This Japanese Budgeting System Is Helping Me Define What Matters in My Life
I’m in my mid-40s and have always hated thinking about money. Enter the Kakeibo system.
About a year ago, I discovered a worksheet-based budget that allowed me to shed my severe allergy to thinking about money.
Here’s what you need to know about me: I’m in my mid-40s; I’ve been a freelancer for most of my life, and I’ve never, ever had a good relationship with money, even when I had plenty of it to spend.
And here’s what you need to know about the Kakeibo system: It was invented by Hani Motoko, Japan’s first female journalist, for housewives to keep track of their household expenses. (The word itself means “household account book.”) You start by adding up your income and its sources. Then you detract the monthly expenses first and what you want to save second. After that, you break down each month by the week, delineating what you’ve spent into buckets: Needs, Wants, Culture, and Unplanned. And along the way, the Kakeibo template posits gentle, mindful questions: What do you want to save for? What are your spending goals, and how will you reach those goals?
You can download your own copies of the Kakeibo worksheet here.
This technique worked for me on a few levels: First, it allowed for multiple streams of income. Second, it spoke my language. (A whole category of spending just for culture? Sign me up!) Third, I got to buy a new notebook.
I’m still not an expert at the system. Sometimes, I wait right up until the very end of the month before I start the worksheet for the following month. And I’ve made a few adjustments, like tweaking one of the formulas so that I get to see how much more I’ve saved than I initially allotted for savings. I added a fifth category of spending, for Gifts, because I buy a gift for someone almost every week, and they don’t seem to fit into any of the other categories.
Changes like this that are indicative of the true value of Kakeibo for this user: it’s allowed me to define what’s important to…