Recently, I have been having a debate with a few people about Japanese financial ideals vs. their western counterparts. The basic idea is that Japan is a mostly cash based society as where western, developed countries are more increasingly using plastic payment methods. That goes towards both debit and actual revolving credit cards as opposed to handing over cash at each purchase. Although, in Japan the Edy cash payment system and other similar payment methods are more popular recently, but you won't find a similarly popular debit system that you can find all over America for example. A large majority of westerners live paycheck to paycheck as where Japanese people in particular usually get paid once per month and use the built in 'bonus' system to save large chunks of cash at one time. So, by the time you are age 30, you would have amassed at least 5 million yen or more in savings alone. Compared to an American at the same age who may have no more than $2,000 USD in the bank at any given time in addition to carrying large debts such as credit cards, car loans and possibly a mortgage. For College educated Americans, you can toss in student loans as well. Here again, comparing to Japanese: they don't have the same student loan systems and most usually pay cash for a car and avoid using revolving credit systems. Mortgages are universal however, with the exception of the interest rates being charged in various countries. So - which system is better? That depends on the questions you ask! I'll use myself as an example: When I came to Japan, I had debts like every other average American. After living in Japan for 5 months, I quickly realized how much I was losing almost daily because of either poor spending choices or interest getting eaten by credit cards/loans. I set out and put together a financial plan that paid off *all* of my debts and still allowed me to put away 2 million yen in just over 1 year. It was not easy, but the end result was completely worth the effort. Today, I follow the Japanese cash system and probably will do so for the rest of my life. The only loans I'll ever take out will be fore a car or a house, which are secured debts that can't balloon into something larger than what it really is. If I don't have the cash for it otherwise, I won't buy it. Here's where the fun part comes into play! Speaking with family and friends back home, it seems that getting paid once a month to them is just an inconceivable idea! Not only that, but they are so quick to put something on credit instead of paying cash for it. I know this is an age old argument and yes, the cultures between the east and west are vastly different, but I think we all can learn from each other. Has living in Japan changed your financial outlook?