FW-39 -- Kakeibo - Start the New Year off Right!

J@pan Inc Magazine Presents:

* * * * * * * * F R U G A L W A T C H * * * * * * * *
A weekly roundup of how to be frugal in the world's most
expensive country to live (unless you read this!), written
and compiled by Wendy J. Imura.

Regular edition, January 9, 2005 Issue No. 39

- What's new (Kakeibo - Start the New Year off Right!)
- Weekly Bargain Roundup
- Frugal tips
- Credits

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Dear Frugal Readers,

Happy New Year! (a little late) After a two week-break (all
Japan Inc. e-zines enjoy a little break at the end of the
year and during summer), I'm charged and ready to start 2005
with a fresh, frugal attitude.

The New Year in many cultural traditions is a time to make
resolutions, change habits (or try to, at least), and start
new goals. My advice for you today might be helpful for two
of the most common goals for foreigners living in Japan: to
save more money (or spend less), and to study Japanese more.
Okay, so how can you accomplish both of these at once?

The answer is simple: the kakeibo, or Japanese household
accounts book. Anyone familiar with Frugal Japan knows that I
strongly advocate the use ofthese books (or anything, really)
to help keep track of spending. What is akakeibo? Quite simple,
it is a pre-written book (or software program) that
Japanese housewives have been using for decades to help track
how much money they spend by categories. While one can of course
use a simple 100-yen store notebook or Excel spreadsheet, I
find using the special workbook makes the habit stick. And yes,
the books are usually all written in Japanese.

So, why track your spending? How can you do it? I'll tell
you my simple system, and what it's done for me. Whever I buy
anything, from a can of soda to a train ticket, I always get a
receipt (or write down how much I spent ona business card or
piece of paper). I collect these reciepts in my wallet. My
husband uses his pants pocket. When the "receipt wad" gets
uncomfortable, we transfer these to a collecting receptacle.
For a while, it was a breadbasket. Then a coffee can. Now I
use a recycle omiyage tin. A tissue box (empty of tissues)
also works well. Every two weeks or month, I empty the
recepticle, and record the entries in my kakeibo. I do
monthly and yearly totals. After three years, it's a habit,
and I am able to spot 'leaks' in my personal spending - for
categories such as eating out, groceries, books, clothes,
and anything. In short, you can't start saving money with
regularity until you know how much you earn, and how much
you spend.

So - why mention kakeibo now? Well, Japanese bookstores only
stock these at certain times of the year, and the start of the
new calendar year is one of those times. So, if you'd like to try
and make 2005 your first kakeibo year, head down to your nearest
local bookstore and ask the shopkeeper to show you their
selection of kakeibo. ("Kakeibo wo kaitain desu kedo...")Yes,
the kanji might be very daunting at first, but the basics
(the chartsand categories) can be figured out pretty quickly
with a good electronic dictionary. Plus, you'll be studying
Japanese at the same time!

Good luck, and happy recording!

Frugally yours,
Wendy J. Imura

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All right, after spending so long raving about kakeibo, I
can't let an opportunity like this slip - so this week's
Bargain Roundup is for kakeibo, or Japanese household
accounts books. While I still recommend heading down to the
local bookstore and checking them out in person, here are a
few ideas to get them started.

Monthly Kekaibo (A5 Size, Check Print Cover) Y700
Simple, sturdy, and cheap, this kakeibo's monthly charts
offer a simple to use, one-line-per-day format. Also includes
credit card, loan, and gift charts. Available from Rakuten.

Porvoir Kakeibo (A5 Size) Y800
The main thing I like about this kakeibo is its
spiral-notebook spine,which makes recording your expenditures
much easier. The charts in thisbook (see a sample on the
page below) include yearly, weekly, and monthly
breakdowns, and the book comes with a clear plastic 'pocket'
for storing reciepts.

Tenuki Kakeibo ("Lazy Person's Kakeibo") 1,764 yen
Okay, this has got to be the Cadillac of kakeibos. The main
feature (as a visit to the website will show through pictures)
is the use of "sticky"pages which, when the protective seal is
removed, allow you to attach the day's reciepts to the kakeibo
right then and there, eliminating the need for another storage
method. It also includes ready-made graphs to keep track
of your electricity, gas, water, and other expenses, and a
number of clear files for storing them. Frankly, a cheap
100-yen file folder will also do the trick, but it is a
handy kakeibo!

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Computers - is your system running too slow these days? Are you
still using Windows 1995? A dial-up connection?
Well, fear not - you can still update your PC & Internet
connections cheaply in Japan. Check out Frugal Japan.com's
latest tips for January - about PCs and the Internet.

A sample (about used PCs):
"I recently bought a used Wintel (HP eVectra) machine. I use
a Mac, but my wife needed a Wintel for this (NO MAC NEED APPLY)
software. So I figured I would buy a generic used box and
give a shot at setting it up.

I am really pleased with it. I did not want to mention
it until I was fairly sure that the process was successful.
The bottom lime is that it is relatively fast (600mhz),
has more than minimal ram (128MB) and has an 8gig hard drive.
Locating the correct drivers for the OS changeover was a
definite headache, but a highly educational event. I learned
that an MS "Professional Edition" leaves you without any
document handling tools, and unless you have some software
handy you will have to buy some right? Wrong!!
Go to www.openoffice.org and download a free copy of the
software! It has "presentation" software, text editing,
html editing and spreadsheet editing. It also comes
in all kinds of languages.

I paid 17,500 yen including tax and got the box, a
keyboard, mouse and external floppy disk drive. I am
really impressed. With the machine - in my home
country it would cost a lot more money. Used PCs are
really a bargain in Japan!"
Subscribers: 585 as of January 10, 2005


Written by: Wendy J. Imura (frugalwatch@japaninc.com)
Edited by: JI

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