* * * * * * * * F R U G A L W A T C H * * * * * * * *
A weekly roundup of how to be frugal in the world's most
expensive country to live (unless you read this!), written
and compiled by Wendy J. Imura.
Regular edition, November 21, 2004 Issue No. 34
- What's new
- Weekly Bargain Roundup
- Frugal tips
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+++ WHAT'S NEW
Dear Frugal Readers,
Is your closet (or oshiire) bulging with clothing, shoes, handbags,
futons, old books, and suitcases? Are you having a hard time shutting your
drawers? Are you suffering from a bad case of 'too much stuff,
too little space?'
In Japan (aka Land of Lilliputian storage space), this can be
an extremely pressing problem, as your stuff literally presses in
around you and constricts your daily life. Western storage and
cleaning strategies (use your attic and garage!) are not applicable
in these cases. So, today, I thought I'd present some 'cleaning out
and cleaning up' tips from the Japanese pros. Why is decluttering
frugal? Simply speaking, being surrounded by too much stuff often
makes us want to collect more. Simple living is good for the soul.
So here goes:
Step 1:) Tackle your largest problem area first, preferably the day
before you next 'sodai gomi' (large garbage) day. Separate your
belongings into three piles: items you need, items you definitely do
not need, and the questionable pile.
The 'definitely do not need' pile includes stuff you've been meaning
to throw away, and haven't gotten around to yet. Dealing with this
pile can probably take 5-10 minutes. This pile should be immediately
sorted into burnable, non-burnable, recyclable, and large garbage,
and put in a 'neutral zone' for disposal the next day.
The 'need' pile includes about half of your stuff, and items
you use frequently. These items, once separated from the general
pile, should be stored efficiently using boxes/crates/or other
suitable storage items. The five Golden Rules of storage include:
store like items together, use space and depth (not width)
effectively, choose storage containers carefully to meet the task
they were intended for, choose storage containers based on volume
and ease of use, and finally -- use your imagination to
create a 'clean' look to the room when finished.
Finally, the questionable pile. The questionable pile takes the
most time, and should be further divided into three different
classes: A (used only 30-50% of the time), B (used only 10% of
the time), and C (never used). Items in the C category could include
clothes worn only 3-5 times a season, shoes only occasionally worn,
and other items. A class items can be placed near the 'need' pile
and dealt with later. B items are used only rarely, and should
handled based on an objective criterion (all items used only
3 times a year will be chucked), or based on available storage
space. C class items might include memorabilia, or other items that
are hard to part with. Store C items in a special place, and revisit
them in a week to decide what you should do.
Scroll down to the Frugal Tips and Bargain Roundup section for some
more storage ideas and other tips! Have fun decluttering!
Wendy J. Imura
PS: The 'Five Golden Rules' were borrowed from "Nikkei Woman," December
2004, p. 51.
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+++ WEEKLY BARGAIN ROUNDUP ++++
This week's Bargain Roundup will try and search for solutions for
some particularly difficult to declutter items.
1) Letters, old New Year's or Christmas cards, and pictures.
First of all, the following items could probably be chucked:
old direct marketing flyers and advertising postcards, letters
from people you haven't met/spoken to in years, New Year's or
Chrismas cards older than three years past, old photo negatives,
and that pile of pictures you'll probably never get around to
For the remaining postcards and letters, why not use one of these
frugal Muji postcard cases. Available for around 150 yen, these clear,
plastic cases store around 60 postcards and/or photos. Great for
keeping track of all your Japanese acquaintances! Also available at
2) Books, magazines
First of all, the following books can probably be trashed: old guidebooks
(5 years old or older), old info magazines, old book series and magazines,
old textbooks, old dictionaries, maps, travel books, novels you never
read again, and old catalogs.
Muji also has some of the sturdiest, cheapest, and lightest bookshelves
I've seen for a good price. The craft pulpboard boxes with two shelves are
1,980 yen, and are light enough to carry home on the train.
They hold up very well, and blend in with almost any interior.
3) Home decorative items, furnishings
The following items might be good candidates for the 'do not need'
pile: unused gifts from Japanese weddings or other events, unused
picture frames, unused flower vases, decorative items, etc., stuffed
animals from your childhood, and instruments, hobby, or sports items
that you no longer use.
(Note: Freecycle Japan is a good place to get rid of these!)
For the itmes that you do intend to keep, check out your nearby
100-yen shop for cheap but effective covers (for clothing, futons,
fans, heaters, etc.).
See the link below for an example.
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+++ FRUGAL TIPS
One very savvy reader offered the following suggestion on how
to use different savings accounts to help get through tight
"No matter how carefully you have planned your monthly expenditures,
there are are times when an unplanned expenditure leaves you short.
What I do is save term deposits in my postal account. When I am
short, I overdraw the postal account. I think I can overdraw to the
limit of the time deposits that are in force. When I repay the
overdraft I am charged interest but it is insignificant. I only
overdraw small amounts when I am really desperate.
Another condition I have for borrowing in this way is that I must
have confidence I can pay it back in a short time. The longest I
have borrowed by overdraft is two weeks. The interest really was
minimal. Doesn't happen more than once or twice a year but it sure
helps when you are desperate."
(Thank you for your comments! Keep writing!)
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+++ ABOUT US
Written by: Wendy J. Imura (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Edited by: JI
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