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I used to do a series of "Mind, Body, Wallet Workshops" to encourage people to think about money.  Sometimes money is a reflection of thought patterns that obscure reality.   Surfing is great but if your mind is ruled by these unobserved and uncontrolled waves it can lead to trouble. Keeping a money journal helps.(Drawings are by Ken Polotan)

I used to do a series of “Mind, Body, Wallet Workshops” to encourage people to think about money. Sometimes money is a reflection of thought patterns that obscure reality. Surfing is great but if your mind is ruled by these unobserved and uncontrolled waves it can lead to trouble. Keeping a money journal helps.(Drawings are by Ken Polotan)

I have to admit that I’m over my head.  As part of the All Japanese All the Time process, I am trying to listen to materials that I am interested in.  Books on tape aren’t as common as they are in the United States.  One title that interested me was いつのまにか「お金がたまる人」のさりげない習慣 .   My dose of soy sauce translation of this is:   “Before you know it, You’ve Saved a Lot of Money:  Casual Habits”  or “Casual Habits for Casually Amassing Money.”

I’m interested in the topic but I admit I don’t really understand the majority of the CD.  One of the first points that the author makes is that in order to save money you need to adjust your hobbies.  Most “sarariman” (Japanese businessmen) tend to go for gourmet food, cars, and golf.  However, these interests take a lot of money.  His top three suggestions for alternative hobbies?  Drum roll please:

  • Haiku or tanka poetry
  • Shogi (Japanese chess)
  • Yoga

Umm, yeah, take that to the bank!

I don’t quite understand the rest of the four or so hours of the CD.  However, I am glad that I made the investment because it’s made me reconsider the main issue of money in my life and start keeping a money journal again.

Since the month has begun I have started to write down every single expenditure I make.  I started keeping a money journal when I was working myself out of debt and starting to really look at the issue of money in my life.  However, it is a great tool whenever you want financial clarity and want to be more strategic about money.

I just serendipitously came across Mohandas Gandhi’s experience with something like a money journal in his autobiography.  As a law student in London, he said that he learned how to note every expense in a ledger.  It helped him to see the pattern of his expenses and cut them in half.  Not only that, he said that the experience of doing this also helped him to successfully steer the finances of the different movements that he led.

The Advantages of Keeping a Money Journal

  •  A money journal makes you pause.  If you really stick to writing every single purchase, it really makes you think.   For me, its partially laziness.  “Oh, no, if I buy this I have to put it in the damn notebook?  Do I really need to buy this?”
  • A money journal helps you see patterns.  As you write down what you buy, you begin to see trends.   Already, this month, I’ve noticed that I buy a lot of little snacks and coffee throughout the day.  Reviewing the notebook on a weekly or monthly basis allows you to take control.  You no longer have to ask, “Where did all my money go?”
  • A money journal helps you control and understand non-financial patterns.   When I started keeping a money journal many yeas ago as I was getting out of debt, I noticed that I was buying a pint of premium ice cream almost every other day.   This was one way that I was dealing with the stress of teaching and living in NYC.

    Still waters clearly reflect the possible.  Watching your financial patterns with the help of a money journal helps "still the waters."

    Still waters clearly reflect the possible. Watching your financial patterns with the help of a money journal helps “still the waters.”

Your Money or Your Life:  Check it Out

I became more aware about money and how to use a money journal after reading Your Money or Your Life: 9 Steps to Transforming Your Relationship with Money and Achieving Financial Independence: Revised and Updated for the 21st Century.  The title says it all.  By tracking where your money goes, you are looking at your samurai life, and your samurai mind.   The authors speak of your money representing your life energy and offer some practical methods for how to analyze and deal with what your money journal reveals.

However, even if you don’t do anything besides write down what you spend every day, it helps you see more clearly everyday.  Make sure that you pack it everyday along with your katana sword and bento box.

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