Outside the Box: Now is the perfect time to Marie Kondo every part of your life
Outside the Box
Treat this enforced time at home as the Great Reset and ask what activities bring you joy
The forced slowing-down of our lives because of coronavirus creates opportunity to make new choices, to revamp and upgrade our lives.
Think of it as Marie Kondo-ing your life, not just your closet. You just need to ask the right questions about your lifestyle and your finances, and then listen for the answers.
Where to begin? Like Marie Kondo’s process, you must ask yourself “What brings you joy?”
With all this being-home time, we already are spending a whole lot less money. We no longer are paying the fees for extra activities from a daughter’s dance lessons to our own piano lessons to the gym costs, or buying equipment for a baseball-playing son or that new dress for the event that no longer exists on your calendar. Our business and vacation trips have gone away. Commuting costs are down. Even leisurely dining out is cancelled until further notice. A survey of 2,200 adults concluded that 59% of adults are spending less during this time.
Like the return of the family dinner that we always knew was good practice, we understand organizing our finances is good for us, but we were always too busy to do it.
The stay-home rules make it easier. Just review your spending from the past couple of months. Compare expenses in February and March on your credit cards and bank account statements. The difference holds the key to some of the discretionary money choice you may make in the future.
My client Annabelle and her husband did this in the past year and discovered if they skipped dinner out three times a month and got pizza instead, they would save $300 a month. They have this amount go automatically into savings for a family vacation.
Focus on lifestyle choices, and your finances will follow
Spending money on eating out, take-out or new clothes may seem essential. But are they really conveniences that keep us financially constrained, if we do not question their “joy” value? For most people, spending was reduced this past month. What did you miss — and what did you not miss? How does it feel to look at your bank account? Credit-card statement?
Your emotions may play tricks on you during this pandemic. You cannot wait to get back to “normal” — whatever that is. But were you happy then? Or just on autopilot? Often when we are busy we have no time to consider the bigger choices and how to make change.
Yet here is the perfect reset. Busy is no longer the excuse. Instead of the Great Recession, take on this time as the Great Reset. Reset your life — and that will affect your finances and the quality of your life.
For example, you’ve resumed your hobby of guitar-playing while on lockdown. Perhaps a lesson or two would be fun and bring you joy. Would you trade one dinner out for that? Knowing which brings you more joy is the key.
When we have clarity around our life choices and how they affect our financial choices, decisions become easier. People have been saying much more about wishing they had hugged a love one or visited that nursing home more. There has been less out there on I wish I bought that Mercedes, had a new handbag or signed my child up for advanced hockey camp. Life has changed.
Pause today and ask what is really feeding you during this time. Family time? A hobby? Catching up with friends?
What do you really miss? People? Museums? Shopping? Sitting in a restaurant?
The bottom line is what we say no to can change our life. This is as true as what we say yes to. We have the option to say no a lot more. No to eating out as often. No to spending more than we make. No to shopping for the sake of shopping.
Yes, to our kids and dinner. Yes, to family time. Yes, to those guitar lessons.
Remember that this crisis has its good and bad. The loss of life and friends but also the opportunity to do it differently in the future. Like the Rolling Stones song, we may have not got this stay at home order because we wanted it; however, we may have gotten a much-needed opportunity. You have the power to look and see what you need as the pandemic response separates us from our wants. You can then reset moving forward to create more joy.
CD Moriarty, CFP is a Vermont-based financial speaker, writer and coach who wants to create financial peace of mind for others. She can be reached through her website.