Nov 15, 2018

Household money management in Japan

In a traditional Japanese household usually the wife manages the money. In a lot of cases, the husband works full-time and the wife is either a housewife or works part-time but nevertheless, the task of money management is in female hands. 

The husband will bring home a pay check each month and the wife will keep a household book, or similar, to keep track of income and expenses. In a lot of households, the husband will get a certain amount of pocket money that he can use freely. How the rest of the money is used is decided by the wife.

In general, I find this traditional model quite debatable and would probably not be satisfied with pocket money if I was the working husband.

Household money management in Japan photo

But when my husband and I first talked about how to deal with money when we moved in together I was surprised to hear that he had never kept a household book and was not aware of how much savings he had. Maybe Japanese men do not like dealing with such things?

I had been keeping a household book since I moved out of my parents’ home so that I would know how much I spend on what and also how much money I have left for the month. So for me, the thought of not having a household book is pretty scary as it would leave me in a state where I have no idea how much money I have left for the month.

As my husband and I both work full-time and make a similar amount of money we came to the conclusion that we would both keep our own bank accounts, pay 50% each for common expenses like rent, food, and utilities and are free to do what we want with the remaining money from our respective salaries.

Nevertheless, I started to keep a household book for my husband as well, since he didn’t have one yet and left me to do the task as I was already used to doing it. So, we basically have 3 household books; one for each of our personal expenses and one for common expenses. It might not be the most efficient way, but until now it has been working well for us.

Also, I use the term "household books" here but in our case, it is actually just 3 Excel files, so it doesn’t take up any space and all calculations are done automatically, which is quite convenient.

How do you manage money in your household? Do you have a traditional Japanese approach or is it rather different?



Hi, I’m Eli. I’m from Germany and moved to Japan a few years ago. I am a typical nerd and like collecting Pokémon merchandise.Follow me on twitter (@hannari_eri) for the latest nerd News from Tokyo. I also write a blog in German over here. https://lifeinjapanisstrange.wordpress.com/


  • TonetoEdo

    on Nov 15

    Another cultural perspective - Scottish families traditionally left the household money management to the eldest woman in the house, either a wife or eldest sister or auntie. My grandparents immigrated to North America and brought the habit with them. When my grandmother took sick, my grandfather had to go to hospital to ask her for credit cards and bank account info. Of course, just like Japanese wives, she'd stashed some money for "contingencies". I think it's important that the man of the house knows where to find most of everything in case of emergencies. She bought us grandchildren stuff from her "contingency" fund!

  • helloalissa

    on Dec 24

    At out house it's similar to your management style, although we keep our own "books." The traditional method works best only if the wife is the one who is more responsible with money. One acquaintance told me her husband is in charge because she can't keep a budget. "Hesokuri" are not only for women, but I think it's kind of a nice custom, isn't it?