Day 11: CALCULATE MY MONTHLY BUDGET
Do you have any idea what you’re spending your money on each month? I don’t. Not exactly. Should I? Heck yeah!
I pay the bills, I balance the checkbook, and I check the online bank account almost every day. But I couldn’t tell you how much my power bill increased this month or how much I’m spending on groceries or gas. Time to find out.
We have lived in the states for about a year and a half after 3 unforgettable years in Japan, and somehow it’s still a huge shock to see our list of monthly expenses! Bills, bills everywhere!
When you live overseas, you’ve got it made, especially if you live on base. Other than the 4 months we lived out in the cho, we didn’t have a mortgage payment, and we paid no utilities except for phone and cable. Almost anything you might need, lawn equipment, carbon monoxide detectors, loaner furniture before and after a PCS move, even plants (which of course my Black Thumb immediately killed), were provided for you. We even landed a brand new oven when we were awarded “Yard of the Month” (thanks to those free lawn mowers and weed wackers).
If a toilet overflowed, you called the housing office. If you couldn’t read the Kanji on the remote control for your air conditioning unit, you called the housing office. If your refrigerator wasn’t cooling your Asahi’s to your liking, you called the housing office. And within hours of these phone calls, a smiling Japanese man was ringing your doorbell, removing his shoes, and fixing whatever grievance you could conjure, bowing as if it were his pleasure to fix your toilet, pantomime the various features on the A/C remote control, and servicing your fridge so that your Japanese beer was properly chilled. Ahh, that was the life.
Friends who PCS’ed before us warned me to save money while in Japan because life was different in the states. But we didn’t heed their advice. We were too busy traveling to places like Thailand and Korea and purchasing Japanese furniture at USO auctions to even consider saving the extra money we were earning overseas. And I have to admit that I don’t regret it. I wouldn’t trade my step tansu or the beautiful cherry blossom wood block print or the memories of the amazing sites we saw and food we ate for all the BAH in the world.
But I digress. I could reminisce about Japan for days (and beware, I’ll probably continue to find reasons to incorporate Japanese reveries into my daily posts). What I really meant to say is that my monthly budget is successfully calculated.