Spring Cleaning Your Finances

In many households, the arrival of spring brings a sudden urge to clean out the fridge, dust those pesky cobwebs from the corners, and overhaul the hall closet. The tradition of Spring Cleaning brings a fresh start before the busy summer season and a welcome change from the cold days of winter.

As you prepare your home for a thorough scrubbing, don’t forget to add your finances to your checklist. I can hear you groaning. What do finances have to do with cleaning? And why add yet another task to the list? Well, since you likely recently filed your tax return, or plan to in the very near future (raising hand), now is the perfect time to reorganize and file those important papers.

Financial matters are also a major source of paper clutter. You know that pile on your desk you’ve been meaning to tackle? Now is the time! So let’s get started. Today we are addressing the physical aspects of your finances. Later this month, we’ll cover the intangibles.

Paper

The good news about spring cleaning your finances is that it can be done in just one afternoon with just 2 basic tools: a filing system and a quality paper shredder. Gather all those financial documents from around the house, including stray files and forgotten drawers.

Start by making 2 piles: KEEP and SHRED, of course!

  • First take those statements and bills out of their envelopes and unfold them for easy access.
  • Now start sorting. The general rule of thumb most experts recommend is 6 years for tax documents and 1 year for everything else. Old statements, bills and most receipts can go in the shred pile.
  • Keep W-2′s and other tax records for filing, labeled by year. Do keep receipts for major purchases.
  • Immediately toss credit card solicitations and any marketing materials that tend to pile up.

If you are just starting a filing system, keep a separate folder for each utility, bank, insurance, pay stubs and so forth. Be sure to clearly label each folder. Place the oldest items in first so that the newest stays on top. As we go more and more paperless with online banking and bill pay, this step may not seem crucial until you need these documents for a home loan. So keep on filing just in case.

Frugal Tip: If you come across empty envelopes as you declutter, consider saving them for other uses such as coupons or school notes.

Coins

Now once you gotten control of the paper clutter, don’t overlook that other money mess the home: loose change. I find it ALL over my house. Even with multiple bowls and jars just for this purpose, somehow it never quite makes it to the right spot.

Gather up loose bills and change and make a game plan. Are you saving it for a rainy day? Creating Christmas Jars? Or perhaps you are ready for a trip to Coinstar to exchange it for cash. It is not doing you any good just piling up, so decide how to handle it.

How do YOU spring clean your finances each year?

This post is part of the “Put Your House in Order” blogging series. Together we are exploring the topics of food, children, decorating, faith and finances as they relate to our homes. Get caught up with Modeling Stewardship.

For more inspiration, visit my fellow bloggers:

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About Alyssa Francis

A thirty-something wife and mother of four! Two daughters by birth, one son by marriage, and a sweet baby boy born in April of 2009. Oldest sister of four girls raised by a single mom. California native. Grew up in Hawaii. Somehow ended up in North Texas. Once a single mom. Former agnostic. A survivor of abuse and addiction. Forgiven by a great big God. Married to my best friend.

Comments

  1. For us tax season is a fabulous way to Spring clean our finances. We go through and get rid of that preposterous paper clutter and clean out for another year. :) Love this post!
    Myra @ My Blessed Life´s last blog post ..I NEED Your Help! My Birthday Wish

  2. I must admit, we will be moving in about 2 yrs, and while I have income tax records that are older than 7 yrs, I’m having a hard time giving myself permission to shred and recycle them…
    Emily´s last blog post ..Is An Annuity A Good Retirement Investment

  3. Alyssa Francis says:

    @Emily, Go for it, Emily! The IRS only flags questionable returns for 3 years, so not to worry. You are in the safe zone! :)

  4. Toni Stevenson says:

    Paper clutter is one of those things, I have to force myself to deal with regularly. So, now, I always shred twice a week and just get it over with. Thanks for your pointers.
    Toni Stevenson´s last blog post ..Check out- http-aolit-gH7JTu – Home Office Organization- 7 Tips From Experts via @Shelterpop

  5. Thank you so much! Organization does not come naturally to me, my creativity seems to destroy whatever sense of structure I can muster, so it’s a constant battle for me to keep everything balanced. I appreciate the help! I found the link on Myra’s latest blog post – love your site! I’m definitely going to be back often. :) God bless you, sister!

  6. I don’t specifically Spring clean my finances, but I do just try to get rid of paper and clutter on a regular basis. Maybe I should make a Spring cleaning date… since I recently moved my files and paper have been severely – and wonderfully! – minimized. Now the task is just keeping it up. Great post!
    Petula´s last blog post ..They sure do grow up fast

  7. Alyssa Francis says:

    @Amber Grace, Thanks for you sweet comment, Amber. Organization does not come naturally to me either, so this post is very much for myself, too. ;)

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  4. [...] official. Spring is here! Have you started your spring cleaning? We last discussed how to beat financial clutter and get organized.  Now that your paperwork is in order, it’s time to give the rest of your [...]

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