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Sparking Joy

The other night, like many of you, we were looking for something to watch on Netflix. We stumbled on Tidying Up with Marie Kondo. The Lifechanging Magic book was a hit in our house when it first came out, so we decided to give it a go.

The show wasn’t bad (though it seemed to me like the family in the first episode hired a cleaning crew to sweep through before Marie and her translator came over?), and it got me thinking about “things that spark joy”.

If you aren’t familiar with Marie Kondo and her approach, it’s essentially this:

  1. For different “groups” of things (clothes, books, etc.), pull everything you own together and put it in a single pile.
  2. Go through the pile, and consider each thing, with the following question: “Does this spark joy?”
  3. If it ‘sparks joy’, fold it and put it into your drawer / closet / shelf. If it doesn’t, thank it for its service to you / the world, and send it on its way (thrift store, trash, etc.)

We then went through our clothing and “Marie Kondo’d” it. I don’t have a ton of clothes, so it didn’t take long, but, again, it made me think about things in my life that “spark joy”. This time, though, I thought about financial things.

We all have subscriptions, recurring costs, and other regular bills that have been in our lives for a while. Are they sparking joy? It might be time for an audit.

How to “tidy up” your financial life:

  1. Visit your PearBudget account, or the “transactions” page for your bank account or credit cards.
  2. Look for numbers that come up month after month, with the same amount: $9.99, $14.99, or other specific amounts for your cell phones or cable bills.
  3. Jot them down on a single piece of paper.
  4. For each one, ask yourself if that expense is “earning its keep” (or, if you like, “sparking joy”). Do you still use Hulu AND Netflix AND HBO? Maybe! Maybe not! Perhaps you can cut back on one of those services. Or maybe you’re already paying for Amazon Prime and you should try using just that for a bit.
  5. On your piece of paper, write down either “Yes!”, “Cancel!”, or “Cut back!”. Don’t feel foolish if you have a number of things on your list that you’ve let linger. They served you in the past. Be proud that you’re finding them now.
  6. Once you have your list of things to cut (or cut back on), reach out to the services (either online or phone) and take care of them.
  7. (You can also set up a recurring expense in PearBudget for the ones you want to keep!)

It’s too easy for recurring expenses to just become part of the background noise of our finances. I’d recommend doing a ten-minute run-through to see what you can free yourself from, so you have more time and money for the things in your life that really do spark joy.

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