It may seem like the answer to de-cluttering your home after the spring thaw lies in the aisles for storage containers and cleaning supplies that can often cost a small fortune. But getting your house clean and organized can be financially beneficial if you’re willing to wield your creativity and recycling bin at the same time.
A good first step to getting your home in order is to reduce the amount of paper documents you have, which also presents a chance to organize your financial documents. Start by tossing obsolete paper like ATM slips you no longer need, old product warranties and outdated insurance policies. Then digitize your important receipts and records by scanning them into an electronic document and shredding the original copy. If you don’t have a specific budget, use this opportunity to make one using old receipts and bill statements as a guideline to calculating your regular income and expenses.
After minimizing the paper backlog, set up online bill payment and electronic statement delivery with your bank as a way to keep your desk and your finances organized. E-statements are convenient, secure and allow you to track your payment history without digging through stacks of old records. Online bill payment, which most banks offer for free, can be set up to make single or recurring payments as well as regular transfers to your savings account, which is an easy way to make saving a priority. Both will save you time spent paying bills and trips to buy yet more storage bins to hold a longer and longer paper trail.
Smart cleaning and organizing of your home’s surfaces and appliances can also be a money saver when the electricity bill comes each month. When you’re vacuuming, don’t forget the coils on the back of your refrigerator: The dirt that builds on them makes the machine spend extra energy; a quick pass over them may save you money on your electric bill each year. If you still have the same air conditioner filter as last year, replacing it can be a quick project and could save additional cash come summer. And while your mind is on appliances, consider getting rid of extra ones – is having a mini fridge in your garage worth the added cost to your electric bill?
Pair up projects
Cleaning can be invigorating and inspire you to try out a new look for your home. Put that impulse to use and take advantage of newly cleaned spaces to start painting or remodeling projects. While you have the ladder out, replace old bulbs with new, energy-efficient ones that will save you money regardless of the season.
If your house still seems cluttered with unneeded stuff, identify the things you can live without and team with your neighbors to host a garage sale. Gently-used clothing and other items can be sold to consignment stores or donated to a number of charities (which might be written off on your taxes1).
Whatever your annual spring cleaning tradition may be, make the most of it this year by organizing your finances and using these budget-friendly tips. While finances are fresh on your mind, consider working with a financial professional who can help create and maintain a budget, and work with you to plan for your short- and long-term financial goals.
Jeff Mushen lives in the greater Seattle area and works with his clients in downtown Edmonds. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ practitioner and is licensed/registered to do business with U.S. residents in the states of Alaska, Illinois, Tennessee, and Washington.
Brokerage, investment and financial advisory services are made available through Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc. Member FINRA and SIPC. Some products and services may not be available in all jurisdictions or to all clients.
1Ameriprise Financial does not provide tax or legal advice. Consult your tax advisor or attorney.
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