Marie Kondo is having a moment. The author of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing is the subject of Netflix’s latest cultural phenomenon Tidying Up with Marie Kondo. In the show, Kondo enters the homes and lives of ordinary people and teaches them how to clean up their homes and subsequently bring a sense of peace and joy to their families. Anecdotal news stories about the trend have me convinced that currently people in every corner of the country are searching for ways to clean out their homes. The goal is to find happiness in the process.

The KonMari method she employs for her show requires people to reflect on each possession and ask, “does it spark joy?” If not, out it goes. If so, the item in question can happily go back on the shelf. This all has me thinking about finances. After all, finances can be a serious source of stress for some. To lift that burden, to clean up the finances, then, should theoretically bring a person more lightness than cleaning a closet. I believe that when it comes to finances the question should also be, “does it spark joy?”

Step One: Acknowledge You Have a Mess

Perhaps it isn’t a mess in the traditional sense, but perhaps things have gotten a little more cluttered or out-of-control than you like. Perhaps you are having trouble keeping track of where funds are going and who they are going out to. Maybe you realize that somewhere you are sure that you have that estate document or that life insurance policy but you are bedeviled to know where.

Step Two: Decide to Act

Start by committing to act. Our recommendation is always to turn to a fiduciary, fee-only financial advisor first. That person will have your best interest at heart. Think of it as hiring a professional organizer. Call and make an appointment. See, step two is done! Easy as can be.

Step Three: Meet with Your Advisor

Your advisor will go through everything for you and lay out specific steps to get things cleaned up. You will be delegated items to do in an easy-to-swallow manner. Your advisor will also work on doing legwork. It’s a partnership. Just as Marie Kondo doesn’t send the homeowner away and go through the home herself, so you advisor will not do all of the work on your behalf. It is a process and a partnership.

Speaking of process and partnership, this is an ongoing thing. It is not a one-and-done. Plan to spend a little time each year cleaning up your finances and make sure they are on the right path. Your advisor should plan to spend time, too, ensuring all is in order in your financial house.

Step Four: Recognize Joy

Use this time and this process to recognize the things that bring you joy. These are the things that you need to put front and center of your plan. Does travelling make you happy? Keep doing it! Does attending XYZ charity fund’s annual gala strike dread in your heart? Quit going! Find the things that truly matter to you as a person and pursue those passions hard with your finances. Anything else? Let it fall to the wayside. There is no better way for you to be successful in your finances than to define your own success by the joy you get.

Remember, money is a tool to help you achieve your goals. It is meant to help facilitate a joyful existence. Tidying up your finances can certainly have an effect on your mental health. There is a lightness to having things in order. If you would like to talk to someone about tidying up your financial house, please give us a call.

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