[Reading level: B2 – Upper Intermediate]
Despite the average salary, at the age of 51, after saving 100 million yen (VND20.7 billion), Mr. Sakaguchi decided to retire to lead a comfortable life.
Sakaguchi Kazuma, 57 years old, now lives in Kanagawa Prefecture and used to be an office worker. However, six years ago this man made a brave decision: quit.
Since then, after 33 years of uninterrupted work, Kazuma has saved no income other than 100 million yen.
According to the National Tax Administration of Japan, the average annual salary in Kanagawa Prefecture is 4.4 million yen (913 million VND). Kazuma’s income is only slightly above average.
In addition to the money saved, Kazuma also owns a 90 m2 house with 3 bedrooms, which was bought 14 years ago, and all loans have been paid off. It is currently valued at around 40 million yen.
How did Kazuma save so much money on a rather modest salary? It all depends on his minimalist lifestyle for many years. Sakaguchi Kazuma spends about 100,000 yen every month. This lifestyle saves him 3.3 million yen annually. In this way, he has saved 100 million yen during his 33 years of service.
Many people said that with this thrifty skill, Sakaguchi Kazuma was certainly extremely tough on himself, but he said no, “I never treat myself badly. Absolutely not.” Only buy things that are really necessary and use them until they break.
This man is still wearing t-shirts that he bought 10 years ago. He said that not because of the waste of money but still being able to use it, it should continue anyway. The shoe cabinet has pairs that are over 30 years old but not thrown away but used when needed. Kazuma said, “I still wear a pair, not because I’ve saved but because I love them”.
Every time he goes to the barber shop, he chooses 1,000 yen salons because cheap salons often have a quiet place. This option also helps him not to be disturbed by excessive offers from employees.
The refrigerator in the house is also almost empty because he has a habit of cooking what he buys on the same day, buying just enough that no groceries are wasted. He’s also using a 2007 Nokia phone, the screen is scratched and the paint is peeling off too, but Kazuma says just take the call or he won’t need anything.
Kazuma always emphasizes that his life is not influenced by “external material life”, so he is happy with a minimalist lifestyle without spending too much money. “Outsiders may not be happy with an empty fridge or just old clothes, but I like this life because I don’t depend on material things,” he said.
Also because of the simple lifestyle, his wife left almost 3 years ago. The two have no children, so this shouldn’t be too much of a problem for Kazuma.
With money, time and no family, Kazuma sometimes brings food to the park to cook and enjoy on his own. He also actively participates in charity activities. In 2019, when a disaster struck Fukushima Prefecture, he went there as a volunteer for 5 years. Kazuma also loves to travel, he can go anywhere he wants, for example abroad to watch the sunset on the sea. “I enjoy the good life in the most comfortable way possible,” he said.
Kazuma recently published a book entitled “I Saved 100 Million Yen So I Quit My Job”. In the book, he presents 77 tips for saving money and reminds people to promote their own happiness.
The broadcast on Kazuma sparked a debate not only in Japan but also in China when it aired. Many people say that this 57-year-old man’s approach is similar to the “FIRE” (Financial Freedom, Early Retirement) movement that is popular in the United States. “Fire” encourages people to reduce their material desires in order to save their livelihood every year, so that after the age of 30 they retire early and are dependent on 4% of their financial income.
“The more you earn, the more you spend. And the more you spend, the more you have to try to earn. That makes me tired,” said YiYi, 35, who leads a minimalist life after the “fire” movement. This girl describes her life so far like rats on a moving wheel. You have to keep moving or you will be blown off the rollers.
“In order to have financial freedom soon, the top priority is therefore to control wishes and reduce unnecessary consumption.” This girl said that consuming it is like water in a sponge, as long as you want to squeeze, water will flow out anyway.
lead a life (phrase): sống một cuộc sống (như thế nào đó)
prefecture /ˈpriː.fek.tʃər/ (n): quận
uninterrupted /ʌnˌɪn.tərˈʌp.tɪd/ (adj): liên tục
modest /ˈmɒd.ɪst/ (adj): khiêm tốn
minimalist /ˈmɪn.ɪ.məl.ɪst/ (adj): tối giản
thrifty /ˈθrɪf·ti/ (adj): tiết kiệm
be tough on oneself /tʌf/ (v): cứng rắn với bản thân
barber shop /ˈbɑː.bər/ (n): tiệm cắt tóc nam
excessive /ɪkˈses·ɪv/ (adj): quá mức
groceries /ˈɡroʊ·sə·riz/ (n): hàng tạp hóa, thực phẩm từ siêu thị
scratch /skrætʃ/ [B2] (v): làm xước
peel off /piːl/ (v): bong tróc
external /ɪkˈstɜː.nəl/ [B2] (adj): bên ngoài
material life (n): đời sống vật chất
outsider /ˌaʊtˈsaɪ.dər/ (n): người ngoài
entitle /ɪnˈtaɪ.təl/ [C1] (v): có tựa đề
spark a debate (phrase): làm dấy lên một cuộc tranh luận
air /eər/ (v): phát sóng
livelihood /ˈlaɪv.li.hʊd/ (n): kế sinh nhai
sponge /spʌndʒ/ (n): miếng bọt biển
squeeze /skwiːz/ [B2] (v): bóp, vắt
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