Kakeibo: how to use this clever Japanese approach to saving money

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Sarah Biddlecombe
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Looking to overhaul your finances? The world’s first English-language kakeibo, an ancient art used by the Japanese to save money, has finally been published. Here’s what it can teach us about saving money and spending less in 2020. 

We’ve been in lockdown for nearly 10 weeks, during which time we’ve been staying at home more than ever before.

While it’s been difficult to adjust to our new normal, there has been a silver lining for some of us – saving money. In fact, almost half of Brits (47%) have managed to save £300 in the past month, according to new research from LinkedIn.

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Millennials are often considered to be terrible savers: a YouGov survey found that 40% of us don’t even have any pension provisions lined up. But with rising rents and poor wages (the average millennial will earn £8,000 less than their parents did in their 20s) pinching into our purses, this is hardly surprising. Is it any wonder we can’t resist small, pick-me-up treats when home ownership is a distant dream and unpaid internships are the norm?

However, there is never a bad time to start thinking about how to make our pounds stretch that little bit further. So all hail a revolutionary book, Kakeibo: The Japanese Art Of Saving Money, which offers to overhaul our spending habits.

save money
Could the kakeibo method help you save more of your precious pennies?

What is kakeibo?

Pronounced ‘kah-keh-boh’, the kakeibo journal is a traditional Japanese journal. Sort of like a bullet journal for your finances, the kakeibo is full of beautifully designed spreadsheets to help you keep track of your spending and saving goals, peppered with inspirational Japanese proverbs to keep you motivated in your mission. 

Kakeibo was first popularised by Motoko Hani, Japan’s first female journalist, back in 1904. Kakeibo: The Japanese Art Of Saving Money is the first of its kind to be published in the English language, and we think it might just become one of the most popular saving tools on our bookshelves.

writing in journal
The kakeibo method has been used for over 100 years.

How does kakeibo work?

The premise is brilliantly simple: at the beginning of the month, you sit down with your kakeibo and think mindfully about how much money you would like to save, and what you need to do to achieve that goal.

To help with this process, the kakeibo presents you with four key questions to consider:

1) How much money do you have available?

Calculate this by deducting any fixed expenditure (such as rent or your travelcard) from your monthly salary.

2) How much would you like to save?

Set yourself a saving target and use this to calculate a weekly spending limit that you will need to stick to in order to meet your savings goal.

3) How much are you spending?

Keep a journal of your spending by jotting down the daily totals of your expenditure next to the categories of your choosing.

4) How can you improve?

Reflect on your progress at the end of each week and month, to see if you’re on track to meet your target. Think about what you would change for next month.

To give you a better idea of how it looks, we have shared some of the pages exclusively from the book below.

kakeibo the japanese art of saving
kakeibo the japanese art of saving

Feeling inspired to overhaul your finances? You can have a look at some more kakeibo journal ideas on Instagram, here.

This feature was originally published in November 2017

Kakeibo: The Japanese Art of Saving Money is available to buy now

Images: Getty, Unsplash


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Sarah Biddlecombe

Sarah Biddlecombe is an award-winning journalist and Digital Commissioning Editor at Stylist. Follow her on Twitter

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