Closing Out the Books for January 2020

With two of our girls with us in Portland until the day before we left, nine days on Kaua’i, our usual travel day expenses, and then settling in once we got to Tokyo, we assumed we would go w-a-y over our daily spending average in January.

But that didn’t happen. We ended up with a daily spending average of $34.94, just under our $35/day limit.

Looking back, YaYu and WenYu helped us eat down all the food we had remaining in our Portland Airbnb and we spent very little during those final 10 days in Portland. We stuck to our pre-determined spending limits while we were on Kaua’i and left with cash in our wallets. Other than a couple of cups of coffee and two breakfast sandwiches, we bought nothing on our travel days and let our hotel or the airlines feed us. And, we “paid” ourselves upfront for a month when we arrived in Japan, a pre-determined amount of 80,000 yen, instead of using our debit card over and over. Because of that, we have carefully watched our spending so we don’t run out before our next “payday.” Our son and DIL have helped with a few expenses, such as our transportation from Narita airport, some local travel expenses, and a few meals at their home. Those have helped our bottom line as well.

We ended January with a total of ¥42,800 on hand out of our original ¥80,000 (¥23,000 for groceries, ¥10,800 for dining out, and ¥9,000 for miscellaneous expenses). We added $400 to that for commissary/exchange shopping which we did this past Saturday, February 1 (we have $146 of that remaining). There is zero yen left in the envelope for transportation but our PASMO cards still have over ¥4,000 on them which should last us for a while. We will replenish our yen supply again on the 15th of this month, withdrawing another ¥80,000 and dividing it among the envelopes.

Based on the current exchange rate, ¥80,000 equals around $740 (which means $60 gets left in our bank account). With the additional $400 in U.S. dollars we added in, we have a total of $1140 available for the month of February. Divided by 29 days, that’s an average of a little over $39/day for the month. However, the average will drop to around $24/day in March, so we’re challenging ourselves to keep our spending average as low as possible to get ready for that. Once again, fingers crossed!

10 thoughts on “Closing Out the Books for January 2020

  1. You two are amazing at the budget thing. Nice work!
    I am sending a fiend in Hong Kong N95 masks and vitamins….be careful over there!

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    1. Thanks – this envelope way is working well for us here. Plus, neither of us is in any sort of spending mood, which also helps.

      It’s hard to avoid crowds here, so if it takes off we may be in a bit of trouble. But so far they are monitoring the situation carefully and taking appropriate steps.

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  2. I’m always amazed at your ability to stick to a budget. Sounds like you are on target again. Impressive! 🙂

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    1. I think one of my “secrets” is over-budgeting; that is, basing our budget on how much we think things will cost and how much we will need to spend – usually we are way over which gives us some wiggle room to enjoy some extras. We were surprised in Portland though – things were higher there than expected and our budget barely covered things. We’ve overbudgeted for here this time, but are not in a spending mood (well, except for KitKats) so it puts us in a good place financially. March is going to be interesting though.

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  3. I started logging my discretionary expenses on January 1st. I had tried different budgeting apps, etc. but a notebook and pen are what work for me! It is very interesting to see where the money goes (I’m looking at you, eating out!) and then figuring out discretionary vs. needs. The first week a big vet bill for two dogs check ups and flea meds through me way out of line. But then I realized, that’s necessity, just like my own health. It also made me realize I shouldn’t adopt another dog right now ha ha! It has been very eye opening, and I also look forward to “no spend” days and feel like a champion!

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    1. Brett’s writing down EVERYTHING we spend every day has made a big difference in our spending habits – just a simple book, a pen, and a calculator. He tapes in all our receipts. We know every day where we’ve overspent and which areas are causing problems. And yes, some things are outrageous and you thing, “what the heck?” but then realize they are necessary.

      He loves writing “NO SPEND” across the page when those days happen!

      P.S. I love seeing your dogs – they are the cutest things!!!

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    1. We have to watch things carefully here – this is the one place we could really go crazy, although after this we’re not going somewhere where we can store items, so that makes it not a good idea to purchase things like we normally would (I’m a sucker for the dishes here, for example, and would love to buy more).

      I think though I over-estimated how much we would need for food, etc. But that’s turning out to be a good thing.

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  4. Wow! You spent less than 50% of what you had budgeted for while in Japan. Reading your posts, it doesn’t sound as if you are depriving yourselves and doing nothing/eating poorly. Good job 🙂

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    1. Yes, we’re at the 50% mark for our month’s spending, which is right where we wanted to be. The big commissary shop we did last weekend meant that we didn’t need to spend a lot at the Japanese grocery store this week, and we have a LOT of food on hand to get us through the next almost-three months. I also think I calculated high on how much yen we would need each month – we’ll see. Our only splurges so far have been for KitKats.

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