Kakeibo, a Japanese method to manage your money


Kakeibo, or kakebo, is a Japanese savings method invented by Hani Motoko that consists of controlling one’s accounts and spending to put money aside. The importation of kakeibo to Europe is related to the French essayist Dominique Loreau. Find out how this book works and start managing your income better today. If you find it difficult to save money, this is the technique for you!

In this article :

  • What is a kakebo?
  • How to use a kakebo?
  • How to hold it properly?
  • Why hold a kakebo?
  • Which kakebo should I choose?

What is a kakeibo?

A kakeibo is a simple savings account book (or diary, or notebook) that allows you to categorise every amount spent, regardless of cost, into separate categories to help you manage your finances.

Kakeibo is useful for preparing for the unexpected and building up long-term savings.

kakeibo 2023

"Follow our method carefully and save up to 30% of money every month! This is thanks to the organisation brought about by note-taking"

Originally, this type of book was first introduced in 1904 by Hani Motoko, the first Japanese woman journalist. Her idea was to provide women with a tool to develop their economic independence on a daily basis.

What is the point of using this tool today? It is simply a matter of determining how much you can live on after saving and paying all your fixed expenses, with the second intention of being able to optimise this remaining sum.

This technique is very simple and can be adopted by anyone, regardless of their budget and income.

This method is similar to another technique for saving money that is better known as the 50-30-20 rule.

One of the reasons why kakeibo is so popular in Japan is that it allows you to build up your savings gradually, without depriving yourself. Each day, a small amount of money is put aside, which can then be used when needed or reinvested.

"To make the most out of this system, you will need to be as exact as possible. Avoid rounding off your money, instead simply write down the exact number you’ve spent."

It is therefore an excellent way to prepare for the unexpected and to build up long-term savings.

This method is particularly suitable for people who find it difficult to save, as it does not require major sacrifices and encourages them to take action on their budget on a daily, weekly or monthly basis (depending on the savings rhythm you choose).

How to use a kakeibo?

There are no specific rules for using this type of account book, but it is generally recommended that you spend a few minutes each day or week keeping a diary.

The aim is to become aware of your spending and consumption habits. Therefore, nothing will be more effective than confronting it regularly!

If you are a big spender or you regularly find yourself not understanding what your savings have been squandered on, we advise you to keep your kakeibo as often as possible (ideally every day).
Filling it in and checking it once a month will take much longer to make you realise your budgeting shortcomings and even longer to incorporate solutions into your daily life.

kakeibo english version

"Control your spending, save money, regain peace of mind, and make your life happier and healthier with Kakeibo—the traditional Japanese method of money management that is still widely used today."

Implementing a kakeibo in 2023

To set up the method, you need a pen and the kakeibo you have bought or, failing that, a simple diary/book.

Before you start: decide how much money you want to save per month. Putting your savings target against your available finances at the end of the month will allow you to estimate how much effort you need to put in to achieve it.

In concrete terms, using a kakeibo works as follows (see the example image above for a visual diagram):

  1. On the top of the first page, you should note all your income: income, salaries, grants, etc.
  2. Underneath, on the bottom of the first page and the second page, you should note down all your outgoings: fixed, current, occasional (make an average for the latter if it is difficult to determine).
  3. At the bottom of the second page you calculate how much money you have left after deducting expenses from your income.
  4. The next two pages allow you to record all the expenses you will have in a given month so that you can keep track of every euro spent.
  5. Each of these expenses must fit into one of the categories on the first two pages of your diary: is it a fixed expense (housing, taxes)? A current expense (food, transport)? Or an occasional expense (holidays, entertainment, gifts)?
  6. At the end of the month you will have a clear picture of the weight of each of these expenses in your overall budget. You will know how much you have left and you will be able to understand which expenses you can reduce in order to save a little more money each month.
kakeibo 2023

"Follow our method carefully and save up to 30% of money every month! This is thanks to the organisation brought about by note-taking"

The importance of the balance sheet

Tracking and calculating your expenses in a notebook without drawing any conclusions is of little use. It’s a bit like analysing a problem, identifying it, but doing nothing to correct it.

That’s the whole point of the balance sheet: done at the end of the month, it will allow you to take a step back and really understand what worked, what didn’t, and what you can continue to improve in your budget management.

Some simple questions to ask yourself during this review:

  • Was one month more difficult than another? Why or why not?
  • Which expenses are putting the biggest strain on your budget? Can you reduce them? If so, how?
  • Have you implemented any techniques/methods that have been particularly successful in achieving your savings target?
  • Did you reach your savings target? If so, was it easy? Can you increase this goal further?

By answering these questions you will determine which months are the biggest drain on your budget and ideally be able to anticipate these expensive months in the future!

A simple example: July, August and December are likely to be the months with the most expenses, and that’s normal: leisure activities, outings, gifts… Thanks to the kakeibo books and to the regular keeping of your accounts you will be able to anticipate these big expenses by saving and regulating your budget in the weeks preceding these months.

Choosing a bank card for your expenses: do you know the differences between debit and credit cards?

Holding the kakeibo properly

To keep track of your kakeibo, all you need to do is be disciplined: every purchase you make in your daily life, no matter how expensive, should be recorded. Then it is important to save the amount you have planned every day, week or month, without exception.

As simple as that? Yes, it is.

As with every technique for optimising your budget, expenses and savings, there is no secret: the main factor is you and your willingness to change things.

Normally it’s hard enough to stick to an established routine, so when it comes to saving money it’s no easier! But keeping a notebook like this can help you: this little diary will allow you to optimise your accounts on a daily basis in a fun way with real objectives.

To sum up, to be sure to keep your kakeibo, just remember these 3 rules:

  • Take the time to fill in your kakeibo books every day or every week, depending on your rhythm.
  • Write down all your expenses, even the smallest ones, so that you have an overview of their nature.
  • Use your notebook as a motivator to reach your financial goals.

"To make the most out of this system, you will need to be as exact as possible. Avoid rounding off your money, instead simply write down the exact number you’ve spent."

Why hold a kakeibo?

The advantages of kakeibo

The kakeibo is useful as a budget management tool, particularly for

  • Simplicity: it allows you to track your expenses and set a budget without any special knowledge or skills in finance.
  • Saving: it is useful for comparing your expenses month by month and making savings.
  • Awareness: it allows you to better understand your consumption and to be aware of unnecessary purchases made with your daily budget.

The disadvantages of Kakeibo

The kakeibo is not the perfect tool, there are several drawbacks to this Japanese method:

  • The use, you have to put down and perform the calculations by hand.
  • Mobility, it is not an application and it is difficult to carry with you at all times.
  • Risk of loss, you can misplace your kakeibo.
  • Time-consuming, you have to deal with it every day and don’t miss any expenses.
  • Objectivity: it relies on your discipline and honesty, if you forget to note an expense, make a mistake on a price, etc… The data will be distorted.

Which kakeibo to choose for 2023?

There are different types of books, but it is important to choose the one that best suits your needs and lifestyle.

If you find it difficult to manage your budget and save money, choose a kakeibo that will help you track your spending and save money.

If you tend to overspend, choose a notebook that will help you keep track of your purchases and limit you to a certain budget.

Finally, if you simply want to understand your consumption better, you should choose a kakeibo that will provide you with detailed statistics on your spending.

Where to find a kakeibo?

On most marketplaces you can find a kakeibo:

  • Amazon
  • Fnac
  • CDiscount
  • Cultura

If you don’t want to go through this kind of website, go to your local bookstore, which should have several models in stock for you.

Jordan Houi
Article by

Jordan Houi

Passionate about savings and investment topics. I modestly try to offer you simple, sometimes not so simple, solutions to beat inflation.