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Money Saving Tips

General Apartment Maintenance
Taking care of what you have is cheaper and easier than buying new stuff!

  •  Clean or replace filters so they run more efficiently (air-con, fans, fan heaters and vacuum)
  •  Adjust temperature settings in the fridge depending on season
  •  Turn off gas in the bathroom and kitchen when not in use.


  • The “dry” setting on the air-con uses less power—best used in summer only. Look for 除湿 (joshitsu) or ドライ (dorai).
  • Arrange furniture depending on the seasons.
  • Close off unused rooms in winter and summer—it’s not economical to heat/cool the whole apartment.
  • Put plastic on the windows in winter to prevent drafts and retain heat. Can be done with a large roll of plastic and double-sided tape.
  • Eat seasonally. Consider light foods in summer and warm foods in winter to be another supplementary cooling/heating device. These foods are also in season and cheap.


  • Take stock of apartment contents BEFORE shopping. There’s some good stuff among the junk.
  • Ask colleagues/neighbors if they are discarding any big items. They don’t want to pay to recycle them and you don’t want to buy something—everyone wins!
  • Share with neighbors—how many vacuums, cleaning supplies and ironing boards does one jutaku need?
  • Hand-wash delicate clothes. Take care of what you have and you won’t need to shop for more.
  • Point cards or stamp cards are used at almost every kind of shop. Simply, the more you buy the more rewards you get. They are most useful at electronics stores where big purchases accrue points quickly, or at shopping centers or department stores where one card can be used at all the shops within.
  • Two big nationwide sales start in early January and on July 1st, lasting about one month or until all merchandise has been cleared out. The first week can see discounts of around 30%, while by the third week prices are slashed by as much as 50%. Bargain hunters should arrive early. Those who have even a modest dislike of crowds should stay home.

Mobile Phones (keitai denwa)

  • Know your keitai plan—talk time and email allowance, repair fees, etc.—and stick to it. Pick up a brochure in English and check your billing statements for hidden charges. If you talk or text a lot, find the plan that is most appropriate for you.
  • Sign up for a keitai company or ISP with friends. Emailing/calling others on the same network or signing up in groups is often cheaper.
  • Resist keitai-emailing your neighbor downstairs.
  • Japanese keitai can send to and receive from web-based email. Email from a computer when possible.



  • Fare adjustment machines in train stations only adjust up. You will not get a refund for alighting before your intended stop. If unsure about your destination, buy the cheapest ticket and adjust when you get off.
  • Keep up with maintenance to prolong the life of your wheels—pump bicycle tires free at gas stations and grease the chain, and store in a covered area if possible. Don’t miss your car’s oil changes every 5000km.
  • Bike or walk locally. Traffic makes travel by bus and car much slower than going by your own steam.
  • Use self-serve gas stations instead of full-serve—and get a point card.



  • Cook at home.
  • Shop in the evening. Markdowns on bento, salads and some produce can begin as early as 4pm and drop every hour until 7pm.
  •  Point cards are not just the domain of shops. Many restaurants and cafés have them too.
  • The cost of overpriced vending machine drinks—and the single-use containers they dispense—add up. BYO cup and drink of choice to work and keep it at your desk.
  • Try lunch at your school’s cafeteria. It’s astonishingly good and priced cheap for student budgets. Curry rice about ¥270, udon from ¥170. Typically in high schools only.
  • Teachers in rural areas often work their families’ farms. Bags of seasonal fruit—and pounds of it—may suddenly appear on your desk. Express gratitude with omiyage.


Money Management

  • Pay bills by automatic withdrawal. Tracking your expenses is easier with everything recorded in your bankbook, and it saves paper.
  • Send large amounts of money home regularly. The remittance fees will be offset by higher interest rates overseas, and it is much harder to spend money you no longer have access to.