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Kakeibo: the clever Japanese approach to saving money

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Sarah Biddlecombe
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kakeibo the japanese art of saving

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 revolutionising our finances.

It’s a situation that’s familiar to many of us: payday arrives and we make a beeline to a bar, where we can be found coolly picking up the bill for rounds of drinks before heading out for dinner.

But fast forward a week or two and things have, inevitably, taken a financial turn for the worst. Office lunches become soggy sandwiches made the night before and eaten al desko, while weekends become 48 hours of window shopping and the challenge of making a single Espresso Martini last an entire hour. We promise ourselves we’ll change, but let’s be honest – that promise is as empty as our bank accounts.

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 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 to start thinking about how to make our pounds stretch that little bit further. So all hail a revolutionary book, Kakeibo: The Japanese of Saving Money, which promises to revitalise our spending habits.

What is kakeibo?

Pronounced ‘kah-keh-boh’, the kakeibo journal is a traditional Japanese journal that is fast becoming a cult trend across Europe. 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.

People in Japan are masters of the art of minimal living – we only need look at Marie Kondo and her global decluttering movement, which inspired the world to ditch any objects that no longer “sparked joy”, for proof. And with the aforementioned kakeibo book the first to be published in the English language, we predict the kakeibo method could fast become one of the most popular saving tools on our bookshelves.

And if that wasn’t enough to convince you, the journal has a pretty strong feminist backstory, having been popularised by Motoko Hani, Japan’s first female journalist, back in 1904.

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.

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

Image: Getty

This feature was originally published in November 2017

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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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