Money for the Distracted Book Review: Saving Money with The life-changing magic of tidying up: the Japanese Art of decluttering and organizing

Clutter, stuff, things, what ever you like to call all of the items that magically multiply to fill every inch of your house, attic, garage, basement, shed, and storage units. Clutter eats your money like a hungry dog on a meat wagon. For people with ADD/ADHD clutter is a problem for several reasons. We struggle with decision making, we can always think of ways that said item could be useful, we have so many interests, hobbies, and things we are fascinated by, that we collect things at an alarming rate.
When we become distracted by the next thing, the items are still there from the first thing, or we buy everything we need for a project and then become distracted by another project and never get back to the first project.
Our powers of hyper-focus allow us to work in chaos that would shut most people down, but can lead to the kind of room that is ridiculously over stuffed. It can also be a constant source of friction for others that share our space.
Clutter costs money beyond the initial purchase as we spend money on storage containers for what we bought, re-purchase items that we can not find when we need them, and spend money for storage space for the excess in our lives. Kitchen clutter costs money when you throw out expired canned and packaged goods, and fresh food forgotten in the refrigerator. Clutter is a huge drain on your finances and causes stress. Many people, those with and without attention and impulse issues struggle with clutter.  De-cluttering is like dieting, we all know what we are supposed to do, but damn, it is hard to stick with it, and quick fixes do not work. So, what is the solution?

Enter Mari Kondo, her amazing book The life-changing magic of tidying up: the Japanese Art of decluttering and organizing, and the “Konmari” method of tidying.  Her philosophy and word choice will feel odd to some, as this work is translated from Japanese, but her ideas about getting rid of everything that does not “spark joy” when you pick it up is bang on. She does not believe that following another person’s idea of what you should, or should not discard will ever stick, nor does she believe that rules such as “one in, one out, or one in two out” will work and that in the end you will go back to your cluttered ways.

As someone who has struggled with clutter and collections forever, this book was clear, easy to follow, and gave the best advice: No one but you can decide what is enough of any type of thing, but if it does not “spark joy” it does not belong in you space. As she rightly says, “only you can decide what is enough” and if you want to keep one hundred pairs of shoes it is okay as long as you genuinely love each pair. Unlike some methods of decluttering that have left me feeling like I was forced to discard things dear to me, this method made me feel like I was in control, and that in the end it was my choice and I was very happy and felt like a weight had been lifted when I donated clothes that no longer “sparked joy” to Goodwill.

Ms. Kondo has a set routine for discarding items, moving you from less difficult choices to more difficult ones, starting with clothes, moving to books, and finally everything else in the order she has listed in her book. Unlike other books that recommend that you have someone else touch and hold the item you are considering, she has the person touch and hold their item while asking themselves “Does this spark joy?”.
Her method may seem quirky, but by doing this, I was able to discard half of my wardrobe. Others I have talked to that are following the “Konmari” method have discarded even more. This may sound wasteful but most people only wear about twenty percent of the the clothes they own so this a way to have every outfit you pick up be one that you want to wear, not one that gets pulled out, looked at, and stuffed back in the drawer or closet.

She also has you discard by item, a grand way to see everything of that type you own. This was a little overwhelming but she argues that we have things stored all over and that we really do not know what we own until we get it all in one place.  This will be challenging, as you will need a space to work in that allows you to do this, but in the end it made the process much easier.

Ms. Kondo states that it takes about six months to complete the process of discarding but to the date of publication of her book, she has had no one that needed to repeat the course or who has slipped back into their old ways.

So are you ready to give it a go and start saving money? I started the process over the Memorial Day holiday, and will keep you posted as I progress.

 

ADHD and Money:The Slow-Cooker Method of Savings

Many ADD/ADHD people are visual people. We struggle with organization because if we loose sight of an object it might as well not exist. So what does that have to do with automatic savings? If you have the money deducted from your paycheck before you see it, you don’t miss it. I am not talking hundreds of dollars to start your savings project.  If you are struggling to pay your bills, I am sure right now that you think I have lost my mind, and that you could not possible squeeze another  dime out of your paycheck, or you have tried to save a fixed amount each month in the past but have ended up using it to pay bills because you started with too high an amount.

I am talking a small amount. How small? How about ten dollars a paycheck? Twenty dollars if you are paid once a month. Set it up to come out before you get your check. Most people are forced into automatic deposit, and it it very easy to set up a spilt deposit through your employer.
Ten dollars. That is all, less than the price of two fancy coffee drinks, less than two fast food meals, less than two lunches purchased at work.  If you have an bank already, but do not have a savings account, open one, make sure it does not have any fees that will eat away at your savings. You can even open an on-line savings account and set it up an automatic transfer to come out of your paycheck.

Now the next step is really important. Do not look at your balance for the next year. That’s right a whole year. If you are nervous about this, have a trusted friend look at your statements for you, or if your partner is more trustworthy about money have them keep track of the balance.  After one year, when you look at your balance you will be surprised at how quickly the money added up.

If you are like many ADHD people the impulse to spend it will be great. Do not do it! This is the start of your emergency fund. You know the extra money you are supposed to have sitting in the bank for emergencies? This is the seed. I know that some of you read about emergency fund recommendations that are so common in financial self-help books, stating that you should have three to six months of cash saved in a bank account for emergency needs, you stop reading and give up because you can not even imagine how that would happen when you just pay the bills now.

In one year you will have $10.00 X 26 = $260.00  that is if you get paid every two weeks and save $10.00 per pay period,  or $20.00 X 12 = $240.00  if you get paid once per month. It may seem like a small amount , but it is so much better than nothing. The balance will have also increased because of interest. Interest rates are pretty low right now for savings so I did not include them in the illustration, because the point of it is to prove to yourself that you can save money.  It is what I call the slow- cooker method of savings.You just set it up and forget it, and just like a warm home-cooked meal that magically happens when you use a slow-cooker, the money accumulates.  If you are feeling bold after the first year, increase the amount you save per month by five or ten dollars.

Many people are so deep in debt that they believe that there must be some great grand secret that everyone else but them heard at birth, and that they are never going to be able to handle their money, get out of debt, save money, or retire. This strategy also works for retirement accounts, set up as a pre-tax percentage.  I am sure that there are retirement advisers, and people way better at managing money than I am, screaming right now at this approach.  My guess is that they have never had the issues with impulse control, forgetfulness, or holding a steady job that many people with ADD/ADHD have to contend with on a daily basis.

Money issues come with an inner conversation of shame, guilt, embarrassment, and unworthiness about money. Setting up automatic savings can help break the pattern. Try this method, it does work. If you save anything, it is better than saving nothing. Never underestimate the ability of small steps toward a goal, or to prove to yourself that you can accomplish an project. Everyone has to start somewhere, and where you are is the best place to start.