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Kiplinger Bookshelf

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

  • Author: Marie Kondo
  • Publisher: Potter/TenSpeed/Harmony, 224 pages

One of the best personal finance books out there isn't a personal finance book. Kondo espouses a unique form of minimalism that boils down to owning only the things that "spark joy." For starters, readers are encouraged to take every piece of clothing they own, pile it on the floor and then go through that pile piece by piece, asking yourself as you touch each item, does this make me happy? If not, find a new home for it. But the real eye-opener when you perform this simple task is that pile of clothes isn't just a pile of clothes: It's a pile of wasted money -- money that could have gone into your retirement savings or toward a dream vacation. You find yourself looking at that mountain of jeans and sweaters and T-shirts and thinking, if only I hadn't bought all that, I would be that much closer to retirement.

Kondo also shares how to organize and care for what you've bought with your hard-earned money. And who doesn't think more clearly, and possibly make better decisions, in a nice, clean, organized space? After you read the book and follow the plan, carry that thinking with you, and before you open your wallet, ask yourself, will this product bring me joy? Or maybe better yet: Will this bring me more joy than a happy retirement?

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