Budgeting apps are handy, but sometimes confusing. Does this item go to household expenses or should it be something else? Should that credit card charge count as a clothing expense? It can be hard to sort out the details.
The Japanese, with their cultural focus on simplicity, come to the rescue with kakeibo. The Japanese budgeting method, which means “household finance ledger,” has been around for a long time, according to CNBC. Invented in 1904 by Hani Motoko — Japan’s first female journalist — kakeibo is a simple money management technique that encourages mindful spending.
Kakeibo has no complicated spreadsheets or budgeting apps involved, either. Kakeibo requires only a notebook, a pen and an open mind. By writing down every purchase by hand, we can more easily observe our spending habits, take time to reflect on where our money is going and figure out where to make changes.
Kakeibo requires that we sort all purchases into four spending categories: needs (the essentials), wants (things we don’t absolutely need), culture (such as books, museum admission, TV, etc.) and unexpected (things like auto repair or medical expenses). By sorting your cash flow, you’ll see what you truly spend your money on, and you can adjust according to your income, savings goals and personal values.
Lastly, kakeibo encourages practitioners to frequently check in with themselves about their spending. Before purchasing any non-essential items, ask yourself if you can truly afford an item, if you can live without it, if you have the space for it and if you’ll actually use it. This will encourage you to reflect on impulse purchases before you pull the trigger, and lead to more mindful spending habits.
Kakeibo is not about depriving you of the things you enjoy. Rather, it’s about helping you make more careful decisions with your money so you can purchase the things that you truly value.