If you're looking to get your finances in order there are plenty of tools, tips, and systems out there to help you sort through your expenses, rein in your spending, and ensure you're getting the most out of your money. Many of these are useful, but let's be honest. Many bad financial decisions stem not from lack of knowledge, but from our emotions. 

We overspend, just like we overeat, because we're exhausted, depressed, or trying to fill some yawning need for comfort or control. Or we skimp when we should spend because of unexamined childhood experiences. Many blindly chase more income long after additional dollars stop making us happy. 

Sometimes what you need to get your finances in order isn't an accountant but a psychologist. Or, according to a fascinating new post by writer Rahul Chowdhury, a linguist. 

On his blog recently Chowdhury contends that learning foreign words centering on the concepts of value, economics, and the pursuit of the good life can help you think differently about money, allowing you to begin to rewrite your beliefs and control your impulses so you can get a better handle on your finances. 

Experts certainly agree with his underlying concept. As I've written here on Inc.com before, learning foreign words can help you expand your emotional vocabulary and understand yourself and the world more clearly. So what words does Chowdhury suggest will help you with your finances? He mentions several key Japanese terms. 


"Chisoku talks about being content with what you already have," explains Chowdbury, who uses the concept to stop himself from buying beautiful but unnecessary objects for his home. In his book The Art of Simple Living, Zen Buddhist monk Shunmyo Masuno explains the word this way: 

In Buddhism we say Chisoku, which means "Be satisfied." Knowing how much is enough is about finding satisfaction in what you already have. Human desire is endless. Once we acquire one thing, we desire ten of them. And when we acquire ten things, we want a hundred. Even though we know we don't need it, we are unable to rein in our desire. Once engulfed by these feelings, there is no way to satisfy ourselves. There will be times when we want something we do need. There is nothing wrong with this. But once we acquire the minimum necessary amount, we must learn to tell ourselves, "Ah, this is enough for me."

A scientist might term this problem of never-satisfied longing for the next greatest thing, the hedonic treadmill. Whichever framing works better for you, having a term handy to remind you that desire is boundless and that the route out of longing isn't more stuff, but more wisdom is a useful tool to get your financial house in order. 

2. Wabi Sabi 

Wabi sabi "talks about finding beauty in imperfection. As things age and decay, they become more beautiful," writes Chowdhury. That idea won't just help you meet your next birthday with more grace, it can also be the antidote to "new shiny thing syndrome." 

"It is the job of companies to make new products look as appealing as possible. That is how they attract customers," he reminds readers, but "if you start appreciating the beauty and character of things that you already own, you'll soon find that you don't need to replace your belongings so often."

3. Mitate 

Mitate means 'to see anew,' or to look at something common and everyday and imagine new uses for it. "Growing up in an Indian household, I already had this mindset from my childhood. I've seen my mom peeling off labels from jam jars and using them as spice containers," Chowdhury recalls. 

This concept can certainly help you wring the most use out of every object you own (both your budget and the earth will thank you). But taken broadly, it could also help you discover all sorts of fresh possibilities hiding in plain sight. Perhaps a corner of your store could also be a coffee shop, your knowledge could become an e-book, or an old friendship a powerhouse business collaboration? The key is to see the things in your life not just as fixed objects but as a canvas for creative reinterpretation.