How to use the Kakebo Budget

How to use the Kakebo Budget

Unless you’ve been living under a rock recently, you’ve heard of the Japanese system of Kon Mari for tidying up and keeping your space clear.

But you may not have heard of the Japanese system for managing your money in a similar way, its known as Kakebo.

What the Hell is a Kakebo?

Well similar to Kon Mari it’s not an actual thing, it’s a sort of philosophy of managing your money.

It was invented by a whip-smart Japanese lady called Hani Motoko. She was a journalist in the early 1900’s who became interested in how women spent their household budget. She invented Kakebo to help people spend more mindfully.

Initially it just looks like a particular way to budget, but it’s actually more about examining the Why of how you spend your money

In a previous post I talked about how important knowing where your money has been going is to planning any sort of financial budget moving forward. You can’t tell where you’re going without knowing where you’ve been.

Whats the advantages?

The real secret to Kakebo is that it helps you to get mindful about your money and expenses.

Yup, mindful. Essentially you are not just tracking what you spend, but where you’re spending it! It then encourages you to look back on what you’ve spent and spend some time reflecting on how you feel about the expenditure.

How does it work?

Firstly you take a quick look at the year as a whole and see if there are any expenses you can try and predict.

Secondly, you look at your income and actual expenditure and plot out your predicted spending for the month.

From what’s left, you assign a savings goal and you have then ‘Spending Money’. You only track this money so it’s a pretty doable system.

Instead of looking at expense as a good or service, Kakebo divides things into life ‘categories’ and you examine your expenditure within the category and not on a good or service, which just gives you a stand alone expense.

You use these four categories, and a weekly tracking sheet to keep track of your spending in each area. The areas are:

  • General: Basic things like travel, food, household goods.
  • Leisure: Nights out, clothes, make-up
  • Culture: Things that make you smarter, books, events, courses etc
  • Unexpected: Stuff that surprised you

Just to clarify, you only track your spending money, the system assumes you have paid your bills. This is another reason I like it because it’s not as big of a task to just track your spending money.

The Tracker Sheets

So when you fill out your weekly amounts you can quickly see how much went on your ‘living expenses’, how much was invested in yourself, and how much was on ‘fun’.

The theory being, you should have a nice balance to all of these things in order to live well and mindfully.

Once you have your weekly sheets they feed into a monthly sheet. And you take some time to look at the spending as a whole and then have a think about how you feel about your spending.

There is a flowchart as well about when to spend money. Do you want it, like it, need etc sort of thing to try and help you be more mindful BEFORE you spend your money.

How I use it

As well as the weekly and monthly Trackers, I also looked at my own savings goals, and what I was saving for.

If you’ve ever saved for a House or a Wedding or something you really wanted you would know how it just become that bit easier to save. So drawing up a goal helps me focus.

I also prepared an Annual Tracker where I can look at the year as a whole with a quick look at Spending V Saving in any month. I just think its a really nice way to see the year as a whole.

The weekly trackers are a totally new way of looking at your spending. Instead of mindlessly adding a number you have to seriously consider WHY you spent it, was it a treat, a learning experience or something you happened to need. Keeping a track on money like this is new and I like it!

Essentially Kakebo is like a journal for your money.

I’m sold, GIMME!

So even though Kakebo is hugely popular in Japan and in lots of other countries, there’s very little I can find on it in English. In fact I can’t even guarantee the right spelling, it can also be spelt with an ‘i’!

I learned about the system from this book which has a short chapter explaining the system and then worksheets for filling out. Its really beautiful and I love it.

However, I am obsessed with Bullet Journaling and planners and I wanted something that can blend in with my own Planning Folder so I designed my own. It includes the Dream Goal planning sheet I mentioned as well as an Annual Review Sheet as well.

It also has the Tracking and Reflection pages too.

I liked it so much that I popped it in the resource section here for you to download. Just head HERE


In general if you are looking for a nicer way to track and save your money that doesn’t feel like your berating yourself all of the time, Kakebo is a solid start.

If you don’t fancy buying a system, check out Pinterest for loads of ideas for working Kakebo into a Bullet Journalling system as a Spending and Saving Tracker, its super.

Remember, tracking money isn’t about beating yourself up, it’s about information gathering so you can plan better.

If tracking your money is something you’d like to try this year, Kakebo is definitely a system worth checking out.

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I would LOVE to hear from you.