Monday, January 22, 2007

Frugal Watch Newsletter

Wendy Jonas Imura publishes a newsletter about being frugal in Japan. She always has something interesting to say as a person who has her finger on the pulse of the frugal scene. The newsletter is called Frugal Watch.

Today's Frugal Watch installment is about "radical frugality", such as one woman's project to wear a brown dress every single day for a year and another woman's year without shopping. Wendy never suggests going quite that far, but it is interesting to see the concept of frugality taken to an extreme.

Wendy also owns the the Frugal Japan mailing list, the Frugal Japan website, and the Frugal Japan wiki which includes tips from the members of the mailing list.

If you are interested in learning about how to save your yennies in one of the most expensive countries in the world, Wendy's a person you will want to know.


Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Finding the cheapest gas in your neighborhood

Hi, all. I'd like to share my secret since Shaney brought up the gasoline prices on highways. You all know that the gas prices have gone down significantly in the past few months, but some places still charge a lot.

 I've been using General Express on R354 in Inarimae, next to a camera shop since it opened. It's a self-service gas station and the cheapest one in the area. The last time I checked, the gas price there was 118yen per liter. I'm sure that some of the TsukuBlog readers are familiar with this, but you can pay by using the "Speedpass" when you buy gas at this gas station. It's very convenient when you are in a hurry!

The only problem with this gas station is that since this is the cheapest place to fill up the tank, it gets crowded very often. I think its location being so close to Inarimae Intersection is making the situation worse. I've had quite unpleasant experiences with hot-tempered drivers at this gas station, so I always try to go there very late at night or early in the morning. It's open until midnight though it used to be open 24-hours.

Another cheap gas station is also on R354. If you head to Tsuchiura from Tsukuba on R354, you'll see a small gas station on your right soon after you drive past Joban Expressway Sakura Tsuchiura Exit. This gas station also has the lowest gas price in the area.

If you can read Japanese, I recommend checking out gogo.gs, a comparison-shop site. A list of gas stations in Ibaraki is here. Some of the prices listed are the member rates, but as far as I know, you don't need to be a member to get the lowest price at the gas station in Inarimae.

As the Christmas/New Year's break approaching, I really hope the gas prices won't go up like they did in summer!

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Cheaper Gasoline on the Expressways?

Q: Is gasoline really cheaper on the expressways?

A: Sometimes.

There is a maximum gas price that is set once a month and the gas stations on the expressways (like Joban Expressway) do not increase their prices at all during a particular month. The maximum price is set by the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry (METI) at the end of the previous month. You can see the price on this site. The reason for this is that the number of gas stations on the expressways is extremely limited, so drivers do not have a choice of which station to use when they need to fill up their tanks. If the gas stations could set their own prices, it would be possible for them to set unreasonable prices and the consumers wouldn't be able to do anything about it, since the next station might be 100km ahead. (Also, cars that run out of gas often cause accidents, so it is better not to encourage drivers to shop around for the best price.)

So, this means that if gas prices went up this month as compared to last month, you might be able to get cheaper gas on the expressway than on the regular roads. However, the opposite is also true: if gas prices went down this month, the gas on the expressway will be more expensive.

The prices for regular gas in November and December were 140 yen and 136 yen respectively.

(Note that this only applies to gas stations on the expressways. Regular gas stations do not have to follow this rule.)

Source: Japan Automobile Federation (JAF) Magazine, November 2006

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