Juan Carlos Medina, Contributor
March 21, 2022
There is nothing like the beginning of spring to re-motivate us for life, whether it’s being able to be outdoors more or looking forward to some deep spring cleaning to get rid of the dirt, grime, and collection of stuff from the winter and the holidays. For the past few years, we’ve turned to Marie Kondo as our guide anytime we’ve needed to hit the reset button and tidy up. It has worked its magic every time.
I often feel the same way about my finances. At least once a year, I tidy things up to ensure I am on track for my financial goals. So this year, I decided to apply the Kondo method to my finances, and it’s been refreshing and reinvigorating to say the least. Follow these steps to Marie Kondo your way to a joyful and improved financial life!
Step 1: Identify why you want to improve your financial life and commit yourself to it
Without being clear on why it’s important to improve your finances, your motivation will be easily sidetracked. Like the squirrel to Doug the dog, your attention to what’s important will be forever fleeting. Remedy this by identifying why you want to improve your financial life. For example, starting a family, buying a home, or becoming financially independent can all be great ways to motivate yourself to commit.
Once you have done this, make sure you write it down and put your financial “why” somewhere you can see it every day. For example, I have a note on my desktop, my phone, and my wallet. At any given time, I am looking at one of those three items and being reminded about my “why” so I stay focused!
Step 2: Imagine your ideal lifestyle
Having a clear vision of the results you want is very important. Goal visualization has been proven to change the patterns in your thinking, essentially wiring your brain towards awareness of the people, things and situations that will help your vision become a reality. Envision the future you want and take a moment to give thanks and gratitude for what you have now and the future you will obtain.
Write this vision down as well. I have this written down in a journal that I have bookmarked. Whenever I’m feeling blah, I pick it up and read the excerpt. The effect is reinvigorating!
Step 3: Create a list of your expenses
Use a pen and paper, an expense spreadsheet like this one or an app like one of these . Do whatever method works best for you and your style. Then see how your spending lines up with your vision and follow the next step.
Step 4: Ask yourself if it sparks joy!
Kondo famously wrote, “Keep only those things that speak to the heart and discard items that no longer spark joy.” Adding this practice to your finances allows you to identify the expense items that bring you joy and align with the ideal life you are trying to create. By bringing this type of self-awareness to your spending, it will allow you to let go of any habits that are getting in the way of you meeting your financial goals. The key is to take smalls steps and discard the things that aren’t additive to the joy in your life now and importantly, the ideal life you want. As you let things go, Kondo suggests doing so with gratitude for having served a purpose in your past and now letting you focus on what matters most for your future.
Step 4: Categorize your goals and your spending
Creating categories for your spending can help you identify how it plays a role in the life you live now and more importantly, how you want to live in the future. For example, try categorizing expenses like rent/mortgage, utilities, and groceries into an “Essentials Category” and expenses like eating out, and entertainment into “Lifestyle Expenses” and then savings and paying off debt into a “Debt/Savings” category. Add more categories to help you quickly identify where the fruits of your labor are going and how they are playing a part for your longer-term vision!
Then consider categorizing your ideal life vision by setting short and long-term goals that will help get you there. For example, you will need to set aside x amount of dollars every month to buy a home in 5 years. To take your dream vacation in 2 years, it might mean saving more in the short-term and possibly limiting yourself to smaller trips in the interim. Using a saving for goals calculator like this one can help you illustrate that. Here is one for longer terms goals like retirement!
Step 5: Follow the right order
Think of your financial priorities and rank them. Start with fundamentals like these and go from there. This step will allow you to create a road map for your goals that when added up, will equate to having created a more ideal and joyful financial life!
Now go find your favorite spring cleaning playlist and get started!
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