9 Steps to Spring Clean Your House, Finances and Paperwork

Photo (cc) by eyeliam

Artist and writer William Morris once said:

Have nothing in your home that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.

I agree. I get a strange satisfaction out of doing dishes, folding laundry, and donating an entire closet full of junk to Goodwill (I also enjoy the tax deduction).

Spring cleaning is an annual event in my house. Once a year I scrub from top to bottom, clean out drawers and closets, and reorganize the pantry. But I don’t stop there. I look at spring cleaning as a chance to organize everything – including my paperwork, online life, and finances.

If you get a thrill out of cleaning – or could just use some organization in your life – check out this roundup of tips and you’ll be ready for spring.

Start the process with this video from Money Talks founder Stacy Johnson, then pick up the story on the other side…

Clean your house…

1. Save money on your cleaning products

If green or organic cleaners are your thing, check out 8 Places to Save on Green Household Products. After nearly doubling my cleanser budget going green, I found eight sites that run great deals on organic products: Amazon, Drugstore.com, and Alice are three of my favorites.

If you’d rather go the traditional route, read 8 Ways to Save on Household Cleaning. Tips include buying generic, which could save you up to 38 percent, using coupons, and buying refills.

Of course, you could skip the store altogether and use what you already have around the house. Check out 19 Uses for Baking Soda, Dryer Sheets, and Beer for a list of ideas like using white vinegar to clean your windows or polishing metal with beer.

2. Clean the easy way

In 6 Tips and Products for Cleaning Tough Stains, we have ideas, courtesy of Consumer Reports. For example, easily clean your microwave with lemon juice. Pour ¼ cup of lemon juice in a bowl, microwave on high for one minute. Remove the bowl and wipe the oven cavity, using the condensation that formed to clean it. Clever!

3. Sell what you don’t use

No spring cleaning would be complete without clearing clutter.

Go through your closets and pile up anything you haven’t worn in six months – then sell it for some quick cash. In 5 Places to Turn Spring Cleaning Clutter Into Cash we list five sites to try, including thredUP.com for kids’ clothes or NeverLikedItAnyway.com for everything else.

Clean your finances…

A lot can happen in a year: Papers pile up, important documents go missing, your budget gets outdated. So while you’re spring cleaning, why not organize your finances? In Clean Up Your Finances in 7 Easy Steps we’ve got a whole bunch of ways to get organized. Examples:

1. Fight identity theft with a shredder

Before you toss unwanted documents, look for information an identity thief could use like your Social Security number, bank account number, or credit card information. If you find sensitive info, shred it.

2. Toss out what you won’t use

Go ahead and toss expired warranties, out-of-date insurance policies, old receipts, or anything else you won’t use again. For stuff you want to keep, file the temporarily needed stuff toward the front of your filing cabinet so you can grab it and toss it as soon as it becomes outdated.

3. Don’t keep it if it’s already online

If someone else is already keeping a digital copy, you don’t need it. For example, online banking has made saving paper bank statements unnecessary. My bank stores all of my old statements online and I can access them there.

4. Go paperless

Maybe this is the spring you go digital. We’ve got a list of what you’ll need in 5 Tips for Paperless Finances. For example, after investing in a scanner, start storing important documents on your hard drive and backing them up online. There are lots of online storage sites like Google Drive and Evernote (which has a matching app). With online storage and a scanner, you won’t need to sort your filing cabinet again next year. Better yet, it’s much easier to search through digital files than paper ones.

5. Update your budget

I also use spring cleaning as a time to give my budget a quick tune-up. Since I already have one in place, it only takes a few minutes to go through it and make sure everything is still accurate. For example, last year I realized I had over-budgeted for electricity and under-budgeted for water and sewage fees.

Don’t have a budget? Now is a great time to make one. Check out Resolutions 2013: How to Make a Budget You Can Stick With for tips, but the best thing you can do is start budgeting digitally and automatically.

Example: Money Talks has a partnership with PowerWallet – a free site where you simply input your bank account, bills, and goals, and it does the rest: keeps track of everything you make and spend, reminds you when your bills are due, and helps you find extra money to accomplish your goals.

Clean up your online presence…

Whether you know it or not, odds are you’ve built a bit of an online persona. That could be good news or bad news depending what it looks like.

For example, if you’re tweeting about an upcoming book you wrote, having those tweets show up in search results is a good thing. But if your former college roommate keeps tagging you in embarrassing photos and you’ve got a job interview coming up, that’s a bad thing.

Better to play it on the safe side and remove anything you don’t want someone else to see. We’ve got the steps you’ll need to do just that in 4 Steps to Clean Up Your Online Presence.

Did I leave anything out? Tell us what you’ll be doing to spring clean this year below or on our Facebook page!

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Read Next
7 Reasons You Should Not Claim Social Security Early
7 Reasons You Should Not Claim Social Security Early

The sooner you claim your Social Security retirement benefits, the more you — and perhaps also your spouse — stand to lose. Here are the stakes.

12 Ways Retirees Can Earn Passive Income
12 Ways Retirees Can Earn Passive Income

These simple ways of earning income without a lot of active, ongoing effort can stretch your retirement dollars.

8 Products That Solve Everyday Annoyances
8 Products That Solve Everyday Annoyances

These items put an end to the daily irritations that bug you the most.

10 Expenses You Should Not Put on a Credit Card
10 Expenses You Should Not Put on a Credit Card

Sometimes it’s simply safer to keep the plastic tucked away.

13 Affordable Products for a Better Night’s Rest
13 Affordable Products for a Better Night’s Rest

These Amazon products can help you finally catch 40 winks — or more.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again
9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again

The warehouse store offers an enormous selection, but these products aren’t coming back.

11 Things Retirees Should Always Buy at Costco
11 Things Retirees Should Always Buy at Costco

This leader in bulk shopping is a great place to find discounts in the fixed-income years.

Over 50? The CDC Says You Need These 4 Vaccines
Over 50? The CDC Says You Need These 4 Vaccines

Fall is the time to schedule vaccines that can keep you healthy — and even save your life.

11 Senior Discounts for Anyone Age 55 or Older
11 Senior Discounts for Anyone Age 55 or Older

There is no need to wait until you’re 65 to take advantage of so-called “senior” discounts.

11 Household Items That Go Bad — or Become Dangerous
11 Household Items That Go Bad — or Become Dangerous

When you get the impulse to stockpile these everyday items, pay close attention to their expiration dates.

8 Things You Can Get for Free at Pharmacies
8 Things You Can Get for Free at Pharmacies

In this age of higher-priced drugs and complex health care systems, a trip to the pharmacy can spark worry. Freebies sure do help.

These Are the 4 Best Medicare Advantage Plans for 2020
These Are the 4 Best Medicare Advantage Plans for 2020

Medicare Advantage customers themselves rate these plans highest.

7 Ways to Boost Your Credit Score Fast
7 Ways to Boost Your Credit Score Fast

Your financial security might soon depend upon the strength of your credit score.

The 10 Most Commonly Stolen Vehicles in America
The 10 Most Commonly Stolen Vehicles in America

A new model parks atop the list of vehicles that thieves love to pilfer.

19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree
19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree

These jobs pay more than the typical job in the U.S. — and no bachelor’s degree is required.

5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free
5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free

Hesitant to drop $119 a year on an Amazon Prime membership? Here’s how to get it for free.

10 Reasons Why You Should Actually Retire at 62
10 Reasons Why You Should Actually Retire at 62

If you can, here are several good reasons to retire earlier than we’re told to.

3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free
3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free

With a little ingenuity, you can cut Office costs to zero.

26 States That Do Not Tax Social Security Income
26 States That Do Not Tax Social Security Income

These states won’t tax any of your Social Security income — and in some cases, other types of retirement income.

14 Things That Are ‘Free’ With Medicare
14 Things That Are ‘Free’ With Medicare

These services could save you money and help prevent costly health problems.

5 Keys to Making Your Car Last for 200,000 Miles
5 Keys to Making Your Car Last for 200,000 Miles

Pushing your car to 200,000 miles — and beyond — can save you piles of cash. Here’s how to get there.

5 Things That Make Life More Meaningful for Retirees
5 Things That Make Life More Meaningful for Retirees

Retirees agree: These are the things that give them purpose and fulfillment in their golden years.

10 Things You Should Never Do With Bleach
10 Things You Should Never Do With Bleach

Does the pandemic have you reaching for bleach more than ever before? Learn the ins and outs of using this powerful disinfectant.

15 Amazon Purchases That We Are Loving Right Now
15 Amazon Purchases That We Are Loving Right Now

These practical products make everyday life a little easier.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.