From a young age, I knew I would work in the financial services industry. I wanted to become a writer, a coach, a speaker, or a financial planner. I had a BIG desire to help people, most likely because of the pain I experienced in my childhood.
In high school, my brother and I were into making videos. I decided to venture out on my own and create a video for a contest on a topic that interested me. Financial literacy.
Here it is:
I wanted to know why schools weren’t teaching financial literacy early on. Rich Dad Poor Dad convinced me I was better off acquiring assets than sitting in class. Financial literacy was something I knew was practical and important to learn from a young age. However, it certainly didn’t keep me from making financial mistakes.
This video I created was entered into the Utah State High School Film Festival in my senior year. It ended up taking second place. And I received a scholarship of $2,750 to attend any college.
I was stoked! After I graduated, I went to Utah Valley University just down the road from where I lived. I had no idea what to study.
As I completed general college courses, I was working two jobs — car detailing and installing fireplaces. This covered my living expenses and I was able to save some money.
As an elective, I decided to take “intro to personal finance.” UVU was one of the few colleges in the country that offered a degree in personal financial planning which made me think every university must offer a similar degree. I was wrong.
My First 4 Attempts To Start Working In The Financial Services Industry
I wanted to find a job in the financial services industry. I first met with an independent financial planner (I didn’t even know what that meant). He said to pass the health and life insurance exam and then I could start selling life insurance. It seemed like a good idea. I studied for the test and failed it. I studied some more and failed again. Health insurance wasn’t interesting and I didn’t care to learn all the rules. So I gave up.
The second time I tried, I was living at my mom’s. A few guys knocked on our door calling themselves “financial planners.” I asked them if I could learn more about what they do. So they brought me into their office and introduced me to their team. The only thing everyone talked about was how many variable life insurance policies they had sold that included investments in gold. I had a bad feeling so I got out of there.
Let me note, I have no problem with sales if it’s something I believe in. I love sales and marketing.
On the third try, I had a good friend who knew I was interested in becoming a financial planner. He took me under his wing and said come to one of our events and I will show you how to become a “financial planner.” He worked for a company called Primerica. I got close to joining their team but decided I didn’t have a good feeling about that either.
Lastly, I met with someone from Transamerica. He said, “the first thing we’ll do is create a list of friends and family and we’ll just start calling them.” I walked out the door.
I Never Got Started
It felt like everyone was more concerned about selling products than impacting lives. Too much time was spent figuring out how to start working in the financial services industry but none of these felt right.
So I gave up.
And went back to cleaning cars.
I Pursued More Education
My dream was to one day be able to graduate from the University of Utah. I finished my associate’s degree at UVU and headed up to Salt Lake City. They had a degree in financial planning but it was suffering from low enrollment. This is when I found out UVU had one of the best programs in the country.
I was kicking myself but decided to pursue a finance degree through the business school. That way if I decided to go into investment banking or private equity I could. I found out quickly I didn’t like corporate finance. My grades suffered and I didn’t get into the finance program. So I gave up and graduated with a degree in Business Administration.
I Tried Two More Times
This drove me, even more, to help people with their finances. Sitting in some fancy office on Wall Street is never what I envisioned. I thought it would be time to finally start working as a financial planner. My buddy worked for North Western Mutual and he set up an interview. I came close to joining them but again, it didn’t feel right to me.
So I thought, “why not work for a company like Fidelity?” No products to push and I can help people. I applied for their Financial Representative position and went through two grueling interviews. I wanted this job. They wanted me to work graveyard shifts and Sundays and I was willing to do it.
A few weeks went by and they told me I didn’t get the job.
I was devastated.
Then I went back to cleaning cars.
I began to think I would never work in the financial services industry.
I Became A Peer Mentor In College
On-campus one day, I came across a program called the Personal Money Management Center. That sparked my curiosity. I could help younger people with basic personal finance and I didn’t have to sell products. The pay was fairly low but I started working there six hours a week and supplemented my income detailing cars to support me and my wife.
Even though so many great opportunities came from being there, my plan was never to stay their long term. It was a great job to have during college but I wanted to become a financial planner. Because I didn’t want to be a financial salesman like all of the others I had met with, I decided to further my education and pursue a master’s degree. I learned that Texas Tech had one of the best programs in the country for financial planning and so I applied.
I Pursued Even More Education
About the same time I decided to pursue my master’s degree, I decided to start a financial coaching business which also turned into this blog. I wanted to reach more people and help them reach financial independence by simplifying their finances. It’s been an incredible journey and I’ve been able to build so many solid relationships with my coaching clients. But I’m not going to lie, it’s been hard at times.
I honestly didn’t know what I was trying to do when I started this but I knew I didn’t want another year or two go by without getting out of my comfort zone and trying something new. I’ve been amazed at how many opportunities have come because of it, even though none of them have allowed me to quit my job.
My purpose in going to Texas was to get my master’s degree. Before packing up the moving truck, I came across a company that was recommended by a faculty member of the program. One of the financial planners was in my home town of Lehi, Utah who completed the same program I was enrolled in. He gave me the chance to work under him and learn from him for a few months before heading to Texas.
I didn’t need a master’s degree to be a financial planner and some questioned my decision. But I didn’t care because I had a strong feeling that this is what I was supposed to do.
I Started Working For A Fee-Based Financial Planning Firm
While pursuing my master’s, I worked part-time for this RIA. This was the first time in my life that I felt like I was working in the financial services industry. Something that had taken me years to do. This was a fee-based financial planning firm and I got to experience working with clients, managing money and helping people with their investments.
This was it and I felt like I was going to be there for a long time. But something didn’t feel right. I started to question if being a financial planner was the type of work I wanted to do. I thought, “no Scott, you’ve invested too much time and energy to give up on this.”
Later, I started working full-time but the problem was I didn’t feel like I was helping anyone the way they needed help. I wasn’t having an impact on people’s lives that I thought I would back when I was younger. There’s certainly a need for financial planning and it’s nothing against the firm that I worked with I just felt a disconnect with what I was doing and what I felt my purpose was.
So like I mentioned last week, I quit my job as a financial planner and I’m excited to share with you the next chapter of my life. This aligns with my purpose and it’s something I know will have a positive impact on individuals and families all across the country.
I look forward to sharing the details with y’all next week!
My wife Kenzie and I got engaged 5 years ago today! What’s even crazier is we dated for nearly 5 years before we got married. Now, here we are with an 18-month child, a mortgage, and a lot more responsibility.
We started dating in high school. I was going into my senior year and she was going into her junior year. I wasn’t looking for a serious relationship in high school because my focus was on sports. But there was something about Kenzie that I kept coming back to. So we would break up and get back together over and over again. She was a tennis player in high school and I would go watch her matches. I was on the football and basketball teams and she would come to every game. As much as I didn’t want a serious relationship at the time I knew she was perfect girlfriend material.
We Had Our Struggles
Kenzie struggled with health problems growing up which lead her to miss most of high school. Her teachers would excuse her for missing class and the school would send teachers to her so she could finish high school. The doctors couldn’t really pinpoint what was wrong with her. It broke my heart to see her struggle but the nurturing side of me enjoyed being there for her and helping her through her struggles (she no longer thinks I have a nurturing side).
We went through a lot the first few years of dating but we always felt like we were meant to be together (like most teenagers do). The real test was to see if she would wait for me during my two-year church service mission.
She would write me a handwritten letter once a week (just like in the cheesy love stories) and I would respond to her every time. Including emails once a week.
Turns out she ended up waiting for me and when I returned home we were married about 9 months later.
Our Proposal Video
You can check out our proposal video here below. It’s hard to believe it has over 3.5 million views. Big thanks to my brother for putting this together.
Because we dated so long we knew what we were getting ourselves into. And those years leading up to marriage were filled with exciting trips, dates and quality time spent together that never really cost that much money.
The reason I share this with you is to discuss how big of a financial decision it is to get married. Probably the biggest decision you will ever make.
We didn’t have everything figured out financially before we got married but it was a topic of discussion that we had frequently. I hear about people who get married that have never taken the time to understand each other’s finances and that blows my mind!
We Got On The Same Page Financially
We were very much on the same page before we got married. In fact, after I graduated high school and Kenzie started her first job her senior year, I shared with her the money management system that I had been using for about a year or two. She really liked it and started managing her money the same way that I did. That’s when I knew this was the girl I wanted to marry.
Even better, was after I returned home from a church service mission, she still managed her money the same way. When we got married, it was easy to combine our finances and get on the same page financially.
We’ve never really argued about finances (only until recently when I try to get too extreme). But the budgeting system that we use has helped us maintain balance in our saving and spending. Although life gets difficult when you have kids, buy a house, and start businesses, it’s possible to have healthy finances.
We look forward to what the next 5 years will bring!
Let me start by telling you a story about wanting less.
Have you ever had to fix a broken faucet?
We recently bought a house that had a leak in the guest bathroom. I shut off the water to the house for a few minutes and took apart the bathtub faucet. An internal part was broken which I learned from watching a few YouTube vidoes. I didn’t have the part that I needed so I took a trip down to the local Lowe’s.
I left the water to the house off because the tub was taken apart. Kenzie was worried about not having running water to make dinner while I was gone and I told her I would only be a few minutes. By the time the water was turned back on it had been almost two hours. Just in those two hours, we went to the kitchen sink at least 8 times to turn the water on, and nothing came out.
Going to the sick to turn the water on is so common that we don’t even have to think about it. At dinner, we talked about how much we take for granted the fact that we have running water at all times. After dinner, I told my Kenzie I’d be back in an hour to fetch a pail of water (joke).
Could our ancestors have ever imagined all of the luxuries of life that we get to enjoy?
We have it so good
An air conditioner cools our house, a microwave heats up our food, a fridge keeps our food fresh, and we have the ability to connect to anyone in the world in a matter of seconds. We can even hop on a plane and in a few hours land anywhere in the world. Not even the greatest kings and pharaohs could’ve done that no matter how much wealth they had.
Perhaps I’m weird for always thinking about this but the bottom line is we have it sooo good.
Why are so many people unhappy?
Even with all of these things that we take for granted, why do people feel like they will never have enough?
We’re in the most abundant country in the world. Literally anything you want can be delivered to your door in two days. We live a place that provides everything you could need.
So why are so many people unhappy? Why are so many people broke and in debt?
Too many people are focused on acquiring more. More money, more status, more stuff. It leads to discontentment. It’s called the “Comparison Trap.“
In the words of C. S. Lewis: “Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man. … It is the comparison that makes you proud: the pleasure of being above the rest. Once the element of competition has gone, pride has gone.”
When we fall victim to the ‘comparison trap,’ it’s just another way to find fault with ourselves and engage in self-sabotage. If you’re constantly comparing yourself, it’s almost impossible to achieve full happiness.
It’s so counterproductive when we use arbitrary standards to compare ourselves to others, ultimately affecting our self-confidence and self-worth. Who has the bigger house. Who has the best lawn … the best car … the more prestigious job? The circle of comparison widens in a never-ending battle of who has made it?
Intrinsic worth and net worth can and perhaps should be mutually exclusive. The basis of self-regard and confidence should not be dependent on a faulty foundation (e.g., the size of a house).
Owning less is good, wanting less is better
Is it possible to be financially free by wanting less?
Simply saying, “I don’t want anything else,” won’t make you financially free. It doesn’t happen like that. But what if you could change your desire over the next year or few years to be content with where you are and who you are?
What if you could get to the point where you actually had everything you need?
One of the great challenges in life is learning to be ok with what you have, even though it’s human nature to always want more.
Have you heard the common phrase, “I’ll be happy when…”? I’ll be happy when I get that car … I’ll be happy when I finish school … I’ll be happy when I buy a house … I’ll be happy when the kids are out of the house… etc. By falling prey to ‘someday syndrome,’ you also set yourself up for discontentment.
How to start on the financial freedom path by wanting less
Not only do you have what it takes to start filling fulfilled but you have what it takes to be financially free through wanting less.
I want just enough money and stuff to be financially free, and I don’t need hundreds of millions of dollars to feel free.
How much do you need to feel good with your life the way it is today?
At Simplifinances, my mission is to help you become financially free not just by making more money and increasing your wants, but by living simply and wanting less.
I want you to enjoy the journey, not succumb to someday syndrome. You have what it takes to be financially independent.
It first starts with your mind set. You may never feel satisfied if you’re always pursuing more.
How can you free yourself from unhappiness and debt and start living the financially free life that you desire?
It’s easy to get caught in the fast lane and forget to stop and show your appreciation for what you do have. A life well lived is one of gratitude and thankfulness.
Gratitude will help you feel financially free even if your financial situation is not what others would classify as financially free.
This is foundational in building the life you want. More won’t make you happy.
I put together a free PDF that you can download to help you start feeling grateful for all that you have.
Build this foundation, and you will have more opportunities come into your life but this time you will be more selective.
You have what it takes to be financially free by wanting less.
Self-awareness was first theorized in 1972 by Duval and Wicklund in their book, “A Theory of Objective Self-Awareness.” This book argues that if we focus our attention inwardly on ourselves, we tend to compare our behavior in the current moment to our general standards and values. This triggers a state of impartial self-awareness.
Self-awareness is a vital first step in taking control of your life, creating what you want, and mastering your future. Where you choose to focus your energy, emotions, personality, and reactions determines where you will end up in life.
I’m not promising you will have all the riches and wealth you will ever need. I’m not saying you won’t ever have problems in your life if you’re just grateful and self-aware. But what I am saying is you have what it takes to feel free. You will not be happy if you always want more. Stop comparing yourself to others.
I look at financial freedom slightly different. It doesn’t have to be a jet and expensive hotels every other weekend. It starts with your thoughts of wanting less and being happy with what you have.
I sat down twice this week, looked at my computer screen and felt like I had nothing to say to you.
Often life can feel so busy and it’s hard to balance everything.
But then the thought creeps in, should I even write something because how many people are actually going to read it?
However, there’s something that won’t let me quit because I know people read my content and since I’ve been writing blog posts, there have been posts that I’ve written that have really connected with my audience. They were the right person at the right time and I happened to deliver a message that was helpful to them at that point in their life.
This is what I hope to continue to do going forward.
So why would I stop?
I don’t expect everyone to read my content all of the time. And if I know you personally and you don’t open my emails very often, don’t feel bad. I know some of you have supported me from the beginning and may not have a particular interest in personal finances, and that’s ok too!
My hope though is to continue to deliver content that may be helpful for you at different times in your life and if you get value out of something I write, will you let me know?
If you’re reading something I put out and someone comes across your mind that you could share it with, will you share it with them?
It saddens me today to see the lack of financial literacy in our country. Schools don’t teach it, parents don’t know how to teach it, and young professionals usually have to learn by making mistakes to be smarter with money.
And ever since starting this blog my entire purpose has been to help people simplify their finances and start creating and living the life they want. To have a clear grasp on how to make money, save money and work towards financial independence.
Who knows what the future will bring. But I know if I continue to listen to and serve my audience I can touch the right people at the right time. And I’ve already seen the rewarding benefits of having a place to share my thoughts, connect with some of my readers who have become clients and friends of mine.
I know this post is a little all over the place, but I just wanted to share some things that have been on my mind and let you know that if there’s something you want to improve in, whether it’s finances, starting your own business, or improving your career, focus on the things that people can’t take away from you.
If you lost money, it’s ok because you have the skills to make it back. If your business isn’t growing as fast as you hoped it would focus on skills that will help you in any business. For example, I’m trying to be a better copywriter. Once I get it down, no one can take that away from me and it can be applied to any business. If you’re trying to improve your career, hone in on your skills because you could lose your job but you’ll always have your skills.
Focus on things people can’t take away from you.
If you’ve read this far and I haven’t bored you to death, please let me know if there’s anything I can do to help you!
Five years ago from last week, I returned home from a church service mission. This mission lasted two years and it was all voluntary.
Every year tens of thousands of young people drop everything they’re doing and leave their friends, families, jobs, and school to serve a mission. It’s a big sacrifice!
Most missionaries are under the age of 25, serving in more than 400 missions throughout the world.
Missionaries receive their assignment from Church headquarters and are sent to countries where governments allow the church to operate.
Missionary work is voluntary. In fact, missionaries fund their own missions and are not paid for their services.
What is the financial impact of serving a mission?
I ran the math to see what financial impact serving a two-year mission would have. So today, I’m going over the true financial cost of serving a mission, not just for two years but over a lifetime.
After writing this I realized it might discourage someone from serving a mission, but that’s not my intent at all! My intent is to shed some light on the sacrifice missionaries are making.
Growing up, I wasn’t expected to serve a mission but it’s something I decided to do after I turned 18. I was working and going to school full-time, and in March 2012, I put it all on hold.
My letter to Texas
I had no idea where in the world I would be the next two years. I found out from a letter in the mail and I opened it with some of my close friends and family. I was thinking of Sweden or Africa. Nope, I was called to Fort Worth, Texas.
We happen to be in Texas right now. As I’m writing this I’m sitting downstairs in a hotel lobby in Austin, Texas while our son takes his nap. We will be visiting Killeen today (where I spent the first 6.5 months of my mission) and moving on up northward.
At first, I was disappointed. It wasn’t a foreign country but it was a Spanish speaking mission. And after a few days, I was excited to go to Texas.
On March 7th, 2012, I left and started the next chapter of my life. I gave up a lot to do this including dropping out of college. Some people have asked me, why would you give up this valuable time to do something for so long that isn’t even paid?
Even though it was only two years, I left in the middle of a semester. So I not only gave up two years but actually took off three years of college.
It was difficult coming home because I was behind in school and work and was starting over from ground zero.
Everyone knows missionaries give up a lot, but I haven’t seen anything about the financial impact that it has over a lifetime.
I’m going to use a general example to try and quantify what missionaries give up.
If you served a mission, you may not realize what you gave up and if you’re planning to serve a mission this may help you understand the sacrifice you’re about to make. I would never discourage anyone from serving a mission. I simply want to put a number on it.
I’m going to use an example of an 18-year-old male. Single men serve missions for two years and single women serve missions for 18 months. But the same concept can be applied for women who serve a mission.
This missionaries name is Kyle. Kyle finishes high school and decides to complete one semester of college before going on a mission. The next semester he leaves for his mission and takes off three years of college. He’s been saving up for many years to go on a mission but doesn’t have enough to fund the entire thing.
The total cost of serving a mission is $10,000 or $400 a month for 25 months. It’s the same regardless of where you are in the world.
Kyle worked a lot during the summers and used $2,500 to pay for his mission. His family gives him $7,500 to cover the rest.
So Kyle uses up $10,000 to go on a mission. What else is he giving up?
He gives up earning income. What does the average 18 to 19-year-old make in America?
According to The Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average wages of 16 to 19-year-olds is $420 per week, $21,840 per year. That’s the average across all races, genders and education levels.
This may not be accurate for your situation but some 18 to 19-year-olds may have no income during those years and others may make more than that. I would say that’s a good average.
What if Kyle didn’t go on a mission but instead worked and made $21,840 a year for a total of $42,960 over two years.
Let’s suppose his take-home pay is $19,656 after tax. He has always been taught to save at least 10% of his income which he does. So at the end of two years, he saved up $3,931. These savings could be used for a number of things but let’s suppose he decides to hang on to this until he retires along with the initial $10,000. What impact would that have? So far he’s given up a total of $13,931.
What else is he giving up? We need to factor in the cost of extending college out for another three years.
The average annual tuition and fees for a public in-state university in 2018-2019 is $9,716. For a public out-of-state university, it’s $21,629. That gives us an average of $15,672. I decided to exclude the cost of private school. Since Kyle took three years off of college by the time he returns that $15,672 will now be $17,248. That’s a difference of $1,576 for delaying college.
Can we put a number on it yet?
With the $10,000 cost, the $3,931 savings and the $1,576 of delaying college, we’re at $15,507. This doesn’t seem too bad. In the grand scheme of things that’s only one year’s worth of college tuition.
However, this number could vary significantly because I haven’t considered the cost of starting a career late. It’s hard to calculate. I also haven’t considered the financial implications of homeownership and the impact that would have on purchasing a house two years later than you normally would.
What if Kyle decides not to serve a mission but held on to his $2,500 of savings, the $7,500 his parents gave him, the $3,931 from working, and the $1,576 by finishing college sooner.
All $15,507 gets dumped into low-cost index funds at the age of 19 and he doesn’t touch it until he is 65. It just sits there for 46 years. How much would it be worth if it earns an annual rate of return of 10% adjusted for inflation?
At age 65, Kyle would have $500,000!
The $10,000 alone would grow to $322,013.
The amount of money you earn and save while you are young is worth more than the money you will make and save as you get older. Thank you compound interest.
As you can see the decision to serve a mission as a teenager is no small decision. In fact, it’s a half a million-dollar decision when you understand the math behind it.
What about senior couples? Often retired couples will decide to serve a mission. Financially speaking, what are they giving up?
The answer is a lot less. They don’t have time on their side for the money to compound. It’s still a major sacrifice financially but it’s only whatever the cost to serve the mission is because they are already at retirement.
I want everyone to know that a decision to serve a mission at the age of 18 or 19 is literally a million-dollar decision assuming that money was invested consistently and never touched.
The Benefits of Serving a Mission
So why would someone make a decision to give up two years of their life at such a valuable time?
Now that I’ve considered the “true” cost to serve a mission, was it still worth it for me to serve a mission?
The answer is absolutely. And here’s why:
Life experiences over numbers. The benefits of serving a mission are worth way more than $500,000. And I mean that. I spent two crucial years of my life helping and serving other people which taught me from a young age that life is not simply about going to college, getting a good job and succumbing to lifestyle inflation and being trapped in the hamster wheel. It’s about learning to forget yourself and humble yourself in order to be a force for good and help other people.
The education I got was worth more than a four-year degree. I could not have learned what I did sitting in a classroom for two years. The reason being is a mission is not just a full-time job, it’s literally a full-time, morning until night, 7 days a week life sacrifice.
I became fluent in Spanish. Again, I could not have learned to speak Spanish in two years sitting in a classroom but I was able to attain a decent level of fluency on my mission and it’s something I still use to this day and will always have.
I built lasting relationships with the people that I served and the people I served with. There is no monetary value you can put on having great relationships where you get to connect with a number of people at a very deep level.
I learned to lead. During my time as a missionary, I was in leadership roles most of the time. This is a skill I would not have gotten had I decided to stay home. Leadership is a skill and I believe it will help me throughout my career.
I learned to sell. Selling is one of the most valuable skills you can learn in life and learning to deal with rejection is a big part of that. We constantly had doors slammed in our face and have to overcome difficult objections. If I hadn’t done this I would not have worked in a 100% commission sales job one summer which also taught me how to sell.
I learned to public speak. I had opportunities on a weekly basis to public speak. In district and zone meetings to speaking in church. I spoke more in public in those two years than I probably will in my lifetime.
You can’t place a monetary value on all of these things. And these are only some of the temporary benefits not including many of the benefits from my faith. I don’t intend for this post to be religious in any way but to give readers a clear understanding of what those young men and women you see walking down the street are giving up.
This is not to discourage anyone from serving a mission but to help quantify the sacrifice that missionaries give up. because the intangible benefits will always outweigh the tangible benefits
One day early in January, I got home from work and my wife said, “there’s this new documentary about simplifying I think you would like.”
She knows I’m into tidying up and enjoy stuff like this. Or perhaps she knows I don’t like wasting time watching documentaries unless it’s really good and this was her way to get me to Netflix and chill.
So the next night we started watching the Netflix original series Tidying Up with Marie Kondo which was released on January 1st. It was something we got into!
Fast forward to February and I’m being asked about how the KonMari Method can be applied to your personal finances. I spoke with Mia Taylor at the Simple Dollar and answer a few questions about how this can relate to our personal finances. I will let you all know when that article is published!
What is Tidying Up with Marie Kondo?
Her whole message is about sparking joy in the world through cleaning.
The KonMari Method™ is a way of life that encourages cherishing the things that spark joy in your life. Belongings are acknowledged for their service and thanked as they are let go, should they no longer spark joy.
Today, Marie is a renowned tidying expert helping people around the world to transform their cluttered homes into spaces of serenity and inspiration.
People around the world have been drawn to this philosophy not only due to its effectiveness but also because it places great importance on being mindful, introspective and forward-looking.
This trend is not new. This idea of cleanliness and simplifying has been around for a long time. Let’s not forget Henry David Thoreau, the OG minimalist who wrote about how to live a life of simplicity and independence.
This idea of living a simple life really started to catch on in the 21st century a few years ago with the documentary called Minimalism. This was about focusing on what matters and it highlighted stories of people living minimalism. But it didn’t give you any actionable takeaways or “how-to’s.”
Minimalism is the “what.” The KonMari Method is the “how.”
Tidying is not just about cleaning it’s about creating a space that sparks joy. By doing this you get one step closer to your Ideal life.
Why would someone want to tidy up?
It’s easier to acquire stuff than ever before. My degree is in business and in business school we studied this idea called economies of scale. It’s this idea that the more you produce something the cost of production will go down. And with that, the price will go down making it a win-win for consumers and for businesses differentiating themselves.
Because goods have become so cheap our homes become filled with clutter and our space gets filled with stuff we don’t value.
H&M has been the leader in the high-fashion industry while simultaneously using economies of scale to drive the price of clothing down. You can purchase a shirt for $5.00 which is so cheap you may wear it a few times and forget about it. So why do people hold on to stuff they no longer value?
It’s called the endowment effect which explains how we overvalue something simply because we own it. This makes it harder to get rid of even though it no longer serves a purpose in our lives. It’s hard for people to declutter and get rid of things. We attach meaning and emotion to stuff. Even though we may never wear an article of clothing again we hang on to it because of the sentimental value.
When should someone tidy up?
You may feel slightly overwhelmed with the amount of stuff you hang on to. This is perfectly normal. But, there’s this sense of joy that comes when we get rid of stuff.
Why would someone put themselves through this? Just stop worrying about how much stuff you have and enjoy life. This is a common argument I’ve heard about simplifying. It’s hard. It’s not easy. You’re subjecting yourself to voluntary pain and personal anguish by decluttering. Not everyone needs to live this way nor should everyone, but if you’re someone feeling overwhelmed, maybe it’s time to simplify and you’ll find the joy that comes from doing so.
How does it work?
You break everything up into five main categories. Marie Kondo teaches it’s important to clean by item, not by location. Here are five categories:
Clothing – Throw all of your clothing onto the bed so you can see how much you have. Get rid of all the clothes that no longer spark joy.
Books – Place all of your books in one place and get rid of those that no longer spark joy.
Paper – Gather up all of your paper and get rid of those you no longer need like loose papers and envelopes. She doesn’t go into this but consider what papers you could scan and store electronically and only keep a few hard copies of the stuff that’s really important.
Komono (Miscellaneous) – This includes everything else in your kitchen, living room and garage. Go through everything and keep only the things you will use and continue to get value from.
Sentimental items – After you’ve hit on the first four major categories it gets a little harder to dig through your sentimental items and decide what no longer excites you and what is worth keeping.
Everything in your house at one point was money.
How does it relate to finances?
Now that you’ve learned about the KonMari Method, how does this relate to your finances?
If you adopt this lifestyle of simplicity — there’s a natural progression into being better with your money. Because you start to ask yourself what you value, you’re more aware of where your dollars are going. Or vice versa, if you’re someone that likes personal finance, I’ve also noticed there’s this natural progression into getting rid of the things that no longer bring you value. This is how I got into it.
Tidying up your finances means being frugal. It’s not about being cheap. It’s about eliminating what you don’t want and focusing your time and attention on the things that you value.
We can draw some parallels by breaking down your finances into five major categories.
Housing – Where we live will be one of the largest expenses most people will have throughout their lives. You should live somewhere that sparks joy. Somewhere that you can call home that doesn’t have to be a financial burden on you. If it is a burden consider something else.
Transportation – The second largest expense is transportation. You should drive a car that sparks joy but let’s not get carried away here and forget what a car is actually meant for. Transportation. Not social status.
Food – Perhaps the third largest expense is food. We all have to eat and ideally, we should be spending money on healthy food but sometimes that’s not the most affordable option. Do what works for you but set a limit on how much you want to be eating out. 70% of all spending is done in these first three categories.
Entertainment – This is a big expense for some people and non-existent for others. I always teach that you should have an amount of money that you get to blow at the end of the month so you can enjoy life a little. But don’t let this get out of hand either. Plan beforehand.
Miscellaneous or all other expenses – Everything falls under this category and it will take some discipline to tidy this area of your finances up. But if you can focus on the first four main categories, your personal finances will start to take care of themselves.
If we can learn to simplify and get the most out of those five categories we will inadvertently almost accidentally become smarter with our money. Everything else will fall into place.
It’s not about simply budgeting your money, it’s about how to live a more joyful life by being smart with your money in order to do more with your life.
How to spark joy with your finances
If you want to get really excited about managing your finances you’re going to need to break up your spending into more categories.
Categorize your expenses. A software that I use is Mint. Mint will allow you to categorize all of your expenses so you can get a clear picture of where your money is going. It allows you to aggregate all of your accounts in one place. This is sort of like throwing all of your clothes out on the bed. Until you bring all of your accounts together you don’t know how much debt you have and where your spending problems are. This is an essential step on getting clear with your finances. By process of elimination, you can start to cut back on things you don’t need and pay off those debts that no longer serve you.
Separate savings accounts. Most people have one checking account and one savings account. Another way to spark joy with your finances is to open up different savings accounts for different savings goals. You’re less likely to spend money set aside in your vacation account on clothing if you have to transfer that money out of your account. Make sure you avoid bank fees though because many banks will charge you fees. You should never have to pay fees for a checking account and a few savings accounts.
Just start somewhere. We all start somewhere different when it comes to tidying up our finances. Organized for one person may not be organized for another. It’s a constant process of elimination. When you go through for the first time you’ll get rid of a lot of stuff. The second time you might think why did I think I need this. And you’ll get rid of more. By the third and fourth time going through things that you want to organize it starts to get a little bit harder because you really have to dig deep and ask yourself does this bring value
It’s not about more money. For many people, their main objective is how can I make more money. When you simplify your life and you simplify your finances you start to realize maybe I don’t need more money maybe I can learn to maximize the utility of every dollar that I have stewardship over in order to live a better life. The money that you are making will go away farther because you’re smart with it.
Sparking joy with your finances is not about deprivation it’s about what you value.
For most people, their finances do not spark joy, mostly because they do not feel in control over where their money goes or that their financial future is heading in a positive direction. The first step in gaining financial control is to set goals, establish a budget, and understand which of your expenses are optional. Once you’ve KonMari’d your money, you will be able to see there’s now more space for saving money and working toward your financial goals than ever before. Now that sparks joy!
Hi, I’m Scott. Welcome to my website! I’m an Accredited Financial Counselor, husband, and father. I hope you’ll join me on the journey of reaching financial independence through simplifying how you manage your money.