We all love coupons and vouchers, but can you imagine living on them almost exclusively for almost four decades? A Japanese man claims to have been doing it for the last 36 years, adding that he hasn’t spent a yen of his own money during that time.
71-year-old Hiroto Kiritani is a minor celebrity in his home country of Japan. His ability to live comfortably on coupons without spending any money unless he really has to is legendary, and he has been invited on numerous television shows and events over the years. Kiritani says that he gets by without spending real money except for utilities and rent. But he’s not as frugal as you might think. He just manages to live comfortably on the coupons he receives from companies he invested in over the years.
Kiritani, who used to be a professional shogi (Japanese Chess), got into stock investment when he was 35. He was invited to teach the staff of an investment company called Tokyo Securities Kyowakai about shogi, and was fascinated by the idea of owning parts of various companies. He bought his first stock in 1984 and quickly developed a taste for it, encouraged by the stock bubble of the 1980s.
Unfortunately, in December of 1989 the Nikkei Stock Average crashed and he lost 100 million yen. It was a terrible blow, but it also helped him discover the worth of investor benefits, an alternative to dividends. Basically, as long as the profitability of a company remains above a certain threshold, shareholders qualify for certain benefits offered in the form of coupons and vouchers.
During the troubled time of the Japanese stock exchange crash of 1989, these investor benefits helped Kiritani get by, allowing him to buy food and clothing without spending any real money. The same happened in 2011, after the Great East Japan Earthquake, when the stock market crashed once again. The coupons he earned were more than enough for him to get by, and as word got out about his ability to live almost exclusively on them, he became famous in Japan.
According to Hiroto Kiritani, if a business performance deteriorates, dividends will be reduced, so this system is advantageous for large investors. Minor shareholders are much better off with the investor benefits that more than 40 percent of large Japanese companies offer, as profitability need only remain over a certain threshold.
Moreover, dividends are dependent on the number of shares a person owns in a company, whereas investor benefits are often times the same regardless of the number of shares. So even owning a single share can qualify investors for various benefits.
Kiritani claims that he gets access to everything he needs with coupons alone. One coupon allows him to go to the cinema for free 300 times a year, another offers free gym membership. He can even buy vegetables with coupons. For example one coupon he gets from the ORIX Corporation allows him to choose a variety of food products from a very generous catalog, for free.
Even though he can get all sorts of groceries with his coupons, Hiroto Kiritani says that he prefers to eat out, which, of course, he can do with coupons. He owns stock in over 1,000 Japanese companies and corporations (of which about 900 are preferential stocks), so he basically has all kinds of coupons to use for everything he needs. He has become so good at living on these pieces of paper that he has been invited on several TV shows and has given interviews for magazines about it.
“I only use cash when paying rent or cover costs that are not 100% covered by my coupons. I don’t spend much cash and live on a special treatment, so in the end, I’m saving more and more money,” Kiritani said.