Just Arrived in Japan… and Saving Money?

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When I came to Japan 8 years ago as a fresh faced new ALT, I had a thousand expectations, but three main goals:

  • Have as much fun as possible.
  • Visit Tokyo ASAP.
  • Save up some money.

I accomplished the first two of those goals with flying colors.

However, saving money while working in an entry level position is tough, and this is never truer than in the beginning of your career in Japan.

As I mentioned, I wanted badly to go to Tokyo. That means a costly train ticket and a hotel fee not to mention the money I would inevitably drop in the retro game stores in Akihabara.

My wallet didn’t stand a chance.

Even after I got back from Tokyo and starting having more conventional experiences, the costs kept adding up. I wanted to accomplish my goal of having maximum fun, so I was going out a lot out on the weekends. I wanted to be social and practice my Japanese, so I attended most of the “optional” work meetings with my coworkers, which meant a lot of sake, which meant a lot of money.

That doesn’t even take into account that I was planning on taking a trip back home to the United States during the first winter vacation after I’d left for Japan! After I realized I was saving approximately zero yen, I nixed the idea until the following summer vacation.

For those that have been looking forward to the chance to work in Japan for years like I did, the allure of “making the most of it” is strong. So strong, that many people forget that they still have a life to lead after their honeymoon period in Japan. I attempted to keep my honeymoon period rolling by never letting the nights out and weekends traveling end.

While fun, it didn’t set me up very well …continue reading