So you've KonMari'd your home. Now what?
Look, I love aimlessly wandering around Kmart as much as any middle-class white chick with a little bit of disposable income to waste on a fake plant. But I've been trying not to.
In my quest to bring less junk into the house, I've learnt a few things. One of them, is that while I can't control how much money I earn, I can (to a degree) control how much I spend. And you're fooling yourself if you argue you can't. Of course, some expenses you can't get out of (believe me, I'd like to as well). But, every month, be it a few coffees or a bunch of new T-shirts, there is a percentage of money, however small, that you can decide not to spend. And while that amount might not be big every month, it will add up to something significant over the course of the year.
And now that you've thrown out a bunch of stuff, the temptation to fill your house up with newer, shinier stuff is right there, in those empty drawers, looking at you, mocking you (okay, not really mocking you but you know what I mean). How are you going to resist the combination of a good sale and all the empty space you have for new stuff at home?
Practising gratitude is a great thing to do and while I'm not hugging my clothes and thanking them for existing, I do get the point Marie Kondo is trying to make. But that gratitude is not enough sometimes. Not in the face of a good discount or the peer pressure to keep up with the joneses and look a certain way or have a certain thing.
Here's how you can make sure that, come December 2019, you've got yourself some extra money to enjoy summer, instead of a house full of sequinned cushions and novelty mugs or whatever it is you're spending money on (I'm partial to a cool cushion).
1. To declutter your home, start by decluttering your inbox
All those emails promising you amazing deals on things. You know as well as I do you're falling for some of them. Late at night, when insomnia and boredom collide in a Venn diagram of doom, your credit card suffers. Suddenly, you've got fifteen browser tabs open, all from one promotional email, and you're seriously considering how you've gotten through life without an inflatable flamingo float. Except, you don't have a pool, you fool. Stop letting these emails get into your brain. Unsubscribe ruthlessly. Go on, I'll wait.
2. Feel the literal weight of your junk
I've set myself a rule that, while it requires a bit of Cirque du Soleil skills, ends up saving me money. I'm not allowed to buy anything from Kmart that I can't carry around the shop on my own. That means no trolleys and no baskets. If my two hands can't hold it, my EFTPOS card can't pay for it. The thing with stores like Kmart is that, while you might have a legitimate reason for going there - say, for example, you need a fan because it's hot and muggy while you're sitting down writing an article about decluttering - you quickly fall for the cheap price tags and end up buying another eight or eighteen things you really don't need, on top of the thing you do need. This ensures you only buy what you need. Okay, and maybe just one more thing.
3. Look at the numbers and make them work for you
Get a journal (see, you do get to buy something) and write down all your non-essential spending. Own it, be accountable. This is your money, it's your responsibility. But hey, don't be too hard on yourself. Choose an experience that you're going to spend this money you've saved on. Could be a dinner out, could be a holiday.
While we're on numbers, here's something else you need to start doing: ignore discounts. I know it sounds counter-productive: I'm telling you to save money by deciding not to buy something while it's cheaper. But trust me: those promotions are deceiving. They lead you to buy things you don't need because your brain sees that discount as an opportunity you shouldn't pass on. One of the Minimalists' maxims that has always stuck with me, when it comes to big promotions and discounts, is this one: "It's 100 per cent off if you don't buy it". It's true. Would you rather save 40 per cent or 100 per cent? Just don't buy it. You'll be saving 100 per cent off the price, guaranteed.
4. For every new non-essential item you bring into the house, two have to go out
I stand in the shop eyeing up this cute dress and try to decide which two things I'm giving up for it. I don't need new clothes and can't think of anything I'd donate/throw out in order to get this dress in the house. So the dress stays in the shop, the money stays in my account, everyone's happy. Okay, except me because I really wanted the dress. But that wouldn't make for a very good tip.
5. Think of the true cost of each item
The cost of an item isn't just what you pay for it at checkout. You'll have to spend your time maintaining it. Even in the case of that cute dress I didn't buy. It'd require washing, drying, ironing (and the good lords above know very well how I feel about ironing). It'd take up real estate in my closet. When I move house, it's something else I have to pay to move from one place to the next. I try to extrapolate beyond those and put a daily dollar amount. If I had to pay a dollar a day for this dress for every single day I have it hanging in my closet, would it be worth it? If not, then it's not really worth buying.
6. Get away from things to figure out what's essential
Nothing like a break from regular life to give you a fresh perspective on things. Have you ever gone camping or spent some time in the wilderness and realised how little you truly needed out there? Some clean clothes, some food, a place to sleep, some warmth. Once you strip it all down to the essentials, humans don't need much to live. Sure, there are a lot of "nice to haves" but they're mostly just that: nice to have. Dare yourself to spend some time (if a year feels too long, maybe do a 30-day challenge) without any nice-to-haves. Try to figure out what's essential to you. Get out into the wilderness, go camping or do a fast packing trip. You'll be surprised with how little you need.
7. Wear headphones when you go shopping
I know it sounds ridiculous but I swear it works. Shops go through a lot of trouble to try to trick you into buying things. It has been scientifically proven that even the music they play is designed to get you to buy more. Play them at their own game. You'll probably win.
8. Delay gratification
Do you really want to buy something? That's cool. Wait til tomorrow and see if you still want to buy it. Then tomorrow, delay it until the weekend. If by, say next week, you still want that item, maybe go into the store and get it. You'll probably have moved past this instant urge, though, and saved yourself some money just by waiting and delaying that purchase.
I know not buying things sounds incredibly boring. But you know what's more boring? Being stuck paying endless debt because you bought a bunch of junk that looked pretty on the store but lost its shine two days into life in your house.