Spring cleaning is a ritual with a long history - and for good reason. During those cold winter months, it's easy for the dust and clutter to overwhelm our homes - and our sanity. When we feel like we just need to get organized, spring cleaning gives us a much-needed fresh start to the next year.
TUTORIAL: How To Buy Your First Home This year, combine your spring cleaning strategies with your big-picture financial objectives. Here we look at six ways that spring cleaning can help you save.
1. Reduce Taxes
Next time you donate your old stuff to a charity, plan ahead; you may be able to write off your charitable donation on your 2012 taxes. Before going to the donation center, keep aninventory of how much your items are worth. The donation center employee may ask you the value of your donation or ask you to complete your own receipt. To save time, make sure that you have this information handy. If you don't receive a receipt, ask for one.
2. Keep an Inventory
When we accumulate stuff, we forget what we have. As a result, we keep accumulating more stuf. This year, make a conscious effort to track and document what you have and what you anticipate needing. If need be, jot notes or make a spreadsheet send an email copy to yourself too. This will help you get organized and save you buying uneccessary items.
3. Feel Better
As tough as it is to admit, junk complicates our lives. Clutter is one thing that you can control to help improve your mindset so that you can focus on more important aspects of your life. Plus, if you are able to find things (like your tax receipts, for instance), it'll take a lot of the stress out of the rest of your year, leaving you with more time and head space to work on other projects - like researching a new stock, finding a low-fee bank or building an emergency fund.
4. Fix It Up
Cleaning also gives you the chance to think about ways to improve your living space. Identify problems before they become problems, and think about how your projects can make your life more efficient. After cleaning and planning, put an action plan in place to make improvements to your home, whether to increase its value or to make it more efficient for you.
5. Sell It
There are so many second-hand marketplaces available to help you sell or trade items you no longer use. While you probably won't make any money from most of your old clothes and electronics, if you have items of value that are just collecting dust, look into turning them into profit. Good quality furniture and textbooks are two types of items that tend to have strong returns. Craigslist, eBay, Half.com, and Amazon are great places to start selling.
6. Family Team
Spring cleaning is no substitute for a vacation, day trip, or day off, but it can be an activity that helps to promote a healthy family bond. If you have children, hard work can teach them valuable lessons and help promote a sense of ownership in their home. Use spring cleaning as a way to enjoy the time that you spend with your family, and learn valuable lessons along the way.
The Bottom Line
Spring cleaning can be a great way to start sprucing up your finances for the rest of the year. By getting organized, donating or selling old items and making an effort to start fresh, you can wrap your spring cleaning and your financial planning into a nice, tidy package with the potential to yield financial returns throughout the year.