The Marie Kondo Effect
Guest blog by Canna Campbell
2019 has already had a big impact on me in my quest to make this year “The Year of Less But Better”. Less consumption, better investing. Less household chemicals, better health. Less processed food, better energy. Less distractions, better tranquility. Less clutter (more tidying up), better focus and time.
Already I have set upon my home, looking for decorations, clothes, toys or kitchenware that I don’t love, value, use or appreciate. In the words of Marie Kondo – anything that doesn’t ‘spark joy’.
As I pull items out of drawers, wardrobes, cupboards, bags and baskets, seeing the new space created by what is left is simultaneously euphoric and cathartic.
You see and feel the progress in your decluttering as you discard each item. You feel layers of anxiety peel away, and you feel a sense of responsibility and maturity as you become more aware of how much stuff needs to go and be freed in your life as you promise yourself not to let this clutter sneak up on you and your home ever again.
But as you watch your piles grow, you need to be honest with yourself and ask yourself “where is my unwanted stuff going to end up?”
Most of us embark on a big declutter when we know our local council pick up is coming, or we have just “refilled” our house with new items from Christmas, or even from a burst of motivation from the popular Netflix series, Tidying Up.
We think we are doing the right thing by placing our old treasures on the streets for people to help themselves to, or that you are helping disadvantaged people by dropping it off at charity bins. And while this is partly true, the reality is that these charities are inundated with people’s unwanted stuff right now.
The other week I took myself out to meet with Faye Delanty from the Salvation Army Store in Tempe. She took me through the warehouse style store and out the back to show me the excess that they are dealing with.
There were hallways that were no longer hallways as they were piled to the ceiling with black garbage bags of people’s unwanted belongings. Boxes and boxes piled on top of each other like freight on a cargo ship. Everything was unopened, as the Salvos can’t keep up with the constant deliveries of more and more unwanted stuff arriving every day.
Standing next to these mountain high piles of bags and boxes made me feel ill.
Then my own council pick up day came. So I went for a walk around my neighbourhood, to see what people were throwing out. Amazingly, I discovered art deco furniture pieces, perfect condition kids’ books and toys, artwork and sculptures, garden pots and plants, lamp shades, beds, sofas.
As I slowly returned home, walking past more piles of unwanted items, I felt a huge sense of frustration. These items discarded on the side of the road are unique, original with character, in good condition and actually quite valuable.
My neighbours could sell these items very easily, but instead my streets were actually littered with cash.
It would just take minutes to take a quick photo and a few words to describe each item and list it on Gumtree. They would be paid cash for their item on the spot and it would be taken away for them rather than dumping the items on the street or schlepping to the local charity bins. Talk about less effort more time!
And I know this because I did this myself only 6 months ago. The “unwanted” items in my house from my previous spring clean made me over $1000 in less than 10 days. And while I donated that money to the Rural Aid, this $1000 would have been a welcomed injection to any Australian household.
Cash that could pay off credit card debt from overspending at Christmas time, cash that could be put into a saving account to put towards a family holiday. Cash that could be put towards building some emergency money to help alleviate financial stress.
Here’s how to apply some of Marie Kondo’s basic rules of tidying up, use them to make money and avoid more waste going to landfill:
Ask yourself if you love, value, use or appreciate it
Then ask if your items would be love, value, used or appreciated by someone else. Would that old pair of skis you have lying around would help someone get a start on their ambitions? If the answer is yes, it’s worth putting the item up on Gumtree.
Imagine your ideal lifestyle
Imagine what your life will be like not only when it’s free of clutter, but also when you have a bit of extra cash on the side. Does that mean cash for a rainy day? Redecorating? It’s up to you.
Tidying up by category
So as I return back to my home, facing my piles of items to let go of, I feel excited about taking action and embracing my 2019 theme, selling my unwanted items responsibly and knowing that my resolution of “less stuff, better financial health” has already begun.
So don’t be a financial litterbug, grab your phone and start listing your unwanted items, remembering that “one man’s trash, is another man’s treasure”.
Canna Campbell is a financial planner & brains behind SugarMamma.