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How to KonMari your finances and create calm from chaos

Remember the Spark Joy phenomenon?
The term was coined by minimalist Marie Kondo, who devised an inspired system for decluttering closets, transforming mountains of messy clothes and other junk into a Zen-like temple of tranquillity and order.
My mother-in-law was an early adopter. She bought the book, copies for grandkids, and worked Kondo cleaning rituals like an exorcism. She was a quick study.
She was eager to show me her magic when I visited for a Sunday meal. She had managed to origami her undies into domino lines of perfection in the sacred drawer. The arrangement starkly contrasted my lucky dip drawer of disorder at home.
It has been a few years since the Kondo craze, but on a rain-induced folding frenzy the other day, it got me thinking about how to KonMari your finances. Could a similar system be adapted to bring some Spark Joy in the form of financial well-being?
Unlike my undie drawer, my finances are well structured. Ironically, they follow a system not dissimilar to the Japanese declutter goddess’s.
Here’s the financial overlay on Kondo’s five steps regime. See for yourself how well it works.

  1. Declutter and categorise. Download at least three months of financial statements and sort them by category. Rent, mortgage, food, petrol, school expenses, car, insurance, power, internet, water, subscriptions. Most banks offer free finance apps that do this sorting for you tracking your spending digitally. Still, you can also use a pen and paper or a spreadsheet. You can even use one of their free templates if you have a Gmail account.
  2. Sub categorisation. Once you identify your main categories, tally up the spending and tag essential and non-essential items. Ask yourself some hard questions. i.e. Is the weekly Dizengoff brunch really a necessary food expense?
  3. Spark Joy. Kondo’s golden rule (the title of her international bestseller) involves a test whereby you hold in your hands a particular item and divine its ability to make your heart sing. You can’t do that by looking at financial statements, but you can intuit how each item you spend money on made you feel at the time and importantly afterwards too.  i.e. you know that monthly yoga membership keeps you mentally sane and spiritually centred because you’re incentivised to go three times a week, versus  going once in a a month despite paying monthly. That’s a very expensive downward facing dog.
  4. Reorder. The good news here is you’re not folding clothes for hours. The bad news is you’ll have to make some tough decisions and keeping your mind focussed. Cancel subscriptions you aren’t using, consider restructuring any debt if you have it, cut up any credit cards that are getting you in trouble and stop buying stuff you don’t need.  In other words, do the purge.
  5. Ikki-ni. Unlike some self-development experts who recommend slow “atomic” changes over time, Kondo suggests the clean-up is done in one go. She is a fan of the roll of your sleeves-and get-s***t-done approach. I get why too. The road to hell is paved with good intentions. If you can commit to it, I like the idea of a financial day. At the same time, not everyone is a bulldozer. Ikki-ni or not, it is important not to lose momentum when the moment strikes.

An organised closet is beautiful to behold, but those Kondo standards can be tricky to maintain. Even Kondo herself admits she’s taken a more relaxed approach recently.
​Because my partner is a bit OCD, his side of the closet makes mine look bad by comparison, so I do attempt to KonMari at times. But those freshly pressed shirts have nothing on my financial Spark Joy.

The information above is not personalised financial advice and the opinions expressed are mine alone. Should you require financial advice, I recommend you seek a fee paying financial advisor.