I’m just sharing my personal way of how we spend money in our family. This is just my own system of budgeting and is not meant as general advice for the public. However, I do hope that other people can look at it and find a way to develop their own way of handling money.
But first, the basics:
First, you need to be able to access an ATM. I know this is really old fashioned, but this is actually one of the ways I am able to control my spending. I also deal mostly with my daily expenses in cash. In a previous post, I’ve mentioned that this is something I prefer because it’s important for me to feel the pain of spending actual money, as in bills and coins. I don’t like using my credit card.
The next thing to do is to make sure you have money coming in regularly. I’m not really sure if this system would work for people whose paychecks come in spurts and not with regular frequency. I get paid once a month, on the same exact day, so I know when the money will be in my bank account. My hubby is the same way.
Once you have those two basics down, the next thing is just take out the money. Every Monday, I go to the ATM and withdraw ¥10,000. That’s it. This is money that has to last me for the week. If I am going out or eating out, then I need to make sure that it falls within that amount. Whatever I don’t spend gets saved in a jar. I usually save all this money for the big events, like trips or a big purchase that would cost more than ¥10,000. The following Monday, I do it all over again.
The key point is that I don’t touch the rest of the money in the bank. If it’s not a Monday, whatever I need will come from the cash sitting in the jar.
That’s it in a nutshell.
However, this is just for my personal fun money. This does not account for our household expenses, but the process is similar:
- Steady income.
- Access to ATM.
- Withdraw a certain amount of cash.
- Don’t spend more than that amount.
- Don’t touch the rest of the money in the bank.
- Do it again next week.
I know it’s not efficient, but I’ve found this system to be extremely helpful in keeping our expenses low. I am also not much of an optimizer. I don’t really need to optimize every single penny that we earn. When I open the wallet and see the amount of cash in there, I know how to act from there. If there’s enough money, then we can sort of indulge a little. If we’re running low, then we really have to stay home and raid the pantry instead of eating out.
What I like about this system is that it forces us to be aware of the money flows–in and out. When I mention the steady income coming in, I really meant that you have to make sure you know where your money is coming from, whether from passive income or from your steady paycheck.
When we spend money, I like limiting the amount because it’s actually more freeing. The amount of money is a guideline to how much we can spend for the week. It also frees me up from having to worry about saving the rest of the money because it doesn’t get touched. I don’t do a monthly budget because when I tried it before, I overestimated the amount we needed and thus spent more than what we should have. However, if we break it down to a weekly basis, I know the details of our spending habits.
The biggest take away is the not touching the rest of the money for the week. The fact that I need to go to an ATM is a big pain in the ass. I don’t want to keep trying to find one because it’s a waste of time. By withdrawing a certain amount of cash in the beginning of the week, it prevents me from always going to the bank when we’re out of money.
I think if you’re good with sticking to and imposing rules on yourself, this might be a good way to do it. However, if you’re not, the best way to go about it is to experiment and try different methods until you find a system that works for you.