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How to Save Money Using the Japanese ‘Kakebo’ Method

How to Save Money Using the Japanese ‘Kakebo’ Method

Last month, we tried to save money using Kakebo, the Japanese money saving technique that blew up after a book about it was published late last year.

Kakeibo: The Japanese Art of Saving Money by Fumiko Chiba details a traditional form of personal financing. It started out as a household financing system that in our experience greatly prioritizes savings and you being able to log every single thing you spend on. Kakebo claims to help you save 35% or more thanks to careful planning.

The basics of Kakebo

First, log in the fixed expenses and income. These include your bills and your monthly salary.

Second, set aside your monthly savings goal already. Before you even spend on anything, have that amount locked up in the bank. Based on your spending experiences before, try to come up with an amount that’s realistic. If it’s your first time, start small this month.

Third, it’s time to log in all your expenses. It divides your expenses into four categories – Survival, Optional, Culture, and Extra. These all have subcategories like Food, Transportation, Gifts, and the like.

And last, at the end of each month, reflect on your savings and expenses and see where you can improve.

Other versions will have you set monthly goals (saving up for something) and promises (bringing lunch instead of buying), but really this is all up to you.

Trying Kakebo for the first time

Listing everything down

Start by listing your fixed expenses first. Just jot them down on the corner of your notebook.

Kakebo categorizes your expenses into four main categories. You can keep the traditional subcategories but you can add to them depending on your lifestyle. Here’s mine:


  • Food
  • Transportation
  • Medicine


  • Eating Out
  • Shopping


  • Books
  • Magazines
  • Concerts
  • Movies


  • Gifts
  • Repairs
  • Salon

The ‘salon’ subcategory is my own, since I regularly need haircuts and sometimes styling for events.

What happened when I started to do Kakebo

Kakebo made me more aware of categorizing our expenses. Whenever I think of what eat, in my head I think if this is considered eating out or part of my daily meals. I also like how ‘eating out’ was part of the categories, giving importance to meals out with friends and family.

Logging and computing every category’s total gave me a detailed account as to what I was spending most on and how I could improve on that. There are some moments when I would be confused as to what category an expense falls on, so another thing to improve is to be able to personalize my kakebo.

Because my priority was my savings, I decided to limit the number of days I would eat out for lunch. Instead, I often brought lunch to work keeping me from spending a good P150 – P200 (it’s very expensive to eat where I work, okay).

As for saving, doing that at the very start of the month was helpful for me because I was able to secure that amount of money right away and set it aside a different bank account from my payroll.

Using Kakebo apps and templates

Pinterest only has a handful of strictly Kakebo style templates so what I did was search the #kakebo, #kakeibo, and #家計簿 hashtags on Instagram to help guide me as to what the journal would look like.

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#ひまわりの家計簿 ✴︎ 来月はこのフォーマットでやってみたいと思います✨ 息子が夜中から熱がでて今朝は下がってたけど、 今週、来週にかけて仕事が忙しくなるので長引かないように今日は様子見で保育園おやすみしたのでお昼寝中にフォーマットを独り言いいながら作りました😍 ✴︎ 来月からフォローさせていただいてる方のを真似して 1日2000円の週わけで袋分けしていこうと思います‼️ どこまでを入れたらいいんだ?🤔 って蟻みたいな脳みそで悶々と考えてまずは特別費、出費が分かってるお金は別にしようかなって思います🤔 初めましてやる事なので手探りですが 自分に合ったのを見つけていこうと思います‼️ やるぞーーーー‼️ えい、えい、おーーー‼️ ✴︎ #家計簿#家計簿公開#家計簿フォーマット#家計簿仲間と繋がりたい#週わけ#今年の目標金額達成の為に#ワーママ#家計簿フォーマット変更

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And even as a bullet journal user, I preferred to log things digitally on NumbersGoogle Sheets would be a great alternative as well, so you can sync data between devices.

As for apps, there are only few Kakebo or Kakeibo ones because of its rather small market. One example is the Goodbudget app. Other established but not-strictly-Kakebo apps include Wally and my recent favorite MoneyLover. They’re both good alternatives for digital personal financing as well.



About The Author


Abby graduated with a Communication degree focusing on film and sound production. She's often seen taking photos of food and places whether it's with her phone or a simple camera, and has an affinity for pink and earth tones. Clothed with a passionate soul, she writes about anything she can overshare about.

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