How Much I Spent Last Week Living in Tokyo

Working from home has been a double-edged sword: no commute is a plus, but less time for social interaction is a minus; ability to eat junk food away from the judgmental eyes of coworkers is a plus, but the toll a poor diet has taken on my waistline is a minus; can sneak a beer in during work hours without my boss knowing, but now my boss knows because of this article.

But on a more serious note, this change in work style has really shifted a lot of other aspects of living in Tokyo for me. I need to very much make it clear that this is just how I’ve adapted and reacted to the situation. I’m sure there are plenty of other different ways people are coping.

Without having to trudge to the office and back, the number of times I’m tempted to sneak a snack from a convenience store seems to have drastically decreased.

This led to me thinking, “Am I actually spending less right now than I was a year ago?” Overall, my gut feeling is that I’ve been spending less on miscellaneous purchases. My logic is that without having to leave my neighborhood everyday, I spend less time around possible shopping centers. But, I have been curious as to whether this theory holds up. To be honest, I hadn’t really paid attention to my spending habits before the shift to working from home, so I can’t make a direct one-to-one comparison, but I thought I should at least maybe get some data on what I can, while I can.

Since I’ve been staying at home, I feel like I’ve had less opportunities to make random purchases in convenience stores. Photo: Scott Kouchi

I’m not including big ticket items like rent or bills which would more-or-less be the same as a year ago. But I’m more interested in my spontaneous spending – something I have a habit of not paying attention to. So here’s my record of spending throughout last week (October 10, 2020 to October 16, 2020). I am rounding here for ease of mental math. Prices in Japan are not always ending in zeros like this.

Day Item Price
Saturday (October 10) Bouldering gym fee ¥2,100
Bottled water ¥100
Meal at Sukiya (fast food) ¥650
Transportation ¥400
Protein bar ¥180
Sunday (October 11) Cookies/baked goods ¥1,500
Bicycle parking ¥310
Sparkling water, soda, ume ice cream bar ¥300
Monday (October 12) Convenience store bento ¥500
Tuesday (October 13) Bento-ya bento ¥500
Beer ¥1,100
Cleaning supplies ¥1,700
Wednesday (October 14) Rum raisin chocolates ¥500
Thursday (October 15) Rum milk tea ¥550
Chocolate ¥300
Transportation ¥340
Grocery store produce ¥800
Friday (October 16)
Total ¥11,830

I know for a fact that there were multiple times last year where I’ve spent that much or more in one day on a night out in Tokyo.

Did knowing I was recording my purchases to share publicly have a subconscious effect on my spending? It’s possible, but I really didn’t make much of an adjustment from my recent habits. The chocolate/sweets spending for this week seems quite high, but I swear that besides what I purchased on Saturday the rest were picked up as gifts for friends.

I’m really bad at making sure I eat lunch on time, hence all the bento purchases throughout the week. But I used to eat out for lunch every day when I had to go to the office, so I think there’s still a slight reduction in lunch spending.

For a bit of a visual guide to how this week shook out for me:

Transportation-wise, I wasn’t too sure if I should record the exact cost of the station-to-station fee, or the amount of money I used to top up my Suica card. Photo: Scott Kouchi

I ducked into a cafe/jazz bar in Shinjuku to avoid some rain on Thursday. I planned on getting just a coffee, but something about “rum milk tea” really spoke to me at that moment. Photo: Scott Kouchi

This is what a 500 yen bento can look like in Tokyo. Chances are you’re never too far from somewhere where you can pick up a ready-made meal like this in Tokyo. It spent a couple minutes in my backpack as I trekked across town for lunch so please forgive the slightly unkempt appearance – rest assured it was still delicious. Most grocery stores will have some ready-made-meals, and you can find Bentoya (弁当屋) shops which specialize in preparing these meals. Beers in the background were not consumed during lunch time. Photo: Scott Kouchi

Various sponges, detergent, and floor wipes, etc. for cleaning up the apartment. Since I’m spending way more time around home it’s become apparent how important it is to keep everything nice and tidy. It says “QuickLe Handy” by the way. Photo: Scott Kouchi

One of the more luxurious purchases of this week was to get these fancy baked goods from Dokanyama Bake Shop in Nishi-Nippori. Worth it. Photo: Scott Kouchi

How has your spending been affected now that we’re exiting summer and entering fall? Let me know in the comments, or feel free to get in touch with me on twitter @howtotokyo!

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