Tuesday, June 9, 2009
It is very true that Tokyo is one of the most expensive cities in the world. You must have money to survive in Tokyo; at least a decent amount of money. Unless you are living off of daddies bank account, you also must have a job which provides you at least around 200,000 a month just to be able to avoid living on the streets. I have met a few people who are pretty much homeless, because they lack the ability to hold down a steady job and spend money like water. For example, I know this guy who runs around Shinjuku often. He has no job yet somehow survives in Tokyo. He usually has to do all kinds of crazy shit just to get by. He sells pot, pimps a few young gals looking for some spending cash, pimps himself out to lady boys, and has a few mama-sans. Yeah, his life is tough for sure. So, if you don`t want to live as hardcore as him I suggest you spend your money wisely.
If you got a stable gig in Tokyo you must be fully aware of how hard it can be to survive from day to day while maintaining some kind of budget. Hell, just trying to manage daily spending during an average work day can be a real pain in the ass. Almost everything has an overpriced tag on it. From experiencing the chaotic lifestyle I have build for myself here in Tokyo, I have developed a few tricks to stretch my yen out a bit.
1) Getting your coffee fix
Coffee is pretty much the liquid of life in Tokyo. There are enough coffee shops in Tokyo to give Seattle a run for its money. I assume that most Tokyojin drink a good amount of coffee every day. All that coffee can really put a dent on the old wallet after a while. The price of the coffee does not always equal the quality. Some shops are expensive coffee which tastes like dog shit, while others shops featuring cheap coffee taste like the nectar of the gods. If you want to save money on your coffee hit a mister doughnut. They got coffee for under 200 yen, although cheap it really does taste like crap; and you cannot smoke. For the highest quality and best price hit a Doutor. You can get a glass of ice or hot coffee for 200 yen.
2) The lunch time hustle
A common issue for just about everyone is how to get a cheap yet decent bit to eat on lunch break. It can be a little hard to get the cheapest lunch when you are pressed for time. It is easy enough to hit up a McDonald`s or some other fast food spot; yet that is not the healthiest or cheapest option. There are several Japanese fast food places which have kind of low prices, but they are still not the best deal for someone living in Tokyo on a budget. For a real cheap lunch hit up a convenience store. There are convenience stories all over the place. There is always one within short walking distance in Tokyo; as well as most of Japan for that matter. Usually I can have lunch for between 250 to 350 yen. I can have lunch for 250 yen if I do not get a drink. Two rice balls will cost me just about 250 yen. I can drink some water from the sink in the restroom at work. If I do decide to get something to drink, I can usually find a vend machine offering a small drink for 100 yen.
Thinking more in a month to month basis, packing a daily bento really is the best option. A bento is a Japanese lunch box; kind of like the one mother used to make for you in Jr. High. They are very popular and there are many different types. For saving money off the monthly budget, just make the damn thing at home the night before. When I pack a bento to work I usually have a couple of rice balls and stir fry or even jazzed up leftovers from last night`s dinner.
It is very true that many people in Tokyo drink heavy. It is just the way it is here. People work their balls off and need to unwind after work. Well, drinking can get expensive if you drink on a regular basis. Of course you can find bars which offer really cheap beer. Hell, I know of a few places which offer a glass of beer for 300 yen. Yet, we cannot always hit up a bar and keep within out budget. A good way to catch a decent beer buzz and not break the bank is to simply drink on the street or at the station. I know that some people will turn their noise up to such an idea but it really saves money in the long run. All you have to do is hit up a convenience store; where you can get cans of beer for under 200 yen in most cases. After you stock up on enough beer to catch a decent buzz, find a nice little spot outside. It is great for people watching and enjoying the energy of the night.
So, there are just some things I do on a daily basis to save a little yen. While I am not rich by a long shot, I do earn enough money that I could spend a little more if I wanted. At the end of the month I can see how my yen cutting efforts have paid off. My bank account never runs low and I can still have a hell of a good time. Even if that good time is somewhat lowdown and lacking class.
This post is my entry for this month`s J-blog matsuri. It is hosted this month by tune-in-Tokyo. If you fancy getting some extra attention for your blog submit a post. This months topic is `living in a budget in Japan.`