friend that we can share our worries with? What about those of us who are already past just the worrying stage and are facing depression, anxiety, harmful thoughts? There is help for us here in Japan.

Japanese Healthcare

Japan does have mental healthcare available to those who need it. If you are proficient in Japanese you can ask your general doctor, health insurance company, or even check with your local city hall or International Culture Center. Don’t be afraid to ask your general doctor for help because it is their job to watch out for your health. They might even be able to provide you with medications to help you until you are able to see a certified specialist. The benefit of doing this is that it is covered by health insurance both national and private. The cost is comparably very low when put against the cost of healthcare in the U.S.A. You don’t have to worry about going bankrupt here in Japan.

TELL Mental Health Services

TELL is a mental health service based in Tokyo. They specialize in counseling and therapy services for foreigners living in Japan. They have services and certified mental health specialist who speak English as well as other languages. Many of them are foreigners themselves. TELL has offices in Tokyo but also have distant counseling services for adults, children, and family. TELL however, does not accept Japanese health insurance but arrangements can be made based on your income for payment.

If you ever find yourself in need of someone to talk to I encourage you to give one those two options a try. Your life in Japan should be full of adventure and joy but sometimes we need a little extra help to get us through those hard times. There is no shame in that. Wishing you happiness and health in all its forms! Until next time. Ja’ne!