Pointing and calling not mistakes but best practices | Inquirer Business
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Pointing and calling not mistakes but best practices

/ 02:01 AM March 08, 2023

Question: Whenever I put money in my wallet, say P1,000 at the start of the day, I end the day with just loose change left without any idea as to how I had spent down the money. If this continues, I will not be able to save at all. Can you help?

Answer: Atlas Obscura.com posted an article by Allan Richardz on Japanese train personnel’s practice of pointing and calling. According to Richardz, Japanese “… train conductors, drivers and station staff play an important role in the safe and efficient operation of the lines, a key aspect of which is the variety of physical gestures and vocal calls that they perform while undertaking their duties.”

I saw it first-hand and started to wonder why the Japanese would need to verbalize and do a “dance” on what they were doing. Why not just do it, right?


Well, it turns out that the seemingly silly movements and shouts are collectively called the Japanese-innovated industrial safety method known as pointing and calling. Is it necessary? You tell me. According to a 1996 study, the system, which is called “shisa kanko,” has been proven to reduce workplace errors by up to 85 percent.


Richardz adds that, “… pointing and calling works on the principle of associating one’s tasks with physical movements and vocalizations to prevent errors by “raising the consciousness levels of workers”—according to the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health of Japan. Rather than rely on a worker’s eyes or habit alone, each step in a given task is reinforced physically and audibly to ensure the step is both complete and accurate.” Shisa kanko is applied in other Japanese industries as well. So, the formula is: awareness + habit + shisa kanko.

Need to celebrate your birthday but short on cash because it is still “petsa de peligro?” No problem. Go ahead and charge it to your credit card. But make a giant circular motion with your right arm ending with pointing to your credit card held by your left hand. Then shout at the top of your lungs like a Japanese train staff, “I am charging this big birthday splash to my credit card because payday is still a few days away and I could not care less if this expense will put a dent on my child’s future education!”


Seriously, lack of awareness is one of the major culprits behind people’s inability to save. To help you with awareness, a la shisa kanko, try the Personal Finance Adviser’s (PFA) Reality Cash Flow that runs for one month.

On day one, just after you wake up, count the money you have in you pockets, wallet or purse. Jot down on the notepad of your mobile phone the total amount as your beginning cash for day one while saying “beginning.” As the day wears on, you may need to increase your cash on hand. Jot down on your mobile phone the source of cash (e.g. ATM, borrowings, sale of assets) with the corresponding amounts while saying “source” each time.

Also jot down the uses for your cash by grouping them into major categories (e.g. food, transportation, schooling, investments) with their corresponding amounts while saying “use” each time.

Finally, before you go to bed and say your evening prayers, add the amounts for the sources of your cash and deduct the corresponding amounts for the uses of your cash from your beginning cash to arrive at your ending cash for day one while saying “ending.” That ending cash should balance with what you have left in your pockets, wallet or purse.

If you follow the steps closely, you will get a fairly accurate picture of where your money went. But wait, we are not yet done. Your ending cash balance for day one is your beginning cash balance for day two. Repeat the process for day two and for the rest of one week. If you do, you will have an awareness of how money flowed through your finances for one week.

Now, you may say that while we applied shisa kanko and raised awareness through the PFA Reality Cash Flow, we have yet to develop the habit. That habit can be had by your repeating the PFA Reality Cash Flow for three more weeks for a total of roughly one month. If you do, you will be able to inculcate the habit of being aware with how money flows through you. Later, you will not even need to jot down anything because you will have a good idea of how to handle your cash.

And to sustain your efforts, the PFA Reality Cash Flow comes with free daily SMS on personal finance lessons for 30 days for Philippine-issued and -based mobile numbers. There are no embedded ads. Just text 0917-5050709 for more details.

Doumo Arigatou! INQSend questions via “Ask a Friend, Ask Efren” free service at www.personalfinance.ph, SMS, Viber, Twitter, LinkedIn, WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook.

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Efren Ll. Cruz is a registered financial planner and director of RFP Philippines, seasoned investment adviser, bestselling author of personal finance books in the Philippines and a Yaman coach. To consult with a Yaman Coach, email yaman@personalfinance.ph. To learn more about personal financial planning, attend the 99th RFP Program this January 2023. To inquire, e-mail info@rfp.ph or text at 09176248110.

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