Do Your Finances Bring You JOY?


You have probably heard of Marie Kondo, the Japanese professional organizer who has turned organizing and decluttering into a simple yet emotional experience that involves one primary question. If not, you need to crawl out from under your rock and read her book titled The Life Changing Method of Tidying Up.  The book is based on the simple premise that if you want to declutter your home (life), just answer this one simple yet profound question before you make a decision to keep something or toss it: , “Does this bring me joy?” The answer is then usually quick and uncomplicated.

Don’t you wish financial decisions were just that easy?

Or do we make them harder than they have to be. It would be easy to say, “Why yes, it brings me great happiness to spend my money, so mission accomplished.” But how many of us have had buyer’s regret, investment woes, or painful hard lessons due to spending money because it made us happy in the moment?

But wait! The question is not one of happiness; it is a question of joy. Merriam-Webster defines happy as “favored by luck or fortune’. It is based primarily on our circumstances. But what about Webster’s Dictionary 1828 definition of joy – “the passion or emotion excited by the acquisition or expectation of good”. You know, that “good” that brings us peace, knowing we have been wise, have made the best decision after weighing the facts, and have carefully thought not only of ourselves, but of others, too.

We have seen joy in the hearts and on the faces of many clients, usually after the hard work of digging into their financial situation and taking a thoughtful look at the opportunities and challenges today and ahead of them. Once we get to the root of where they are financially, how they got there, where they have fears and concerns, and what paths would bring them peace of mind, the decisions are not as complicated as they once seemed. Joy follows quickly after “good” decisions that are in the best interest of themselves and those they love – even if the decision is hard. Difficult decisions can bring joy when they are made with knowledge and hope.

Take, for example, the young couple that would really like to buy their first home. They do not have enough money saved to avoid PMI (Private Mortgage Insurance) on their mortgage, are just getting by paycheck to paycheck, and have debt payments that are hurting their cash flow. Each of their individual goals and comfort levels plus their combined goals are openly discussed along with specific scenarios that will either put them in a precarious position or one of strength. Even then, the decision to wait another year until they are on more solid footing can bring joy, with the hope that they will eventually be able to purchase their home without additional stress, meanwhile propelling them years ahead financially than they would have been had they purchased now. JOY!

Or the couple nearing retirement that would like to stop working yesterday but are not quite prepared to live without their income. Again, a frank conversation and review of many documents describing benefits, employee retirement plans, possible health insurance possibilities, social security statements, and housing choices for aging parents all play a part in the ultimate conclusions. Sometimes hard decisions and other times unexpected discoveries can lead to joy as the most desirable path is uncovered that will bring peace knowing that all alternatives have been considered and prioritized. JOY!

So, “Does this bring you joy?” The joy that comes from making well-informed decisions that benefit your young children or adult children in the here and now and in their future. The joy of achieving a financial position in which one can give to others, leaving a legacy of kindness and opportunities. The joy of family decisions that will bring harmony instead of strife. The joy of realizing people are more important than things, and that money is just a tool we use to accomplish greater purposes.

Maybe just decluttering your financial burdens by sitting down with a financial planner to determine what goals are important to you and then developing a comprehensive plan to get you there will bring you joy. We are here to help.