A few years ago, I felt like I was drowning in stuff. My husband and I had moved from LA to London, and while our home in LA wasn’t exactly large, squeezing into our flat in London was a challenge. We lucked out and found a place with closets (a luxury), but space, in general, was limited.
I did what any reasonable person would do. I marched to Ikea to buy every storage solution possible. I shoved sweaters, dresses, and ski clothes into containers under my bed. I packed away shoes that I didn’t wear often into the luggage that I stored. Every nook and cranny contained a storage “solution”. We made it work, though it felt like we were bursting at the seams.
I came across Marie Kondo’s method while reading a review of her book and was a skeptic.
You want me to hold each item and decide whether it sparks joy? Everything I have sparks joy, otherwise I wouldn’t own it.
A few weeks later as a storage container fell from the top of my closet and the contents spilled everywhere, I decided to give her method another look.
I’ve now gone through her entire process twice, first in that small London flat and then a couple of years later when we were expecting our first child. While her method really did tidy my space and create a much calmer environment, I’ve only recently realized the impact it’s had on my money.
Here’s how this organizing guru has changed my money:
I want so much less
I’ve never been particularly good at curbing my spending. I wouldn’t necessarily overspend, but I’d buy the things that I wanted. A sweater that caught my eye. A new water bottle that was in that shade of blue that I really love. Those shoes that would be great with that dress I have in my closet.
I used to attempt to adhere to the one in, one out policy: buy one shirt and donate one. But there were two problems with this for me: (1) I never really stuck to it, and (2) I had so much stuff that if I did stick to the rule, it really wasn’t that hard to find something to get rid of.
I was in a cycle of buy, toss, buy, toss.
After using the Konmari method and seeing so much of my stuff get donated, it’s like a switch went off in my brain. I realized how much money I spent on those things that I wanted at the time but didn’t necessarily love. Now I simply just don’t want as many things.
Of course, I still shop. I buy things that I really love and that I’m excited to put somewhere in my house. But if one of these things even has the slightest possibility of ending up in a donation bin anytime soon, I automatically pass. If I’m not completely in love with it, it’s not coming home with me.
I need less space
When we were moving out of London to a town just outside the city, we started looking at homes within our budget. The amount of money we spent on a two bedroom flat could now easily get us a 4-bedroom home, with a little money left over.
At first, we were tempted by all the space. The homes were beautiful. The kitchens were huge. My office could be relocated from the corner of our bedroom to a real room with a door. And wouldn’t it be nice to have extra room for a baby or for visitors?
Eventually, we realized that we didn’t have enough stuff to fill any of these homes. Did we really want to go through the process of buying more things to fill these extra rooms when the amount of space and stuff we currently had was comfortable?
We started looking for homes the size of our London flat and found the perfect one while saving approximately 40% on rent. We’ve set aside that money every month to help us realize other goals that spark joy in our life: a great vacation, financially stress-free parental leave, and soon, a move to a location we’ve always dreamed of living.
I have more time
While our house certainly gets messy, there’s rarely anything that takes more than 15 minutes to tidy. That sounds unrealistic, but it’s true.
Once our space was clean, organized, and relatively clutter-free, we kept it like that. No drawers are too full, so it’s easy to fold and put away clothes. We don’t have an excess amount of dishes or counter space, so there’s never that many dirty dishes to wash. Even our sweet baby’s toys, which end up scattered around the house during the day, take approximately three minutes to put away at night.
More time is definitely helpful for my sanity, but it’s also helped my bank account. As a freelancer, more time equals more money. An extra 30–45 minutes a day can add up to me being able to do a lot more work and earn a lot more money.
I treat things better
I’ve always been a laundry rebel. Dry clean only? Hand wash only? Yeah, it’s getting tossed in the wash with everything else on the regular setting.
But now that’s over. I follow all of the rules and try to make everything that I own last. Because I love everything I have, I have fewer things, and I can see it all neatly organized, I treat it really well.
I ruthlessly tidied my spending
Tidying didn’t just stop with my personal possessions. It naturally made its way into every single facet of my life. Being frugal or sticking to a budget has never really been my strength. My brain just doesn’t like to think about my spending in those terms.
But the concept of sparking joy with anything I’m about to spend money on has stuck. I don’t spend money on things that don’t really spark joy: Brunch? A coffee? A new book?
I have to really love it and want it in order to exchange my money for it. This frame of mind has helped me become more mindful with my money and ditch some of my less than ideal spending habits.
While tidying might be all the rage right now, and a fad for some, I’m so happy about the new changes that it sparked with my money.