Kakeibo (家計簿) translates to Household account book. It’s a Japanese method of keeping track of your budget while becoming more mindful of how you spend it. First, some history. After the second world war, woman’s education was a controversial topic. The Meiji government had adopted the idea of a male-centered authoritarian family system. The philosophy towards woman was expressed as “good wife, wise mother”, which idealized females as child bearer, caretaker and obedient wife. While men were educated to become leaders of society and head of households. As a result, the education gap between women made it nearly impossible to acquire career opportunities and social advancement. In this hard time for Japanese women, there was an exception. Hani Motoko (1873-1957), became Japan’s first woman journalist and later publisher of a woman’s monthly magazine. Like a boss, am I right?


She was a pioneer in regards to promoting education for women, her influence lasted from the late Meiji period to the 50’s. Motoko, along with Tsuda Umeko and Kawai Michi, looked for an alternative to the public school system that reinforced a submissive role for women in society. Inspired by western educational experiences or Christian-affiliated schools in Japan, Honji founded a private school specifically designed to cultivate individualism and prepare women to become financial partners within the family. And she is the woman responsible for the Kakeibo system we use today. She published it on the before mentioned magazine in 1905 and is still very popular and widely used.


Financial stability is crucial for happiness.

Kakeibo’s philosophy is that financial stability is crucial for happiness. There are lots of promises online, mentioning that you can save up more than one-third of your income. I think it depends on how much you make an effort on saving. The plan starts by setting a savings goal and a promise to oneself that will help you reach that goal. It could be something like: “I want to save $150 this month, and I promise to not buy coffee in the mornings, I’ll make it at home.”

There are plenty of Kakeibo planners out there, feel free to look for one that would be suitable for you. I prefer to make my own charts. If you don’t want to jump and buy a Kakeibo just yet. That is also okay. I’ll explain how it works.

We will make a Kakeibo plan for a month, on a piece of paper make a table with 4 columns and add a title to each like this:

  • Fixed Expenses, expenses that repeat each month.
  • Leisure, expenses like material things, clothes, restaurants, etc…
  • Culture, expenses like entertainment, books, movies, sports, etc…
  • Other, everything else falls here.

In that same paper answer this questions:

  1. What is my total income?
  2. And after fixed expenses?
  3. How much do I want to save this month?
  4. What promise will I make to myself?

Through the month you have to write down everything you spend on. And I mean, everything. Otherwise, the final amounts will make no sense. At the end of the month, you do simple math like this:

Total Income after Fixed Expenses – Total Spent =  Total Saved.

Compare what you actually saved with your goal and answer: Did I reach my goal? Y/N.

Download below a Monthly
Kakeibo Chart for free.

And that’ts all. Of course, it is customizable. For example, 6 months ago I was using these categories: Fixed, Supermarket, Clothes, Food, Movies, Uber, Other. After some months I was only using these: Fixed, Food, Other. So you can really create any category that you need. The key here is to be consistent in writing things down.

If making charts is not your thing, do not worry. Just click below to download your own Monthly Kakeibo Chart. Courtesy of yours truly. It wouldn’t hurt anyone if you subscribed, I’ll only share what I consider to be interesting articles and you can unsub at any time. It’s a win-win!

My experience after starting using this method was eye-opening. I became aware that I was spending way too much money on eating out. After that, unconsciously, I became more mindful about eating out. Which made me cook at home more, hence improving my nutrition and overall health. After adopting a minimalist lifestyle I find that I only need two categories: Fixed and Other. But that story will be in another post. I would like to know how Kakeibo helped you become more mindful of how you spend. See you in the comment section.


¡Thanks, Melissa!

If you found this resource useful in any way I would be thrilled to hear from you!
See you in the comment section.

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B. Winston Kahn. The Historian, Vol. 59, No. 2 (WINTER 1997), pp. 391-401

2 replies on “Kakeibo: Become mindful of your budget.

  1. We are on a Social Security Income and went from a yearly six figure income to a yearly five figure income. It is rough to save for yearly property taxes. Hoping Kakeibo will teach us how to save more simply and easily.


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