In today’s episode, “Are You Possessed by Your Possessions?” we’ll explore the following questions: Am I surrounded by things that bring me joy? Or am I buried in a mess of clutter that stresses me out? When is enough “enough”?
Many people are living in cluttered homes, have garages they can’t even park a car in, and rent storage spaces for possessions they don’t really even like! Worse than that, is some of it still has credit card bills attached. We’ll discuss how to break the cycle of mindless spending and accumulating that can keep us financially unhealthy and prevent us from achieving our preferred financial future.
• I recently read a paradigm shifting book about decluttering my home. Bizarre as that sounds, it’s true. The book is called “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo. My friends and family would likely tell you that I am pretty neat and organized person, so I really don’t even need a book like this. However, I am AMAZED at how much stuff I have donated and thrown away as I’ve started on my tidying journey.
• Marie Kondo’s “Tidying Up” method turns the traditional decluttering advice we’ve all heard completely on its head. You don’t declutter by room, but by category (first clothes, then books and papers, saving sentimental items and photos for last.) You don’t declutter a little at a time, but one whole category at a time. Your only criterion for whether to keep something or discard it is the question: “Does this bring me joy?”
• I’ll give you an example of how it works with the first category – clothes. Everything on the bed! Hold each item and ask, “Does this bring me joy?” Wait until you’ve gone through everything before you sort your discard pile into trash, donate, or sell. Don’t put anything back in the closet or drawers until you finish the discard process. End result: 5 hours later, 1 bag of trash, 4 bags to Goodwill, 15 items to consignment! And my closet looks amazing!
• Books – 87 donated. Papers – 4 trash bags + 8 pounds of shredding. Still have quite a few more categories to tackle: CD’s/ DVD’s, kitchen utensils/ appliances, seasonal décor, etc.
•What have I learned from this process? I have WAY more possessions than I need. Many of which don’t even bring me joy! The areas of my house that are now TIDY, like my clothes closet and my office, make me calm and happy. The items that remain in those categories are things I love and want to take good care of. It was a real eye opener to realize how much money I have wasted on things that I didn’t even really like!
• My husband and I are pretty “tidy” people to begin with – we’ve always been able to park both of our cars plus the motorcycle and lawnmower in our garage – and we don’t buy anything on credit. So, it makes me sad to think about those folks who are drowning in “stuff” they probably don’t even like and are still paying off the credit card bills for it!
• I’ve noticed since I’ve started this process, that I have purchased fewer things than I normally would have. Now when I’m out shopping, I ask myself, “Will this bring me joy?” and “Where in my home will I put this?” If I feel good about my answers, then I buy it.
• NOW, even before you ask those two questions, you should ask the most important one: “Can I afford to pay cash for this?” If the answer is NO, then put it back!
Are you up for the Tidying Challenge? Go and download the book “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo. Read it all the through before starting, then re-read the section for each category before you tackle it. The author encourages the reader to complete the tidying process within 6 months or less. If you can set aside 5 hours every other week, it can easily be accomplished. If you have kids, teach them this process for their clothes and toys!
The author promises that if you do this process thoroughly and quickly, you won’t relapse! I think she’s right because now whenever I see something out of place, I put it right back where it belongs because I love the sense of peace I have when everything is tidy.
Sell what you can from your discard pile for your various categories via Craigslist, yard sale, EBay, Facebook, or consignment- and pay off your credit cards! I’m not endorsing minimalism or a Spartan lifestyle. I want you to be sounded by things that bring you joy! Just be mindful of your spending and accumulating of possessions, so they don’t possess you!
For those listeners who are interested in a personal financial coaching session, I am currently running a Summer Special. I have a limited number of spots available for $25 off the usual coaching fee. I’ve got one discounted spot open for July and three for August – first come, first served. I’m also able to do Virtual Coaching via phone and internet for those outside the Greater Cincinnati area. You can find more information on my website, ChristineLuken.com and click on the “Financial Lifeguard on Duty” tab.