Unless you live under a rock, you’ve most likely heard of Marie Kondo. The hugely popular Japanese organizing consultant has created an evangelical movement with the “art of tidy.” And it’s not hard to see why. Clearing your home of unwanted items goes beyond having a neat space. In fact, a good declutter can serve as a stepping stone to helping you live—and spend—based on what’s most important to you.
In The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up Kondo writes: “The question of what you want to own is actually the question of how you want to live your life.” In a nutshell, that’s a major draw of decluttering. By evaluating our belongings, we can better sync up our values with how we spend our money.
Here’s how purging your space of unwanted stuff can help you live the life you want!
You’ll Think Twice About Future Purchases
In the last few years, my goal has been to declutter in a massive way. I’ve probably gotten rid of a quarter of my belongings. Sure, going through essentially every item in your house eats up a lot of time and brain space. But purging was well worth the effort. Because getting rid of what I didn’t want was such a pain, I now think twice when adding items to my Amazon cart. Before I hit the “buy button,” I’ll ask myself:
- Do I really need it?
- How many times would I have to use it to justify the cost?
- What value is this purchase supporting?
- Would it be inconvenient or troublesome not to own it?
- Does it have multiple functions?
- Can I get by using something else?
Case in point: The most recent item that sits in my Amazon cart is a home water filter system. At $250, it ain’t cheap. But since I got rid of my junky water filter, I’ve spent more money buying bottled water. With a home water system, I’ll only have to replace the filters every six years. Plus the new one is in line with my eco-friendly efforts. Will it be a worthwhile purchase? You bet.
Conversely, I’ve been far more discriminating as to what I spend my money on. I’ve limited frivolous trips to the grocery outlet. I’m more judicious about scouring the “clearance racks” at the drugstore. In turn, I’ve spent less money on stuff I don’t need.
Figure Out What You Value Most
What if you put hard limits on how much time and money you spent acquiring items? If you only have a few hours each week to shop, what’s the best way to spend them?
Remember, it’s about time. Having the time to spend on things you enjoy and with your loved ones is why you’re building a Freedom Generator in the first place.
My dear friend Andrew, a zero-waste hero who spends his free time volunteering, once told me, “Shopping should be a treat. It’s not an everyday activity we take for granted.”
Decluttering has totally shifted my mindset. I now give myself no more than three hours a week to shop. This includes groceries, household items and browsing online. And I’ve allocated only a small amount toward discretionary spending. In other words, buying stuff other than the essentials.
Since this change, I’ve been far more deliberate about what I spend my dollars on. I now only buy things I either need, will bring joy or will add value to my life. In turn, I’ve been able to put more money into my Pay Yourself First account. And that expedites my path toward Financial Freedom.
Give Back To Charity
So what to do once you’ve gone through a declutter? If you’ve incorporated a Charity Bucket into your Freedom Generator, donating unwanted items to charity is a great opportunity to give back. In the right hands, your trash is converted treasure—or dollars.
A do-gooder bonus: You might be able to get a tax write-off. In the U.S., there’s a list of organizations eligible to receive tax-deductible charitable donations on the
IRS site. If you live in Canada, there’s relevant info on this government site. And Aussies can scour the official database for “deductible gift recipients (DGRs).”
Increase Your Pay Yourself First
Another great reason to declutter is selling your unwanted wares. Use this extra cash to fuel your Freedom Generator. If you’re on the journey to Financial Freedom, you know fully well that every dollar counts. Perhaps you can put your earnings toward your Security Buffer or to aggressively paying off debt. Or use it to kick-start your dream social enterprise company.
When you accept that you don’t need much of what’s being advertised to you, you live more frugally. And as we know,
being frugal doesn’t have to be horrible. Frugality is simply optimizing the balance between cost and happiness. Find this balance, and you’ll be able to enjoy your life in your purchases while staying on course to achieve Financial Fitness.
Consider giving a portion of money earned from selling your throwaway items to the causes you care most deeply about. Not sure where to start? Comprehensive non-profit review sites such as Charity Navigator, Give.org, GuideStar and Giving Compass will help you in selecting a few worthwhile organizations.
Organize A “Stuff Swap” To Strengthen Your Community
I’m a member of “No Buy” neighborhood Facebook groups. These hyper-local groups organize stuff swaps and post items they’ll gladly give away. I’ve scored new wardrobe and household cleaner. In turn, I’ve wiped my hands clean of Christmas gifts that were collecting dust in my closet. (Sorry, friends and fam! Regifting happens.) Besides serving as a fun way to declutter, a “stuff swap” also helps foster ties with your community. I’ve met many a friend through these meetups. And it’s helped me feel more connected to where I live.
Decluttering helps you get in alignment with your values and financial goals. And purging your space of unwanted items helps pave the way to reaching Financial Freedom.
The views and opinions expressed are those of the guest author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of MindShift.money.
image credit: Bigstock/Yastremska
Jackie is a personal finance writer and content marketer. She is passionate about telling money stories and spreading financial literacy to a mainstream audience.