The Month-End Rich Man

At lunch today, as I packed a chicken cutlet bento from Lawson convenience store and got back to my seat, my colleagues went, “Wow, such luxury.”

The bento cost 590 yen but to put things in perspective, it’s more common for someone to get something between 300-500 yen from a convenience store, which is also what I normally get. But the reason for my mini splurge was because tomorrow’s pay day and I’ve still got a little bit of left over from the allowance I gave myself this month, so I decided to treat myself a little better. After all, it’s still convenience store food.

When I told that to my colleagues, I realized I work the opposite from what I usually hear from people. It’s probably more common for people to feel poor toward the end of the month, but for me, since I don’t give myself a lot of allowance monthly, I try to control my expenses early in the month and sometimes end up having more to spare toward the end. Yes, I’m the month-end rich man.

Well, sometimes.

I’ve experienced a few times being a month-end poor man when I spent too much at the beginning of the month and end up having not enough for food toward the end of the month. I would then try to get more side jobs to fund my meals or if they aren’t enough, sell stuff that I no longer use. In that sense, I’m “living paycheck to paycheck.” It’s not that I’ve got no savings but if I dug into my savings, I would end up not saving at all. That was what happened in my first few years in Japan when I always thought I’d have something to save at the end of the month but more often than not, end up with nothing extra.

As part-freelancer, however, spending more and eating out makes more sense for me in order to reduce my taxable income. It’s probably not going to bring me down one tax bracket, but at least it will not only reduce my income tax, but also the following year’s pension, insurance, and residence tax. This made me wonder, what the optimal amount of expenses is for each income bracket. I’m certain there’s a most efficient sum where the balance between expenses and tax is at its optimum for the taxpayer. I just don’t know how to arrive at the figure. If you do, please advise.

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