After all these years of living “the easy life” at least financially, I can finally understand what it means to be a “working poor”. Right now, I have never worked so hard while seeing so little money for it. It’s a bit complicated, because it is connected to how the Japanese tax system is working, so bear with me.
Essentially, in Japan, you pay taxes according to the amount of money you earned the year before. This is very nice if your salary increases quickly – one extra year of low taxes – but not so nice if you retire or become unemployed. Since my company only makes a small profit, I have been paying myself the same salary since the beginning, just enough to satisfy the Japanese Immigration Office. And this year, for the first time, I am being hit with the full amount of taxes. I didn’t pay anything in the first year, and only 5000 yen/month in the second. But this year, my taxes have tripled, although they are still at the lower end of the general national tax scale.
This tax increase didn’t come as a big surprise, but what really hit me was the enormous hike in health insurance, a system that works like taxes: you pay according to what you earned the year before. Last year, I paid about 5000 yen/month and I expected insurance to double, maybe. I wasn’t that lucky: I am now paying 25.000 yen each month, which is quite a blow.
So, at this point, after I have paid all my taxes, insurances, utilities, rent, etc. I am left with 50.000 yen spending money for the whole month. This is tough! I have tried to reduce some of my expenses for daily life (meaning: food), but there’s only so far you can go. While it should be possible to eat for 1000 yen/day, I have not managed that, probably because I am so addicted to the comparatively expensive bread. Most of the times I drink water anyway, so that’s not a big deal, but cutting chocolate – which I see as necessary “fuel” is very difficult. I might take this opportunity to lose some weight, which will cut down food costs automatically though.
Other expenses are relatively low in general: I have no expensive hobbies, plenty of clothing that will go for a while still (and I never liked shopping for clothes anyway), hardly ever go anywhere, and I even stopped buying books since the library is that close. Unexpected things do come up though – the brakes on my bicycle needed fixing last month for example, but even that was just a small amount. I hope that there won’t be any major things happening, because I want to avoid touching my savings (aka: my future house with garden) at all costs.
Altogether I think I can get by until I can raise my own salary, but I am worried a little about the coming winter because the heating will drive up my electricity bills. If anyone wants to help me over the cold here by sending me a food parcel, just let me know! 😉