Choose Joy, Create Money Magic

Does this bring you joy? I bet the majority of you have heard this phrase before.  It is the heart of “KonMari,” Marie Kondo’s tidying and organizing method.  I became intrigued by Marie Kondo when my daughter was a toddler.  She teaches a super-efficient, space-saving technique of folding clothes and you can still see each piece of clothing all at once.  Boy was I excited by the prospect of having tidy toddler dresser drawers.  If you’ve spent much time around toddlers, you know that dream vanished quickly. However, one concept I have incorporated into my life is asking the question “does this bring me joy?” and then acting accordingly.  That afghan Great Aunt Ida crocheted that’s itchy and I hate, but feel obligated to keep: does it bring me joy? Nope! Give it away.  Why this so profound?  For me, it’s the act of intentionally choosing what I allow to stay in my home (or enter for that matter).  It has created a whole new physical reality for me.

So, what does tidying one’s physical environment through KonMari techniques have to do with money and personal finance?  Well, each of us has an inner “money story” that is as unique to you as your thumbprint. Simply put, this is your relationship with money: the good, the bad, the ugly.  It began when you were a tiny child and has continued through today. Your ingrained beliefs and subconscious feelings about money began forming way before you even had a handle on your finances by absorbing the relationships the adults in your life had with money.  Think about all the ways money impacted you growing up, whether directly or indirectly.  Was it discussed openly?  Completely taboo?  Was there more than enough?  Never enough? Once you’ve had a chance to reflect, you may begin to see a link between those experiences as a child and your current relationship with money.

When I was in college, I knew two things: I had to finish my degree, and debt was bad, with a big “B”. Eventually, I graduated with my beautiful new UNC degree and $15,000 in student loans.  Oh, the guilt I felt!  Debt was bad, and here I was with what felt like insurmountable debt.  I was such a financial failure.  It was embarrassing.  Don’t even get me started on the failure I felt when I took out my first car loan.  The point is it wasn’t until many years later that I realized I had been carrying all this debt guilt because part of my money story was the ingrained belief that debt was to be avoided.  If you couldn’t pay cash, you didn’t need it.  After I recognized that I was creating negative self-talk based on something that I wasn’t even aware I had internalized, I gave myself a break. Slowly I began to reframe the story of this “terrible financial mishap” as something entirely different: an investment in my future.

It is worthwhile to spend some time thinking about how your relationship with money came to be.  If you want to create a new relationship with money, this is definitely the first step.  This doesn’t mean hours delving into your past.  For starters, try asking yourself these questions and see if you learn something new about yourself:

  • What is your very first memory of money? How old were you?  Do you remember how you felt?  Was it positive or negative? 
  • What beliefs or habits about money have you inherited? Do they still guide you today?
  • What do you tell yourself about money? What are common thoughts you have about money?

One of the most destructive obstacles in our lives is our inner voice.  We form thoughts at a rate of about 1,000-3,000 words per minute, whereas we are only capable of processing spoken words at a rate of 125-250 words per minute.[1]  That’s incredible!  Our inner dialogue streams up to twelve times faster than our spoken words.  Imagine all the thoughts you have in one minute.  It’s no wonder people spend countless hours learning how to retrain their thought processes and change that inner dialogue.

Now that you’ve spent some time answering the questions above, what do you think?  Are you happy with your current relationship with money, or do you want to make it even better?  If you want to change your relationship with money, write down what you want it to look like.  Be as specific as you want (i.e.I want to be confident that I have enough money in my bank account for oil changes every three months).  Most importantly, be kind to yourself and forgive any past failures – perceived or real.

Next time your inner dialogue starts harping on what a stupid idea it was to buy that expensive Kitchen Aid mixer that hasn’t left the cabinet in years, ask yourself if what your inner voice is saying brings you joy.  If it doesn’t, politely tell it to return when it has something nice to say. There are enough hurdles in our financial lives, let’s not let ourselves become one too.


Rachel Tanksley is an Accredited Asset Management Specialist℠ and Associate Financial Planner at Starks Financial Group (440 Montford Ave. Asheville, NC 28801 // 828-285-8777). Starks Financial Group is not a registered broker/dealer, nor is it affiliated with Raymond James Financial Services. Securities offered through Raymond James Financial Services, Inc. Member FINRA/SIPC. Investment Advisory services offered through Raymond James Financial Services Advisors, Inc. This article expresses the opinions of Rachel Tanksley and not necessarily those of RJFS or Raymond James. Expressions of opinion are as of the date and are subject to change without notice. This material is being provided for information purposes only.

[1]“Speed of speech < speed of thought” by Jennifer Romig (