Why KonMari Isn't for Me: Financial Insecurity, Privilege, and Sweet, Sweet Marie Kondo

Juli Gibbons

Every January, I gaze wistfully around my home and think about all the things I’d rather be doing than cleaning/organizing. Every year I sigh deep within my soul as I try to find new ways to tetris all my junk (read as: useful things that I don’t have a use for right this moment) into their storage spaces.

Early this month, my social media was overrun with comments about getting rid of things that don’t “spark joy” and I got a flash image of my home with no clutter, no random odds and ends taking up space on my counters and clogging up my closet space. The extra weight I’ve been sporting since having my children would be gone (it doesn’t spark joy, okay?!) and the toys I constantly trip over while putting the kids to bed would be a figment of my imagination.

I will admit that when I first started thinking about KonMari, I was both excited and disappointed. Firstly, I was excited at the prospect of getting my life in order. Getting rid of all the little things I’ve been holding onto without really thinking much about it was exciting to me. Then the disappointment set in. There are a lot of things I keep in my home that do not “spark joy” in my life. I need to keep them around regardless because that’s just life. No one can only keep things in their life that spark joy otherwise half of us would be walking around pantsless! Having those conflicting emotions, I decided to do a little more reading into KonMari and see what it’s all about.

Her name is Marie Kondo, and her philosophy is pretty simple. Hold your belongings in your hands one at a time and if they do not bring you joy, you thank the item and get rid of it. If it’s something you could replace for around $20 within 20 minutes, get rid of it. Start with clothing and go through things in categories rather than room by room. Do it all at once and finish each category before moving on to the next one. Once you’re done discarding things that don’t bring you joy, you get to the fun part of organizing them in a way that is both easy to maintain and pleasing to look at.

How can I make this work for me? Well, first we need to discuss financial insecurity. I think truly diving headfirst into KonMari without any financial worries could be a bit of a privilege. A lot of us are probably thinking, “Sure I can get rid of something that can be replaced for $20, but what if when I need it I don’t have the extra $20 lying around?” There are a lot of things I could get rid of now that I might need in six months, and those things will definitely add up if I’m having to buy them all over again.

I really do want to love KonMari, and Marie Kondo is so likable! It’s hard though when clothing that doesn’t spark joy is part of a wardrobe that I cannot afford to replace. If I could skip over the whole, “get rid of what doesn’t spark joy” portion of it and get right to the organization bit, that would be great! The way she suggests (and demonstrates) how to fold and store clothing makes it a lot easier to see what you have in your drawers at a glance rather than rifling through piles in your drawers searching for something specific and making everything wrinkly in the process. Containerizing things to reduce visual clutter is another piece I will take away from her method as well.

As for the things that “spark joy,” knowing that I’m doing what’s best for my family will always be number one.

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