During my first few years in Japan, I was fairly proactive in figuring things out for myself. That changed after I got married, though. Time and time again, I deferred anything that required Japanese to my wife. That included booking doctor and dental appointments, hiring handymen for home maintenance, planning family trips, running the administrative side of our English school, and most significantly, managing our finances.
Not surprisingly, she reached her limit earlier this year. Running a family, a business, and working mornings as a nurse during a pandemic is more than most people can handle, and she’s no exception. After doing our end of year taxes, due in February, she handed me the bank books and simply said, “Your turn now.”
Even though I’d taken advantage over the years, I wasn’t proud of my myself. Of course, I wanted to be more involved. It’s just that using Japanese was such a struggle for me, yet such a breeze for my wife. It seemed natural that she handle the big stuff. I mean, wouldn’t I do the same if we lived in the UK?
Getting those bank books, though. That was a game changer. I was very curious about our finances, and I do have a passion for logic problems. I was keen to bust out a spreadsheet and crunch some numbers, then look for ways to optimize, monetize and maximize!
I still have a lot to learn, but so far this journey of discovery has expanded my Japanese vocab, got me reading books on investing, conversing about cryptocurrencies, participating in the Retire Japan forum, and I even found English manuals for filing Japanese tax returns! I’m more motivated than ever to build our English school, renovate our house, and ensure we get a solid pension.
When my wife gave me those bank books, she awoke a sleeping giant!If you like, you can find me on Twitter at @nick_ramsay. I'd love to hear from you!