Take Stock Part Three: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

Take Stock

Take Stock Part Three: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

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In order to make a plan to get out of debt, we need to know where to start. So we’ve already discussed taking a good hard look at my finances and determining what to focus on, now it’s time to get organized. This week I’m going to take stock of my assets.


 No, no, it’s not like that – promise!

I just finished reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo, and that really served as the source of inspiration for this purge. I need a space that helps me maintain focus, and I can take stock of what I have that maybe I can sell for extra money. I’m a fan of simplicity. And while I like things neat, I’m not very good myself and keeping them that way. So the less things I have, the better. Plus, who wouldn’t want to open the door to their home and be greeted by only the things they love?

Marie has a wonderfully simplistic system for going through all of your things in this order:

  • Clothes: Pile up ALL of your clothes into one massive pile. Pick up each item and feel if it brings you joy. Only keep the things you absolutely need and things that bring you happiness (ideally they will do both).
    • This was pretty easy for me. I’d done similar things before but changing the perspective and only choosing to keep items that made me happy allowed me to move faster through my clothes. I kept my 4 bags of giveaway clothes around for a few weeks in case I needed anything and I only rescued 2 items that I needed for work, so It’s a pretty good system. I love all my clothes now and getting dressed is fun! I’m not sure that’s ever happened before, so thanks Marie Kondo!
    • I donated a lot of clothes to goodwill but thought I’d try to sell a few for some cash (since this is a personal finance blog after all). I tried ThredUp which is a website where they send you one garbage sized bag in the mai, you pop your items in, and mail it back all for free. My bag took a while to go thorugh – about 6 weeks – and in the end they only took 4 items for which I got $9.21 and one of those things was a coach wristlet in great condition. I love the idea, but feel like I’ve gotten more back at physical locations of similar stores. If you’re interested in giving them a try, click here
  • Books: Same system, pile up all your books in one place and go through them. Marie has some little ceremonies she likes to do that she lists in the book, but basically same thing.
    • Over the years and moves I’ve narrowed my collection down to just a few of my favorites and they are neatly and nicely displayed on a corner of my bookshelf
  • Miscellaneous: All that random stuff that doesn’t fit into the other categories.
  • Home: I’m combining the kitchen, hobby equipment, and bathrooms here as well.
    • For someone who doesn’t use a lot of bath products, I sure seemed to have a lot of items in the bathroom. Soap and shampoo samples and old hair products. Did you know almost everything in your bathroom expires after a year? I didn’t, but it gave me an easy reason to toss a lot of it.
    • Kitchen: not so much going on there. I did get rid of some old tupperware and an old lunchbox I didn’t like. Also there may have been some food. The fridge really is just where food goes to die. Toss those old cups you’re keeping for no reason, how many cups do you really need?! I have a friend who has whole cabinets dedicated to cups. That’s way more than fits my minimalist wants. I narrowed it down to two matching sets of cups and one plastic cup.
  • Papers: This part was the most fun. You know all those papers you are supposed to keep like job forms and warranties for electronics and whatnot? Just toss them! At first I was skeptical of Marie Kondo’s advice, but she’s right, I really didn’t need most of it. I had forms in there from previous jobs and 2 health insurance companies ago. I narrowed that down a lot. I also scanned sheets I did need into Evernote for later. Evernote is pretty great for that sort of thing.
  • Sentimental: The hardest, and why Marie Kondo saves it for last. You need to practice with all the other categories before you tackle these.
    • I had a lot of old awards certificates from middle and high school that I tossed, and a bunch of old photos. I didn’t get rid of anything that brought me joy, but I did drastically downsize all those landscape photos I took of my trip to Disneyworld when I was 6 and the birthday and graduation cards I’d been holding onto. Another think Marie Kondo suggests is to take digital photos of anything you might want a record of, but more than likely once you get rid of it, you won’t miss it.
    • Also included here, gifts people gave you that you greatly dislike but feel bad for getting rid of. Get these things out of your life! They seem to take up space in my head more than the physical space they inhabit. Getting rid of unwanted items frees up your mind for those objects you love.

All in all, things turned out quite nice. I’m left with a collection of things that feels just right and everything has a place. Assigning a spot for everything has made a huge difference to me. I know where things are and lose them much less often. I’m definitely making this a yearly spring cleaning exercise.

marie kondo folds socks, declutter!

New goal – be like this!

This has been so great for me that I’m going to take these principles outside of the home and apply them to my digital clutter and life goals clutter. I like to keep a running list of all the things I want to do or research or whatnot. And really the list is just much too big and honestly unnecessary. The list was most helpful for me to write everything on it and get it out of my head, so in that way it has already served it’s purpose. Things are good and I don’t need the added stress of random goals I want to do someday.

Also, can I just say it feels really good to get rid of things. It’s like a cathartic release – it’s amazing. I feel lighter and happier and cleaner! Everything has it’s place now and that changes how I feel about my space. I have a peaceful clutter-free home now and that’s quite nice.

What do you guys think? Have you read The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo? What helped you the most?




  1. I was obsessed with the book last year, and bought copies for at least 5 friends! I got through one round, and got stopped up on the last half of sentimental things. I need to do another round now…kids clothes, toys, those things are absolutely out of control again (even my own clothes…since I also used thredup and ended up replacing a lot of what I got rid of with more clothes that I now do not wear…). You know how it is said that things expand to fill the space they live in? I think that is kind of our problem. We live in a four bedroom house…it is big, but not open – just a lot of really small rooms kind of mashed together. I tell myself…when I have my own home someday, that’s when I’ll experience that “click-point” Marie talks about. But, reading this, perhaps you ladies have inspired me to give it another try! Great post, you made it sound so easy 😉

    1. I say give it another go! I can definitely relate to the expanding into your space phenomenon that you mentioned. It can be tricky for sure. I just downsized apartments recently so I had an extra motivator there. Good luck and let us know how it goes!

  2. I have yet to read this book, but I want to! I get a little too much enjoyment from getting rid of stuff, which leads me to believe that I probably have too much if that’s the case. And I’m sure my husband will appreciate if I learn to fold clothes. Currently my system includes half-hazardly throwing them into a semi-fold and tossing them in the drawer. My argument is I at least put them away. He’s not too thrilled with the argument to say the least.

    1. Haha then HE can fold them! 😉 It’s a quick and fun read and it was at my local library if you want to try there. I definitely recommend it!

  3. I read the book a few months ago. I think I need to re-read it though. At the time I totally purged clothes, photos, etc., but feel like I could get rid of even more. Unfortunately folding my clothes is not something that is working or, rather, I am not working on folding my clothes! Just can’t get that habit to stick.

    1. Laundry is kind of the bane of my existence, but having a specific location assignment for each type of clothing has helped a lot. And you’re right, I think this will be a yearly task. Keep it up!

  4. It’s funny, I was trying to write an article about purging, but I struggled with it because I am horrible at throwing things out. Everything is sentimental – even things that shouldn’t be. My solution is to put the things that I want to throw away or donate into a bag and have Ms. Financial Slacker take care ot it. She doesn’t have the same misguided sentimentality that I have.

    Now you have me motivated to start the process.


    1. You can do it! Purging makes me feel less weighed down so I focus on the freedom feeling instead of the feelings of loss that come from getting rid of things. Keep us posted!

  5. I haven’t read that book, but I am pretty serious about tidying up! This weekend I went through the house and gathered stuff then set it for free on the curb. I planned on doing a garage sale but lost steam. I’m so glad to get rid of the extra stuff we had hanging around!

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