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More Financial Spring Cleaning Activities

April 2024

Barbara O’Neill, Ph.D., CFP®, AFC®
Distinguished Professor and Extension Financial Management Specialist Emeritus
Rutgers Cooperative Extension

Several weeks ago was the official start of spring. As noted in a previous Small Steps to Health and Wealth™ message, spring cleaning is the practice of thoroughly cleaning a house in springtime. Think "deep cleaning" tasks like scrubbing cabinets, washing throw pillows and blankets, shampooing carpets, and storing winter items.

Financial spring cleaning is similar. It is a "deep cleaning" of your personal finances through activities that are performed once a year or several times in a decade. The earlier post listed ten ways to spring clean your finances: asset allocation inventory, automated payments inventory, charitable gifting budget, credit card inventory, debt repayment acceleration plan, decluttering, lifestyle checkup, post-tax season review, Rule of Three comparisons, and two-factor authentication added to online accounts with sensitive personal or financial data.

Below are ten additional ways to spring clean your finances:

Beneficiary Designations Review- Review documents with beneficiary designations (e.g., IRAs, 401(k) plans, life insurance policies, and annuities) to make sure that the people that are listed as beneficiaries are still those that you want to receive your assets. Prepare a consolidated list (PDF) of beneficiaries and personal representatives.

Credit Report and Score Check- Review a free credit report from each of the "Big Three" credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion). Credit reports can be generated online or requested via U.S. mail using links found at

Digital Assets Inventory- Download Rutgers Cooperative Extension's Digital Assets Inventory Worksheet (PDF) and add a description (e.g., Facebook account), user name, and password or PIN number for each digital asset.

Financial Goals List- Start or review progress on a list (PDF) of your financial goals. Each goal should include an approximate amount needed, a target deadline, and a monthly savings amount.

Home Improvement Inventory- Assemble or reconstruct records of home improvements with a description of each improvement and its cost. Why? Home values have risen rapidly in recent years and the capital gains exclusion ($250,000 for singles; $500,000 for married couples filing jointly) is not indexed for inflation.

Insurance Review- Schedule an annual review with your insurance agent to discuss policy updates, coverage options, and ways to lower premiums without sacrificing adequate coverage.

Negotiate Prices and Interest Rates- Call vendors and creditors and avoid yes/no questions. Key phrases to use are "What discounts are available?" "What flexibility is there on the price?" and "Tell me about loyalty rewards."

Net Worth Calculation- Add up the total value of everything that you own (assets) and subtract the value of everything you owe (debts). Assets - debts = net worth, which is a "snapshot" of your finances on a given day.

Personal Property Inventory- Search online for downloadable forms to list personal property. Having this information is invaluable in the event of a loss. Be sure to store a copy away from home or in a cloud server.

RMD Withdrawal Plan- Develop a plan for the use of annual required minimum distribution (RMD) withdrawals from retirement plans if you are age 73 or older. This money can be spent, gifted, or resaved in a taxable account.

Spring cleaning is as important for your finances as it is for the maintenance of your home. Make some time this spring for some financial spring cleaning activities.