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Kakeibo: The Japanese art of saving money

saifuddinss profile image Saifuddin Slatewala Originally published at on ・2 min read

Kakeibo, pronounced “kah-keh-boh,” translates as “household financial ledger.” Invented in 1904 by a woman named Hani Motoko (notable for being Japan’s first female journalist), kakeibo is a simple, no-frills approach to managing your finances.

According to the kakeibo method, you must ask yourself the following questions before purchasing any non-essential items — or the things you buy on impulse, but might not necessarily need:

  • Can I live without this item?
  • Based on my financial situation, can I afford it?
  • Will I actually use it?
  • Do I have space for it?
  • How did I come across it in the first place? (Did I see it in a magazine? Did I come across it after wandering into a gift shop out of boredom?)
  • What is my emotional state in general today? (Calm? Stressed? Celebratory? Feeling bad about myself?)
  • How do I feel about buying it? (Happy? Excited? Indifferent? And how long will this feeling last?)

While kakeibo was effective in helping me stay on top of my finances, what it really did — that other systems I’ve tried in the past didn’t — forced me to think about my purchases and what motivated me to buy them.

In other words, I was finally able to conquer my fear of being completely honest about my “needs” and “wants.” As a result, I got better at making faster, smarter and more logical decisions about whether to spend money on a particular item.

How to spend more mindfully

  1. Leave the item for 24 hours.
  2. Don’t let “blowout sales” tempt you.
  3. Check your bank balance regularly.
  4. Spend in cash.
  5. Put reminders in your wallet. My friend came up with the brilliant idea of attaching a sticker to her credit card that bluntly says, “Do you REALLY need this?!”
  6. Change the environments that cause you to spend. Unsubscribe or unfollow marketing emails/contents.

All of this will help you save more. Also, try and keep a log of saving every month and see if it is increasing every month or not that will help you motivate to save more.

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