Hiroto Kiritani

Japan’s “Coupon Man” has been surviving for 36 years entirely on coupons

Hiroto Kiritani

We all love coupons and vouchers, but can you imagine, for almost four decades, surviving on them almost exclusively? A Japanese man claims to have been doing it for the last 36 years, adding that during that period, he did not spend a yen of his own income.

In his home country of Japan, 71-year-old Hiroto Kiritani is a minor celebrity. His ability to survive on coupons easily without wasting any money unless he really needs to is legendary, and over the years he has been invited to many tv shows and events. Kiritani says that except for electricity and leases, he gets by without spending real money.

But as you would imagine, he’s not as frugal. He only manages to survive comfortably on the discounts he gets from businesses in which he has invested over the years.

When he was 35, Kiritani, who used to be a professional shogi (Japanese Chess), got into stock investing. He was invited to teach shogi to the employees of an investment firm called Tokyo Securities Kyowakai and was intrigued by the concept of owning sections of different firms.

He purchased his first stock in 1984 and, inspired by the stock bubble of the 1980s, rapidly developed a taste for it.

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Unfortunately, the Nikkei Stock Average collapsed in December of 1989, losing 100 million yen. It was a devastating hit, but it also helped him discover an alternative to dividends, the importance of investor advantages.

Basically, as long as a company’s profitability stays beyond a certain level, shareholders qualify in the form of discounts and vouchers for certain benefits provided.

Hiroto Kiritani coupun

These investor advantages helped Kiritani get by during the troubled era of the Japanese stock exchange crash of 1989, enabling him to buy food and clothing without investing any real money.

The same happened in 2011 when the stock market collapsed again after the Great East Japan Earthquake. The coupons he received were more than enough for him to get by and he became popular in Japan as news got out about his ability to survive almost entirely on them.

According to Hiroto Kiritani, dividends would be decreased if company output deteriorates, so this scheme is useful for large investors. With the investor benefits provided by more than 40 percent of large Japanese firms, minor shareholders are much better off as profitability just needs to stay above a certain threshold.

In addition, dividends depend on the number of shares owned by an individual in a company, while investor benefits are many times the same irrespective of the number of shares. Also owning a single share may therefore qualify investors for different advantages.

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Kiritani says that with coupons alone, he gets access to everything he wants. One voucher allows him to go to the cinema 300 times a year for free, while another gives free access to the gym.

With coupons, he can also purchase vegetables. One coupon he gets from the ORIX Company for example, helps him to select a range of food items from a very generous catalog, free of charge.

Even though with his coupons he can get all kinds of food, Hiroto Kiritani says that he prefers dining out which he can do with coupons, of course.

He holds stocks in more than 1,000 companies and businesses in Japan (about 900 of which are preferential stocks), so he essentially has all sorts of discounts to use on all he wants. He became so good at surviving on these pieces of paper that he was invited to numerous TV shows and gave magazine interviews about them.

I use cash only when I pay rent or cover expenses that are not 100% covered by my coupons. I’m not wasting a lot of cash and surviving on special care, so I’m saving more and more money in the end,’ said Kiritani.

About Kirigaya Kazuto

Kazuto Kirigaya, born as Kazuto Narusaka, is a fictional character and the protagonist of the Sword Art Online series of light novels written by Reki Kawahara.

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