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

Posted by
Sarah Biddlecombe
kakeibo save money

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. 

It’s a situation that will be 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 a round of drinks before heading out to a restaurant for dinner.

But fast forward a week or two and things have, inevitably, taken a financial turn for the worse. 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.

You may also like

Debt advice: “I have been in debt for most of my adult life”

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 promises to revitalise 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 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.

writing in journal
Sleep help: 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


Share this article


Sarah Biddlecombe

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

Recommended by Sarah Biddlecombe

Long Reads

“How I saved £9,700 in a year by asking this one simple question”

Could mindful spending be the fastest way to save money in 2020?

Posted by
Amy Nelmes Bissett

5 simple ways to make your money stretch further in 2020

Expert advice on how to make the most of your precious pennies and pounds this year.

Posted by
Laura Whateley

22 stylish storage options to help you Marie Kondo your life

There's no better time to get organised than the new year.

Posted by
Megan Murray

How Marie Kondo’s magical tidying up method changed the way I live

As the decluttering guru launches a new Netflix show, one woman puts the KonMari method to the test

Posted by
Anna Brech
Long Reads

“My flat is full of sentimental tat – and I have no desire to declutter”

If you remove everything that doesn’t spark joy right in this moment, you might just live to regret it.

Posted by
Rosie Mullender