There is no denying that money is a powerful resource and an unavoidable part of everyday life. Instead of feeling overwhelmed by money’s ability to entangle itself into just about every aspect of your life, why not start your own, money saving, financial revolution? How does a money makeover fuelled by self-care sound? Let the “kakeibo” guide you.
What is kakeibo?
The Japanese method “kakeibo” roughly translates to “money journal” in English. It originated in Japan over 100 years ago as a simple, soulful practice to help you better understand your relationship with money. This practice was not solely approached out of fear of not having enough, but instead as a sacred meditative practice for self-care and self-sufficiency. The kakeibo was pioneered by Hani Motoko, Japan’s first female journalist, as a tool to liberate woman’s financial lives and empower them to have control over their finances.
The money mindfulness method dedicates time and space to connecting your pen to paper and your head with your heart. Doing more than just engaging the mind, the practice should not be mistaken for a chore-like financial tracking.
The essence of this purposeful and peaceful approach to money is the heart itself. The compassionate self-awareness that takes place as you physically journal your incomes and record your expenses is what connects you deeply with your money choices.
The practice of kakeibo will enable you to objectively acknowledge your spending and saving habits and become clearer about what you would like to change and improve. Your increased awareness will unearth the underlying beliefs, behaviours and triggers that are at the root of your relationship with money and allow you see what you would like to change.
The kakeibo prompts you to unpack your beliefs about saving. Instead of focusing on what you cannot buy or feelings of deprivation, it helps you to switch your approach to saving by spending well.
The simple steps at the core of this Japanese practice will help you to consciously plan your finances, think, feel and act more mindfully about money, and embrace saving and spending wisely as acts of self-care.
In a similar way to keeping a food or fitness journal, you will see ways to save for things that really matter to you and are aligned to your personal and family’s values.
Although there are many apps and programs available that can help you to see where your money is going, they don’t support you to slow down and consciously consider your financial choices.
The beauty of kakeibo is in its simplicity. You don’t need any fancy technology — just a pen, paper and an open heart. The habit of handwriting financial ambitions and actions is subtle yet superbly powerful and is essential to giving yourself a bigger picture of your financial situation. Research shows that handwriting slows down your thought processes, increases your awareness and integrates and activates parts of your brain that support you to make conscious choices. Self-awareness sets the scene for choice, and then change, to occur.
How to kakeibo like you mean it
The kakeibo will guide you to reflect on four key questions every month to support you through a process of saving and aligning your spending with your values. These four questions are:
How much money do I have available?
Start each month by journalling how much money you are expecting to have available to you by subtracting your expected money outflows from your money inflows. Categorise your outflows into “musts” and “wants” and recognise the difference between them. Consider your “wants” as opportunities to improve your spending choices.
How much would I like to save?
Set a savings goal for the month and use this to determine how much you can confidently spend and still meet your goal, taking the stress out of your weekly/monthly purchases.
How much am I spending?
Keep a journal of your financial outflows to support yourself to meet your savings goal for the month. Consider using categories that suit your lifestyle and make it easier to mindfully track your expenses. Kakeibo recommends these four categories:
Essential expenses that you must have to survive or to do your job such as housing, groceries, medical/healthcare and transportation.
Things you don’t need but choose to buy that make your life more enjoyable, like eating out, shopping and takeaway coffees. Ask yourself are these “wants” really creating a fulfilling life for me?
Things that broaden your outlook and perspective on life such as books, experiences, events or festivals. Ask yourself what fuels me, gives me energy or helps me grow?
Those irregular and unexpected costs such as fixing your mobile phone, a birthday present for a friend and accommodation for a wedding.
How can I improve?
At the end of each week and month reflect on your progress towards your savings goals. Have you purchased items mindfully and in alignment with your values? What could you do differently next month?
The kakeibo is more than just a traditional budgeting system for saving money. It helps you to be self-aware, self-disciplined and cultivate a peaceful and purposeful relationship with money. There is no more burying your head in the sand — this practice lovingly supports you to get really honest and accountable about your spending and saving habits. You will become your own authority over your financial decisions and use your financial resources to curate a life that you truly love.
Liz McLardy is a university lecturer, accountant and financial wellness educator. She runs consultations and courses that have been in completed in over 70 countries and aims to inspire and empower women to be the masters of managing their money. For more visit lizmclardy.com or @liz_mclardy on Instagram.