Marie Kondo has been marginally well-known in America since her book “The Magical Art of Tidying Up” came out in 2014, but her star has risen significantly with the release of her Netflix show “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo”. She’s helped people all over the globe learn to declutter their lives with the “KonMari” method, an organizational philosophy inspired by the Shinto religion.
The method revolves around choosing the items you want to keep by deciding whether or not they spark joy. The idea is to pare down and organize your lifestyle, while also developing a deeper appreciation for what you have.
That approach can also be used to take a closer look at your finances. Here’s how to do it.
Why You Should KonMari Your Finances
The financial decisions we make reflect our deeper habits. Our weekly manicure or daily take-out isn’t just an activity, it’s a subconscious reinforcement of the patterns we develop over time. Sometimes, those patterns are in direct conflict with our goals and priorities.
That’s the purpose of applying the KonMari method to your finances – it forces you to look at your budget with a curious mind. Instead of making financial decisions based on affordability or ingrained habit, you’ll learn to make them based on personal fulfillment.
Make a List of Your Expenses
You need to visualize your expenses before you can decide what to cut and what to keep. Print out your bank and credit card statements from the past three months and lay them out before you.
Then, go through each transaction one by one with a pen or highlighter and ask yourself if they spark joy. A $10 Spotify membership might seem unnecessary at first, but not if listening to music keeps you sane on your hour-long commute.
Let your gut reaction be the primary guiding factor here. Don’t think about the feelings you should have or how someone else might feel. Just allow yourself to react genuinely.
Pay careful attention to expenses that don’t get used often, like gym memberships or items that spark guilt or shame when you examine them. Chances are, you’ll be better off without them.
One expense I removed from my life was a subscription to The New Yorker and The New York Times. My journalism mentor recommended I read them to see examples of good writing and reporting, but I didn’t enjoy them as much as my other publications. I felt guilty seeing stacks of unread magazines sitting on my floor, so I finally canceled my subscriptions.
Create a Routine
People think the KonMari routine is something to do once a year, like spring cleaning. In reality, you can apply the KonMari method every time you buy something.
When you go to check out, take a minute to examine if the item will really bring you joy. Are you buying those cinnamon rolls because they spark old memories of Sunday brunch with Grandpa or because you’re feeling stressed about work? Are you buying a new notebook because you love to journal or because you think it will finally make you the organized person you want to be?
It’s hard to be mindful in the moment, especially if you feel pressure from a salesperson or you’re distracted from a hard day at work. That’s why it can be helpful to wait 24 hours before making any significant purchases, which will give you time to consider how important the expense really is. Coming to a deeper understanding of your spending habits will make you happier with your purchases and keep you from buying things for the wrong reason.
About the Author
Zina Kumok is a trained journalist and has covered everything from professional sports to murder trials. Now, she specializes in personal finance and has written for brands and publications such as Mint, Investopedia and Discover. She paid off $28,000 worth of student loans in three years.