Personal Finance

What Does Konmari Mean

By David Krug David Krug is the CEO & President of Bankovia. He's a lifelong expat who has lived in the Philippines, Mexico, Thailand, and Colombia. When he's not reading about cryptocurrencies, he's researching the latest personal finance software. 7 minute read

The Japanese expert on decluttering and author of “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” Marie Kondo, is becoming increasingly well-known in the States. In response to her new Netflix series “Tidying Up With Marie Kondo,” viewers throughout the country are “Kondoing” their homes, routines, and even bank accounts.

What makes Kondo stand out is her distinct cultural perspective on the value of possessions. Her method, which she calls the “KonMari technique,” is inspired in part by the Shinto faith, whose precepts include appreciating what you have, refusing to view possessions as just commodities, and expressing gratitude for an item’s use before deciding to part with it.

You may apply Kondo’s principles to your personal finances as well as your house. Here’s a deeper dive into her tidying techniques so you can KonMari your home, your bank account, and your life.

The KonMari Method’s Principles

Every viewer of her show or reader of her book is aware that Kondo adheres to a set of rules that must be followed in a specific order and not left to the discretion of the person doing the tidying. 

Examples of these are:

1. Make a Promise to Tidy Up

To begin KonMari-in your home, you must first dedicate yourself fully to the process. If you’ve ever tried to start a new diet or stick to a New Year’s resolution, you know that success is far more likely if you give the endeavor your whole attention and energy. 

The same holds true for tidying, and in order to succeed with KonMari, you must be mentally prepared for the task at hand before you even begin.

2. Conjure up an Ideal

It’s crucial to have a clear mental picture of your motivation for decluttering beyond the simple statement, I have too many things. Consider how much more space you’ll have in your home if you get rid of all your unnecessary possessions.

Will you be able to replace your oversized closet full of things you don’t wear with a more manageable closet containing only the timeless pieces you love?

Will you be able to park your car in the garage, which has been too full up until now, and avoid having to rush out in the rain while wearing a suit, or spend 20 minutes each day defrosting and clearing snow from your car during the winter?

3. Eliminate Before Organizing

To follow the guidelines of the KonMari method, one must first complete the process of discarding items one no longer wants or needs before moving on to the next step of organizing their belongings. 

The first step in this process is to sort through everything and decide what doesn’t belong before putting it away.

This method prevents you from simply shuffling things around without considering what you have and why you’re keeping it. You can get rid of the things you no longer need by selling them, giving them away to charity, or throwing a yard sale. Remove it from your home immediately.

4. Organize by Category

Kondo urges all the people on her show to perform one of the most radical things imaginable: to dump all their clothes from every closet in the house into one giant pile. This equates to a pile of clothing taller than the show’s cast members for some of the participants. 

Kondo uses this as an example of how the KonMari technique emphasizes organizing by category rather than space.

That implies you can’t go on to, say, books until you finish with all of your clothing. You have to look at how much of whatever you have, like shoes or papers or holiday decorations, and decide what you want to keep and what you can part with.

5. Orderly and Tidy

Marie Kondo also advises people to organize their belongings in the same manner:

  1. Clothing
  2. Books
  3. Papers
  4. Miscellaneous items
  5. Mementos

Kondo suggests starting with clothes and by extension, shoes and other accessories because it’s the least daunting task and will help you get momentum. It can take as long as six months to KonMari your entire home, depending on its size. 

Starting with a less daunting area, like clothing, will help you build the foundation you’ll need to tackle more complex areas like the kitchen or sentimental belongings later on.

6. Consider Whether Each Item Brings You Joy.

In the KonMari method, one of the defining questions is Does it ignite joy? The question is one that Kondo frequently poses to her customers. No, it must be thrown away if the response is no. 

If an item doesn’t make you happy, according to Kondo, it doesn’t belong in your home. This is true even if it was a gift you’d otherwise feel bad getting rid of.

Whether it’s papers or something as mundane as a spatula, she insists that nothing should be kept in the house if it doesn’t bring you joy. Feel how it feels in your hands to determine if it brings you happiness; if it doesn’t, give thanks for its service and let it go.

If you follow the KonMari process religiously and are truly committed to it, Kondo says you’ll only have to thoroughly KonMari your home once. 

She also suggests that you’ll benefit everywhere in your life as a result of decluttering, as you’ll be less burdened mentally and emotionally by your possessions and so better able to focus on other priorities. 

By the end of the KonMari process, you should have a deeper appreciation for the things you’ve kept and, ideally, your home should contain nothing but treasures you cherish.

How to Use KonMari in Your Financial Life

So, how does this relate to one’s financial situation? At the risk of stating the obvious, things cost money, and keeping stuff you don’t need but have to pay to store is a burden that can have negative effects on your life and your bank account. Your financial outlook is one area where the KonMari method can be applied successfully.

Find out how to organize your money using the KonMari principle.

1. Be Resolute in Your Goals

Before beginning the KonMari process, you must decide to tidy it completely. You may achieve your financial objectives with the same level of dedication. If you want to succeed in changing your spending habits, paying off your debt, or switching careers, wait until you’re absolutely ready to do so before you get started.

2. Envision Your Goals

Kondo recommends that her clients visualize their ideal space before beginning the tidying process. When the initial enthusiasm and novelty of setting new financial goals wears off, remembering the reasons you set them in the first place will help you stay on track.

Whether your end objective is to finally get out from under your student loan debt, buy an investment property, or retire early, keeping that picture in mind can help you keep at it when times go rough. 

Think of what you could do with your life if you were debt-free if you were able to retire in five years instead of fifteen, if you had rental income, etc. Knowing your motivation will help you figure out the best approach.

3. Sort items into categories.

Similar to how sorting your belongings into piles can make cleaning easier, organizing your money goals into distinct buckets can help you conquer them one by one. It will also help you get the basics down before moving on to more difficult tasks.

If you’re trying to reduce your monthly outlays and you know that Hulu or a monthly subscription box are easy targets, do them first. Doing so will get you in the zone before you have to make any tough choices. 

You may strengthen your financial-organizational muscles and make tough decisions like whether or not your family can get by with just one car or adopting a more frugal way of life by categorizing your spendings, such as monthly subscriptions, debt payments, utilities, shopping, and entertainment.

4. Purchase fewer items

Purchasing goods is less of a struggle if you’ve laid out your goals, analyzed your money, and made cuts wherever possible. If the question “Does it inspire joy?” is used to evaluate a product or service, consumers are more likely to spend sparingly, especially on products that are easily forgotten or discarded.

Who cares if you spend $10 on yet another low-quality shirt you’ll only get to wear a few times before it falls apart when you already have 100 shirts cluttering your wardrobe or dresser? 

When you have a treasured collection of high-quality clothing and only $50 to spend on clothes each month, you won’t feel the need to buy another substandard shirt or waste 15% of your income on something that doesn’t bring you true joy.

5. Minimize Waste

Eliminating unwelcome outlays and reducing overall consumption might help you go green. Applying the KonMari approach to your money will help you cut through the stuff you don’t need and focus on what’s important to you, whether or not you identify as a minimalist or strive for a zero-waste lifestyle.

In the same way that you need to identify where everything in your house belongs so you can find it when you need it, budgeting will help you assign a purpose for every dollar you earn. 

Whether it’s paying off debt, saving for a new roof, or treating yourself to a nice meal once a month, putting your money in a specific place makes it less likely that you’ll waste it on something else.

6. Modify Your Mentality

Your financial outlook may shift if you begin to budget and save with more forethought and consideration of the future. You’ll stop thinking of money as something to be thrown around carelessly on trinkets that don’t make you happy and start viewing it as a valuable resource. 

When you put your hard-earned cash in this perspective, you’ll find yourself spending less and saving more than you ever thought possible.

Bottom Line

There is no need to become a minimalist or get rid of all your possessions in order to apply the ideas of the KonMari method to your finances. It simply implies that you will not waste money on frivolous purchases or items you don’t truly care about.

Implementing these rules will assist you in taking charge of your material assets and financial situation, allowing you to concentrate on what truly matters to you while releasing the excess.

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