Making the most out of your money

Let’s face it, 2020 was a pretty bad year all around. Us foreigners living in Japan have had a particularly bad time not being able to go back home, but for many this has also been a time to tighten their belts, especially small business owners and contractors.

If you find yourself in a tight spot financially, here are some tips that might help you:


Obviously “cook” is always great advice, but that’s not the only thing you can do to save money. Avoid convenience stores and buy your things at 100 yen stores or wholesale markets like Costco. Yes, Japan has Costco! My nearest one is a few minutes away by bicycle. Not everyone will be so lucky, but a short trip every now and then is well worth it, especially for non-perishables and long-lasting foods.

If you buy at a supermarket and want to buy ready meals, wait for the sales at the end of the day, when they discount unsold foods. Also, some supermarkets are much cheaper than others. OK Store is one of the cheapest ones I’ve found, and is even cheaper if you get an OK Store card.

Second-hand shops are also popular in Japan, so consider buying some of your things in one of them if you don’t need brand new things.

Also, don’t buy from vending machines. One bottle a day is 40,000 yen at the end of the year! Make your own tea.


Yes, at the risk of sounding like a corporate shill, I’m just going to go ahead and recommend you to use all the services of a single company. I can’t recommend the Rakuten ecosystem enough. You get points for using the Rakuten point app, which is linked to your Rakuten credit card, which is linked to your Rakuten bank account…

Then there’s Rakuten mobile, which is free for the first year and then zero to 3,000 yen a month, depending on how much data you use. If you almost always use wi-fi, it will remain free forever. Needless to say this is much cheaper than the other big players. This alone will save you hundreds of thousands of yen over a single two-year contract.

All these services feed into themselves and you’ll end up not only saving money, but getting tens of thousands of points (read: yen) a year. You’re bound to get around 5% of all your money back. If you spend, say, a million yen a year through your credit card, that’s 50,000 yen you’re getting back.

Also, if you invest through them you somehow bypass paying taxes on that, since you can invest in “points,” rather than actual money. Sneaky. Better make use of that before the government closes the loophole.

Next time we will talk about some more ways you can save money, stay tuned.

Hi, I’m Sergio.
I’m from Spain, lived in the UK for seven years and came to Japan in 2012.
I majored in journalism in London and have been teaching English in Tokyo.
I like traveling, cycling, photography, movies, and spending time with friends.
I wrote articles about life in Japan as a foreigner and anything that I might find interesting.
My email is ” “, by all means contact me about anything!


Related links:
How to spend Christmas and New Year’s in Japan during the pandemic
Health insurance system in Japan:健康保険制度(けんこうほけんせいど)
Hospital System in Japan
A flow of getting medical checkup:診察の流れ




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