I have a confession to make…I love to clean the bathroom. This is part genetic predisposition (received from my mom I think, who I always remember keeping a clean house) and part learned (from my days as manager of our community’s swimming pool concession stand. ALWAYS had to be ready for the health department!) Give me a rag, a mop and some liquid Lysol and I’m a happy camper!
We remodeled ours several years ago and it’s become a sanctuary in the morning as I’m getting ready for work. Sometimes I pretend I’m on vacation and walking into a fancy bathroom at a five star hotel. (OK…it may not be that awesome but this is my pretend fantasy here.)
No matter how nice it may be I regularly need to clean the bathroom. Mold still grows in the shower. The sink and tubs get scummy. Personal hygiene items litter the countertops and pack the vanity drawers. And the toilet…well, we won’t even go there.
And I love to clean the bathroom because…
…for a few brief moments, that space of my life is perfectly in order. It’s fresh, purified and clean.
…I can stay organized. If I can’t find the fingernail clippers in the drawer in 5 seconds something is wrong.
…it’s a purging process. I won’t be taking Advil with a 2010 expiration date.
…it kills bacteria. Something that could be unhealthy for me is swept away.
…it makes those around me VERY happy!
Coincidentally, these reasons apply to my personal financial life as well. I’ve found at times that also gets a little messy and needs some attention. So I will be doing a little personal finance cleaning this spring break so I can make sure that space of my life is in order.
Here are some ways I (and you) can make that happen.
Making sure it’s fresh. This means making sure things are up to date. I will review our will, auto, health, and life insurance coverage, and our charitable giving plan. I will also review our investments for any rebalancing needs, especially since we’ve had a nice run in the market recently. The budget will also need a review as we are we are ¼ of the way into the year.
Time to make my life stay fresh: 3 hrs. max.
Staying organized. Just like the fingernail clippers, I’ve got to be able to find valuable information when I need it. I find it interesting that when I don’t see something for a while I tend to forget where I put it. So I will double check the fire safe box and the file cabinet to make sure important documents like wills, birth certificates, car titles, house deeds, etc. are still where I remember them being.
I will also go through our tax folder to make sure everything is ready for Mrs. Luke1428 as she prepares our taxes.
I will also review my list of online passwords and update those not deemed secure enough (especially those to financial related sites).
Time needed to put towards refreshing my memory and staying organized: 3 hrs. max.
The purging process. Oh…I love this one! For me this all starts in the filing cabinet. Time to make those folders thinner by getting rid of old bills, credit card statements, and pay stubs. Manuals to appliances or electronics I no longer own…gone.
(What starts in the file cabinet snowballs into a whole house purging as we prepare for a summer garage sale. For the love of Pete…get rid of the tubs of clothes in the basement. Please!)
But I do have to be careful not to go crazy here. I still want to keep certain items like my current investment statements, tax documents (for at least 3-7 years), receipts for big ticket items still under warranty, and records of loans I’ve paid off. I’ll just have to live with those taking space up in my files.
Time needed to purge the clutter from my life: 6-10 hrs. (depending on my aggressiveness)
Killing Bacteria. Time to kill some yucky stuff that may be doing me harm. I will do a credit check to see if there is any incorrect information on my report. (Many credit reports have those and it can keep one from getting a loan.) I will evaluate whether I can get rid of my current debt any faster. If I used them, I would also cut up any unneeded credit cards (I mean do we really need 7 different ones?) or I would shop for lower interest rates to transfer card balances. From my budget review, I’ll identify any spending categories that have gotten out of hand and develop a plan to get those back on track.
Time needed to make sure the germs are kept at bay: 3 hrs. max.
The end result: 15-19 hours to clean up our financial life this spring. Time definitely well spent! And in the long run will make Mrs. Luke1428 and I very happy.
Questions: Do you think it’s weird I love to clean the bathroom? What’s our favorite thing to clean? Are you a purger or a hoarder? Is there anything else I need to focus on doing as part of my financial spring cleaning?
Prior Post: When Should I Consult a Tax Professional