Repeat after me: Money does not control me. I am in complete control of my money.
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Like most women on the planet, I’ve binged watched Tidying up with Marie Kondo and even tried to implement some of her techniques into my life. Now, I’ll be honest. I have not read her bestselling book or any other organizational book for that matter. However, from watching her Netflix show and reading countless blog posts about home organization, I’ve been able to pick up a thing or two.
I’ve learned that most of us have way more than we need and don’t even realize it. And I’ve also learned that if I can’t find a place to put it, then it’s most likely something I don’t need. And lastly, I learned that my peace of mind is king so if it brings me frustration or doesn’t make me happy I should be doing my best to get rid of it. (And did I mention I spent a decent amount of time at the Dollar Tree and Zulily getting all the affordable containers for storage?) For the most part, I’ve been able to implement these tidbits and more into organizing my home. However, spring cleaning my finances is a bit more involved.
Of course, tidying your finances is more than just identifying what brings you joy and what doesn’t. It requires budgeting, an organized way to actually spend money, understanding of bills, and an end goal. Though Marie Kondo isn’t a financial guru, I did realize many of her tips can be applied to getting your money organized as well. Here is the foolproof way to spring clean your finances the Marie Kondo way…
Thank your finances for getting you this far
Before Marie Kondo even touches a single item, she sits on the floor of the home with the owners and thanks the home. This may seem strange to some, but thanking someone is one way of acknowledging its purpose and saying goodbye. Since spring cleaning finances may require saying goodbye to some things, I thought this seemed fitting.
So your finances aren’t perfect. They may actually be downright messy. Regardless of the shambles of your financial state, it’s important to show gratitude for it anyway. After all, whether they were smart expenses or not, your money has opened you up to a world of opportunities and experiences. They’ve helped build your life, recognize value and even see things you wouldn’t have ordinarily seen. Even if you have no savings, drowning in debt, or living paycheck to paycheck your money helped create the life you live now. Part of letting go and organizing is coming to terms with what’s already brought you to this point. Consider it a form of closure – an important step to moving forward and decluttering anything. Or do like Melanie of the blog, Dear Debt and write a letter to it that truly empowers you to move forward.
Acknowledge what you have and what went wrong
Look at the pile of clothes that never got worn. Identify the expired coupons in the corner. This is all wasted money that should be acknowledged when it’s time to spring clean your finances. Even dig up all those old tax returns and W2 forms and take a hard look at how much you’re actually making. The truth is, you have more than enough to move forward. You just need to acknowledge it, have faith in your capabilities and vow to get clean and make changes. Once you see your problems and identify where you may have taken a wrong turn, it will help move you in the right direction and get rid of your financial issues.
Identify what brings joy
And now for the part that everyone most associates with the Kon Mari method – identifying what sparks joy and getting rid of what doesn’t. Whether we like it or not, we are all emotional beings and every purchase we make can be linked to one. For example, paying for that Caribbean vacation may make you feel joy while that monthly gym payment just might make you frustrated. This should be obvious, but I don’t include those necessities like medication, the electric bill, car maintenance and more. However, I do understand most people find little joy in paying those, so I’ll come back to it. For now, let’s focus on those necessities.
Print out the last two to three months of your bank or credit card statements and carefully go through each item line by line. For every item that isn’t a necessity, rank the item from 1 to 10 in terms of how much joy that purchase has brought you. For any item, that doesn’t clearly bring you joy, consider slashing it from your budget. For example, you may have thought that going to the movies last month was a good idea, but in hindsight it wasn’t as joyful and as relaxing an experience as you thought it would be. Meanwhile, that cup of coffee may actually bring you joy and solitude.
Doing this exercise will help you slash items from your budget on your terms, not on the terms of what other financial guru or personal finance bloggers said. They all say the first thing you should cut from your budget is coffee or cable. But if those things truly bring you joy, don’t get rid of them just because some blogger told you to. (That’s exactly why we’re not getting rid of cable. Cable really does bring my husband joy.)
We can also do the same thing for those bills and necessary evils like student loans. Again go through your bank statement and rank those bills that bring you the most frustration from 1 to 10. For any debt that ranks a 10 (most frustrating) make that the bill you choose to tackle for debt payoff first regardless of the interest rate, or what the debt snowball method says.
Now, this totally goes against the popular snowball method of debt payoff and the avalanche method. The snowball method refers to paying off debt by throwing all your extra money to the smallest debt first while working your way to the highest debt. Meanwhile, the avalanche method of debt payoff refers to tackling the debt with the highest interest rate first and working your way down to the smallest interest rate. Those are both great methods of debt payoff and amazing if either of them works for you. However, I’m realizing that as emotional beings, sometimes we are triggered and motivated by anger the most. So if we use the Marie Kondo method to identify the payments that most frustrate us, we may be able to use that anger as motivation to pay it off even faster. Who knew Marie Kondo could possibly hold the secret to getting out of debt too?
Spend with purpose
Once you’ve used the Kondo method to spring clean your budget, it’s time to figure out exactly what to do to move forward and keep your finances just as organized. The trick is to spend with purpose.
Before you purchase anything, consider your goals. Decide if it’s truly beneficial to you or if it’s really bringing joy into your life. Make sure it aligns with all the things you acknowledged as you combed through your bank statements and identified your trouble spots. If you do that before you buy anything, you’ll be on your way to healthy money habits and a much cleaner financial situation.
Of course, the Kon Marie method isn’t the only way to spring clean your finances or get organized. There are many other ways to organize and things that should be in order to truly get control of your finances. Honestly, I’m no expert on any of them. So instead, I’ll point you in the direction of these fabulous bloggers with great tips on getting your finances in order.
For beautiful excel friendly budget spreadsheets: Make Real Cents
For help on managing several bank accounts: The Thought Card
For help figuring out how money should be allotted to each budget category: Financially Fit and Fab
How do you spring clean your finances? Are you a fan of Marie Kondo and her organization methods?
TERRIfic Quip – Money is a tool that will work for us, not against us if we allow it.