How I’m Saving Money

cr: The Telegraph

Welcome to the world of budgeting!  This is more for me to keep me motivated on budgeting and saving money, because people out there know what kinds of methods I’m using.  I’m also always open to new and improved ways of budgeting, so let me know on your ways!  I’d love to hear them!

After moving to Japan, I started with ¥1000 in my bank account.  No, that’s not $1000, but I wish it was!  That’s about $10 USD.  That was it.  I had cash on me from the money we were told to bring over, but I was freaking out that I wouldn’t make it to my first paycheck.  Flash forward to now, I was just paid again (yipee!) and I’m happy to say that I have more than ¥1000 in my account.  Budgeting has been tough, but I’m sticking to it most of the time.  I even started a Saving Money board on Pinterest to keep me motivated.

When I first got here, I made some small financial goals, mainly how much I wanted to save in a year.  I gave myself an exact amount of how much I wanted to save in a year.  My savings would be strictly for my savings, nothing else.  I would love to own a car and a cute little house, with a nice kitchen someday, so that’s where my savings are going as of right now.  The car will probably come first, so slowly but surely, I will eventually save up money.  Next, I had a rough idea of how much I wanted to save monthly for my travel expenses.  I’m not traveling very far since I don’t have long breaks (I love living in the Kansai region!  Some of Japan’s best cities are within 2 hours!), but come winter time, I’m doing a ton of traveling.  I’m going to Seoul for a week plus three different weekend trips.  That’s a lot of money for transportation, food, shopping, and sightseeing.

So how am I doing all this money saving?  Well, I use this post as motivation and inspiration, because money saving can be done.  Audrey had less expenses than I do, but I use her post as a reference for how much spending I can do in a month.

I also began meal planning after reading some advice from Adrienne’s post.  Honestly, for the first few weeks I was doing great, but I have started to get lazy about it.  I need to get back on track and try to plan my meals.  Planning meals also helps me look for new fun recipes to try, especially Japanese recipes.  It’s one of my goals to become better at cooking Japanese food and to learn as many recipes as I can.

Now, let’s look at ways I’m cutting down on costs here and there:

Small Ways I Cut Costs Every Month: I’ll be honest.  I love to shop and I love to eat, so I do end up putting aside money for that each month, even though I would probably save a lot more money if I didn’t do so, but I would like to think that I’m saving money for those things but limiting my spending in other areas.  These are a few things that I can save money on and use elsewhere:

  1. I don’t drink.  I can live without alcohol and never have the urge to drink it, which definitely cuts costs.  It’s difficult to hangout with people though, because a lot of the outings here are all you can drink events.  But those cost ~$30, which is really expensive, especially if all I’ll be drinking is water or juice.  I could get about 4 bowls of ramen instead and be waaayyy happier.

  2. I have only one room lit at a time.  I try my hardest to turn off all my lights and unplug any cords I’m not using.  I’m not really sure what a “good” electric bill is, but I’m trying to keep the costs as low as possible.

  3. I barely eat fruit anymore. Okay, this is a super sad one, but fruit is literally gold here.  I’ve been craving mangoes and strawberries, but those fruits don’t exist in my market (plus it isn’t strawberry season.  Maybe later!).  I’m only willing to pay for bananas.  Cantaloupe costs about $7, and grapes, mandarins, and pineapples costs about $5.  I saw a $31 cantaloupe once, which is insane… The fruits here are also smaller than I’m used to in the US, except for the apples.  I had an apple for the first time in over four months today and it was better than any apple I’ve ever tasted back at home.  A few weeks ago, my friend and I bought a package of grapes and a package of sliced pineapple and spend the equivalent of $10 on those two things…  I WANT FRUIT!

  4. I have an awesome employer.  I didn’t really have a choice, but I love love love my employer.  I’m employed by my city’s Board of Education and I’m so happy to say that they’re really supportive and are willing to do a lot of things to make me feel comfortable.  I know that other English teachers in other cities have coworkers that leave them hanging and don’t really help them with anything.  My Board of Education recently bought me a new mattress because the old one I had was literally a rock.  I was really surprised that they bought it for me, but I’m so happy!  I can sleep better and not have to wake up with neck and back pains.

  5. I’ve cut out Starbucks.  Another sigh moment… Back at home, I drank Coffee Bean all the time and Starbucks when I couldn’t find a Coffee Bean.  Here, Coffee Bean doesn’t exist where I’m living and Starbucks gives me a stomachache.  I have no idea why, but it has forced me to stop drinking Starbucks *sad face*.  I need to find a Coffee Bean…

There are a lot of things that I probably could cut out (let’s just say that I love bakeries a little too much), but I try to live as simply as possible, because I know that I want to save up for traveling and other things down the road.  It isn’t an easy road though, I have a lot of learning to do!  Let’s just say you’re reading this from someone who spend $4 on (cute) virtual stickers for my texting app…

What types of things do you do to cut expenses here and there?  I would love to hear about it!



  1. Melanie Fontaine

    Great post, Mallory! Getting my behind down to do some budgeting is actually one of my goals for November! Or at least to track my expenses, that would be a step into the right direction. October has been a very expensive month for me, because I did a lot of travel planning, but at least most of that is paid by now, so it should be a bit better for the next two to three months. I think the two of us really sit in the same boat: Norway is so expensive and Japan probably as well! I rarely go out to eat here in Norway and I save my money for meaningful activities rather than stuff. I drink very rarely and if I do it’s in small amounts and with friends before we go out – drinks cost a fortune here!

    But you’re right, you kind of just have to make sacrifices: I know I mainly spend my money on travel and food, instead of shopping and sometimes that sucks, but I have chosen a few things that I care about a lot to spend money on and a few things that I know I can do without, just as you have :) But still, I could use a budgeting system! Have you seen this post: ? Maybe this could give you some help! :)

    Good luck!

    • Mallory

      Good luck with budgeting for November! It takes a lot of focus and dedication to stick with a budgeting system that works for you. There are so many temptations out there and slowly eat away at your money. You’re like me with the traveling, except all my trips are coming up. Hopefully I’ll have enough! I also need to buy a ton of winter clothes because right now, I have like 3 things… I’m not going to survive at the moment if I don’t buy anything.

      Let me know how your budgeting goes! I’m always looking for new ways to budget and learn :)

  2. Polly

    Excellent post. My biggest money saver is having an insane job in a luxury village in a forest. Weird, but there’s literally no way to spend money until I get back into the city at 730 or 8PM. I find removing myself from those extras really has been the best since I have a pretty weak will :)

    • Mallory

      Thank you! I’m pretty weak at times too, especially when I can smell the food… (seriously bakeries, go away!). I’m still learning to just walk away, but it can be so hard sometimes haha!

    • Mallory

      I loved your post about the envelope system and have been meaning to try it! I just need to get myself to withdraw money. I think the system would work for me since I do like withdrawing in large amounts so I’m not constantly going to the ATM.

      • Chelsea @ Lost in Travels

        awe thanks! you just have to find what works for you! and i’ve got to say i’m SO excited your going to seoul! i’ve actually never been there in the dead of winter ( we try to avoid it bc of the cold!) but know there’s amazing stuff to see there during that time!

  3. Aryn (Driftwood & Daydreams)

    So much truth! Saving is about prioritizing and deciding where you really want to put your money. My biggest problem is that I’m such a glutton and I love good food (especially cheese!) Every time I pass up buying brie I know it’s for a trip to France (and then I can get brie there, haha!)

    • Mallory

      I love too haha! It’s so bad, especially when I walk by a bakery and it smells amazing. Even though the bread isn’t expensive, it adds up after a while! I need to somehow hold myself back from bread.

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