Practical Financial Advice

Sep 21,2011

It just so happens that lots of us are feeling the slump, and if you're not used to being poor it may take some lifestyle adjustment to keep from starving in what as known in Japanese as the fukeiki (literally, "no cake") period.

There are actually things many legal aliens don't know, even if they've been here for a long time, because natives take their money-saving practices so for granted that they're unable to explain them to us when we ask. Thus, I'd like to pass on just five tidbits that I picked up the hard way. Only five because that's all I have time for today.

1. Supermarkets all have different days when different things are marked down. For example, at my local supermarket Friday is egg day and eggs are half price. On another day frozen goods are half price, and so on. Stock up on those items on those days. Also, shopping at night is good for finding perishable items such as fish marked down 20, 30, or 50%. Buy them then and keep them in the freezer.

2. Shop online when possible, because you can actually save by buying in bulk that way. At supermarkets you generally lose by buying in bulk. There are some sites in particular that are really good for that, but I'm not sure it's totally kosher to plug commercial enterprises on a government website. Do some searching.

3. Make sure your appliances are clean and running well. An old, inefficient refrigerator or a clogged-up air conditioner filter can actually crank your utility bills way up. You can save still more money by avoiding using them at all unless absolutely necessary for survival. Sweat it out in the summer and wear layers in the winter.

4. Create a monthly budget. Figure out what your expenses are going to be and how much it will take to cover them, and set each of those amounts aside before the beginning of each month. If you have a tendency to drop lots of cash going out and getting sozzled each weekend, force yourself to limit that by strictly adhering to a low budget for that particular expenditure.

5. If you're going to travel anywhere, schedule it around the times when airlines offer package deals that could save you a lot on airfare and hotel stay combined. Here in the airport, those flyers are constantly available. Come by and pick one up.

And while you're in the neighborhood, drop in and tell me how much you love my blog.

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