Monthly Financial Snapshot: April 2024

April is US tax month, and I owed a few hundred dollars due to my previously-mentioned slightly-too-large Roth conversion. I also surprisingly received a bonus from my company, which is the first time that’s happened since I’ve worked in Japan. All the more reason to like where I am! This month, the yen fell even further, hitting 160 to the US dollar at one point. I’m pretty sure that the Japanese government did another intervention, as the yen has dropped below 155 this week, but unless Japan raises its interest rates or the US lowers its rates, I don’t see why it won’t continue creeping up over the near term....

May 4, 2024 1 min

Monthly Financial Snapshot: March 2024

So, I’ve managed to survive the worst of the pollen season without too much suffering. The medicine I’ve been taking seem to have helped a bit, but still not 100% symptom-free. Helpfully, the weather forecasts here include detailed predictions of pollen, so on high pollen days it helps to stay inside. Wearing a mask 😷 also helps too. Pollen season is followed closely by sakura season, and I’ve been able to go out and enjoy the cherry blossoms once or twice so far....

April 4, 2024 1 min

Monthly Financial Snapshot: February 2024

Another month of 2024 in the bag. Weather is starting to warm up here, but with that comes cedar pollen, and with that comes my allergies. I’ve been on a sublingual immunotherapy treatment for the past 9 months, but it appears to not be completely effective at preventing my symptoms, at least so far. Until the pollination season passes in about a month or two, I try to avoid going outside too much and need to hang my laundry indoors....

March 3, 2024 2 min

Monthly Financial Snapshot: January 2024

Current exchange rate: 148 (boo) Market movement: up The first month of 2024 is over already, although it still feels like the year has just begun. US tax season is also fast approaching. I’ve done it enough times by now that the whole process only takes me a few hours, although there are a few extra wrinkles this year. Now that I’m married, I can no longer file as Single, but I also can’t file jointly as my wife is not a US citizen or permanent resident and thus, shockingly, has no desire to start declaring and paying US taxes....

February 3, 2024 2 min

Monthly Financial Snapshot: December 2023

Current exchange rate: 141 Market movement: up 2023: over Been quite busy the last few months, and forgot to do my regular posts. Now that the year is winding down, I have some time to catch up. The US trip in September-October was a success: got to see all the family we were going to see, the travel logistics worked out, and jet lag wasn’t too debilitating. Following that, my partner and I officially got married in October, but didn’t take formal wedding photos until this month....

December 31, 2023 1 min

Monthly Financial Snapshot: August 2023

Current exchange rate: 146 Market movement: down US travel: planned! I finally pulled the trigger on this year’s US trip. I wasn’t able to get the absolute lowest flight prices I saw (at one point I saw tickets for under $1,000 RT per person, but I hesitated and prices went up again), but they were good enough to be worth getting. Since my family has mostly dispersed away from California over the last few years, it’s more complicated to plan a visit to see everyone....

September 17, 2023 2 min

Monthly Financial Snapshot: July 2023

Current exchange rate: 143 Market movement: up US travel plans: still undecided Another mostly uneventful month. One event coming up is that I will finally start selling off my I bonds that I purchased in 2021 (already sold a week before I’m writing this) and 2022 (will sell in early January 2024). Because US interest rates have settled down compared to previous years, the interest payments on I bonds has dropped as well....

August 13, 2023 2 min

Monthly Financial Snapshot: June 2023

Late update because there wasn’t too much that happened last month. As before, I’m still waiting on US flight prices to improve for a trip home. I did plan a Beppu trip for August, so have that to look forward to. Not sure about Sapporo though. The Yen is still at about 140, so pretty weak. The market went up a bit, but I honestly haven’t been paying much attention....

July 23, 2023 1 min

Monthly Financial Snapshot: May 2023

Still waiting on US flight prices / availability to go back to a somewhat reasonable level. United decided to do a surprise mile devaluation a week ago, so now Economy US-Japan flights are 55k miles each way, minimum. Previously to the devaluation, you could get flights for 35k miles, and occasionally below that. I have about 53k miles stranded at United after I had to do a last-minute cancellation for a planned US trip in April, and this devaluation has all but eliminated any reason to use United miles for an upcoming trip, unless there are no better alternatives....

June 8, 2023 2 min

Monthly Financial Snapshot: April 2023

Booked some upcoming weekend travel for this spring and summer. I’m trying to figure out whether I can do a US trip this summer / fall, but the flight prices are so expensive now that Japan has reopened for tourism and now apparently everyone else in the world must be traveling here. Even award flight availability is pretty scarce as the airlines would much rather fill the plane with people willing to pay a premium to be there....

May 1, 2023 1 min