Fitness has been one of my goals for this year (as it probably is for many people, in a lot of years), but this time I’ve put forth more effort into it. Aside from the most important part – taking action – I’ve done a little more reading on ways to improve health.
Of course, as I say here periodically, health and money are interrelated. Improve one, and you can help the other. Now in this case, I thought I’d actually do something a bit different. Here, I thought of applying a health-related principle to money. That concept: Hara Hachi Bu.
From what I’ve learned, Hara Hachi Bu is an Okinawan approach to regulating eating. The idea is that one should eat until reaching the point of being 80% full. The result? People eat less, don’t gain unnecessary weight, and have better health. It’s been said that Okinawa has an exceptionally high percentage of centenarians compared to the rest of the world. Eating fewer calories, when paired with an active lifestyle, might really help longevity and the ability to live a healthy life to 100.
It got me thinking – why not apply the 80% concept to our spending?
If calorie restriction and eating until 80% full might play a role in longevity, maybe spending 80% of what we think we need can play a role in longevity of our savings as well. If we spend less, we can increase our income minus expense gap. This increased savings, with time, proper investing, and the power of compounding, can result in a substantially increased net worth and financial security. This extended life of our savings can help us live a higher quality of life for a longer period of time.
Now, I don’t think this is just a matter of taking a high level of spending and bringing it down by 20%. Rather, I’m talking about taking what would be a reasonable budget made by financially responsible people, and living on 80% of it.
This could entail spending (and living on) less as follows:
- Housing – moving to a less expensive area or living in a smaller home
- Cars – driving an older used car, or for a family getting rid of a second car
- Food – cutting out dining outside, and going the extra mile to make frugal dining choices
It’s almost like thinking about what you need to live comfortably, and then spending at 80% of that level. Maybe we can get used to that, just like the body gets used to living on less calories when stopping at 80% full.
Update: Just so everyone knows what I mean by 80%, I’m referring to 80% of current expenses. I’m not referring to spending 80% of income and saving 20%. Rather, I mean take whatever your expense level is and multiply it by 0.8. For example, if a family earns $100,000 and spends $80,000, they’re saving $20,000. By applying this Hara Hachi Bu concept, the family would take the $80,000 expenses, multiply by 80%, and spend the resulting amount instead: $64,000. In this case, savings as a percentage of incomes goes up from 20% to 36%!
My Questions for You
What do you think of the idea of living on 80% of an otherwise reasonable expense level?
Do you think that doing this could extend the life of your savings and substantially grow your net worth?
Much like the Hara Hachi Bu rule, do you think that this approach is one that would require a higher level of discipline than many of us are accustomed to?