Spring Cleaning: Personal & Financial
Growing up the two most detested words were when my mom would announce every April that it was time to begin our “Spring Cleaning”. It meant endless hours of moving furniture and tearing our bedrooms apart to clean under and behind our beds and dressers, wiping down baseboards and light fixtures among the other equally treacherous chores of cleaning out our drawers and closets one item at a time!
I’m sure I’m not alone saying how much I dread this annual chore, but what better time to do these things than when we are forced into having the time? There is nothing more satisfying than the accomplishment of completing a “cleaning” project. Not only is a Spring cleaning project for the home but can be both personal and financial as well.
Investment and bank accounts:
- Confirm beneficiaries on your bank accounts, investments, home and life insurance policies. (Don’t forget about those time shares and savings bonds)
- Adding beneficiaries to your bank account can easily be done directly at your bank. Banks call these beneficiary designations – Payable on Death or POD. It is simply a form you complete, sign and keep on file with your bank. (Of course you will need to wait until after the COVID-19 shelter at home order is lifted, and we are able to go into banks again)
- Investment account beneficiaries are accomplished directly through your advisors or can sometimes be easily done via online access. Don’t forget those smaller investment accounts, employer retirement plans or annuities.
- Every account no matter how small, should have a beneficiary designation to avoid your heirs having to go through probate.
- In Ohio, real estate property can have what is called a Transfer on Death or TOD. This can be accomplished by contacting your attorney to draft the document and then file it with the county you live in.
- Life insurance policy beneficiaries can most often be updated either via online access or by calling your provider and requesting a beneficiary form be emailed or mailed to you.
Create a budget
- The word “budget” often has a negative connotation, but everyone can use a budget no matter how much money you make.
- Start by tracking your spending for a few months and actually see where you are spending your money. You might be surprised!
- Mint and Personal Capital are easy to use websites/apps that link your accounts all in one place and track your spending into categories. When I saw what I was spending at Target and Starbucks on a monthly basis, I was quite shocked!!
Organize your files
- Both paper and electronic.
- Keep those end-of-year statements and delete or shred the monthly ones. For more information on how long to keep paper files, refer to this article from Consumer Reports.
- Clean up your computer files – delete unused or obsolete files, organize files into organized folders.
Marie Kondo popularized the benefits of simplifying and organizing your home with her best-selling book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying up:” Her method is called “KonMari”. She suggests tackling your clutter by asking each item: “Do you bring joy to my life?” If the answer isn’t “yes”, it’s time to get rid of it.
Before getting started, I suggest turning on the radio or setting your favorite Pandora radio station (my personal favorite – The Eagles station)…..now I’m really showing my age!
- Work from top to bottom de-cluttering and cleaning out your closets and drawers. Make donations of clothing you no longer wear or unused household items. As the old saying goes…..”One man’s trash is another man’s treasure!”
- Mulch and weed your yard. The fresh air, warmer weather, and chirping birds may even help you forget it’s good exercise (until you body aches the following day).
- Clean your kitchen cabinets and pantry – donate any food items you haven’t used and discard any expired items. That well intentioned can of refried beans I purchased a couple months ago for that Mexican dip recipe I never made is now in my “to be donated pile”.
- Clean out the garage – I know mine can use a good sweeping and hose down!
- Change your smoke detector batteries
- Clean your car – inside and out, I keep a container of Clorox wipes in my glove box at all times so that I can wipe down my steering wheel every few days. One article I read states that steering wheels are twice as dirty as elevator buttons and six times dirtier than smartphone screens!
And let’s not forget a little “Personal Spring Cleaning”
- Don’t be too critical of yourself!!!
- Start a daily exercise routine – this doesn’t have to mean “go big or go home”. It can mean doing some simple stretches each day, like toe touches for example, to keep your muscles limber.
- Start a new hobby or return to an old hobby you’ve neglected for a while. My husband and I recently started playing backgammon again after 20 years. We are just as competitive as ever!
- Read an inspiring book or watch a classic movie– My personal favorite…Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “The Sound of Music” available on Disney Plus.
- Stay in touch with family and friends. I recently downloaded the video app “Caribu” which allows me to read and play matching games with my grandsons via a video call.
- Reconnect with an old friend. Whether it be through technology like Facebook or even mailing an old fashioned card or letter.
If you need any help with your Financial Spring Cleaning, please contact us at PDS Planning to see if we should work together (we aren’t currently offering to do yard work or clean your garage). 🙂
These times are unprecedented, but trying to maintain some control over things as simple as cleaning out your filing cabinet or organizing your closet can go a long way to maintaining your mental and physical health.
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