Spring Cleaning with a TwistMonday, May 17th, 2010 by Charles Mayfield, CFP®
For many of us, Spring cleaning is an annual ritual where we find the time to get everything spit-shined, polished and put into place. I personally love this time of year because I get to spend time getting dirty in my garden. It seems that Spring has been declared the national season to “get things done!” The taxes are in, school is winding down and the mall’s have yet to begin their “who can get Holiday decorations up first” skirmishes. Here are just a few of my thoughts on how to turn traditional Springtime activities into life & financial lessons:
Get out the Video Camera: If you have decided to dig into closets, cupboards & storage rooms to clean out from the winter, kill 2 birds with one stone. Take a video camera with you and record all of your household belongings. It will add an extra minute or two to your weekend project. However, that will document much of your belongings in the event that something bad happens to the house (robbery, fire, meteor, etc.). Store your videotape in a fire-proof safe or a safety deposit box.
Family Lessons: Chances are that some of the toys your children got last year have lost some of their luster. Schedule a weekend to search through all of the kids’ toys, clothes and other items around the house that the family really doesn’t use anymore. Gather these things up and research a local charity that needs, and accepts, these items. Load the kids, clothes, toys, 39 cookbooks and 172 bottles of hotel shampoo up and head down to the donation site. Not only is being thankful for all that you have a valuable lesson for all kids to learn, but it also teaches them how important it is to be involved in your community and help those less fortunate. Most of these organizations will also give you a donation form for tax purposes. Take another opportunity to discuss the benefits of charitable contributions with your kids and ways that they can help others throughout the year.
If you don’t have children, this is still a wonderful thing to do to de-clutter and donate your lightly used items to those who could really use them.
Get it in the ground: Find something fun to plant and put on your gardening gloves. Whether you’re in a 5th floor apartment or walking out the back door to a sprawling yard, this can be a terribly rewarding experience. Flowers can add color and serenity to any room or patio. Fresh herbs offer up some fresh zest to any meal. It is well documented how much our money, career and the market can stress us out. I can’t tell you how rewarding it is for Julie and I to head to the garden in June/July to pick fresh tomatoes and peppers. Imagine the fun you could have with your children and the life lessons being taught. A well placed herb or flower can wash away all sorts of anxiety and frustration at the end of a long day. These are very inexpensive ways to brighten up your life and reconnect with some of its simplest pleasures. Oh…and yes…also save on your grocery bill!