You already understand Kakeibo, the Japanese art of saving money

Hint: It’s a budget

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Nothing sparks joy quite like a paid-off credit card.

That’s the theory behind Kakeibo, the Japanese art of saving money that’s being marketed alongside Marie Kondo’s life-changing magic of tidying up and Ikigai, the Japanese secret to a long and happy life. And it’s not just a clever way to cash in on a trend: Kakeibo means “household financial ledger” and it dates back to 1904, when Hani Mokoto developed the system.

Kakeibo is basically just budgeting.

In a nutshell, it comes down to keeping a pen-on-paper list of everything you spend. In other words: keep a budget. The four spending categories — survival, culture, optional, and extra — are unique, but it’s still a budget.

Like most budgets, it breaks down in monthly increments, meaning that every four weeks, you ask yourself these four questions:

1️⃣ How much money will I make this month?

2️⃣ How much money will I save?

3️⃣ How much will I spend? (divided into the aforementioned categories)

4️⃣ How can I improve next month? Where can I adjust my spending?

Yes, they’ve tacked on a Kondoesque bunch of extra questions you’re meant to ask of every non-essential thing you buy. Can you live without it? Can you afford it? Will you use it? Do you have room for it? Where’d you find it? How do you feel in general, and about this purchase in particular? All of which are good questions, and all of which boil down to not buying unnecessary things. 

The art of saving money comes down to budgeting, and that translates into pretty much every language.