As daunting as spring cleaning may feel, most of us feel better once we’ve done it. Which makes sense: a growing body of research suggests that clutter can have a negative effect on our mental well-being, including increasing levels of cortisol, the stress hormone.
Better still? Spring cleaning projects that can help you feel better and earn or save you money. Here are some organizational tasks that can do both.
1. Cancel unused subscriptions
According to recent data from the subscription-tracking service Adjust, Americans spend an average of $20.78 per month on app subscriptions, which doesn’t sound like much, unless you’re shelling out an Andrew Jackson each month for something you don’t use.
And digital clutter can add up. After a year of quarantine, many of us may have subscribed to even more digital streaming services and other monthly subscriptions. It’s worth taking some time this spring to figure out which ones deserve to stay, and which ones can go.
2. Check credit reports for errors
Your credit report is important: it can determine whether you qualify for a new apartment or home loan, and some employers might even give it a look before hiring you. If someone steals your identity, it can cost you a pretty penny in both fraudulent purchases and in the lost opportunities a marred report might yield.
That’s why it’s a good idea to take a look at your credit report at least once a year to check for errors. (You can do this for free through annualcreditreport.com, which is the only free credit report website authorized by Federal law.)
The good news: If you do find an error, you can dispute it and hopefully mitigate any long-term damage. Talk about peace of mind.
3. Sell gently used items
Remember that clutter stress we were talking about? If it has you raring to clean out your cabinets and closet, consider setting certain gently used items aside to sell. Facebook Marketplace is always an option — but these days there are plenty of apps to help you sell your stuff both locally and by mail, such as OfferUp and Poshmark. Nextdoor also has a “For Sale & Free” feature to help you turn your trash into a neighbor’s treasure.
4. Deep-clean your appliances
While you’re getting your elbow grease on, consider taking some time to deep-clean your appliances: taking out and cleaning your dishwasher’s food trap, vacuuming your refrigerator’s filters and coils, and de-greasing your oven.
Although these jobs are admittedly not the most glamorous, maintaining your appliances may help them stay in good shape for longer, which is a lot better than facing the sticker shock of having to replace them down the line.
5. Give your bedding a breather
When’s the last time you put your (washable) pillows through the gentle cycle or rotated your mattress? We’re willing to bet it’s been a while — so go ahead and give your bed some springtime love. It’ll lead to a better night’s sleep, help keep your sleep zone in good shape for longer and potentially extend the life of your mattress.
6. Clean others’ houses
Can’t get enough of that feel-good spring cleaning feeling? Consider hiring out your expertise to others. You might advertise your services on a listing board like Craigslist or respond to a job listing for a housekeeper (or one-time cleaning service). Either way, it’s a great way to stack some extra cash while also enjoying that fresh-and-clean feeling.
7. Create a debt-repayment plan
Physical spring cleaning is one thing, but fiscal spring cleaning can bring long-lasting stress relief, too: although 2020’s plague sent us all for a bit of a loop, in 2019, money was the number-one cause of stress — and it’s still a significant source of stress in a COVID-riddled world.
Which is exactly why taking a look at your budget and paying particular attention to any outstanding debts you may have is such a good idea this spring. Even large debts can be tackled little by little. But it all starts with making a plan.
8. Max out your retirement contributions
While you’re getting the lay of your financial landscape, it’s also a good idea to take a second look at your retirement savings, too. Can you afford to squirrel a little bit more of each paycheck away toward a secure future? If you’re too late to max out prior-year retirement contributions (which are still due on April 15, despite the tax filing deadline extension), you can still make a plan to set more aside this year. This is a great opportunity to literally buy yourself some peace of mind down the line.
9. Review beneficiaries
One more thing, while you’re sifting through your financials: take a moment this spring to review and update the beneficiaries listed on your various insurance policies and savings accounts. To be clear, this one doesn’t earn or save you money, but it could save your loved ones a headache in the future, so it’s still good practice.