It’s time to Marie Kondo your finances
If you’re one of the many people who have become obsessed with folding your T-shirts so they stand up, who are asking items if they spark joy or are trying to whittle your book collection down to 30, then chances are you’ve been caught up in the Marie Kondo movement.
All new to you? Let me give you a quick debrief.
Marie Kondo is a Japanese organising consultant and author. Her best-selling books include The Life Changing Magic of Tidying and she now has a series on Netfix, where she teaches others how to declutter, minimise and spark joy in their homes using her KonMari Method.
If you have Marie Kondo’d your home, now might be a good time to do the same for your finances.
And it seems we’ve been decluttering and minimising in droves.
Charity bins around Australia are overflowing and Lifeline says that half its stores across the country can’t accept any more donations because they are at capacity.
Meanwhile, St Vincent de Paul has reported that it usually receives 30,000 kilograms a week of used clothing to its Western Sydney distribution centres but in the past few weeks this has grown to 50,000 kilos a week.
Now, I love a good de-clutter as much as the next person.
The problem arises when we declutter and minimise without questioning what brought the clutter into our homes in the first place. That’s because what we don’t need is an annual Marie Kondo-style purge of the items we’ve purchased during the year that we’re now either giving away or thowing out. That’s not good for our wallets or the environment.
Instead, I believe now is the perfect time to address why we’re caught up in a cycle of financial binging and purging. That way, we can start to change the behaviours that have led to us ridding ourselves of mountains of waste.
This means essentially doing the same thing to our finances that we just did to our homes, so that we create a stress-free financial environment where we’re conscious consumers, rather than default spenders or hoarders. An environment where we’re designing the lives we love, rather than living a life by default.
These 30 days of not buying anything non-essential means you are committing to a new path of minimalism.
Now that the silly season is over it’s the perfect time to start and I believe it begins with a 30-day detox. That means not buying anything non-essential for 30 days.
If you’ve Marie Kondo’d your home, you’ve essentially detoxed the house. Now you’re simply moving that same way of thinking over to your finances and detoxing there.
The purpose of the financial detox is to figure out why you spend.
During those moments when you’re tempted to spend, ask yourself why it is that you’re spending.
Is it because you’re stressed, sad, bored, lonely, excited, celebratory and where can you get a dopamine hit instead of via your bank account?
These 30 days of not buying anything non-essential means you are committing to a new path of minimalism and you’re also starting to create strategies around what to do when you normally reach for the plastic or click to buy.
During this time, it’s a great opportunity to unfollow any sites on social media encouraging you to spend, unfollowing anyone who is triggering your comparison culture saboteur and even cutting up credit cards or taking them out of your wallet so you’re not able to tap and go.
Of course, not all of us are spenders. Some of us are hoarders and during the 30 days it’s time to ask yourself, how much is enough?
What bank account balance will make you feel safe, how can you spend without guilt and how can you enjoy today and not simply worry about tomorrow?
Becoming a conscious consumer
During the 30 days it’s an opportunity to challenge your money mindset — to ask what sparks joy in your life (not just your home) and what life do you want to design? It's a time to place financial goals around making that life come true. To consider setting up multiple bank accounts and automate your wage to them and live to your everyday account, so you can spend without guilt.
It’s asking where the clutter is in your finances – where the multiple super accounts are, the mortgage you’ve been meaning to get a better rate on, the multiple credit cards, the personal loan, the Afterpay account that always has a balance, or the many other areas of your finance that could do with some purging and cleaning up. And then doing something about it.
In short, it’s becoming a conscious consumer, one that doesn’t financially binge and purge and one who is excited about creating joy, not just in their homes but in all their life.
Yes, that means your finances — the one place we often avoid when we think joy, wellness and stress-free because often it makes us feel anything but.
Melissa Browne is chief executive of A&TA and financial planning firm The Money Barre.
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