* * * * * * * * * 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, Sunday, 25 April, 2004 Issue No. 006


- What's new
- Frugal news
- Frugal tips
- Credits

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Dear Frugal Readers,
An interesting news tidbit arrived in my inbox a few days ago,
with an irresistible headline: "Create Ikea, make billions, take
bus -- IKEA founder Ingvar Kamprad flies coach, takes the subway
and drives an old Volvo, but could he be the richest man in the

Apparently, the celebrated entrepreneur is also a closet cheapskate!

Kamprad built Ikea from a one-man operation by first using his
village's milk van to deliver his products into the world's largest
furniture retailer, with annual sales of $12.2 billion. However,
he still apparently takes the subway to work, drives a 10-year old
Volvo, and is rumored to replace expensive hotel mini-bar Coca
Colas with cans bought from the store, to avoid overpaying. The
notoriously press-shy Kamprad admitted in a 1989 Fortune interview
that his frugal tendencies were loosening up a bit: "I seldom
wash disposable plastic glasses anymore."

People chuckling at this will probably sit up a bit straighter
when they realize that Kamprad's net worth is estimated at anywhere
between $53 billion (Swedish sources) to something a bit lower by
Forbes, which ranked him at No. 13 on its list of the world's
richest persons. While the $52.5 billion would rank Kamprad
higher than Bill Gates ($46.6 billion), there is no doubt that
Kamprad's burn rate is much slower than Gates's.

I was both inspired and encouraged by this article, as it offers
a rare association of frugality with wealth. While there is no
doubt that many other factors (including timing, ability, luck,
and the strong Swiss krona) played a much greater role in
creating Kamprad's wealth, something inside me believes that
his careful spending habits and frugal outlook helped create
what is special about Ikea today -- quality furniture at an
attractive price. Conscientiously pinching pennies alone will
not create wealth -- eventually, a higher income, regardless
of how it is achieved, becomes necessary. However, careful
spending habits can help build wealth more quickly, and also
make it last longer.

I'm not encouraging everyone to start washing out their
plastic cups (I choose to wash out Ziploc bags!) or denying
themselves an occasional celebration of their success. But
the example of Mr. Kamprad does provide a fascinating view on
how it is possible to be a "frugal billionaire."

Happy savings!
Wendy J. Imura

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*Makuhari Messe in Chiba, the site of famous international expos
like the Tokyo Motor Show and Tokyo Anime Show, is holding an
event that might be of interest to frugal persons in the Tokyo
area: the 10th Annual Makuhari Messe Doki Doki Flea Market.
This event is reported to be grand in scale (1,200 stalls each
day, for a total of 3,600!), and its timing is perfect: Sunday
May 2 to Tuesday May 4th from 10 AM to 5 PM. Exhibition Halls
1-8 will be used for the venue, and tickets are Y500 at the
door, Y400 ahead of time. A collector's antique market and
used car spot will also be featured, and FM Tokyo will be
DJing the event. Contact 043-296-9211 for details.

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Movies in Japan: The Best Bang for Your Buck

Let's face it, a night at the movies in Japan is usually a
pretty expensive proposition. The tickets alone are usually
Y1,800 per person. Add parking, food, and drinks, and you致e
easily spent over Y5,000 on a night for two to see the latest
flick. Plus, unless you can make it one of the beautiful
new suburban "cinecon" (cinema complexes), sometimes the
experience leaves a bit to be desired.

However, there a few ways to save money on your visit. Most
theatres, including Warner Mycal Cinemas, offer some variation
on the following special ticket prices: Ladies Day (Y1000
every Wednesday), Late Show Specials (Y1200 for shows starting
after 9:00), or special days (for example, Y1000 tickets
on the first of every month). Membership in a special program
(credit card or member's card) might get you a regular
Y300-Y500 discount. Another option is "pair tickets" pre-
sold for certain shows and theatres for Y2500 for two tickets.
Finally, convenience stores like AM/PM often pre-sell
tickets for popular shows at a discounted price, such
as Y1300/ticket. You can also get discounted tickets at
some 'kinken shoppu' (discounted ticket shops).

Another way to save a little money is to bring your own
snacks and drinks. Some of Japan's cinecon chains have
gotten pickier about this, but single-screen theatres
without a large vending service often don't mind customers
bringing in outside food and drinks.

Enjoy your night at the movies!

============================= EVENT ============================
Entrepreneur Association of Tokyo -- May Seminar

Russell Willis, President of eigoTown.com Limited will be presenting,
"geigoTown: Making A Consumer Website Work in Japan." Come out
and learn how he has generated 80,000 members, 200,000 unique
visits per month and much more.

Date: Tuesday, May 11 | Language: English
http://www.ea-tokyo.com Email: info@ea-tokyo.com


Written by: Wendy J. Imura (frugalwatch@japaninc.com)
Edited by: JI

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