15 January 2019

Saving money is hard, really hard, especially since spending money has never been easier. All it takes is a tap, swipe or click and before you know it, your hard-earned money is gone and it's not even payday yet.

This is where Kakeibo can help.

What is Kakeibo?

Or rather, what is ‘a’ Kakeibo. Pronounced “kah-keh-boh” it translates to ‘book of accounts for household economy’. You’re thinking yawn… right? Wrong, before you glaze over, consider this - taking a more mindful approach, understanding your finances and your individual spending habits will allow you to make better choices. We all want to make better choice, right?

Dreamed up in 1904 by Hani Motoko, Japan’s first female journalist. This self-awareness tool helped empower women of the time who were not permitted to work outside the family home. Having no income of their own they were only able to save what was left over from their husbands’ income once all household expenses had been paid. For these women, financial mindfulness was vital.

The idea is to slow down, take account of your incomings and outgoings and decide where you can make changes to spend less on things you don’t need and more on things that bring real joy or meaning to your life. It's not about spending less and saving more, it's about spending well in order to be able to save well.

How does it work?

Write down your monthly/weekly spending in a specifically designed notebook, filled with charts, proverbs and affirmations to motivate you towards your saving goals. If you don’t want to invest in a notebook, because let’s face it, you’re trying to save money not spend it, then you can download our handy version here.

1. At the beginning of each month, you need to establish how much money you actually have. Make a list of your projected income, this could be from your salary, a part-time babysitting job, or that £20 you got for your birthday. Then make a list of all your fixed expenses, this is anything you have to pay, such as rent, bills, phone, car insurance, subscriptions or gym membership. Once you have done this, take your fixed expenses away from your income and this will leave you with an amount that you can choose to spend or save.

2. Once you have completed step one you will have an idea of what you have available for the month and what you aim to save. It is often much easier to save an amount at the beginning of the month, rather than waiting to see what it left over. So now would be a good time to set some money aside, starting small is fine, the main goal is to set some aside.

Savings aside, it’s now time to use the weekly chart to record your spending. A Kakeibo splits spending into four different categories:

  • General: regular essential expenses such as food, transport, prescriptions.
  • Leisure: what you spend on pleasure and entertainment such as clothes, make-up, drinks, restaurants.
  • Culture: activities that enrich you culturally or physically - think concerts, books, art galleries, cinema.
  • Unexpected Extras: these are one-offs such as repairs, gifts or emergencies.

The most practical way to do this is to keep receipts and take a few minutes each evening to fill in your Kakeibo.

3. At the end of the month it’s time to reflect, did you stick to your initial targets, were they realistic, where can you make improvements. Which categories are costing you more than you thought and where are your weak spots (i.e, the early morning Starbucks run)

4. Plan the next month. Make changes and adjustments based on your spending habits from the previous month.

Carry out this process, monthly, until the end of the year, at which point it’s time for your annual review. After 12 months of small incremental changes to your spending habits, hopefully, you will have fulfilled your savings goals and more importantly have more money to spend on the things that really matter to you.

Why do I need it?

Chances are you don’t have every penny accounted for in a multi-tabbed or colour coded wonder of a spreadsheet, but even if you do, keeping a Kakeibo can help by bringing mindfulness and awareness to your spending habits.

It isn’t always easy to really acknowledge your financial situation or the impact it is having on your daily life. Once you do though, you can take small steps to a better place, one packed lunch or homemade coffee at a time.