By now, you might’ve already heard about (or watched) Netflix’s wildly popular new show, Tidying Up with Marie Kondo. The show came about after Marie Kondo’s lifestyle routine called the “KonMari method” gained a huge online following, with many people reporting their lives were transformed for the better once they de-cluttered their homes, worked on their relationships and focused on things that genuinely “spark joy” in their lives.
How to Tidying Up Your Finances like Marie Kondo
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the KonMari method can easily be applied to personal financial management. Although the main principles of discarding and sorting may seem too simplistic to transform your everyday financial habits and long-term budgeting goals, there are plenty of lessons Marie Kondo’s method and the show can offer people who want to save money and stress less when it comes to financial management:
Develop a Financial To-Do List
Organization is absolutely essential to the KonMari method, so the first thing you should do when you’re ready to begin tidying up your finances is establishing a to-do list. This may include anything you want to change, review, add or eliminate, such as:
- Creating a budget
- Adjusting all credit card and loan payment deadlines to occur on the same date(s) to minimize the number of deadlines you need to remember
- Setting short- and long-term goals
- Comparing your monthly budget to what you actually spend each month
- Calling your credit card and loan companies to request a lower interest rate (paying interest certainly does not spark joy!)
- Calculating how much you should be saving for retirement
- Developing an emergency savings fund
Categorize Your Budget
One of the tidy tips listed on the KonMari website states: “gather your items in one place to get an accurate grasp of what you have.” Once you’ve outlined your financial to-do list, now it’s time to break your budget down into distinct categories. This way, you’ll be able to track if you’re overspending in one category (even if you’re generally staying within your budget each month) and determine how you can cut back on overspending.
You should also be sure to add fun money to your budget because the KonMari method is all about bringing more joy into your life (and what joy would you get if you were overly stingy with your budget?).
Do Expenses ‘Spark Joy’?
What non-essential expenses do you currently have? Are you paying for them because you genuinely love these things, or you just don’t feel like eliminating these expenses yet? Even if you enjoy using certain products or services you’re paying for on a regular basis, is there an opportunity cost here (in other words: is paying for X preventing you from affording Y?).
Once you’ve thoroughly categorized your budget, outlined your financial goals, and asked yourself which expenses “spark joy” and which expenses are not as useful or personally fulfilling, then begin gradually eliminating the unnecessary expenses from your budget. For instance, you may decide to get rid of your Amazon Prime membership and deal with slightly longer shipping times so you’re not as tempted to impulsively buy stuff from Amazon on a regular basis.
You might also feel motivated to look into more affordable alternatives for everything from monthly subscriptions to modes of transportation and grocery items. The possibilities are endless when it comes to Marie Kondo’ing your finances, so don’t hold back when it comes to reducing your budget down to the bare necessities and personally fulfilling expenses (e.g., subscription to your favorite publication, gym membership, date nights, etc.).
Collaborate with Your Partner
Whether you’re married, cohabiting, or dating, talking about money with your partner is an absolute must for almost any relationship. You may find that you two have a lot in common in regards to your money mindsets, or you may discover how differently you both approach the subject of money management.
Coordinating with your partner is a major tenet of the KonMari method, and this is equally important for financial management among couples with shared expenses. Even if only one partner has a steady income source or one partner volunteers to handle most of the financial matters, you’ll still want to work together on budgeting, saving, and retirement planning to ensure you both agree on the same strategies and goals.
Create Long-Lasting Changes to Your Financial Habits
A final takeaway from the KonMari method is the idea that we should create permanent change in our lives. For Marie Kondo and her fan base, this means maintaining a clean home at all times – not just when you’re about to host guests for a brief period of time.
From a personal finance perspective, this means you should create positive, life-long financial management habits, such as regularly checking (and updating) your budget, growing wealth, maintaining an emergency savings fund, and committing yourself to saving diligently for retirement.
It’s not enough to create a budget and temporarily cut back on your expenses. Lifestyle creep is a very real phenomenon, so focus on long-term financial management strategies that you’ll realistically stick to, rather than looking for quick-fix solutions to save money in the short-term.
What do you think? Are your personal finances tidy like Marie Kondo and her methods for cleaning up your home? What are you best tips for tidying up finances?