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14 Ways to Spring Clean Your Life (and Your Mood)

Mar 19, 2020 3 min read Zina Kumok

Key Takeaways

  • Find ways to save by scouring credit cards, investments and subscriptions.
  • Don’t shut out career-boosting opportunities even while you’re shut in.
  • Moderate social media while remaining socially distant.

 

It’s hard to find silver linings in today’s cloudy (at best) conditions. Yet even if you’re struggling to home-school the kids, connect with coworkers or, worse, file for unemployment, there’s a bright side to look on: The growing move to “shelter in place” should give you plenty of time to clean up, clean out and organize your home. But it’s also an opportunity to channel your inner Marie Kondo on your financial, career and digital lives.

 

 

Here’s how you can take advantage of the new season to get your life in order.

 

Clean up your finances

 
  • Trim subscription services.

    Budget vampires such as gym memberships, subscription boxes and phone plan extras can too easily siphon away money. Look through your bills to see what you can do without.
     
  • Refinance high-rate debt.

    As stock prices have plunged, so have interest rates. Make a list of the debt you have and see if you can refinance it to get a lower rate. Then use what you save to pay down your debt faster.
     
  • Stash savings in a higher-yielding account.

    Even if you’re planning to tap your emergency fund, sites like Bankrate can help you find accounts that earn more than the bare minimum in interest.
     
  • Rate your credit score:

    Check yours for free at credit websites (many banks now let you peek at your number as well). Don’t like what you see? Review your credit reports from the big three credit bureaus (TransUnion, Equifax and Experian). Things like late bill payments, debts in collection and too much use of credit can highlight room for improvement.
     
  • Examine your plastic.

    If you use credit cards regularly, check to see if you’re paying an annual fee, and decide if it’s worth it. (Canceling cards could lower your credit score, so ask the issuer if you can switch to a no-fee alternative.) Also, are you keeping a balance that’s costing you extra in interest every month? Or are you using the cards for useful travel rewards?
     
  • Examine your retirement savings rate.

    If you have the option to contribute to your workplace plan, try to sock away 10% to 15% of your income toward retirement. When the market rebounds (and it will), your future will thank you.
     
  • Review your portfolio — but don’t panic.

    Make sure you’re diversified across different types of investments, but don’t sell all your stocks. Global markets have suffered historic downturns before, and the eventual upturn will take time. But if you’re not invested when it does, you’ll miss opportunities that could be almost impossible to make up. Consider speaking with a financial advisor about what you might do today to weather the current storm.
     

 

Clean up your career

  • Take on new challenges.

    Anyone wanting to expand their resume should ask for new tasks at work, even those outside their department. Companies may need employees to stretch themselves during this precarious period. This can be your chance to shine.
     
  • Boost your creds.

    Consider taking advantage of myriad online learning opportunities to upskill and make yourself even more marketable.
     
  • Find a mentor.

    A professional mentor can help improve your weaknesses, identify your strengths and serve as a guide throughout your career. You can ask a boss, a former internship advisor or a college professor. Joining networking and other professional groups can also help.
     
  • Update your resume.

    Take this time to update and polish your resume and your LinkedIn profile.
     

 

Clean up your digital life

  • Set your accounts to private.

    Potential employers check social media accounts, so make sure yours aren’t public. Even if you don’t think there’s anything incriminating on your Facebook page, it’s best to keep your personal and work lives separate.
     
  • Delete embarrassing information.

    Go through your social media accounts and delete anything you wouldn’t want to resurface. Even if accounts are “private,” never assume your info is 100% secure.
     
  • Social media moderation.

    In the age of social distancing, social media is as vital as ever for keeping in touch and staying well. But it can also be a source of misinformation and anxiety. Try to limit your news (and friends’) feeds to a few reliable outlets.
     

 

What you can do next

Spring (yes, even this spring) is the season for new beginnings. Even if it seems like your life is largely on hold, there are plenty of things you can do to make your current life bearable — and your future self grateful. Focus on re-evaluating your life and ensuring your short- and long-term goals are met. While generally avoiding other people, take time to smell the flowers. Do a digital clean-up, and focus on your financial, career and retirement plans. Then look forward to better times to come.

 

Footnotes

Zina Kumok is a freelance writer specializing in personal finance. She has written for the Associated Press, Indianapolis Monthly and more. She also writes a blog about how she paid off her student loans in three years.

 

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