Cleaning Up Money

In her book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, Marie Kondō says, “The question of what you want to own is actually the question of how you want to live your life.”

The same can be said for budgeting—the question of how you choose to manage your money is actually the question of how you want to live your life:

• Fly by the seat of your pants, and you’ll find yourself living paycheck to paycheck, on the rollercoaster of abundance and scarcity.

• Track your expenses, and you’ll probably come out even, most days.

• But, master your budget? Then, the sky’s the limit!

If you’ve been watching Tidying Up with Marie Kondō, on Netflix, you know that her method does, indeed, seem to deliver on the book’s promise of changing lives for the better. But, the life-changing results don’t just appear out of thin air—they require that you organize your belongings by category, and then focus, individually, on every object that you own to decide whether or not it sparks joy.

You could just stuff all of your things in a storage closet and be done with it, right? But, nobody but you could adequately gauge what your belongings actually mean to you. A stranger couldn’t know their sentimental value or how your things make you feel. Similarly, an accountant, your spouse, or your friends couldn’t know which categories belong in your budget, what your financial goals should be or how your expenses should be prioritized. That’s because they don’t know how your days stack up, and how to budget for you in a way that would make you happiest in the present and long-term while helping you accomplish the non-negotiables.
And, stuffing your things into storage closet doesn’t solve a clutter problem, either. That’s just hiding it! In fact, you’d probably keep accumulating stuff until your house was full, again. Perpetuating the endless cycle of “where does all of our money go?”

The brilliance behind The KonMari Method is that you must slow down and really think about your choices. It feels like magic because when you shift your attention, it changes your perception of reality. Do you really want or need that treadmill?

Your perception, in turn, influences your actions and, therefore, dictates your outcome. ‘Nope, the treadmill can go! Let’s make this a “mom’s time out” room’.
You can’t automate focus. You have to get in there and do it—you have to hold that treadmill in your arms and decide if it sparks joy!

Similarly, a well thought-out or even preliminary monthly budget requires you to examine each of your spending choices and ask yourself, “Is this a priority? And if so, why wasn’t it on our budget? Does this purchase fit our goals?”

It’s amazing, and so indescribably freeing, to discover that your happiness isn’t tethered to the million small purchases that you previously felt so attached to. It’s also pretty cool to budget for the fun stuff and KNOW that it is perfectly ok to buy that stuff (assuming it’s in your budget, of course!).

The reward for decluttering your home or tidying up your finances is less anxiety, more breathing room (literal and metaphorical) and fresh potential. When you’ve got a clear mental picture of what you’re working with, space-wise or dollar-wise, you can spot opportunities and imagine new possibilities. Things that you never even dreamed of attempting will become totally doable…REALLY.

And, the best part? Once you’ve done the initial heavy-lifting, it’s easy to keep going
because upkeep is easier than a total overhaul and, more importantly, you feel so, so much better.

You could kneel down—phone in hand and bank app open—and thank your checking account for housing your dollars …
You could fold your dollar bills, neatly, into rectangles that stand on end …
But whatever you decide to do, start with a plan, a budget, a road map of sorts as this is what will get you to your goals… and financial freedom.