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What Marie Kondo Can Teach Us About Spending and Personal Finances

Marie Kondo: The KonMarie Method. Tidying Up like the world is going to end tomorrow.

It’s a brilliant concept. Marie Kondo was not kidding around when she published The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing back in 2014. It’s a concept I believe will benefit millions – especially those on the journey to financial independence.

If you have not read Marie Kondo’s book or have seen her series on Netflix, Marie helps families tidy up their homes by focusing on only keeping items that “spark joy”. She’s developed a 5-part method for organizing homes, and emphasizes that you do not need all this “stuff” in your house if it does not serve a purpose.

For example in every episode, she has clients put all of their clothes onto their bed in a pile, and it quickly comes apparent to people that they are buying too much and holding on to too much.

[This is my favorite part cause I’m super judgemental about the amount of clothes and junk her clients have.]

Now, of course I love Marie Kondo for her brilliant entrepreneurial spirit, as she builds her empire from New York Time bestseller to hit Netflix TV Original series all star and beyond (Operation: Make Marie the Next Chip and Joanna). But I also admire her views on material items and how she is able to identify items in her life that “spark joy”.

Kondo believes that everything you own, such as books, kitchen supplies, clothes, decorations, are all important to where you want to see yourself in the future.

So how do I keep my spending under control? I’ve been using similar tactics that Marie teaches her clients for years. Pick up an item in a store. Does it “spark joy”? Of course it does, it’s new and shiny and you think you will die if you don’t buy it right then and there.

But ask yourself, do I absolutely need this item? Is this item going to help me to become the person I wish to be in the future? Is this item helping me toward my goals?

To help with this decision making, take the time to process the item you are going to buy. For inexpensive items, put the item back, and if you decide right before checkout that this item is going to help me achieve your goals, then go back for it. For larger, more expensive items (usually I say anything over $15), first off decide if you can physically fit this in your home or apartment. Next, assess whether this item is something that’s going to help you achieve your goals.

Items I will usually justify include organic foods, expensive teas, and specialty protein powders. These things “spark joy” to me because I know I am fueling my body with goodness that my future self will thank me for.

Items I usually mull over for a few days or weeks or even months include: small kitchen appliances, shoes, makeup, and home goods. My biggest advice: Shop around…take your time! My grandpa (a brilliant saver and investor – raising six kids on a PE&G salary), and would always say that if there was something that you really want, it will have a way of falling into your lap [at a price you are comfortable with].

There’s a competitor out there for pretty much everything. There’s a reason why there’s Expedia, Orbitz, Google flights, Booking.com all cross referencing each other’s websites for the best deals, and then Kayak to cross reference all those just in case there was $1 savings you missed.

This tip has helped me throughout the years in keeping my spending under control and keeping the clutter to a minimum.

More tips for keeping that February credit card bill low:

Take cash out of an ATM and use cash when you can. Physically handing over 3 $20 bills will feel more real than swiping a card/inserting a chip. Also, is it just me or is there something a lot less satisfying about inserting a chip vs. swiping a card? Are the credit card companies losing their touch?!?!?!

Whatever your fashion addiction is, make a rule that you will have to donate an item you already own. For example, I have a soft spot for jackets and coats. So every time I see a coat on sale at the end of the season, I tell myself that I will have to get rid of a coat I do not need or want, to make room for this new coat. If I cannot part with any of the coats I own, then I don’t buy the new one.

Go for classic items, not trendy. This goes for jeans, furniture, dinner plates, and everything in between. It’s not easy for me to see people in the latest fashion sometimes and I’m looking like the plainest Jane to ever exist. But then I take a walk down memory lane and remember the bags of peplum dresses, bandage skirts, and bold-colored skinny jeans I’ve donated to Goodwill and remember that everything that is once in fashion just as quickly goes out of fashion.

Borrow clothes for events. It may feel like you need to buy a new outfit for a wedding, a birthday party, or a job interview, just because everyone else is doing it. Borrowing clothes (or event renting via Rent the Runway) for these events will not only save you money, but that outfit you will take a ton of pictures in and will never want to wear again, won’t be sitting in your closet collecting dust.

Avoid stores that you know you will get into trouble in. Believe me, I love Target, Whole Foods, and TJ Maxx just as much as anyone, but I know I can’t leave any of these stores without spending $70+. Something about these stores makes me throw all my rules out the door, so I try to avoid these as much as possible to avoid temptations.

Thanks for reading and comment below your experience or future goals “tidying up”!


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Originally from good ole New Jersey. Currently living in the art district in Denver. Plants, vegetables, and DIY obsessed. Never not talking someone's face off about financial independence.

3 comments on “What Marie Kondo Can Teach Us About Spending and Personal Finances

  1. wiseassvegan

    Liked the post.thanks.i can say that since embarking on the journey towards early retirement i simply stopped going to stores, and if i absolutely need something- i buy it online after checking it thoroghly.works for me…

  2. Pingback: The Truth About Millennials and Retirement | Community Banker News and Views

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