I finally got a chance to sit down and read Margareta Magnusson’s book, “The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning.” It’s been a few years since the book peaked in popularity. However, I had set it aside at the time and then time passed as time does. When I finally read it, I saw that the tips hold up.
What Is Swedish Death Cleaning?
Swedish death cleaning, döstädning, is a relatively new phrase for an age-old act. The book’s subtitle is “How to Free Yourself and Your Family from a Lifetime of Clutter.” At at a basic level, it’s about decluttering your life to get back to the basics.
That said, like all decluttering philosophies, it is also so much more. It’s about the psychology of stuff, it applies to decluttering your mind and your finances as much as your possessions. Early in the book, the author says it’s when “you remove unnecessary things and make your home nice and orderly.”
The name comes from the fact that it’s something to do in your older years when you no longer need a lifetime’s worth of accumulated things. However, the author says it’s something you can do at any stage of life.
Swedish Death Cleaning Financial Tips
Magnusson’s book isn’t about money. She doesn’t talk specifically about applying decluttering techniques to finances, although much of her approach can be easily transferred to that area of life. Nevertheless, wise bits of financial wisdom crop up throughout the book.
Look at the Value of Things
When we live with things, we stop seeing them. Pause and take time to really look around at each and every object in your home. What is its value? If it no longer has a purpose in your home, does it have a monetary value that you can make use of? Can you rent it out or sell it?
Talk Openly About Death
The author notes how uncomfortable people are talking bout death and says, “death cleaning can be a way to start the conversation.” This also applies to finances as you, or your parents, age. It’s important to discuss the reality of finances that change in older age. It’s important to discuss estates. If you can’t talk about death, then you also avoid talking about these critical financial topics.
Organizing Simplifies Life
The author says that Swedish death cleaning is “a permanent form of organization that makes your everyday life run more smoothly.” I think there is no other part of life more important for this than finances. If we can organize and streamline our active and passive income, spending, investments, etc. then life is significantly easier.
Magnusson also writes, “Life will become more pleasant and comfortable if we get rid of some of the abundance.” Think about that. Focusing on material abundance can be a waste of both time and money. If abundance isn’t important and we only need a little, how does life change?
Start With Easy Categories
This is similar to the Marie Kondo method of cleaning, where you don’t get too sentimental or “hard to get rid of” items until you’ve practiced with easier ones. Apply this to budgeting and financial changes as well. For me, it was easy to get rid of a car. I chose that category to reduce spending rather than giving up travel to see family or scaling back my housing costs, both of which are harder for me.
Let The Past Go
Magnusson talks about how the Vikings would bury the dead with their possessions in part so that “the family members who remained would not become obsessed with spirits of the dead and constantly be reminded of them because their possessions were still scattered all over.”
A lot can be read into this as far as material possessions go. But as someone always interested in money psychology, I relate this to letting go of past financial messages. What served generations before you doesn’t have to be how you live with money today.
Has decluttering your stuff ever helped you financially?
- Frugal Art: 7 Affordable Ways to Decorate Your Home
- 10 Ways to Increase Joy Without Spending Money
- Should You Tip 1800GotJunk?
Kathryn Vercillo is a professional writer who loves to live a balanced life. She appreciates a good work-life balance. She enjoys balance in her relationships and has worked hard to learn how to balance her finances to allow for a balanced life overall. Although she’s only blonde some of the time, she’s always striving for total balance. She’s excited to share what she’s learned with you and to discover more together along the way.