Not Your Mother’s Spring Cleaning

Less window-washing. More soul-searching.

Spring can’t get here fast enough! And when you catch those first whiffs of blooming flowers or see buds appear on trees, it quickly puts winter in the rear view mirror.

That feeling of optimism, along with longer daylight hours, means it’s the perfect time to do some spring cleaning. But we’re not talking about cleaning in just the traditional sense; it’s also time to clear out the mental cobwebs and take a walk through your finances.

Before you click away from this article (which might sound boring), give yourself 7 minutes to read through these tips for quick, easy and comprehensive spring cleaning.

Heart and soul

Regardless of what stage of your career you’re in, this is a great time to ask yourself a few questions to make sure you’re on the right track to meet your personal and professional goals.

  • Am I enjoying my current job?
  • Is my employer’s culture a good fit for me?
  • Am I continuing to learn and stretch myself emotionally and mentally?
  • Am I on track to meet my short- and long-term goals?
  • Do I need a mentor? Or is my current mentor providing the value and support I need?
  • What value am I bringing to my colleagues and how can I kick it up a notch?
  • Am I on track toward achieving my personal goals (fitness, nutrition, reading, volunteerism, etc.)?
  • Do I need to reassess my goals and priorities?

As you think about each of these questions, please keep in mind that they’re focused on progress, not perfection. For example, you may not be enjoying every moment of your current position, but it might still be a wise place to continue growing your career or making valuable professional contacts.

In other words, assess your goals without making impulsive decisions – making minor tweaks is often the most effective way to keep moving forward without disrupting too many things at once.

Financial fitness

Your money issues change after you graduate from college. In addition to creating a budget, contributing to a retirement plan and saving for future goals, you may have some financial habits that need some spring cleaning. Zip through this list to see if there are areas where you can kick some excess spending to the curb.

  • Are currently paying for multiple streaming services that have overlapping content? (Spotify, Apple Music, Hulu, YouTube, Netflix, Disney+, etc.)
  • If you have a roommate or partner, do you have duplicate subscriptions or services that one of you could eliminate?
  • Are there any automatically-billed services you used as a student, but no longer need? (Bus card, parking pass, online courses like those for GMAT prep, insurance on your college apartment, The Chicago Manual of Style, etc.)
  • Are you still paying for a gym membership, but now have free or discounted access through work?
  • Now that you’ve built up your credit history a bit more, could you switch from a high-interest credit card to one with a lower interest rate and/or no annual fee?
  • Would you save money by consolidating all of your banking needs into one company instead of having your checking, savings, credit cards, auto loans and other financial tools in multiple places?

Filtering out some of your redundant expenses puts more cash in your pocket so you can pay down those student loans or set money aside for a dream vacation.

Your surroundings

Whether you’re living in a rental unit or have bought a home, this might be the first time you’re in charge of all of the household responsibilities. The following spring cleaning tips will help you keep your home safe, clean and organized – without being overwhelmed or feeling annoyed at how much time it takes.

Prepare and plan

  • The task will seem less daunting if you choose just one or two rooms to tackle each day instead of doing a marathon whole-house cleanse.
  • Make a list prioritizing which rooms you want to focus on and determine how much time you’ll spend on each of them.
  • Declutter by taking excess clothing, furniture and other home goods to a storage unit or donating them to a nonprofit.
  • Put your cleaning supplies and a in a bucket or tote. Include garbage bags, lint rollers, vinyl gloves and other needed items. Often used to optimize study time, the timer-driven Pomodoro Technique makes it easier to get started, stay focused and see results.

Get going 

  • Turn up the tunes and dance your way to a cleaner apartment, condo or house.
  • Start at the top and work down. Dust or vacuum the ceiling fan and light fixtures, then move on to walls, windows and blinds. Wipe down and/or vacuum furniture before mopping and vacuuming. If your carpet is nasty, rent a carpet cleaner from a home improvement store or hire a service to do it for you.
  • Go after those dust bunnies and dust mites. Wash (or dry clean) your comforters, blankets, throws and pillows. A trip to the laundromat may be needed to accommodate these items.
  • Save the hardest for last … or just get it over with first. A thorough job means taking the ceiling-to-floor approach (see above) and adding the following:
    • organizing and wiping down cabinets and drawers (inside and out)
    • tackling the refrigerator, microwave, cooktop and oven.
    • tossing expired food and organizing your cabinets so it’s easier to plan healthy meals
  • After a long winter, it’s great to breathe in some fresh air and pleasant smells. Wax melt warmers are a nice way to add some gentle scents to your home without the fire-hazard of candles or chemical smell of room sprays.

Celebrate

  • Take some pics of your newly-organized and cleaned spaces; the photos will be a good reminder of how great it feels to have everything under control.
  • Treat yourself to dinner out or order in a special meal – you deserve it!

Plan B

  • Or, if you prefer, you can get it all done with one quick phone call … to a reputable cleaning service!