I recently got rid of some clothes I’ve had since high school. And some socks with huge holes in them. And even some newer clothes that I just didn’t like. I felt the magic. It was incredible.

I couldn’t believe it took me so long to finally get rid of so many articles of clothing I never even liked and had not picked out myself.

But, the more I thought about it, I knew exactly why it took me so long. It actually had very little to do with Marie Kondo and more to do with my savings account.

I think there’s a really significant connection between clutter and money that I have not seen mentioned in most discussions about discarding. (Granted, I have made no real goal of reading everything on the subject, so feel free to put some links in the comments if I’ve missed some good discussions on the topic.)

It’s common to mention the ease of access as a reason for not needing to keep something.

For example, “If I really need that again, I can just get one.” But, there’s an underlying assumption here that I think is worth pointing out. You have to have a certain level of financial stability in order to make that statement in the first place and believe that you could get one if you actually needed it.

The unspoken connection between clutter & finances

Words cannot describe my gratitude to be in a better place in life, but I have experienced poverty. Food stamps. The whole deal.

So, I understand what it is like to truly think, “what if I need that,” not from a place of convenience, but of genuine concern — “what if I get rid of this, end up needing it, but can’t afford it.”

The fear of not having enough is a major mental block to getting rid of junk. Even after you’ve improved your employment and financial situation, the fear can remain if you don’t actively address it. This fear can dramatically affect the way you hang on to clutter.

If you can relate to this feeling of, “but what if I need that,” from a deeper place of financial instability, I would like to gently and compassionately suggest that you focus on your finances before you focus on your clutter.

Of course, some people can make progress on both areas at the same time and end up paying off debt with the money they make from selling stuff they don’t need. But, if you desire to experience more simplicity in your home, but you’re struggling to get rid of stuff you don’t use or even like, take a look at both the state of your finances and your attitude about money.

It might be more beneficial to focus on paying down some debt, or adding to a savings fund before attempting a major decluttering marathon.

The unspoken connection between clutter & finances

Ask yourself these questions:

• If I had 3-6 months of living expenses saved, would that reduce mental stress and help me be able to tackle clutter with a different perspective?

• Am I holding on to fear about not having enough based on a past experience?

• Is this affecting my emotional attachment to stuff I don’t use or find beautiful?

I realize this is a sensitive topic, and my realization might not resonate with everyone. I just know that for me, making this connection was a significant break-through in my personal war on clutter. Before I could even start with the lists of questions about whether to keep or purge, I had to first address my finances and my mindset about money.

Related post: Three truths about decluttering: an invitation

Featured photo: https://www.pexels.com/photo/flowers-books-desk-house-48012/