Financial freedom looks different to everybody.
For some, it simply means not living paycheck-to-paycheck. For others, it means early retirement or being debt-free. It can mean being able to quit your 9–5 job to start building your own business or having passive income. Or, never having to worry about paying for things large or small ever again.
All of these goals are possible.
With even small steps, you can move toward your goal of financial freedom and what security looks like to you.
There is a myriad of ways to move toward financial freedom including the small step of de-cluttering to build your wealth, pay off credit card debts, create an emergency fund, save for retirement, save a bit for your children’s college fund, or save for that down payment for your dream home.
Long before Marie Kondo’s binge-worthy Netflix special Tidying Up, Suze Orman, the financial goddess who inspired me to get my financial house in order many years ago with her best selling book, The 9 Steps to Financial Freedom, says removing the clutter from your living space can bring you closer to your financial goals.
Clutter, whether it’s dominating your living space or even the disarray of your financial papers, can stop the flow of money coming your way.
I have found this to be true without exception.
One small way you can move in the direction toward your financial dream life is de-cluttering what you already have and,
Stop buying stuff.
We all buy stuff we don’t need. We all buy things we think we want at the time of purchase. I know I do.
When I had my first child, the buying of stuff increased dramatically. Like, by a lot. Not only did I buy too much stuff in anticipation of my baby’s arrival, people just gave me stuff.
Most of the time, the stuff we think we need or the things we think we want go unused and take up space — both physical and mental.
One sure way to get control of your unnecessary stuff and decrease the urge to buy more unnecessary stuff is to get real. Take a hard look at what is filling your house. What is filling your closets, your draws, your glove box, your garage, your filing cabinet — you get it — everywhere in your home where you put things. Get a realistic picture of what you currently own and what is clogging up your space.
When we have too many material things cluttering up our living space, I firmly believe this blocks the flow of new things, to us, that enrich our lives.
I am not referring to buying new stuff to replace the old stuff.
I’m talking about getting rid of things to allow for more space for the meaningful, like healthy relationships, new and exciting job opportunities, good writing, sound investments, more time — the experiences in life that bring us joy, those that give to us and don’t take. Those experiences that expand our energy and don’t make us tired.
Clearing out the clutter in our lives can leave more room for money to flow into our bank accounts.
Clutter is draining. Clutter takes effort. Clutter weighs you down, as does debt.
When you can’t find things in your home, essential items like keys and papers, because they may or may not be buried under the clutter on your desk, or under the clutter on your coffee table or dresser or wherever your clutter resides, this takes time away from the things we love.
Suze Orman talks about how a messy purse and wallet is probably a good indication that your financial life is a mess also.
The same thing can be said of your home and all the places you have clutter.
When these places are messy and disorganized chances are so is your financial life, and if your financial life is going pretty well even if your house is cluttered, there is always room for improvement, and I bet your money isn’t working for you as hard as it could be.
If unopened bills are pilling up on your desk, then you aren’t paying attention to where your money is going.
One way to get a hold of this, and stop adding to the stuff you already own, Suze Orman suggests dumping anything you don’t use and all unwanted stuff into a pile in one central location, or take it room by room — à la Marie Kondo— if that is more manageable for you.
Once you have everything you no longer have a use for whatsoever, or as Marie Kondo so simply gets to the heart of it by describing what you don’t need as, “anything that doesn’t “spark joy,” take a photo of that pile of stuff and carry it with you.
The next time you are about to purchase something first ask yourself, “Do I really need this?” before you answer, look at the photo you took of all the stuff sitting in a pile in the middle of your living room, and think about the money you spent on that pile, money you will never see again.
If you have unnecessary junk you don’t value; then you probably don’t value your money.
As Marie Kondo points out, “if it doesn’t spark joy, thank it for its service” and kiss it goodbye because it isn’t adding value to your life. It is sucking value and joy from your life.
Don’t we all want more joy and not less?
Nearly every time I do a significant purge of things in my home about once a year —à la Marie Kondo — I find money. Whether it be five bucks shoved in a pocket of my jeans or finding something of value I thought I misplaced.
By the end of the day, I have boxes full of things to sell on e-Bay or Craig’s List. (I nearly always donate to Goodwill, but I recently sold my treadmill that I haven’t used in two years to pay down credit card debt I accrued from a recent move across the country.
There is a psychological benefit to donating your unwanted things to a local non-profit. Quite simply, it feels good. And one woman’s trash is another woman’s treasure.
I’m embarking on a year of minimalism that was inspired by my desire to find time to write and publish on Medium every day consecutively for 30 days. I want more time to write, so I am clearing the clutter from several areas of my life to see if it makes a positive impact and if it gives me more time for the things in life I value.
My Year of Minimalism
Medium will be my accountability partner.
When I have debt or too much stuff I don’t need cluttering my living space, I feel like I’m suffocating, which for obvious reasons isn’t a good feeling. Breathe is essential for life.
Instead of giving me a sense of peace, having too much clutter and any debt, for me, makes me feel enslaved to that stuff and to that debt, and certainly not financially free.
My goals for my life are to give my time to what I value. What do I value? I value my friends, my family, travel, my business, my writing, and my time to do all those things.
So the next time you go out to buy that thing you really “need” or think you really “want” look at the picture of all the stuff you just purged, and make the choice to value your money and your freedom over things.