It seems like everyone is talking about Marie Kondo, the Japanese tidying-up queen. Her book even spawned a new verb: to KonMari.
Marie Kondo is now on Netflix, where she helps people who have become smothered by their own ‘stuff’, exhorting them to ponder each item and ask ‘Does this spark joy?’. (If it doesn’t, it’s out.)
I’m a fan of the concept.
When I left my marriage, I basically just took my clothes and shoes. Well, ok. I also took the Tupperware, the Le Creuset and my Mundial knife. A girl’s gotta cook.
I started again, and it was strangely liberating.
Yet how quickly we acquire more things. I’ve told myself no more kitchenware, but it’s hard. I recently gushed with envy over a friend’s omelette pan.
Which brings me to the a question I’ve been pondering for a while now: how do we know when we have enough?
Enough what, you ask?
The big challenge of our modern lives and disposable incomes is simply saying no.
When you have money, there’s always more you can buy.
Maybe it’s one more cheap T-shirt. Maybe it’s another pair of designer heels. Maybe it’s one more eyeshadow palette, to get one particular colour.
Whatever your thing, you have the ability and opportunity to continuing indulging in it.
But there comes a point, hopefully before Marie Kondo has to step in, when it’s time to ask the question: is this enough?
It might be that you’re running out of space (or money).
Maybe you have so many Lorna Jane crop tops you struggle to rotate them efficiently (I hear that’s a thing, wouldn’t know myself).
Maybe your wife gets cranky at all the space your bikes are taking up in the garage (sorry dad).
Or maybe you just start feeling guilty about the impact you’re having on the earth.
I’ve been talking to people about this to get their view on this thorny topic.
I asked a girlfriend at work how many work outfits are enough. ‘Ten’, she replied. Two weeks of new outfits, then rotate again. ‘After all, a man normally has a couple of suits and ten shirts’.
The girls in the team nodded thoughtfully, then all agreed that was a preposterous notion. We could quite literally wear a new outfit for a month without duplicating it.
Which really gives you pause for thought. (And hopefully I have that pause, next time I’m in a changeroom.)
Pick your vices
My dad’s advice is to try and limit your number of vices to one. He has chosen bikes, and associated bike gear, as his vice. He claims to have culled to the very reasonable number of three. His wife remains unconvinced, but this is a woman with a chandelier in every room, so I’m not sure she’s blameless.
And if we all have our different vices, we also need to have things we’re happy to be a tight-arse about.
I have an obscene amount of fancy activewear, but use a Kmart handbag. My friend has an obscenely large collection of designer bags, but buys cheap gymwear. We revel in judging each other about it.
It all comes back to mindful spending (more about that here). This is a concept that I have been spruiking for a while now. Amazingly, this week I spoke to someone who has adopted it!
She said it helps her when she’s having that moment in a store, for example, wondering whether she ‘needs’ a new top, or is just buying it for the sake of it.
But what I like about this approach is that it can actually give you freedom, not just constraints. Mindful spending helps you pinpoint those things that ‘spark joy’ and allocate resources that way. Guilt-free, by the way.
So there is no easy answer to ‘how much is enough?’, but there are definitely some road signs to help us on the journey to find out.