FW-77 -- Frugal Favorites (Avoiding the Month-End Scrounge)

* * * * * * * * 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, October 25, 2005 Issue No. 77

- Frugal Favorites (Avoiding the Month-End Scrounge)
- Credits

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+++ FRUGAL FAVORITES (Avoiding the Month-End Scrounge)
(Note: While Frugal Watch author Wendy Jonas Imura is on
maternity leave, please enjoy a "Blast From the Past" - favorites
from past Frugal Watch issues. Wendy will resume new Frugal
Watch content in late October 2005.)

Dear Frugal Readers,

Ever come to the end of your pay period and realize you have less
than 10,000 yen to live on for a week? It happens a lot in Japan,
even if you're the author of a Frugal E-zine! In our case, we had
a large tax bill, several business trips, and other items that required
payment up front this month. As a result, our cash flow (i.e., how
much money is left in the main bank account) is lower than I'd like
it to be. While I've come a long way from searching under couch
cushions for 10 yen coins and charging my groceries (yes, I have
done both), I'm still not happy about this.

Luckily, we have savings and a plan for dealing with times like this,
but if you don't -- how can you avoid scraping the bottom of the
proverbial money barrel, as it were. Here are two helpful hints:

*Practically speaking, you'll do best if you arrange to pay all of your
bills or obligations as soon after your salary is paid as possible.
That way there are fewer surprises toward the end of the month.
In Japan, most companies pay salary around the 20th or 25th of the
month, while rent, utilities, and other bills are usually due by the end
of the month or first of the next month. If you arrange for automatic
withdrawal, be sure to write down the date of the withdrawal on your
calendar -- not having enough cash in your bank account will result
in a negative tick on your credit rating. Likewise, if you are paying
back student loans or send money home regularly, set a date each
month close to your payday to do the sending.

*If you're like most people, many of your major expenses over the
year (plane tickets home, auto insurance payments, tax bills, etc.)
can be predicted. If you plan to go home in December, or to vacation
in Thailand during April, start saving money for your tickets several
months ahead of time. A 120,000-yen ticket can be a budget-busting
expense all at once, but divided by three (40,000 yen/month), it's
much easier. I have several bank accounts for this purpose, and
transfer a set amount at the beginning of each month for my projected
large expenses.

Finally, keeping daily track of your expenses using a Japanese
household accounts book (called a 'kakeibo') is a great way to both
study the language and get a handle on how much you are spending.
I'll discuss how to do this another week, but for the time being a little
planning will probably help you avoid another barrel-scraping kind
of month.

Frugally Yours,
Wendy J. Imura

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

Copyright 2005 Japan Inc. Communications Inc.