By Paul Morrone CFP®, CPA/PFS, MSA
Many have joked with us over the past several weeks that their house has never been so clean. I believe it, as most have had little better to do than pick up around the house and start the many projects that have been deferred for weeks, months or even years. Once you’ve got the surfaces clean, the bathrooms sparkling and the garage swept out, I challenge you to put a different spin on your spring-cleaning projects and think about some things that likely have not even crossed your mind.
- Organize all those pictures – I know this is something I recently did as we’ve accumulated thousands of electronic photos over the past ten years and keeping them safe and organized is something that has always given me a bit of anxiety. As we all know, computers, cell phones and tablets only have a limited useful life and if it is to break or get lost, you risk losing precious memories forever. To combat this, I purchased a small external hard drive that connects to my computer and have used this to store photos. It’s no bigger than a deck of cards and can hold a lifetime’s worth of photos and videos. Jill and I both took all of our electronic photos, organized them by year, and saved them to the hard drive for future safe keeping. For those that have boxes of actual photographs, go through and organize them chronologically to the best of your ability – trust me, your children will appreciate it someday!
- Go through the safe – Time to dust off whatever you’ve had locked away for the past decade. I suspect most will find copies of their wills, some old photos, maybe some cash they didn’t realize they had, or even a family heirloom or two that they forgot about. And, seeing as you’ll (hopefully) have your will in your hand, take the time to read it and schedule a time to review it with your advisor or attorney. Chances are that if it is covered in dust, it’s time for an update.
- Do a wallet dump – Or better yet, for the ladies, a purse dump. Those Mary Poppin’s bags contain some skeletons I’m sure most would be ashamed of, complete with old makeup containers, expired coupons, dirty brushes and various children’s toys. With nowhere to go, spend some time throwing out old receipts, credit cards and 1990’s photos to help lighten the load when you do finally get to leave the house again. Take an inventory of those store cards and cancel the ones that you no longer use.
- Clean the grill – Nothing is worse than having a flare up burn that nice steak you are looking forward to, and a dirty grill is a surefire way to ruin a delicious cut of meat. The grill is one of those things that is out of sight and out of mind, that is, until you use it. This is a great Saturday morning project, hopefully outside in the back yard in the sunshine. Don’t drop the baton at the finish line, either, make sure to replace the grease trap as well!
- Tackle a home improvement project – And by that I mean attacking the ‘honey do’ list with some vigor. Yard work, painting, and minor renovations seem to be commonplace in conversations I’ve been having. With newfound time and a severely hampered social life, there’s no time like the present to put some good old-fashioned sweat-equity into your home.
- Wash the car –A favorite of mine, and I know for many of you as well. There’s something about the instant gratification of transforming something dirty and making it look shiny and new that puts a smile on my face. Take advantage of the mild spring weather we’ve been having to get the winter grime off your car. To complete the process, make sure to wash the floor mats and get the vacuum out so that the inside of the car looks as good as the outside. This is critically important for anyone who has a child or grandchild in their car, as I can assure you that you’ll find enough food to make your stomach turn.
- Clean like you’re preparing for a move – Purge is the word. If you are really ambitious, get a dumpster and do it right. This may mean getting deep into the basement, attic or closet to uncover those boxes that have been there since the 70’s. You’ll likely have a ton of laughs as you run down memory lane, maybe shed a tear or two, but the one thing I can guarantee is that you’ll find stuff you haven’t used in years or even decades. It’s also a great reason to reconnect with family members and pawn all those boxes of your children’s stuff that you’ve been storing onto them.