Tidying Up Your Money


Have you seen the new Netflix show called Tidying Up?

The title caught my attention as I was lazying around on New Year’s Day. I was one of the millions of people who read The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo a couple of years ago.  As a fan of the book and de-cluttering in general, I had to check out the show.

It did not disappoint

Watching Marie work her simple method on real-life people makes this one of those rare instances where the TV/movie version is better than the book. Who knew that watching people clean up the mess that is their homes could be so intriguing?!

And P.S., this isn’t a new take on the show Hoarders. The homes in this show are messy the way I think most of our homes are, which makes it a ton more relatable.

What’s Tidying Up about?

If you haven’t read the book or seen the show, the super short description is that it’s about cleaning your home by determining whether each item “sparks joy” for you. As the show demonstrates, the process and the end result are emotional, and indeed, life-changing.

The parallels between tidying up and getting financially fit

What really struck me about the pattern I saw repeated in the episodes is just how similar tidying up is to becoming financially fit. The experience, particularly the emotional journeys that I witnessed on Tidying Up, were nearly identical to the ones that most of my financial coaching clients go on.

The beginning

The motivation to try a new way is the same: the constant and pervasive stress and discomfort that looms in the background due to the chaos.

There’s this sense that “I can’t/don’t want to live like this anymore” or “I’m headed down a dangerous path if I don’t change my ways” that causes people to get over their fear of change and finally get help.  This is what I hear from my financial coaching clients too. They are fed up with struggling over money, especially when they’re making a good amount of it.

The mix of anxiety and excitement about starting.

Most people are visibly excited when Marie comes through their door and they’re “so ready for this!” but they also admit to being nervous. If they’re like my clients, they’re nervous about the amount of work they need to put in. What’s probably most anxiety provoking for people is letting someone else see their mess. 

I think that the bravest people among us are the ones who have the courage to ask for help cleaning up a mess that they are embarrassed by. I work with some brave souls! Most of them feel embarrassed that they don’t already know how to manage money well. Their parents, whether they were good with money or not, didn’t teach them and they certainly didn’t learn this stuff in school (even if they went to business school).

The “Oh SH*T!” moment of awareness when they get started.

Once people pile their clothes on the bed, and it nearly hits the ceiling, most people are like “ohmygosh, I had no idea that it was SO much!” In financial coaching, my clients have a similar experience when we look at how much they’ve spent money in the various expense categories like restaurants, wardrobe, and their car (for personal expenses) and marketing, meals & entertainment, and supplies (for business expenses).

The middle

The choice of what stays vs. what goes depends on a person’s own values. There is no expert telling people what to do.

When I announced on Facebook that I wanted to be the Marie Kondo of money, a friend commented, “Noooooooo she does nothing.” To me, that’s part of the magic. Marie is a coach, not a closet cleaner who comes in as an expert on what should be kept and what should be tossed. To do so would be imposing her values on others. Instead, she wants people to pick what sparks joy for them and her job is to simply guide them to their goal of tidying their homes.

Similarly, I don’t tell clients how they should spend their money, I work with them to clarify their goals and values so that they can come up with a budget (spending plan) to spend and allocate money on their terms. My financial coaching is about helping people spend money in a way that represents their values and what they stand for; I don’t make these decisions for my clients.

People realize that the work is not as bad as they feared (though it’s still work). Actually, they find that they enjoy it (or at least parts of it 🙂

There’s no escaping it, there’s some serious effort that goes into both tidying up and becoming financially fit, but it’s not the awful experience that people brace themselves for. In fact, many come to find out that they actually enjoy the process. Surprise!

The end

The huge relief, like a weight being lifted, when the process is complete. The experience of calm and freedom.

When the chaos and clutter are gone, there’s a deep breath in their body and lightness in their souls. It’s what all the work was for. The work was so worth the feelings they experience and the shift in energy of their space. The same goes for my clients who rid their financial lives of chaos and clutter. It’s a beautiful and satisfying thing to watch.

It’s life changing (and relationship altering) in unexpected and delightful ways.

People’s energy is improved, and they’re more relaxed and at ease. There’s less stress from minor annoyances like tripping over something on the way to the bathroom or not being able to find the sweater you’re looking for. Spouses and family members get along better. People find it easier to focus on their loved ones when they’re not distracted by clutter.

I see the same changes in my clients and they report feeling less frustrated and more at ease from day to day, knowing that they’ve got a handle on their business and personal finances. They get to focus on the causes and people that matter to them because they’re not distracted with worries about money.

The desire to stick with their new ways.

Once they’ve accomplished this great feat, people hope that they can stick with their new way of dealing with stuff. Unfortunately, without some kind of accountability for at least a while, many people will revert to old ways and new stuff will fill the void left by all their old junk. If Marie (or her team) offered a monthly check-in call or a quarterly refresher, more of them would have long-term success.

I offer that kind of support to my financial coaching clients. I stay with them long enough until they create healthy financial habits from what they’ve learned in our time together, which usually takes about three months.

Do your finances spark joy in you?

My hope is that you become inspired to “spark joy” with your money, and allow me the honor of helping you do so. Let’s set up a time to chat and see if I’m the right coach for you.

Here’s to the life changing magic of tidying up your money in 2019!

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