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Spark Joy and Clear Debt.

The weekend was beautiful in New Hampshire this weekend. After a long winter of cold temperatures, it was joyous to feel the sun’s warmth on my face.

I began my weekend by changing over my wardrobe while I listed a Tim Ferris Podcast where he interviewed Marie Kondo, the author of, The Life-Changing Art of Tidying Up.
During the interview, Marie explained that she never planned on becoming known for an organization. She has early memories during her youth watching her mother care for her house and just absorbed this as her job when she became a wife.
The shift in Marie’s philosophy boils down to her mindset related to the act of decluttering. ]
Kondo states that the activity of decluttering has always been about getting rid of things.
She believes that decluttering shouldn’t be about a number of things you can discard and more related to the precise emotion each item brings to your life.
She continues by instructing people to ask themselves does this item bring me joy.
Keep it if yes, discard if no.
It’s that simple.
I was so struck by her thought process related to the activity of decluttering that I wanted to share with you other revelations I learned from her interview with you in the post.
However, instead of applying it to things, I’m going to relate it to the art of clearing your debt.
Debt is one of those things in life that has the ability to change our mood in an instant and bring our stress levels to outlandish levels.
According to a study found on www.nerdwallet.com, the average credit card debt in American households is upwards of $17,000. This doesn’t include mortgage, auto, or other personal or business debt.
So how does one begin to tackle the situation to pay down their credit card debt and become debt-free? Follow some simple steps to reduce the pressure in dealing with this national epidemic.
Here are some suggestions based on tidying principles in Kondo’s book.
Kondo says there is an order to decluttering which is:
  • Clothing
  • Books
  • Documents
  • Miscellaneous
  • Sentimental
How can you apply these principles to clearing our debt?
  1. Buy classic clothes that will last several years. I’m not a big clothes shopper so I tend to do this anyway. However, I’ve noticed that my clothes are showing some wear and tear so I sew them up or combine different elements from other clothing, i.e. buttons, pockets to make an old piece look new.
    According to an article www.prisionerofclass, a woman will spend $125,000 over her lifetime buying clothes, shoes, and accessories. The reasons why we spend this much is even more revealing. It mostly is an emotionally based decision to make ourselves feel better. However, it doesn’t feel so good when the credit card bill comes in.To combat the urge to splurge, go to a consignment shop instead of the high-end store. Look for the website that sells designer knockoffs or sells the original from a couple of seasons ago at over 50% off. Then treat it like someone you love so it will last forever.To demonstrate that self-love for your debt, Kondo recommends paying gratitude to your debt and thanking it for all it has afforded you. That’s right, no only does Kondo talk to her family but she also talks about her clothes, bags, shoes, jackets, cars and home.
  2. I’m a big offender of buying books. Bookstores are my addiction and I rarely leave without less than 6 items to purchase. I have books, a kindle, an audible subscription, and magazines. Here’s the problem, I rarely have the time to sit down and actually read the information, but the thought of getting rid of them brings me to tears.Full disclosure, I’m still working on this one but her are some things I did to free up some cash to contribute to my “clear debt” fund.
    I renewed my library card. I haven’t done this in years but I decided free is much better than spending an average of $20 on a book. Most library now has books on CD and a download site where you can listen to books right onto your mobile device.I’m an Amazon Prime Member. This is the best subscription I own. By becoming a prime member I can get access to Amazon’s video and Audible sites at a low cost. So I can order an audio book to listen on my mobile device or send a sample of a book I may want to read in the future. This saves me time and space as the endless piles of books begin to diminish in my home. Both sites offer returns for purchases so you really can’t go wrong if you download or order a book you really didn’t like. Plus this is like having a library with the largest inventory ever.
  3. Documents is another area where I struggle. I admit I have piles of paper that need to file, destroyed and or addressed immediately. Never mind the files I’ve had on hand in my filing cabinet for years. In decluttering this space I did a few things that have worked out quite well.I have a printer that has a scanner so I’ve reduced my paper load by scanning documents into designated folders on my computer hard drive. This way I won’t lose them, they are backed up nightly, and I can file them category, month, and a year making the 7-year purge easier.By instituting this method I can easily review files, check for discrepancies and go after money owed to me while keeping all notes and actions organized. Stress-free and efficient. The act of clearing space emotionally and physically feel lighter. So scan away and give yourself some space to breathe.
  4. Miscellaneous is a broad category, but for the purposes of this post let’s call it our other storage units, like cars, your parent’s or friend’s home, your workplace office or a storage unit made available to you. This is where the concept of creating space will instantly derail you. If you don’t see it then you must not have it, but isn’t this how we get ourselves into credit card debt?Credit cards feel like fake money that the credit companies want us to use so they can charge us a high rate of interest to repay. In the end, you forget exactly what you purchased and your joy is zapped and they’ve made a huge amount of money off of you in return.Well, this is just like those other storage places we create in our lives. I’m guilty of this so I will provide you with some examples. I currently commute to a client’s site to get my work done where I’m assigned a cubicle to store things. So I take full advantage of the situation and bring different pairs of shoes there so I don’t have to drag them in with me every day.

    Sounds good in theory right? Wrong. Often times, my shoes are let at the office while I’m on vacation or at a different client location, leaving me to buy another pair of shoes. Yes, you heard me right, I will go buy another pair of shoes to replace my sneakers. The unexpected cost that could’ve easily been avoided with some planning and preparation.

    So how did I get around this? I purchased 1 pair of classic black flats that fit right into my computer bag. Now I go to work in my sneakers and it I don’t happen to be at my regular location I slip into the flats. Problem averted and money saved.

  5. Sentimental items may be one of the hardest things to declutter, which is why Kondo recommends tackling these items last. Something passed on from generation to generation may be special but it doesn’t hold the same meaning for everyone. So in these instances, Kondo recommends that if it useful then keep it and if not just thank the item for the joy it bought those before you and donate it.When I first heard this I felt indifferent. I’ve lost a few people close to me over the years and the process of discarding their things was a challenge. However, I feel Kondo’s advice is solid. My dad passed away and I was torn about getting rid of anything outside of clothes that he owned. I wanted the feeling of him to be with me at all times. Then reality set in and I realized he is always with me in my heart and I only kept a few of his items like his high school ring, his wedding ring and the flag used for his burial services.All three items are useful as the flag is displayed in my home, his wedding ring is on a necklace, and I wear his high school ring every day. There is little to no cost as to keeping these items, they bring me joy, and I still feel that my dad is always with me.
So how can you do some tidying up with your debt to bring joy?
  1. Get honest with yourself and make a list of everything debt you owe. Include the balance, interest rate, and minimal payment. The truth will set you free and you’ll have a solid idea of exactly what you’re dealing with.
    Then give thanks to those cards for all they have given you and be proud of yourself for showing love. There is no room for negativity so give yourself some love and keep moving.
  2. The emergence of the internet has made it so much easier to shop and sell your stuff. Sell those items you no longer need, take the cash and pay down some debt. You’ve not only cleared some space in your home but in your bank account too.
  3. Pay the minimum and when you’re done paying down 1 debt roll that minimum over to another card to increase the payment.
  4. Make it automatic. I make a payment to each debt I owe every time I get paid. By doing this I don’t have to worry about if I have enough money but also no late fees for late payments.
  5. Always pay yourself first. I don’t care if it’s $1, $50, or $100, transfer money into a savings account, preferably one you can’t access easily, for saving. Self-love should always be first in our lives. Often times we put ourselves last which never turns out well. By doing this action you will begin to feel the stability that money provides, your sense of lack is gone, and you can feel good about having some money you can use in the event of an emergency.
The key to everything in life is to focus on how you feel. To regain my focus on this I turned to my soul sister, Danielle LaPorte and used her book, “The Desire Map.
 If you’re interested in learning about Danielle and her products check it out on my affiliate link here.

 

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