KonMari Your Money

By Jeannie Rodriguez | Dr. Budgets

Recently, I watched the entire series of “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo” on Netflix (along with seemingly everyone else in the world) and I was inspired! One by one I watched as Marie Kondo helped people to transform their homes and, eventually, their relationship with stuff. I tackled organizing my daughter’s clothes and the new sight of her beautifully folded clothes brought me tremendous joy! It got me thinking… can people apply KonMari principals to their money and experience the same joy? Since I’m married to Dr. Budgets, I can confidently report that it can be done! Here’s how:


1) Does It Bring You Joy?

KonMari method principle:
Collect all your clothes (or papers, or miscellaneous items) in one place and hold each one… ask yourself if it brought you joy. If it did, keep it. If it didn’t, thank it and let it go.

KonMari application to your money:
Open a Mint.com account and link all your bank and credit card accounts. Mint will import all your expenses for the last three months. Look at each purchase and ask yourself if it brought you joy. If it did, great! Incorporate it into your budget. If it didn’t, thank it and let it go.

Some examples:

$100 for a monthly housekeeper or massage – think about how you feel after this experience… does it bring you joy? (I know that I feel joy after a massage!) Great, now work it into your budget…

Now, what about these?

  • $100/month on-the-go coffee
  • $100/month gym membership
  • $100/month for a storage unit

Maybe you love the daily indulgence of a coffee shop cup of coffee and it truly brings you joy… great! Or you LOVE your gym membership, or you are thrilled to have a storage unit because it keeps those items out of your home. Those $100/month expenses should bring you the same joy as the massage or housekeeper… if they do, work them into the budget.

Alternatively, maybe you are shocked to discover you spend $1,200 a year on coffee that doesn’t, in fact, bring you joy. Or maybe you haven’t been to that gym in months or you’re not even entirely sure what you have in that storage unit… maybe seeing those expenses does not bring you joy. That’s okay… take a moment to thank them, and then take steps to get rid of them.


2) Organize in a Way So That You Can See Everything

KonMari principle:
Fold your clothes in a special way so that they can stand up in your drawers and you can see everything at once (not stacked on top of each other). Put smaller items in boxes and display sentimental items so you can see/appreciate them.

KonMari application to money:
Organize your money so that you can SEE it. This will be a little different for everyone, but here are some ideas (you can combine these methods):

  • Use a money tracker (like Mint.com) and categorize/review your spending monthly.
  • Use the envelope system wherein you allocate actual cash money in an envelope for spending in categories such as dining out, bills and groceries.
  • Create a visual way to track your progress toward your financial goals. Daniel talks about ours here, and he maintains a “Financial Goal Tracker” for many clients that he reviews with them each month.


3) Commit Your Time to this Project

KonMari principle:
Set aside time to go through everything and commit to getting it done… trying to do it little by little doesn’t work. Make a commitment to go through the entire process.

KonMari Application to money:
Exact same idea… set aside time to organize your finances, determine financial goals and set yourself up for success.


4) Take a Moment to Reflect

KonMari principle:
At the beginning of each episode, Marie would find a spot in the house, sit on her feet, close her eyes and introduce herself to the house. She encouraged the people with whom she was working to join her and take a moment to thank the house for everything it gave them and imagine how they want to feel after the process.

KonMari application to money:
Take a moment to think about your money… what does your money do for you? How does it make you feel? How do you want it to make you feel? What do you want to get out of the process of organizing your finances? Just take a moment to set the tone for the journey you’re about to take.


5) It’s Your Decision

KonMari principle:
Marie Kondo does not question the decisions of the people on the show. She doesn’t suggest that they should let go of an item they decided brought them joy. The “afters” of these spaces aren’t the typical picture-perfect homes you’d expect on a makeover show, and I love it! These are real families with real homes, not pages in a magazine.

KonMari application to money:
How you spend your money should be up to you. If you’ve done the work to set financial goals and made the decision to be intentional about your spending, then you can buy those fancy shoes or have a spa day or buy that new gadget. Your budget should not look like my budget because we have different goals and priorities.


6) It’s an On-going Process (but You’ll probably feel better about it now!)

KonMari principle:
Going through the KonMari steps wasn’t the end – now the families need to do a little bit each day to keep their homes in that state. However, after going through the steps, each of the families appeared to feel better about their relationship to their stuff and their home. It seemed that the task of keeping up their homes wasn’t as overwhelming as it may have felt before they worked with Marie Kondo.

KonMari application to money:
While some of your budgeting tasks can be automated (and should be!), you’ll need to be actively involved in your finances. Many of Daniel’s clients talk about an “out of sight, out of mind” mentality about their finances before working with Dr. Budgets, but they all accepted that wasn’t the best approach! Setting aside a little time each month to review your spending, whether it’s in Mint.com, on a spreadsheet or with a money coach, is going to be the key to keeping that joyous feeling about your money. If the idea of doing that now seems daunting, understand that you’ll likely feel better about it after you go through the initial process of organizing your money and setting up a spending plan.


7) You Have the Potential to Improve Your Relationships

KonMari principle:
So many relationships appear to be transformed in the series: peoples’ relationships with their homes, with their stuff and with each other. It is no surprise that if you have a sense of chaos or stress associated with a major part of your life, it’s going to affect your relationships. Going through the process, at the very least, opened a dialogue between the participants. In many of the episodes, it seemed to improve partnerships and family relationships… and I think that’s something that truly sparks joy!

KonMari application to money:
Since money touches so many aspects of our lives, it’s no wonder it can be a big source of stress and tension in relationships. Similar to the physical items in your home that are always there, such as paper, clothes, photos, books, and boxes of Christmas decorations, the financial items such as bills, budgets, statements, income, expenses, and debt aren’t very different. You can try to pack them away and forget about them or work around them and get by… but unless you deal with it all (ACTUALLY deal with it), it’s probably consistently stressing you out and affecting your relationships. But, I think sorting through the money stuff is a lot like sorting through the stuff-stuff… once you dig in, it’s not as scary as you thought and you’ll wish you had done it sooner 🙂



As it turns out, there is a lot about the KonMari method that can be applied to money! Have you applied any of these principles to your home? How do you feel about doing the same with your money? If you’d like help with the process, a money coach could be like your own Marie Kondo for your finances!