If you’ve ever been curious about what Sam’s wife Sydney is like, well you’re about to get a peek into
her, oops I mean my, personality and – gasp! – my drawers.
I’m a lighthearted, patient (most days), happy homebody who has to know where everything is in the house and on my computer. But staying organized can be really hard, especially with a toddler in the house, and if you’re going at it wrong.
The exciting news is there’s a refreshing new way to organize known as KonMari. I’m sure some of you have heard about it or are already addicted to it like me.
Since I’m also a personal finance fan, I’m going to share why it’s beneficial to KonMari your lifestyle and finances.
The Six Rules Of The KonMari Method
Before I reveal my own recent adventure in organizing, I’ll give you the rundown on KonMari.
What is it? KonMari is a method of organization created by Marie Kondo, a Japanese organizing consultant and author who has a new hit show on Netflix, Tidying Up With Marie Kondo.
I stopped watching reality TV shows seven years ago, but had to make an exception for this show. It’s addicting in a good way and has inspired me to make some refreshing changes.
The organizer in me that’s been away on leave ever since we had a baby has re-emerged thanks to this show. I had so much fun watching all of season 1 that I admittedly started watching it over again.
I also really enjoy Marie’s personality and mannerisms. I’ve traveled to Japan over a dozen times or so to visit family and friends, and the aura Marie gives off reminds me of my second “home.”
The way she speaks Japanese is very eloquent, polite, and respectful – something we could use more of in American language and culture imo.
KonMari isn’t just about tidying up one’s house either. It’s a lifestyle improvement technique built upon six key rules.
Rule 1: Commit yourself to tidying up. Without a sincere commitment to getting organized, you’ll either never get started, quit too soon, or only stay organized temporarily. Identify why you want to get organized and hold yourself accountable.
Some example reasons from the show include a couple moving into a new home together for the first time, a family wanting to get their house in order before committing to having a third child, and a widow looking to start a new chapter after her spouse passed away.
Rule 2: Imagine your ideal lifestyle. A clear vision of the results you want is a crucial motivator. I love how Marie takes a few minutes to greet each home she visits. She encourages each family to sit with her and silently talk to their house, as if in prayer.
Have you ever taken a few minutes to thank your house for protecting you and for all the memories you’ve had there? Envision the changes you want and take a moment to give thanks.
Sam and I spend so much time in our house every day working and as full-time parents with our son. We owe so much to our home – thank you dear house!
Rule 3: Finish discarding first. The meaning of this rule is to move forward with purpose. If you clean up your house’s visible areas by just stuffing everything into closets or storage, that isn’t truly effective.
Why? Without going through your items one by one and only keeping the things that you truly want in your future, it’s highly unlikely you’ll be able to stay organized. Things will inevitably get chaotic again.
Discard items first, then work on properly arranging and storing the remaining things you wish to keep.
Rule 4: Tidy by category, not by location. Traditional organizing is typically done room by room, one closet at a time, one drawer at a time. I’ve always decluttered and organized this way.
The KonMari method, however, is all about tidying by category (ex. clothes, books). The benefit of this approach is seeing just how much you have of each category all at once. Gather each category from all the nooks and crannies in your house and put everything in one big pile.
This shock factor can be quite a big wake up call, especially if you’ve developed a habit of scattering things around. If you love clothes, you might have a dresser and closet full in your bedroom, the guest bedroom, the basement, garage, etc. Making one big mountain of clothes shocks you to how much you actually have and probably don’t need.
The downside of decluttering by category is things will get super messy before they get better. Call it temporary increased chaos, but it’s worth it.
Rule 5: Follow the right order. Marie recommends tackling your tidiness goals in a specific order: clothes, books, papers, komono (miscellaneous items) and lastly, sentimental items.
Clothes tend to be the easiest to go through for most people, sentimental items the hardest. Tackling categories from least to most emotional creates momentum and a higher chance of completion.
Rule 6: Ask yourself if it sparks joy. This is my favorite rule. It’s made a huge difference in my ability to let go of things, clothes especially.
How do you know if something sparks joy? Sift through your pile of clothes and find something that you love. Hold it or put it on and capture how it makes you feel. Chances are it makes you smile and feel warm and fuzzy inside.
Next, find something you don’t want to keep and compare the difference in your emotional response. If you get stuck, you can always come back to an item later or have a maybe pile.
Additional guidelines. Marie recommends saying thank you to each item we choose to dispose. How sweet! This brings a sense of peace and gratitude to the process.
After you’ve finished discarding items in a category, store them so your items are more easily visible. This is best done using boxes of various sizes and improved folding techniques.
For example, most of us who take the time to put folded clothes in drawers do so horizontally, ie one item on top of another in a stack. But, Marie Kondo folds most items vertically! Pick up a stack of shirts and turn it 90 degrees. Voila – vertical!
To help items fit best, Marie typically recommends folding in thirds instead of in half. You can see an example of my t-shirt drawer before and after below.
Lifestyle Benefits of KonMari
Completing the KonMari process takes a lot of time, but I think it’s worth the effort. The more I practice and progress, the more I appreciate KonMari as a lifestyle improvement. Here are some of the benefits.
- Have a renewed appreciation for your home
- Realize how much you’ve accumulated over the years
- Feel more gratitude towards your belongings
- Learn to let go of items that can better serve someone else
- Create more useable and open space
- Less stress and frustration
- Find things faster
Ways KonMari Can Help Your Finances
The KonMari method of organizing has a lot of principles that can be applied to your finances. Here’s my financial spin on the six rules.
Rule 1: Commit yourself to financial independence. Growing wealth doesn’t happen by itself. You have to be proactive if you want to become and stay financially responsible.
Rule 2: Imagine your ideal retirement. Retirement planning is too underrated in our country. Visualize what you want your retirement to look like, don’t fall for retirement myths, and make a detailed roadmap that will lead you there.
Rule 3: Get out of debt. The sooner you can get out of debt and earn more than you spend, the better. So many more opportunities open up when you’re debt free. Sam’s slogan says it perfectly: Financial Freedom, Sooner Rather Than Later.
Rule 4: Don’t forget to zoom out. Regularly look at your overall financial health using a bird’s eye view to avoid missing things. It’s fine to use multiple accounts for different purposes if you actively monitor all your assets. Keep your overall portfolio allocation in line with your risk tolerance.
Rule 5: Earn, save, then enjoy. Order matters if you want to avoid debt and financial stress. Earn your money, save/invest part of what you earn after expenses, and enjoy some or all of the rest.
Rule 6: Identify positive reasons for growing your wealth. Identify specific reasons why money matters to you and how you want to spend it in the future. The clearer your visions and goals, the more motivated you’ll feel.
More finance benefits. The KonMari method can also help you save money by curtailing unnecessary spending. Think about exactly where you would put something before you buy it. No space? Don’t buy it. Your drawers and closet space become a lot more valuable after you’ve gone through the work to get them organized.
You’ll also avoid accidentally buying something you already have. Here are two silly examples. I bought twice as much maple syrup and olive oil because I thought we were running low. The bottles I’d already purchased were buried behind a bunch of stuff.
Sam recently made a dupe goof too. He bought a new basketball last month because he thought he didn’t have one.
Low and behold when we were cleaning out the garage he found one he’d barely used collecting dust in an old laundry basket buried below some bags and our son’s old car seat.
Organizing Is Addicting
I’ve always been know as the obsessively organized one amongst my closest friends and colleagues. But when full-time parenting took over my life, my ability to stay organized went out the window.
I frequently felt frazzled and frustrated. Our house also looked like it had been turned upside down most of the time, which often drove Sam and me crazy.
But this year, I finally feel like I’m back. Our son is starting to play more independently giving me more breathing room, I’ve been able to do more part-time work late at night, and I feel happy and more balanced. Bit by bit our house is returning to order.
Prepare For Big Changes With KonMari
I’m also highly motivated to give our house a complete KonMari makeover because we’re expecting big changes on the horizon. As many of you know, we might move to a bigger house this year or relocate to Hawaii.
Even though a bigger house could easily accommodate everything we have, packing up any size house is a royal PITA and the less we have to bring, the better.
I’m also amazed at how quickly our son outgrows things especially his clothes. Since we’re keeping all of his things for a few more years just in case we have another baby, our storage space is continually diminishing.
Clearing out space is so satisfying. I highly recommend you give it a try!
Before And After Examples Of KonMari
The worst room in our house has always been the kitchen. As one of the center spaces in our house, a messy kitchen is frustrating. The three of us spend so much time in and out of the kitchen throughout the entire day, 7 days a week.
It’s the last place we want to be chaotic, yet it’s constantly getting bombarded with stuff: papers, toys, cough drops, food, delivery boxes, our son’s clothes, and other random stuff. The good news is KonMari is helping!
Here’s a before and after pic of our countertops.
The countertops went from disarray and cluttered to manageable and orderly.
Next is an after shot of one of our kitchen drawers. I forgot to take a before pic, but you can trust me that it was a disaster. I repurposed some empty iPhone boxes.
And here’s a before and after pic of my t-shirt drawer.
Even though I folded my shirts in the before pic, the difference is night and day. I like the KonMari folding technique so much better.
A Few More Tips On KonMari
- Get your family on board. You’ll need each other’s support.
- Don’t expect to finish in a week. It’s time-consuming but worth it.
- Bend the rules a little if you need to. I won’t tell anyone.
- You don’t have to become a minimalist, unless you want to.
- Anticipate and push through setbacks. Everyone has them.
- Stay committed for the long term so your hard work isn’t wasted.
- Reuse take-out containers, shoe box lids, jewelry boxes, etc for storing items neatly in drawers.
- Dislike folding? Put on spa music and approach it like meditation.
- Organizing and folding are great skills for kids. Our son now eagerly asks me to help fold his socks and he’s not even 2 years old yet!
- Call ahead and check for overcapacity before dropping off donations. KonMari is popular now and people are donating like crazy.
- Don’t forget to grab a tax receipt when you drop off donations.
- Take pictures of your before and after progress!
If you want to learn more about the KonMari method, Marie Kondo wrote these two books all about it:
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing
Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up (The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up)
Readers, what’s the messiest room in your house? Have you tried to KonMari your lifestyle and finances?