5 Lessons Tidying Guru Marie Kondo Taught Me About Budgeting

creating a budget

Since its publication in 2010, Marie Kondo’s “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” has sold over seven million copies. But how did Kondo get everyone so excited about tidying?

Well, the “KonMari Method” of tidying isn’t just about cleaning your house. It’s about cutting down the excess, transforming bad habits, and reconnecting with your intuition.

More than anything, the book helps uncover psychological obstacles so that you can make lasting change. With Kondo’s approach, you can successfully “tidy up” your finances, too, and start creating a budget plan that works.

Whether you want to pay off debt or stop spending money, you can learn a lot from this bestseller. Here are five of the most empowering financial lessons “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” can teach you.

5 lessons for tidying up your finances and creating a budget

1. Visualize your destination

Before you start taking any action, Kondo says you should pause and visualize your destination. What are you trying to accomplish? How do you see your ideal lifestyle? What are your specific goals?

Perhaps you feel like you waste too much of your paycheck every month on shopping. Maybe you’ve gotten in over your head with student loans or credit card debt. Or perhaps you want to create an emergency fund or save for retirement.

Whatever your reasons for creating a budget, you should take the time to picture your end-game. Visualize yourself as someone satisfied with their financial habits. As Kondo says, you “will come to a simple realization. The whole point is to be happy.” You want to take these steps to become financially healthy and happy, to meet your responsibilities, and to live a better life.

2. Make changes dramatically and all at once

In Marie Kondo’s world, getting organized is a sprint, not a marathon. Rather than doing a little at a time, she advises her readers to lay everything out on the floor and take care of it all in one go. Even if it takes a week straight of discarding, you should keep going until you’ve finished.

This same approach will help you organize your personal finances.

Gather all of your paperwork, account log-ins, and data in one place. Look for forgotten monthly subscriptions, unused credit cards with annual fees, or anything else quietly draining your savings.

If you need to fill out forms to set up a 401k, do it. If you’ve been dragging your feet about student loan consolidation, now’s the time. Anything that’s been sitting on the back burner should get taken care of now. Not tomorrow. Not next week. Now.

Finally checking off those neglected boxes on your to-do list will feel amazing. As you see yourself taking real steps, you’ll feel empowered to keep going until you’ve got everything taken care of.

3. Tackle the emotionally easy stuff first

Kondo knows that getting organized isn’t just a matter of throwing out old clothes and buying storage containers. Rather, there’s a strong emotional component at work. We get attached to our possessions, and we feel a sense of loss when we throw things away.

The same can be said for our financial habits. We grow attached to certain patterns, like shopping or eating out at restaurants. Some steps are too scary to handle, so we get behind on our credit card payments or default on student loans.

Kondo recommends dividing your tasks into categories.

First, you should tackle the emotionally easy stuff. Maybe you need to set up automatic payments for your utilities. Or maybe you and your roommates need a bill-splitting app so you can stop fighting over who owes who for toilet paper this month.

If you take care of the less daunting tasks first, you’ll feel more in control as you work toward bigger issues. “As you gradually work toward the harder categories, you will be honing your decision-making skills,” says Kondo.

4. Only hang onto habits and possessions that spark joy

The driving force behind the KonMari Method is throwing things out. Kondo encourages readers to minimize their life, so that only the possessions that “spark joy” remain. Rather than coming up with reasons for an item to go, she says you should find a reason for it to stay. And that reason should be that it provokes a strong, undeniable spark of joy when you hold it in your hands.

So how can this lesson help you in creating a budget?

Well, perhaps the biggest drain on your finances is spending too much and saving too little. Many of us have spending triggers, where we shop to reduce stress or overspend at restaurants to fulfill a “treat yo-self” mentality.

By using the “spark joy” approach, you can reduce the number of impulse purchases you make. You can minimize your focus on material items, and instead, redirect your habits toward long-term well-being.

Getting out of debt will spark deeper joy than all those shopping sprees at the mall. By cutting down on excess, you can learn to stop spending money and start saving instead.

5. Learn to let go of what no longer serves you

Kondo recognizes that it’s tough to let things go. A lot of our possessions have sentimental value. Letting something go doesn’t threaten your personal attachment, though. You should thank the item for the role it once played in your life and accept that it no longer serves you.

This lesson is similar to the “sunk cost fallacy.” In behavioral economics, this happens when people struggle to leave an investment because of the money and time they’ve already put into it. They think it would be wasteful to back out now.

However, some assets will only continue to depreciate, turning into liabilities. You’ll sink even more costs into them and get no profit in return. This could apply to non-productive assets, too — boats, cars, and even houses — that need constant maintenance. It could also relate to an investment that’s no longer working out.

Just because you’ve put time and money into something doesn’t mean you should keep it around. Know when it would be more financially beneficial to let go and move on.

Creating a budget and gaining confidence through the magic of tidying up

Kondo encourages readers to connect with their intuition and put their affairs in order once and for all. Gather all of the items on your to-do list in one place and take care of them all in one go. Rather than taking baby steps over time, opting for a dramatic reconfiguration now is more beneficial.

In many cases, we fall short of our goals due to inertia or fear of change. Kondo encourages us to take immediate and transformative action. Plus, she helps us identify and overcome the anxieties that hold us back, like loss aversion and an irrational “sunk cost” mentality.

“When you put your house in order, you put your affairs and your past in order, too,” Kondo says. “As a result, you can see quite clearly what you need in life and what you don’t, and what you should and shouldn’t do.”

By channeling the KonMari Method, you can start creating a budget, stop spending money you don’t have, and take care of important business. Through your efforts, you can create strong, organized financial habits that last.

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