Who doesn’t love the onset of spring? There is something truly joyful about the dark ground giving way to green sprouts and brightly colored buds. It is almost impossible not to feel the need to start fresh and anew with unfolding of this bright and shining season. So, we all begin the Spring Cleanse.
Whether that cleanse is a thorough top to bottom scrubbing of your home, a reassessment of your health and wellness or the re-calibration of your finances, there can be deep satisfaction and deep value in going through this process on an annual basis.
Here are a few tips to help you get started on your spring cleaning activities.
Tidying your Finances
The IRS helps to make spring an ideal time for cleaning up your finances with federal taxes due on April 15. When you are pulling your annual tax records together, it is a good idea to reassess your budget and your savings plan for the year ahead. Use tools like our Retirement Savings Calculator to determine if you are saving enough for the future, and look for opportunities to save a little bit more.
Take a look at your retirement savings plans like your 401(k), 403(b) or 457(b) and determine if you are taking full advantage of your benefits—could you save more on a tax-deferred basis and save money on your future tax payments? Does your employer offer matching contributions? If you do not know, be sure to ask.
Explore your tax-advantaged savings options as well, could you reduce your tax bill by contributing to an IRA account?
Be sure to review your life insurance needs as part of your strategy. Have there been any major changes in your life? Major life events like buying a house, getting married or divorced, or having children will also affect your saving and spending habits. Take these into consideration and plan accordingly.
An annual financial review is time well spent toward providing comfort that you are working toward your financial goals.
Health and Wellness
Spring is the perfect time to clean up your eating habits and boost your healthy behavior. My best friend often encourages her children to “eat a rainbow!” A simple commitment to adding a colorful assortment of fruits and vegetables to your meals can do wonders for your mood, your energy and your overall well-being. Increase your use of fresh herbs, and you will find that you are able to cut back on your use of salt because herbs can naturally enhance savory flavors in food. Add antioxidant rich blueberries, strawberries, raspberries and/or blackberries to your breakfast cereal, smoothie or yogurt or to your lunchtime salad for some heart healthy and mood boosting benefits. Select some superfood greens like kale, spinach or arugula to add a vitamin packed punch to your salads, side dishes or even soups. You’ll get all of the nutrient richness, without even noticing you’re making a healthy change. The abundant availability of produce in the spring makes the healthy eating transition an easy one.
Household Spring Cleaning
If you’re anything like me, daily household cleaning is a quick tidying of items that are out of place and some regular vacuuming and wiping down of counter tops and bathrooms. Spring cleaning is the opportunity to really get the deep clean. The first step of the deep clean is to declutter. Discarding the junk that can accumulate in kitchen drawers and countertops is great way to start this process. You can easily eliminate paper clutter by scanning and saving necessary documents into organized files on your computer. Next, tackle the dust. Start at the top of a room (crown moldings, ceiling fan blades, tops of bookshelves and other furniture) and work your way down. I use the extensions on my vacuum cleaner to reach these spots, and since you are working downwards you can vacuum up any dust that lands on the floor. Finally, I tackle the scrubbing. I hate, loathe, detest scrubbing tile. But, the deep Spring Clean is an opportunity to scrub out grout lines and really tackle the dirty work. The end result is a feeling of satisfaction and the recognition that a wipe down will suffice until the next deep clean.
When you take action to clean up your act, whether that act relates to home, health, money or something else entirely, it gives you a sense of accomplishment and a sense of starting fresh from a clean slate. I think that is why spring is such a time of optimism and activity. It is nature’s reminder that no matter how bleak a moment can be, there is always the hope and promise of something bright and new yet to come.