Before we suddenly had to leave Japan, we were on track to have a very good month, budget-wise. Our daily spending average on the day we left Japan was $20.50/day, nearly $4 below the very minimal spending limit we had given ourselves for the month of $24/day. We had a good supply of food on hand to get us through the rest of the month and until our departure in April (including those five jars of peanut butter I carried home on my own one day!). Our daily spending average for our entire time in Japan, beginning when we arrived in January, was $28.00/day, just $4 over our budget, and we were on track to get it down to $24/day.
Those numbers were partially the result of the pandemic slowdown in Tokyo which stopped many of our plans and kept us from spending. However, they also show that with careful budgeting, taking advantage of lower-cost benefits in the area (for us, that was the commissary or other military facilities), exploring local or neighborhood attractions, and watching and tracking spending carefully, it’s possible to live in an expensive location like Tokyo on less and still have a good time. We discovered we didn’t have to visit distant or famous locations in the city to find interesting and affordable things to do, or beautiful things to see, that there was plenty of all that right in our own neighborhood.
We are ending March though with a daily spending average of $42.94/day, the result of having to stock up on food for a long quarantine after our arrival back on Kaua’i, not just for us but for YaYu as well. We did a big food shopping at Costco the day we arrived, spent some more at Big Save Market the day after, and have picked up a few more things at the Princeville Foodland that we weren’t able to find earlier or forgot to buy (things like baking soda, green onions, carrots, ice cream, and toilet paper). We have enough though to get us through the next 11 days before we move over to our apartment. Many of the things we bought are pantry staples that will move with us and get us started in our new residence (the apartment actually has a pantry too!).
Although we won’t be traveling again for a long while, Brett is going to continue to maintain our daily spending journal, and I plan to continue reporting on our spending each month, especially since the cost of living in Hawai’i is so different than it is back on the mainland. Our stay in Japan was good preparation for us here as it can also be an expensive location. We’re going to continue much as we did in Japan, especially doing our food shopping once a week using a list made off of a weekly menu. We’re giving ourselves a daily budget of $20/day for food and gasoline beginning in April. It’s not very much but I think we’ll be able to manage with careful menu planning and shopping. Our car currently gets around 35/mpg so there’s lots of potential for saving when it comes to gasoline purchases (prices are currently low for Kaua’i too – gas at Costco is just $2.55/gallon right now), and with current stay-at-home orders we won’t be going out much anyway. We won’t be eating out any time soon as all restaurants on the island are closed, and there is no date scheduled for reopening (hotels are not expected to reopen until May 20 at the earliest). None of us need any new clothes either.
However, we will be spending quite a bit in the next two weeks to get ourselves ready to move into our new place, but those costs will be covered by savings. We have nothing here – no dishes, cookware, cutlery, utensils,, linens, furniture . . . nothing. Almost all stores on the island are closed, but there are enough open that we should be able to get some essentials to get us started (a sofa, a bed, a TV, towels, sheets, kitchen linens, a dish drainer, trash cans, some bakeware and a couple of pans for cooking). We will be shopping for those items with a list we have been putting together so we don’t overspend.
Our life is going to be an extremely simple one for a while, at least until our shipment arrives from Portland, whenever that may be. However, if Brett and I learned nothing else while we were traveling it was how to live the good life on less by making sure we tracked our spending every day. We’ve got this.