Regardless of your income or financial status, you may be living in a “scarcity mindset.” In fact, you might even think it’s impossible. However, it’s important to note that independent of your finances you could be holding yourself back by the way you think about things.
A scarcity mindset dictates HOW you approach major choices in your life, as well as your reactions. This is particularly true of choices that involve money, though you’ll find that most things in life involve money in some way or another. The more you can step out of this mindset, and into one of Prosperity, the better off you may be in your decision-making. In fact, one such way to let go of scarcity thinking is to Marie Kondo your life.
An article that was recently featured on Insider shares the story of a woman who let go of her scarcity thinking when she decluttered her home. The process led her to addressing the mindset that was lurking under the surface of many of her major decisions—including handing onto things. Laura calls it a poverty mentality and defines it as “living in unnecessary scarcity and fear. It leads me to make poor decisions about the possessions I bring into my home.”
Scarcity and Baggage
So what is it about stuff that made Laura recognize a scarcity mindset? Well, in downsizing her possessions, it became clear that the attachment she had developed to her things was unhealthy. The reason it was unhealthy was that the attachment sprung from a scarcity mindset. The feeling of “lack” compelled her to keep and hang onto things she didn’t need. In fact, she kept around things that were broken or didn’t match her decor “just in case.” But all it really meant for her was that she carried a lot of baggage…literally.
The scarcity really stemmed from fear, in her case. She worried if she got rid of things, she couldn’t afford them again if she ever needed them (and she didn’t end up needing those things). In theory, it seemed better to have things around, just in case. Even if they were taking up valuable space, mentally or physically.
This same fear would also compel Laura to buy things because they were cheap, rather than seeking quality. So she’d get trapped in a cycle of buying and using things until they broke down. Regardless of intentions, Laura would end up spending more money buying many cheaply made things than just saving for a sturdy, well-made thing.
In extreme cases, this kind of mindset can snowball into hoarding territory. This compulsion to fill your life with things can also stem from scarcity. After all, it can feel good to surround yourself with nice things, and actual scarcity can compel you to overspend when you’re no longer living in actual scarcity. Or, you may just have a collection of unnecessary things because you’re always accumulating things at good prices.
Choosing to “Marie Kondo” your life by downsizing can be a scary step for many people. Especially if you have emotional and logical baggage tied up in your possessions. However, holding on to clutter can have a bigger impact than you may think. In the long game, this can leave you feeling financially stuck.
5 Ways to Marie Kondo Your Life for Prosperity
Stop feeling like you’re at the mercy of your spending or the things that you want. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by your things, and want to declutter your space for more mental clarity and peace, try these tips.
1. Out of Sight, Out of Mind
One of the more pressing hurdles to jump is the idea that you may need something, someday. Clothes that don’t fit, novelty tools, and excess products are just some of the things people tend to store for later. If this resonates with your experience, consider putting these things away.
It’s not enough to do this passively, it helps to be intentional. Grab some boxes, and pack away all of the things you think you may need someday and do not use. Then, get them out of your living space. Define a timeframe, such as a year, and just experience life without these things. If you find yourself needing something, you’ll know it’s worth keeping. Otherwise, you’ve proved to yourself that it’s something you can do without.
This exercise is a great way to ease into the process of letting go. You have the immediate payoff of decluttering your space, with the opportunity to make extra sure you don’t need certain things.
(To keep your space clutter-free, consider implementing a No-Buy Year, so you don’t continue to accumulate things.)
2. Invest in Your Space
One of the side effects of a scarcity mindset is the urge to buy things as inexpensively as possible. And a side effect of that habit is that inexpensive goods are often cheaply made, and cheap wares need replacing more often.
Rather than always seeking the best price, begin prioritizing quality as well. This doesn’t mean you should start buying the most expensive things available. Really, it’s about finding a balance of quality and price. A $100 couch on Facebook Marketplace might be a good find until you realize it’s literally on it’s last legs. Then you may get stuck in a cycle of buying cheap couches on a regular basis.
On the other hand, one brand new couch can last for years, and end up saving you money long term. It’s just the scarcity mindset that gets you stuck in a cycle of buying.
Whether it be clothes, furniture, or other purchases–be mindful of the quality as well as the cost. Finding a comfortable intersection, even if the up-front cost is greater than what you’re used to, can help you make empowered purchases.
3. Keep What Sparks Joy
Another revelation Laura noticed as she decluttered is how her living space opened up. She writes that her “poverty mentality kept me living as though I were barely employed and living paycheck to paycheck. It kept me from thoroughly enjoying and inhabiting my living space and dragged me down with the weight of all the possessions I had to manage and organize.”
A space that is too full can keep your area from being functional, and you may not even realize it. Think about your home as it is now—are the things you can’t let go of truly bringing you joy? Or are they invading your space in a way that keeps you from using what you have? Ask yourself this–How many of your possessions truly bring you joy? If you have things that are causing you stress or keeping you from fully enjoying your space, it’s time to reevaluate. Getting rid of things that don’t “spark joy,” as Marie Kondo would say, can take a weight off your shoulders.
4. Shop Wisely
Decluttering your space is only one part of the battle. If you’ve found yourself accumulating things over time, it’s also important nip the habit in the bud. Otherwise, it can just start happening all over again. Getting your shopping habit (if you have one) under control is just a game of self-knowledge.
You might find specific stores to be a trigger for your spending habit. Another person might struggle with impulse control more specifically. Some people are keeping up with the Joneses.
No matter what your struggle is, adding a little self-reflection may help. When you’re tempted, ask yourself questions like:
- Do I have something that already serves this function?
- Have I recently gotten rid of something similar?
- Can I put this item to good use right now?
- Will this go straight on a shelf?
- Is this item well-made?
- Do I just want it because it’s on sale or inexpensive?
- If it cost more, would I still want to buy it?
If you still think you want the item, then you’re making a well-thought-out choice. If you’re still on the fence, leave it (you can always come back in a few days if it’s still on your mind).
Ultimately, you want to uphold the work you’ve done to downsize your space. Making sure that you address the habits that put you in that position can make it stick. Slowing down and analyzing why you want something can keep you from feeling FOMO about the things you didn’t buy, which is also a form of scarcity thinking.
5. Save First
Lastly, emphasize your savings. Saving money is one of the best money methods you can adopt. For starters, having cash stored in the bank can help you make those “investment” purchases. Saving money first, and automatically, before spending can also help you cultivate a more abundant mindset.
Start by setting a savings objective for yourself—say a dollar amount each month or a percentage of your paychecks. Then, automate it so that money goes into your savings account immediately, like a bill.
By doing this, you create a positive habit, and you cultivate peace of mind. When you save, you can just rest easier in your abundance. (And whole life insurance happens to be a great way to automate!)
Scarcity Mindset vs. Prosperity Mindset
A Prosperity mindset, ultimately, is rooted in the faith that you can create a life that works for you. “Prosperity thinkers” keep their eyes open to opportunities, and know that with time and effort, many things are possible. When you think and live prosperously, you can make financial decisions out of confidence, rather than fear.
Laura sums up her own revelation about scarcity and prosperity here:
“The opposite of my poverty mentality isn’t to act like I’m rich (I’m not) or spend every dime I make…But, especially when it comes to organizing my home, I am willing to spend a bit to own beautiful, functional items that bring me joy. I want to view the act of giving away things that no longer work for me as a form of self-care rather than an admission of failure. The money it takes to create a harmonious living space is well-spent. After all, what is money for but to help us live happily?”Are you seeking guidance on your journey to Prosperity? If so, we’re happy to put you in touch with a Prosperity Economics™ Advisor. Just contact us to get connected!