Weekly Shopping

I spent hours yesterday afternoon chatting to friends.  None of us smoke and someone made a comment on how ridiculous it was to spend money on cigarettes when you could practically afford to go on an extra holiday a year if you stopped smoking.  I laughed and said that the same was true if you stopped buying coffee on the way to work. My friends looked sceptical, yet if you buy a grande latte from Starbucks in Tokyo every weekday of the year it costs more than 100,000 Yen (834 GBP, 1300 USD).

This lead to a more general conversation on the cost of living and how we don’t always know exactly how much money we spend on things.  (One person at the table had detailed financial records on every penny he spends, but he only started to do that when he realised that he wasn’t sure what he was spending his money on.)

When I was in Europe in August and September I was surprised at the price of food.  I believe that I spend a lot more money grocery shopping in Tokyo than I would if I lived in the UK, but I could be completely wrong.  If I had to guess I would say that I spend 4,000 Yen (33 GBP, 52 USD) a day on groceries.  28,000 Yen (231 GBP, 364 USD) a week seems like a lot of money to spend on feeding two people.  I imagine that we spend more money on food than the average Japanese couple, as I still buy some Western ingredients.  I know it would be cheaper to eat Japanese food every day but I haven’t adapted enough to eat Japanese food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  Of course my grocery shopping also contains non-food products, but then we also eat dinner out maybe once a week and Marty buys lunch every day.

I know that Tokyo is one of the world’s most expensive cities (Mercer’s 2011 Cost of Living Survey ranks it as number 2), which does mean that I expect to spend more money on food than if I lived in another city.  The Yen has also strengthened substantially over the past couple of years making everything feel expensive when I covert it to another currency.  But now I want to know exactly how much I do spend.  This will mean keeping records but maybe I’ll find out what I’m buying that’s equivalent to the grande latte or packet of cigarettes.

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