What is Spring Cleaning?
Every year, humans around the world embrace a certain time of year to purge their homes of unnecessary items and free themselves from the bondage of clutter – a tradition anchored in ancient origins. Here in the US, we call it “Spring Cleaning.”
The concept of this resonates down to my very soul; personally, I’d like to celebrate this every day of the year! However, my wife disagrees… many times, I’ve thrown something away that she wasn’t ready to part with, and it’s become a point of contention.
Her: “I bet you threw it away.”
She’s not the only one who is hesitant to part with old items, and indeed, there are some perceived risks to cleaning things up!
What might stop you from cleaning this Spring
The first challenge is breaking the emotional attachment to items. This occurs in varying degrees for different people. There’s also a perceived loss of convenience. We’ve all heard (or said internally) something to the effect of “What happens if I throw it away and need it next week?”
To that, I might say “Did you need it the previous 52 weeks before that?”
Finally, there’s the opportunity cost of investing your time into the cleaning process. It’s easy to remind yourself of how busy you are and simply never get around to it or prioritize something else.
The rewards of Spring Cleaning
However, the rewards of following through with your cleaning plan are many.
- Comfort and Efficiency: While our busy lives will never stop, investing some time up front in cleaning up your home and other elements of your life each year can SAVE you and your family time in the long run.
- Information Security: Have you thought about all those old financial documents piling up on your desk or the “important stuff” drawer? What about old receipts?
- Creating Space: Imagine all the space you’ll have in your home!
- Recognizing things as just things: It’s normal to get attached to your stuff, but regularly breaking this bond serves a reminder that objects are just that – objects – and secondary to the loved ones in your life. This, of course, includes family, friends, your kids, and your pets too!
- Making things easier when you’re gone: It’s nothing we want to think about, but do you truly want to pass on decades of clutter to your loved ones when you pass? The years fly by so quickly; starting early on managing clutter can pay off over time.
Financial tips for your Spring Cleaning checklist
Of course, as a financial advisor, I can’t help but think of some unique angles to the cleaning process. These are some of the things I’ve added to my own Spring cleaning list:
- Set up an efficient garage sale: If you’re thinking of recovering some value from your stuff – remember that your trash may be someone else’s affordable treasure – consider saving time by not pricing each item individually. Think in your mind what you’d like to ask for each item and be ready to make deals! My wife and I have done this before and we have not only saved time but had a lot of fun. You might even be able to get rid of groups of items at once more easily!
- Donate to charity: If you’re local to Lakeland, you’ll want to check out Top Buttons. Others across the US may be familiar with Salvation Army or Goodwill. These locations will sell your items to raise money for good causes. This offers several rewards all at once; it helps those in need, allows you to quickly rid yourself of clutter, and may even be tax deductible. Bonus tip: Make sure you take pictures of the donated item, get a receipt, and talk to your tax preparer about your donations.
- Get rid of old financial documents: Do you really need the warranty paperwork on that 15-year-old vacuum cleaner? Or the bundle of daily receipts from 1996? Cleared check copies? The list goes on… consider the potential information security problems those old documents might represent in addition to the clutter.
- Protect crucial financial documents securely: Of course, you’ll need to save crucial documents, which may include current receipts or warranty paperwork, the last 5-7 years of tax returns, social security cards, birth certificates, select financial paperwork and statements such as original account opening documents, and so on. I recommend that you have a secure, central place for these documents such as a fire-proof, lockable safe. You also may want to work with a financial advisor local to you to help keep an ongoing record of your active accounts.
- Save and secure other documents digitally: There may very well be other documents that you’d like to save, but that aren’t necessary to store in your safe. For this, you can use a digital scanner and, optionally, a cloud file service such as Dropbox, Google Drive, or Microsoft OneDrive. This can help to keep your other documents backed up as well.
I wish you a happy and productive Spring Cleaning!