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Hiroto Kiritani: the japanese man who has been living almost exclusively on coupons for 36 years

We all love coupons and vouchers, but can you imagine living almost exclusively on them for almost four decades? Well…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!
This is the story of Hiroto Kiritani, a minor celebrity in his home country, Japan. His ability to live comfortably on coupons without spending any money unless he really has to is incredible, and he has been invited on numerous television shows and events over the years. The 71-year-old man says that he gets by without spending real money except for utilities and rent. But he’s not as frugal as you might think, as he just manages to live comfortably on the coupons he receives from companies he invested in over the years.

Hiroto, who was a professional shogi (Japanese Chess), got into stock investment when he was 35. He was invited also 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. Thus 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 the man 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 live, 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, while 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….

Either way, Hiroto claims that he gets access to everything he needs only with coupons: for istance, one coupon allows him to go to the cinema for free 300 times a year, and another offers free gym membership. But he can even buy groceries, and one coupon he gets from the ORIX Corporation allows him to choose a variety of food products from a very generous catalog, strictly for free!
Even though he can get all sorts of groceries with his coupons, Hiroto 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,” he said.

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