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Monthly Financial Snapshot: November 2019

My first full month in Japan as a working resident is over.

I discovered that unlike the US, most companies here pay only one paycheck per month. My company in particular pays out one paycheck per month but it covers the previous month's salary! As a result, I only got paid for my 1.5 weeks of work in October and I have to wait until late December to receive my pay for November! Unfortunately, I am still on the hook for a full month's worth of pension payments even though I only worked a little over a week.

Also, unlike my last job I have to cover a larger portion (50%) of company-provided health insurance from my paycheck. One could argue that the splitting into company portion and employee portion in the US is purely semantics, but I doubt that my last company would have paid me the difference if I had to cover the full cost. Still, if you compare the costs between the two, insurance in Japan (even at a small company) blows US insurance out of the water. My portion of the premium here is a little over $150 / month (so total cost is $300 / month after including company portion) and it covers 70-90% of nearly all health-related costs (certain vaccinations like flu shot and dental procedures are not covered) with no deductible. My previous company had a total cost of $466 / month, and came with a deductible of $1,500 and only after then would insurance start paying for covered treatment. Combined with how much cheaper medical care is here than the US, I'm coming out way ahead. Especially considering how painless it is to use insurance vs fighting insurance companies in the US.

Due to my reduced paycheck, I ended up coming under the threshold for Japanese income tax withholding, so that should simplify my tax credit situation slightly early next year. I still need to do some more research on how taxation works for American ex-pats, as tax season is coming up and will complicate the paperwork compared to most years.

I also managed to travel a bit this month as well. I went to Sapporo with my girlfriend for the last weekend of the month and stayed in the same hotel we went to over the summer. This time, I was able to book it for 20k IHG points for 2 nights, which is much, much cheaper than their regular rate of 25k / night. This is because it was a hotel on IHG's quarterly Point Breaks promotion. I also got our flights for 20k United miles roundtrip, which is much better than the ~$520 it would have cost in to pay cash. Another win for travel hacking!

I did a better job at tracking my expenses this month, but I should have all the bugs ironed out by the time December is over.

Here's a summary of my expenses for this month:

Category November 2019 Comments
Rent $915.96 Normal monthly rent
Internet $0.00 Nothing this month
Cell Phone $19.81 Normal monthly payment
Natural Gas $14.98 First payment
Electricity $5.33 First payment
Water $0.00 Nothing this month. Water is billed every 2 months here.
Groceries $236.06 About in line with my old grocery budget
Transport $120.18 Airport trips responsible for most of this
Health $153.48 First month health insurance
Other $17.59 Mail forwarding
Necessary $1,483.40 Not too bad for first normal month
Restaurants $370.66 Mostly work lunches. Switching to packed lunch will save a lot here!
Entertainment $0.00 Nothing this month.
Shopping $627.45 Last of my apartment outfitting
Travel/Parking $0.00 Nothing this month.
Gifts/Donations $23.77 Souvenir for coworkers
Software/Games $2.00 Useful Chrome extensions
Business $0.00 Nothing this month.
Other $0.00 Nothing this month.
Discretionary $1,023.87 Not terrible, but I can do better
Total Expenses $2,507.27 Not terrible, but I can do better
Gross Income $1,738.11 1.5 week's pay + 6 month commuting reimbursement
Taxes $288.53 Pension (SS equivalent) + unemployment insurance
Net Income $1,449.58 Not much, but will go up next month when I get full month's salary
Savings -$1,057.69 Really, really low
Savings Rate -72.97% Really, really low
Net Worth $317,483.90 Slightly up from last month, even though I didn't save anything this month. Yay for compound interest!

Projected time to FI (assuming 6% growth and 4% withdrawal rate): 6 years, 1 months.

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