There’s no better time to clean out your home than during quarantine.
Just ask organization queen Marie Kondo. The 35-year-old tidying expert began her tidying consultant business when she was a 19-year-old college student. She first came into the international spotlight in 2015 when she was named one of Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people. Now, she has her own Emmy-nominated Netflix show, “Tidying Up With Marie Kondo,” and has four books on organizing under her belt.
Last week, she launched her own online course, “KonMari Method™: Fundamentals of Tidying.” Over the course of 10 episodes and for a total price of $39.99, Kondo shows you how to declutter your home when you’re stuck inside.
As part of its millennial finance series,”Let’s Talk About Money,” Business Insider spoke to Kondo about the next step in her career. Here’s Kondo on how to “Kondo” your finances, the art of paper bill organization, and Japanese pickled plums.
“Let’s Talk About Money” is a series of conversations with millennials about wealth. Interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
You’ve published four books and star in your own Netflix show. You’ve now launched a digital tidying course. What inspired you to make this the next step in your career journey?
People are spending more time than ever at home, so this course is an opportunity to help people tidy up and rediscover their joy. Rather than a dreaded task, I see tidying as a celebration. It’s an act of gratitude for the items that support you every day — and the first step to living the life you’ve always wanted.
It is my hope that the magic of tidying will help people to create a bright and joyful future — especially during these uncertain times.
What’s the biggest obstacle you’ve had to overcome in your career so far?
There was a time when my schedule was so packed I was physically and mentally exhausted. This was in 2015, after I was named one of Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People, and I was inundated with offers from around the world. I accepted as many as I could, seeing them as a great opportunity to share the KonMari Method™.
I was pregnant with my first child at the time, and the pressure took a toll on my mind and body. Sometimes I would burst into tears at the end of the day. Finally, I realized I couldn’t go on like this — I can’t teach others how to spark joy in their lives if I’m not experiencing it in my own.
Since I had that epiphany, I’ve learned how to say no and to delegate. I’ve also made it a point to prioritize joy in my life, especially when I’m busy. I deliberately schedule in time for things I enjoy or want to do. These help me to regain my inner balance so that I can return to my work refreshed and filled with positive energy.
I’m moving to a different apartment soon. Do you have any advice for me as I pack up my stuff?
Tidying your current home is the most important thing you can do if you are preparing to move — don’t wait to do it until you’re in your new space!
Some people like to hang onto objects because they feel throwing them out means wasting money. What do you have to say to them?
I would challenge the premise that getting rid of something means wasting money — since you’ve already purchased the item, it’s a sunk cost. For me, it’s more important to ask why you would keep something out of a sense of guilt.
Discarding is not the point of the KonMari Method™, but it is an important part of the process because it provides an opportunity to learn from your past experiences. If you let go of a belonging you never used, it taught that you have no purpose for something like it in your life. Thinking deeply about each item you discard will affect how you live and acquire new things moving forward — which will help you save money in the long run!
You’re famous for saying that people should eliminate anything that doesn’t spark joy. What is it about money that sparks joy for you?
Now that I live in the US, I mostly use my credit card — but when I Iived in Japan, facing all of my paper bills in the same direction and keeping my wallet tidy sparked joy!
How can I “Kondo” my finances?
Before you begin tidying, it’s important to imagine your ideal lifestyle — the kind of life you want to lead once your tidying festival is complete. For this exercise, I encourage people to visualize how they want to spend their time. You can do the same when it comes to tidying your finances.
First, think about how you want to spend your money; then, write down your current expenses and see how your spending lines up with your vision. Organize your finances by category for a comprehensive view. Whatever your financial goals, whether you’d like to give money to certain organizations or save for a new home, having a clear vision for the future — and a realistic grasp of the current situation — will help you to make decisions with confidence.
What’s the best $50 you’ve ever spent?
I recently took up gardening, and these garden secateurs make me happy every time I use them. The quality is excellent — they are very sharp!
What does financial success mean to you?
Being able to live a joyful life whatever my financial state might be.
What’s the worst money advice you’ve ever gotten that you’ve followed?
In Japan, many people told me not to jump into investing or buying real estate after my book became a bestseller. Now I think I should have looked into investing more proactively!
What’s your last receipt from?
The last thing I bought was a jar of organic Japanese pickled plums.