Marie Kondo, with her New York Times bestselling book and wildly popular Netflix show, is sparking joy a
cross the nation. With her simple, yet highly effective organizing plan, she is inviting all of us to experience the “Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up.”
I personally am a big fan. I am loving organizing my home and belongings according to what sparks joy, and parting with clothing and unwanted objects that are no longer needed or useful.
Many Americans have been caught in consumer culture, in accumulation mode, often shopping our way through crisis or uncomfortable feelings. For many, Amazon is only a click or two away from bringing yet more possessions into our homes. This online habit, in combination with a post-depression mentality telling us “you never know when you might need it” has a lot of us holding on to no longer useful items, filling garages, basements, closets and attics.
Marie Kondo offers us the opportunity to thank items for their service and to release them. She encourages us to align our possessions with our true self, and to check in with ourselves in regard to each of our belongings in present time, to ensure they actually support us today, rather than hanging on to things that no longer hold meaning or purpose for our current lives.
I am eager to clear out the items that I no longer find useful. I find joy in getting them to a person or place where they will more likely be utilized and even cherished. I also love the concept of only collecting new possessions that bring joy. For me this means sustainably produced, high functioning pieces made to last a long time.
The clarity and lightness which this process brings does actually feel magical.
The KonMari philosophy stops short of assessing our money and our finances. Why stop at household items? It’s time we Marie Kondo our finances as well. For many of us, our finances are “cluttered,” with funds and accounts spread out in different institutions, few of which make sense to us, much less are sparking joy. Some of us are so far removed from our investments that we have envelopes of statements stacking up.
This is due to most of us being caught up and invested in index funds that are “cluttered” with obscure ticker symbols, and all sorts of companies, some that align with our values and goals, and others that detract from our vision of the world in which we want to live.
Our investments may have been selected by an advisor to meet needs that are no longer relevant. Or we may own companies whose practices do not align with our personal values, or the direction we want the economy to go. It may be time to thank our stock holdings for the how they have served us in the past, and to release them such that we can begin to choose companies that we are actually excited about owning.
Just like with household possessions, tidying up our finances is a process that can induce feelings of lightness, and joy. Once we are clear about where our money is, that it is invested into the things that we care about, the companies that we want to see exist and thrive, a sense of both ease and empowerment ensues.
While financial tidying up does not involve holding the investment in your hand, as a Money Doula I ask similar KonMari-style questions, such as:
Where did the investment come from? (Was it purchased in your 401K plan? Inherited from a late aunt? A stock tip from a friend?)
Are the companies represented in your portfolio from the legacy economy? (Such as fossil fuel extractors or refineries? Big banks? Weapons manufacturers?).
Or, do you own companies that are part of the transition to the next sustainable and inclusive economy? (Renewable energy, water infrastructure, cyber security, companies with diverse and innovative leadership, for example).
Are they companies you are proud to own? That you want to see thrive and grow? (Businesses that care about the same things you do)
Companies whose product or service lights you up?
Companies that are run by people and teams you admire?
Companies where employees are treated well? And where all employees have equal opportunity for equal pay and advancement?
We don’t often speak of investment accounts as sparking joy. And yet, a well-constructed, values-aligned portfolio can be simply beautiful, from a risk management perspective as well as a financial outlook perspective, and have a positive impact for people and planet.
It’s now time for us to “own what we own,” to move away from large indexes and toward more concentrated portfolios of companies that resonate with core values, whose products and services are those we believe in and want to exist.
That is what we at Nia are here to do: to help us get conscious about what we own when it comes to our finances and to build beautiful portfolios of solutions-focused companies with diverse leadership, that spark joy.