Reflections on a Frugal Japanese Life

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It is no secret that Americans are not good at saving.  

In fact, before the economic downturn, Americans were only saving 1% of their income according to The Atlantic.

Compare that to the Japanese, who save 25% of their income, down from a high of 30 to 35% according to Maki, the Japanese woman behind the blog Just Hungry.

My husband was born in Japan and lived there the first 25 years of his life, so I asked him about his experience growing up.  He was at first hesitant to share because he is nearly 40, so he doesn’t feel his family is representative of the way things may now be in Japan.  Still, this is his family’s experience, which I find to be in stark contrast to many American households, even 30 years ago.

His Parents’ Backgrounds

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Should You Charge Your Boomerang Kids Rent?

Years ago, children graduated from high school, got a job and shortly thereafter got married, bought a home and had children.

This pattern may have been delayed a few years as more and more people obtained college educations, but the pattern remained basically the same.

Now, however, the number of adult children living with their parents has skyrocketed.  In fact, as recently as 2010, Calculated Risk shared that nearly 13.5% of individuals ages 24 to 35 lived at home with their parents.  This group has even been given their own name—Boomerang Children–because they leave the nest for some time but then return back home, sometimes for years.

If your adult child has moved back in, should you charge them rent?

Why Do Adult Children Move Back Home?

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Use Alternative Housing Arrangements and Save on Your Next Vacation

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The family vacation is pricey.

According to Free Money Finance, in 2007, the average American spent $1,654 on their summer vacation.

If the vacation is a week long, that is approximately $236 a day, of which I am guessing accommodations are a large portion of the expense.  If you are a family of four, you may be able to stay in cheaper hotel accommodations, but if you have three or more children, hotel stays get to be tricky (and expensive) because most hotels will only sleep 4 to a room and want you to buy two rooms or a suite, both expensive options.

If you would like to minimize your expense for accommodations on your next vacation, there are several hotel alternatives.

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The Financial and Physical Toll Caused by Lack of Sleep

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Did you get up today and stumble to the coffee maker to make your coffee because you needed the caffeine to wake up?

Do you have dark circles under your eyes and yawn throughout the day?

If so, you may be part of the growing ranks of Americans who are chronically sleep-deprived.

There are many reasons for sleep deprivation ranging from staying up too late to watch tv, trying to do too many tasks, having children (who are notorious sleep robbers), having an overloaded schedule including working full-time and caring for children and a home, to more serious causes such as insomnia and sleep apnea.

Whatever the cause, chronic lack of sleep can have a high toll on your finances.

We are trained to reward those who push themselves, who stay at the office late, work hard, and short change themselves on sleep every night so they can get more done.

However, this societal norm should change because Americans’ lack of sleep has very expensive consequences.

Consider the following financial and physical tolls caused by lack of sleep:

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How to Get Your Spouse More Involved in the Family Finances

In many marriages, there is the financial geek who enjoys setting the budget, paying the bills,  and managing the money. 

Often the other spouse wants no part of the finances.

While this is not always the case, it is true for many marriages.

This arrangement may work well for awhile, but over time, the spouse who handles the money may feel burdened by being the sole financial executor, especially if the family struggles with debt.

While the financial geek may never get his or her partner as excited about finances as he or she is, there are some ways to get your spouse involved more.

How You Can Get Your Spouse More Involved in the Family Finances

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Earth Day Freebies and Deals – and a Little History Too

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Earth Day was first held on April 22, 1970, and it was lead by Senator Gaylord Nelson from Wisconsin.

Nearly 20 million people participated and today, 42 years later, we still celebrate Earth Day, but now, 175 countries celebrate Earth Day.

Earth Day 2012 will also be celebrated on April 22nd (and will be celebrated on that date at least until 2015).

The primary purpose of the day is to bring awareness to environmental issues as well as to focus on reducing, reusing, and recycling.

Of course, proponents of frugality recognize that the things we do to keep Mother Earth healthy are the same things we can do to keep our finances healthy.  By reducing, reusing and recycling, we become more financially conservative.

When you buy a used car, shop at garage sales or your thrift stores or hold your own garage sale or donate items you no longer use, you are saving money and keeping items out of the landfill, which is a win-win.

To celebrate Earth Day this year, several retailers are offering freebies or discounts.  There are plenty of great offers to take advantage of:

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The Cost of Food Waste and How to Prevent It

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Every week you clean out the refrigerator, and every week you may find some food to throw away—broccoli you didn’t get to eat before it went bad, leftovers from last Tuesday night’s dinner, lettuce that can no longer be revived…

If you are throwing away food on a weekly basis, you are not alone.

According to The New York Times, Americans throw away 27% of their available food.  This includes waste from people’s homes, restaurants and grocery stores.  Timothy Jones of the University of Arizona, who studies food waste, estimates that the average family of four wastes $600 in food each year.  (TLC)

The Financial Cost of Food Waste

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