By Melissa Tosetti
I want to start this article by announcing that I was on the Marie Kondo Bandwagon when her book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up first came out. Mom, thanks again for giving me a copy!
If you’ve been watching Tidying Up with Marie Kondo on Netflix, you’ve witnessed just how much “stuff” in clothes, books and other items participants have been getting rid of through her process. Items that no longer, or never did “spark joy”.
A large part of my job is helping clients learn how to make purposeful spending decisions. While Marie helps clients go through what they already own to evaluate what “sparks joy”, we’ve long been encouraging clients to adopt a similar process before bringing an item into their home in the first place. The process is implemented as you approach a checkout stand. If you’re online, it takes place as you go to purchase your items.
Before you get in line or click “buy”, you’re going to implement a quick inventory and look for items that you did not go to that store to purchase – that were not on your list. We call them “stowaways”. Of each of those items you’re going to ask yourself two questions.
- Do I need this item?
Is it something that you need for your household that will solve a problem or perhaps you just forgot to put it on your list? If the answers is yes, then that item gets to go home with you. If the answer is no, it has one more shot of becoming yours. The next question you’re going to ask is…
- Am I madly in love with it?
Is it something that every time you look at it, use it or wear it, it’s going to make you happy? Or, do you see the potential for it to get relegated to a clutter pile or the back of your closet?
The goal is to only bring items into your home that you’re madly in love with or as Marie says, “sparks joy” – actually ignites a positive emotional response.
One of the things that’s unique about our work at The Savvy Life is how we look at personal finance from a lifestyle perspective. We’ve long seen a connection between spending and the satisfaction of our lives from the clothes in our closet, our experiences around food and the way we spend our free time. We’ve also come to understand the positive and negative impact our homes can have on our finances. When we’re not comfortable in our homes, we don’t want to be there. In unconscious avoidance, we go to the movies, dine out or go shopping. We’re spending money out of escape and very often, bringing even more “stuff” into our homes, further pushing the clutter issue and making our dissatisfaction even worse.
While watching episodes of Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, I can’t help but mentally calculate just how much money must have been spent on items participants decide don’t “spark joy”. In their defense, not all the items were wasted purchases. For some, those toys, clothes or objects were accumulated over decades and may have sparked joy at one time. However for others, it’s apparent that much of what was purchased may have been as a result of passing time at the mall on a Saturday or clicking through Amazon to destress during a lunch hour. The initial pleasure of buying quickly turned into the stress of dealing with yet another piece of clutter.
My Own Tidying Confession
When my Mom gave me The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up back in April 2015, I had just taken a few bags of books to our favorite used book store, a habit our family implements every 3 – 4 months. I decided to go ahead and give Marie’s method a try and took every single book I owned (just mine, not my family’s) and put it on my bed. First of all, I was appalled to realize I owned more than one copy of three different books. I also realized just how many freakin’ books I owned despite regular culling! While I’m pretty good about only purchasing what I want to add to my personal library, we regularly receive books from publishers for review which is why the accumulation of books is so rapid.
As Marie suggested, I picked up every single one and asked myself if I needed it or if it “sparked joy”. Because I picked up and looked at every single title, rather than scanned the spines in my bookcases, I looked at each one differently. I ended up taking nine bags of books to the used book store the next day.
One of the things I love about Marie is that she encourages clients not to beat themselves up about past negative purchases, but to instead, appreciate what they’ve learned – that color, that type, that whatever is not something they want in the future and so they won’t invest in it again. At the same time, participants begin to realize that they need to change their spending habits to ensure the clutter doesn’t creep back in.
Marie’s message is a positive one and because our goal is to look at personal finance from a positive perspective, her message resonates with us! By following her philosophy of only having items in your home that “spark joy”, you will create a space you want to be more than anywhere else and that’s what everyone’s home should be.