Two books are first and third in the current US Best Sellers list – both by Japanese-American tidying guru, Marie Kondo. Her tidying wisdom has swept the US as a way to feel better about yourself and your home and it’s now heading to the UK. She recently shared her top tips for ‘decluttering’ and it made us wonder whether her new form of ‘healthy living’ could be applied to the office or even, perhaps, your finances.
1. Do it all at once, and do it now. Don’t try to do things in piecemeal. Tackle everything together, as soon as you can, and reap the benefits.
2. Start with the easy stuff. Kondo says that tidiers shouldn’t begin by going through old photo albums or love letters as these are the hardest things to throw away and often lead to distraction. The message for your finances could be similar. When was the last time you reviewed your current account, for example? Easy fixes (such as paying off your highest interest liabilities first, to avoid extra payments) can also make for very positive changes.
3. Ditch your paperwork. This one could be tough, particularly when it comes to finances! Kondo argues that all your paperwork should fit in one place: in two groups – papers to be saved, and papers to be dealt with. This means being absolutely ruthless about what you keep. Gone are the handbooks – most information can be found online now. Ditto old bills, credit card statements and payslips. The only thing you need to keep, according to Kondo, are contracts (employment, mortgage, lease, etc) and insurance policies. We’d perhaps just be a little careful with this one (ask your adviser first!).
4. Don’t buy expensive storage equipment. Kondo claims to have tried every kind of storage on the market in Japan and says ultimately the only thing that is truly useful is a shoe box. Our insatiable need for ‘better storage’ comes from having too much stuff in the first place – and once stored away in your latest pretty box from IKEA, your things are forgotten about and you’ve just added another box of stuff to your life!
5. Treat your possessions like people. This one might take a bit of getting used to but Kondo recommends an ongoing ‘dialogue’ with your things, which will allow you to sense more readily when it might be time to let them go. She says:
‘We often hear about athletes who take loving care of their sports gear, treating them almost as if they were sacred – our belongings work really hard for us.’
It’s a similar thing with finances. They do work really hard for us, allowing us to do the things that we want to do, so looking after them properly really is a ‘tidy’ way of living!