Ms. Mintly Does KonMari: Part 1

So, are you all familiar with the KonMari method?

THE clutter-busting book of 2015 was/is The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo.

I first heard about it on one of my daily reads: ApartmentTherapy.com. Then I felt like it was cropping up everywhere on the internet. I didn’t get truly interested in it until I talked with my cousin back in May about it. She described all the Before-and-After pictures of closets her friends posted on facebook. She told me about some of the “funnier” parts of the book (and there are a few “huh…” sections, I admit) but said she was thinking of going all-in.

I reserved an e-book version through the Overdrive (library) app and waited patiently. When I finally received the notice that I could download it, I hopped right to it and dove in.

This is not a review of the book, so I will only note the following points:

  • The ONE thing that everyone knows about this method is that Marie Kondo says you should only keep something if it sparks joy. Some people chafe at this idea (“What if I need it, but it doesn’t spark joy?”), but I’ve found it works well for me.
  • There is a level of spirituality to the book that I actually found soothing and helpful (though I am not religious). For instance, Kondo makes it clear that even if things are not visible in a room but are crammed in closets, their presence can still become overbearing and even stressful. I know it sounds “frou-frou,” but this is exactly how I feel. Even when we get things “straightened up” in our house, I still feel oppressed by how much stuff we have.
  • Kondo stresses the importance of letting go of items that we feel we have to hold onto so that we can hold on to the items that truly make us happy. Going through this process has really helped me let go of the idea that I must keep things for the sake of keeping them. No, I really don’t need to keep that ladybug ornament just because my Grandma gave it to me; instead, I have my memories (and other things she gave me) that are more valuable than that item. We’ve moved quite a bit (which is not usual for people our age), and I’ve dragged things around for longer than I’d care to admit, only because I just didn’t think I should get rid of them.
  • Recognizing an item’s former purpose and its satisfaction of that purpose really helps to let it go. It’s difficult to admit that I’ll never fit into those pants again, but I don’t need them. If I honestly do get that thin again (ha!), I’ll treat myself to a new pair of pants that I love. It’s hard to toss an old shirt I used to love but never wear anymore into a pile to go to Goodwill, but when I take a moment to recognize how the shirt has served its usefulness to me and how it could go on to make someone else happy – well, that makes it a lot easier for me.

I have begun the process as described in the book, and in the order recommended by Kondo. This means clothing first, then books, and on down the line. When I texted my cousin to let her know I was starting the process, she was super excited and sent me her own before-and-after photos as well as information about two Facebook groups (The KonMari Method and Konmari Method: Life-Changing Magic, though there are plenty of others). She stressed the importance of going in order and not skipping steps, and that’s been harder than I imagined. Through joining those FB groups, I’ve also discovered something else: it may take up to 6 months to complete the process! I’m really hoping it doesn’t, but I’m starting to see how it could. You can’t half-ass this, and if you have a job and/or kids, everything is going to take a bit longer than it would otherwise.

So, what have I done?

I started with my clothes, but ONLY my clothes. I will not do H’s clothes, because A) I don’t have the right to sort through someone else’s clothes, and B) He recently purged so much that his stuff hardly takes up any room!

Ready for the Before and After pictures?

IMG_8507

Closet: Before (1) – Those pants hangers and the accessories ring had a bunch of stuff on them (scarves, belts, etc.) prior to this picture, as well.

IMG_8508

Closet: Before (2) – This is where all of my pants were hanging, but I had removed them already to sort before I remembered to take a picture.

IMG_8509

Closet: Before (3) – This is my dresses that were hidden in the first shot of the closet.

IMG_8506

Closet/Drawers: Before – This is both all of the pants from my closet as well as lounge-wear and pajamas that I had crammed into drawers. Beautiful, eh?

I know the pictures aren’t beautiful (thanks, iPhone), but when you’re getting ready to buckle down and purge, you don’t first think, “I’m gonna take a well-staged shot with my fancy camera….” Or maybe you do….

Here’s two shots of the process:

IMG_8516

During: Dresses, etc. to consign and give away (sorry about the bra, but what are you gonna do?)

IMG_8517

During: Pile of items to give to Goodwill or throw away (I went through the pile a second time to find socks with no mates, and things that no one would buy, and I just threw those away – only one not-quite-full bag of completely unusable stuff, thankfully)

And now: the After shots!

IMG_8519

After: Cardigans/Sweaters

IMG_8521

After: Socks, hosiery, belts

IMG_8526

After: Pants

IMG_8527

After: Casual clothes (t-shirts, hoodies, shorts, and a huge comfortable sweater a friend knitted for me!)

IMG_8531

After: Exercise and lounge clothes (this set of drawers used to be overflowing with socks and hosiery and who-knows-what-all that ended up tossed…)

IMG_8533

After: Closet (I’ve even done more work on my closet to make it prettier since this)

In my next post, I’ll also show you my shoes, though I don’t have a “Before” shot of that mess. However, I’ve been astounded at what a difference I feel when I look into my closet and it feels so much cleaner and easier to find things.

I also have not noticed a difficulty in folding my clothes right after doing laundry and getting them put away (though it’s only been one load so far, so I need to wait and see how it really works long-term!) and I also enjoy changing into my loungey clothes when I get home after work. I just put all my clothes and shoes away (or into the laundry) when I get home and I get a ton of satisfaction in seeing how pretty they are, all tucked in to their rightful places.

Here’s the stats on my KonMari’ed Closet:

  • 1: bag of trash
  • 2: almost-overflowing 18-gallon tubs of clothing, shoes, and accessories to consign
  • 1: 18-gallon tub of clothing, shoes, and accessories to consign for spring (since the place I consign with won’t take out-of-season clothing)
  • 2: bags of clothing, shoes, and accessories for donation
  • 1: box of random crap for donation
  • 1: Back-of-the-door shoe rack for donation

What’s left to do?

  • Locate all my bags/purses in the house and KonMari them
  • Go through all of the jewelry I have
  • Update you on my shoes 🙂

…and…

  • all the rest of the categories!

Anyone else doing KonMari? What has your experience been? Would love to know how it’s working for people long-term…. And P.S. – I don’t miss anything I got rid of… at ALL!

Winning at Student Loan Payments

I’m just popping in to share my WIN this month on the fight against Student Loan debt! I FINALLY got it figured out (at least for this month)!

Yesterday, our minimum payment of $391.83 went to H’s student loans (these are the 2 loans that we are sending all of our extra money into, as they have an interest rate of 6.88%).

Once I saw the payment post on Navient’s website (well, actually, I saw it post in Mint.com, but wanted to confirm it via Navient), I immediately moved money from our money market account into our checking account. (We house our Student Loan Debt Eradication Funds each month in the money market account to keep it separate from our other money, then transfer right before we make that extra student loan payment each month.)

Once the funds were in the checking account, I went ahead and set up the extra payment on Navient, instead of waiting until the following day, which I normally do.

Result?

interest

Principal payment win!

$0 applied to interest!

100% of that $1701.34 went directly to the principal!

I don’t know why I hadn’t tried this before – timing of online payments can be weird so maybe this won’t work again, but I’m hoping that I can continue to be on the ball and keep a watch on when the minimum payment is processed each month and immediately jump in with that extra payment.

Usually the minimum payment is processed on the 13th, so I have confidence that I can at least keep track of that.

Current numbers on those two loans: $32,250.92

Current numbers on all four student loans: $46,080.43

Man. That still looks like a long way to go….

Mintly Budget Preview: August 2015

If you’d like more details regarding our monthly budget, please see my first 2015 Budget Post.

Welcome to the Mintly Budget Preview for August 2015!

Some info:

  • We use a zero-sum budget.
  • We get paid a little more than what I budget for – but I use that extra either to pay down unexpected expenses from the month before or I can snowflake it to Debt Eradication. Most month’s we’ve been able to stash it away in our Money Market account to build up before I send a lump payment to our Student Loans, and the same was true at the beginning of this month!

Note: This image is a screenshot from the Budget tab of my account on Mint.com.

June Budget Breakdown Total: $5050

(This month I’m only giving explanations on the areas that have changed from the previous budgets I’ve shared.)

Debt Eradication: This is the amount of money we think we can afford out of our $5000 budget each month. It’s been a static number ($1206) for a while, but it used to be broken down into two payments – one directly to Navient (our student loan holder) and one to a Citibank card, where we had transferred some of our student loans. Now that the card is paid off, all of the funds go directly to Navient each month. (I generally send that extra payment the day after our automatic minimum payment goes through.)

Food & Dining: I’ve broken down our food budget into two components this time to see if that can help me keep on track. We have already spent more than I would have liked, but we had a family over for a spontaneous dinner and ended up needing to run out for a few more items.

Home Services: We did not get our bill from the lawn guys until the end of July. Sadly, they cut our grass three times in that month, which means we owe them quite a bit. Plus, there was another one from June that we didn’t pay them for, apparently? In any case, we sent them a check to catch up, and in the envelope we included a note very politely asking them to only cut the grass once in August (preferably the middle of the month). We simply can’t afford to pay for more than twice a month, and I’m SOOOO looking forward to fall/winter, when we don’t have to pay for that! August and September are so tough, because we’re paying for childcare on TOP of the summer-time-type expenses.

Bills & Utilities: Cell phone bill, Water, Electric, and Internet are included in this category. Last month we had a relatively low electric bill, so to make up for other expenses we will have this month, I lowered our budget by $100. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that we can keep it under this amount!

Kids Activities: L’s piano lessons start up (I don’t know exactly when) this month. Ballet will be paid for by the semester this year because we have been saving in the Sinking Fund. Over the course of the school year, this will save us at least a little bit of cash in our budget each month ($60) and be, overall, cheaper.

Babysitter & Daycare: L’s after-school care program should be lower than the usual monthly rate, but I left it at $150 since H will be working full-time again as of August 17th, so we will have additional childcare expenses. If we can’t keep the cost under $150, it will have to come out of the….

Slush Fund: This fund needs to cover L’s back-to-school items as well as any other random expenses this month, including extra child care needs. We’ve already gotten her stuff, so the rest has to last us until September.

July Extra Funds: $211.62 – This money went right into our Money Market account, where we house our Student Loan Debt Eradication Fund. This will be sent in addition to the $1206 budgeted for debt eradication.


I’ve been thinking that I may be stressing out about money too much. I’m wondering if I should lighten up on our debt eradication (that automatic $1206 that goes into our Debt Eradication fund as soon as we get paid) and give ourselves more of a cushion. I hate feeling stressed, and I think that a total of $1700+ going out each month to debt (minimum payments plus the extra payment) is pretty significant. On the other hand, I want that debt GONE. I just don’t know what’s better right now. Thoughts??? Any advice? Thanks!