Japanese frugal expert maintains daily 1,000 yen (HK$51) spending for over four decades

Yoko Ogasawara

5th May 2024 – (Tokyo) Yoko Ogasawara, a renowned “frugal guru” from Japan, has shared her money-saving insights, offering valuable tips to individuals seeking to cut down on their daily expenses. With an unwavering commitment to frugality, Ogasawara has lived on a mere 1,000 Japanese yen (approximately HK$51) per day for over 40 years. Her lifestyle choices, coupled with ten clever strategies, have enabled her to achieve both financial savings and environmental sustainability.

Appearing on the Japanese news program “Mezamashi 8,” Yoko Ogasawara, a 71-year-old frugal expert, has become widely known for her dedication to living within her means. She has been interviewed by numerous magazines and even authored a book on the art of saving money. By spending an average of only 30,000 Japanese yen (HK$1,531) per month on “clothing, food, and transportation,” Ogasawara has effectively demonstrated that a frugal and eco-friendly lifestyle is indeed attainable. Let’s delve into her ten painless money-saving techniques, some of which may surprise you!

Internet users who have followed Ogasawara’s story often sympathise with her frugal lifestyle, considering it a challenging way to live at her age. However, Ogasawara perceives her choices as not only benefiting herself but also contributing to environmental preservation and the greater good. Do you agree with her perspective?

Yoko Ogasawara humorously acknowledges her naturally thrifty nature, with saving money being her foremost hobby. During the program, the crew visited Ogasawara’s modest 3LDK (three-bedroom, living room, dining room, and kitchen) apartment, which reflects a simple interior design. Having divorced at the age of 30, Ogasawara has lived independently and, after reaching retirement age at 60, has relied on her pension (Japan’s retirement pension system) for the past 40 years. By spending just 1,000 yen per day, Ogasawara manages to spend less than half of what individuals living in metropolitan areas typically spend each month. Let’s explore how this thrifty lady saves money in her everyday life!

Being a tea lover, Ogasawara repurposes used tea leaves to make “tea-infused rice,” adding both nutrition and taste while reducing the need for additional ingredients. She avoids using a teapot and simply brews the tea leaves directly in a cup. Additionally, she tries to minimize the use of dishes, using only one bowl or plate whenever possible to save on water expenses for washing.

Ogasawara substitutes toilet paper for boxed facial tissues and claims she hasn’t used boxed tissues in several decades. A roll of toilet paper costs approximately 25 yen and can last for about 300 uses when tearing off 20 centimetres each time. In contrast, a box of facial tissues, which contains only 200 sheets, costs 60 yen, making it less cost-effective in Ogasawara’s view. She collects and clips receipts from her daily purchases, transforming them into a mini notepad using a clothespin. The blank backs of these receipts serve as memo paper, eliminating the need to buy stationery. Ogasawara ensures she squeezes out every last bit from tubes of lip balm, toothpaste, hand cream, and similar products. She suggests cutting open nearly empty tubes to discover the remaining usable contents, effectively maximizing their value. Additionally, she saves takeaway flyers provided by different restaurants. These flyers serve as placemats, reducing the need for dishwashing while enjoying the visual delight of food images, even during simple meals. Ogasawara advises having a financial plan and setting a daily spending limit in advance. She keeps the remaining money in her wallet secured with a money clip, reminding herself not to overspend.

Before going shopping, she writes a shopping list at home, only including essential items. Any other items not on the list are off-limits. To prevent impulse purchases, Ogasawara minimises her time spent inside stores, directly focusing on the intended items.

Just before checking out, she compels herself to return one item from her shopping basket. This peculiar method of decision-making has a direct impact on saving money. Ogasawara proudly claims that she has never spent a single yen on seasonings. Instead, she collects the complimentary seasoning packets that come with products like natto (fermented soybean) and instant noodles, making use of them when cooking rice. Rather than discarding used orange peels, Ogasawara dries them and transforms them into fragrant potpourri. She places these dried peels in small fabric bags and keeps them in her drawers, creating a pleasant scent while also repurposing waste.

Yoko Ogasawara’s frugal lifestyle and money-saving techniques may be extreme for some, but they serve as a testament to the power of mindful spending and sustainability. By adopting some of these practices, individuals can not only save money but also reduce waste and contribute to a more environmentally friendly lifestyle.

It’s important to note that while Ogasawara’s methods can be inspiring, it’s essential to find a balance that works for each individual’s circumstances and financial goals. What may work for one person may not work for another. However, taking small steps towards reducing waste, being mindful of purchases, and finding creative ways to repurpose items can make a positive impact on both personal finances and the environment.