Ask why? ‘ Before you buy to control impulse spending
Targeting savings in advance forces you to prioritize them. And this open-ended “improvement” question encourages you to save money in the way that works best for you.
These two suggestions do not come out of nowhere. These are characteristics of a Japanese budget practice called kakeibo (pronounced “kah-KEH-boh” and meaning “household financial ledger”), devised over 100 years ago and still popular in Japan today. It has become a minor fad in America in recent years. – there was a wave of kakeibo books, magazine articles and journals for sale – so I decided to explore it. I’m glad I did. I learned that kakeibo is a special type of money review that guides users through monthly planning and it is part of a strong tradition of saving and saving in Japan.
And I also learned that my own sister-in-law, Yukiko Hirano, 62, has been doing this for much of her life. Growing up in southern Japan, she watched her mother keep a kakeibo journal; when Hirano started her career, she launched hers. “For me, it was normal and natural,” she says. “I used it to categorize all of my expenses.”
While living in the United States for much of her adult life, Hirano didn’t care about kakeibo, but instead tracked her spending with her checking account ledger and credit card statements. But after she and my brother-in-law returned to Japan, she resumed the habit.
Her main motivation, she says, is to “always save money for the future.” As she keeps track of her expenses daily, “I know how much I have left to spend,” she said, “and I know that at the end of the month I will have some money left.
Keeping a financial journal “helps me be more mindful of my expenses,” says Sarah Harvey, a Londoner who learned about kakeibo while living in Tokyo and describes the practice in her book. Kaizen: the Japanese method for transforming habits one step at a time. In her own money journaling, she focuses on the emotional triggers that make her spend. Before buying anything, she asks herself a series of questions designed to help her separate the logic of her purchases from her moods.