Does This Spark Joy?

Marie Kondo… You are everywhere in my life these days.

Now that all three of my kids have left the nest, I find myself imagining what it might be like to move. Having read Marie Kondo’s book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up I feel like she is sitting on my shoulder whispering in my ear “what brings you joy here?” as I walk from room to room.

This idea of choosing what brings you joy rather than choosing what you don’t want or need alters how you feel about the choices that you make. It seems to take away a lot of the negative emotion associated with the item that is eliminated. You no longer feel guilty about donating the clothing that doesn’t fit or the gift you never used or the outdated appliance. Rather, you thank the item for whatever service it provided and wish it well.

I have followed her advice in my home. I have dumped everything in the middle of each room, stood there and picked out the things that I truly love. I am in the process of doing it with my now adult kids too, via video. Each book individually. One drawer or closet shelf at a time. It’s a little tedious but lowers the probability that I will give away something that someone else truly values.  One of my sons tried to tell me that everything gave him joy. My response was, “Great. I will box it all up and ship it to your apartment.” Suddenly those trophies from middle school no longer sparked the same joy.

I decided to apply Marie Kondo’s “tidying tips” to my financial life too. I use a few credit cards, so I took a look at the statements for each one and made a list of all the recurring transactions. I was surprised at how many there were. I asked the question, “does this publication, membership, etc., really bring me joy? Am I using it as I originally thought I would?”  No surprise here – I ended up getting rid of a few things.

Then, I decided to think about the cards themselves and consider which ones do I want to keep. For example, I took out a Southwest Visa card when my son first went to college in North Carolina because Southwest had these ridiculously low fares at the time. He is about to go to his 5th year reunion and I rarely fly Southwest anymore. What is the point of using this one?  Should I be using a different one? Does the fee that I am paying make sense for the benefit received?

While I was reviewing my credit cards, I began updating my account with Mint (and other software apps) allows you to aggregate all of your credit cards and label the expenses. It then learns through artificial intelligence how to categorize certain expenses. For example, a charge from a merchant with the name of Drip means coffee. Running reports, you can see how much you are spending on drinking coffee outside of your home. Does that bring you joy? That much joy?

When I began my “tidying up” journey, I tackled one room at a time, and I used the same approach with my finances. Now that my project is complete, I feel a weight has lifted and I have more clarity around the things that truly bring me joy. Should you decide to embark on this journey for yourself, keep one thing in mind – does this spark joy? I think you will find that less is more.


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