Have you noticed a trend towards minimal lifestyles? It's everywhere. From Instagram accounts about packing everything into a camper van and sodding off (#vanlife), to decluttering your mental state with mindfulness. Of course minimalism is often associated with our living spaces. I'm quite unsentimental when it comes to possessions anyway, so I was an easy convert to the ways of Marie Kondo, the Japanese author of "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up". If you haven't read it, it's easy to brush off as another decluttering manual, but it's much more than that. There's a kind of Shintoism underpinning the philosophy which links back to the current zeitgeist; the letting go of physical trappings with gratitude and thanks, rather than wanting more, more, more of stuff. Knowing and loving the stuff you have lessens the need to fill the void with more.
Marie Kondo is not the only exponent of collecting and consuming less and focusing on personal growth. The first time I came across the portmanteau "Afluenza", was the title of the book published in 2009 by Oliver James. However, a quick Wikipedia check reveals the term could have been used as long ago as 1954. The concept is simple, our quest to metaphorically "keep up with the Joneses" is making us ill. This makes sense in a post war advertising boom, where for the first time we were told we could be happier if we only had what they had.
Not only is that not true, for most people it also has adverse effects on our personal finances. Buying things to replace already functional items which we perceive to be out of date or fashion is clearly bad for our wallets as well as our planet.
The thing that most people take away from Marie Kondo and the phrase that has cultivated thousands of memes: "Does it spark joy?". When you hold the item in your hand, how does it make you feel?
I would like to ask you now, when you think about your finances and money...does it spark joy?
I'm guessing most people said no. This makes me sad because money is a means to an end, and that end is helping you to live your best life (another well worn cliche).
5 reasons your money doesn't spark joy
- Your spending habits fill you with guilt
- You are worrying about debt
- You feel you can't afford the things you should e.g. a house or car
- You argue with your loved ones about money
- You find money boring and complicated
5 ways to make it spark joy
- Make a budget and stick to it to create a sense of achievement and help stop buying unecessary items
- Create some short terms goals that are easy to achieve- take a pack lunch to work
- Create some long term goals and keep some pictures to remind you somewhere visible - home/car/holiday?
- Do all of the above jointly and make a commitment to stick to it together
- Use an app to help you budget and set goals- it will simplify and allow you to see progress