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Sometimes it helps to look toward other cultures for new ideas and a fresh perspective. If you’re looking for ways to be extra frugal, here are 9 things we can learn about frugality from Japan.
1. Biking for All
Each month, you probably spend a significant sum of money on both your car insurance and gas. Add maintenance into the equation and your car needs its own budget. In Japan, however, people bike regardless of their age. Even if they do own vehicles, they are not putting as much wear and tear on them as you likely do to your own car. Starting to bike everywhere can seem overwhelming, and doing so might be impossible if you have a long commute. Start slowly; plan to go for a decent bike ride at least once or twice per week.
2. Use Public Transportation
For some people, riding bikes (especially on a regular basis) is impossible. You may have a physical ailment that prevents you from doing so, or you might live too far away from your school or place of work. In that case, take another hint from the Japanese; use public transportation more often. Paying for a train ticket or a subway is unlikely to cost you as much as gas and car insurance do. Depending upon how urban the area you live in is, you may have the chance to sell your car, generating even more funds.
3. Saving Money
Setting aside money is a step that many people would like to take on a more regular basis. In fact, many Japanese housewives often have a secret savings account that their husbands don’t know about. While you don’t necessarily need to hide money from your spouse, you can find more effective ways of saving. For example, set it up so that whenever your check is directly deposited into your bank account, part of it goes into a savings account. Choosing a savings account with a maximum number of withdrawals per month helps you to keep more funds in there too.
4. Select Living Spaces Wisely
In the United States, many people are focused on how large their houses are, and pressure about that can come from relatives and friends too. The Japanese do not place this much emphasis on ostentatious appearances. While you do not necessarily have to join the tiny house movement, you should consider how much room you really need. The smaller your dwelling is, the less likely you are to pay a lot of money for rent or your mortgage. Also, you’ll have smaller areas to heat or cool down.
5. Control Your Heating
When the winter temperatures arrive, you are probably tempted to put the heat all the way up and warm every room in the house. However, in Japanese culture, people usually just warm the room that they are currently in. With an open layout plan, this strategy can work well at keeping the house warm. Also, you will not have to pay as much money because you are warming a smaller space. Just keep in mind that space heaters can pose a danger. If you plan to use them, you must make sure that they are off and unplugged when you exist the room. Also, they can be dangerous when you are sleeping.
6. Control Your Air Conditioning
Just as the Japanese prefer to heat up one room at a time, you can also cool down one room at a time. A central air conditioning unit makes for a cool retreat on a hot day, but window units can provide the same effect. You can then turn them on and off depending upon the temperature, and once you leave one of the rooms, no reason exists for the unit to stay on. Not only are you saving money, but you are protecting the environment as well.
7. Decrease the Meat
When you go out to dinner or visit the supermarket, you likely recognize that meat products tend to cost more than the rest. One way to follow the Japanese and to save more money is to work on eliminating meat when possible. You don’t have to follow a full vegetarian or vegan menu to achieve that goal. Starting small is often the best way to bring changes into your routine. Consider deciding that for one or two nights per week, you won’t eat any meat. When you see how much more money you have remaining after shopping trips, you may feel more inclined to keep up with this new plan of eating.
8. Limit Overall Consumption
If you dined with a family in Japan, you may see that the portions are much smaller than what individuals in the United States are used to. The smaller the portions are, the less money you are going to spend on them. Instead of working to remove only meat for many of your meals, think about the other unnecessary items you are eating. Not only can you save money, but you can also start to work on getting your body into a healthier state.
9. Consider Hair Treatments
Every day, you might put a number of substances into your hair because you want your strands to stay straight. With the amount of product that you use, you’re also constantly running to the store to stock up on more, which just depletes the sum in your bank account even more. Consider Japanese hair straightening procedures. While you will need to pay more money upfront, you can start to see the savings effects in the long term, and you’ll have more time to attend to other tasks.
Following these tips from the Japanese culture is a great way to save more money on a regular basis. On top of that, these suggestions help you to take better care of your health and to do your part in maintaining the natural world as well. Do you know of any interesting cultural nuances that can help you save money? Let us know down in the comments below.