It’s already been many years since I got the position of CHO–Chief Household Officer (tiga luto, tiga laba, tiga linis, tiga budget haha!). Though I have a full-time job, I still do all the household chores (with hubby of course) because it is not common (too expensive) to hire a helper in Korea. Among the tasks I am responsible for, keeping our household ledger is the most challenging but fun; it’s the kind of task that makes me nervous and excited at the same time. I always look forward to the last day of the month to check our financial performance. I feel great whenever our total household expenditure is less than our monthly budget; it is already an achievement for me. It is also because whatever is left goes to my personal fun fund! Yey! No, it’s not corruption. We have a signed agreement on that. LOL. Money is a sticky topic and it makes a lot of people uncomfortable to discuss about it. I know some people don’t like the word “budget” because they associate it with “deprivation of their wants.” However, I believe it is important to look personal finances squarely in the eye so we can be in control of our money and not the other way around.
When I was still a student, I would always have a monthly plan for my allowance and I always made sure to save some so I could have extra in case my next allowance would be a little delayed. My parents are not billionaires and I couldn’t afford not to keep a tight hold on my budget. When I started earning, I did the same thing and that habit of regularly checking my cash flow helped me save enough to enjoy a simple but comfortable lifestyle without living paycheck to paycheck. Keeping track of my expenses gives me peace of mind (because I know where the money goes), helps me discipline myself and reminds me of my financial goals and priorities.
Nowadays there are numerous money management tools like apps, computer softwares, websites and ledger books available for everyone. You don’t need to be an accounting expert to use them. I have tried apps and softwares but I personally prefer the old-school pen-and-paper style. In particular, I like using the Korean household ledger book called 가계부 (ka-gye-boo) because unlike the traditional ledger books, they are pretty and not boring to use. So far, I have two favorite household ledger books in Korea. One is manufactured by Iconic and the other by Ardium.
Kagyebo No.1: Iconic’s Save Up Cash Book (Pink Book Series Version 06)
This version comes in two different designs: natural and burgundy. The package includes 3 items: cash book, stats book and guide book.
Part 1: Future Financial Goals
- list of currrent assets
- list of financial goals (short/long term)
- distribution of income (diagram)
Part 2: Annual Financial Plan
- income, expenses, savings and remarks
Part 3 : Monthly schedule and budget
- monthly budget (estimate, actual, difference)
- total monthly income, expenses & savings
Part 4: Daily income/expenses record & Weekly stats
What I like about this form is that you can indicate the mode of payment for the expenses: cash, debit card or credit card.
Part 5: Extra notes
Part 6: Personal Information
Part 7: PVC pockets (for receipts & card storage)
Here are some examples of how to fill the forms. It’s fun! 🙂
Price: 15,000 won
I really like the sturdy cover and comprehensive structure of this household ledger but there is one drawback-it’s available only in Korean language. I wish there is an English version so I can give some to my friends and family back home.
Kagyeboo No. 2: Ardium’s Flowery Cash Book (Navy Cherry Blossoms)
This household ledger is much simpler than the previous one.
Yearly checklist: You can mark down the important events in which you have to spend money on like birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, etc.
Yearly plan list
Daily records of additional income and expenses, and weekly total
Monthly report: weekly income, weekly expenses and savings
Personal Information sheet
This ledger book is more non-Korean-friendly in comparison to the first one as the main financial terms are in English except the expenses categories. The categories have icons so they’re pretty easy to understand.
Price: 9,800 won
Both of these ledger books are good for one whole year but are not fixed for a particular year. You can write the dates on the calendar and encircle the corresponding number that represents the month. Apparently, you can start using these ledger books any time of the year and make use of all the pages. I bought 1 copy for each of my favorite designs/layout to give to my friends. Iconic save up cash book is ideal for my detail-oriented friend and Ardium cash book is for the one who likes simple things. This year, Iconic save up cash book will be with me in my housekeeping journey. Money isn’t everything but it matters in life. It may not be the direct source of happiness but it can be a tool to achieve security, to serve others and to enjoy a healthy life with the people dear to us. Thus, managing our cash flow effectively is important no matter how much or little we have. 🙂