Spring Clean Your Financial Paperwork

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If you’re spring cleaning, you might be ready to go through your entire house and get rid of anything that doesn’t bring you joy. While your financial paperwork likely isn’t something that brings you joy, that doesn’t mean you can toss it into the trash. Learn about what you should be saving, how long you need to keep it, and how you can organize it, so it fits in with your newly tidy house.

Tax Returns: Keep for three years from the date you filed. If you filed a claim for a loss, keep for your return seven years.

Receipts: Keep receipts for itemized deductions on your tax return with your tax records for three years.

Paycheck Stubs: Keep until the end of the year.

Medical Bills: Keep for one year. If you deduct medical expenses on your taxes, keep with the returns for three years.

Utility Bills: Keep for one year. If you claim a home office tax deduction on your taxes, keep with the returns for three years.

Bank Statements: Keep for three years.

Credit Card Statements: Keep until you can confirm the charges and have paid the bill. Keep for three years if you need them for tax deductions.

Paid Off Loans: Keep for seven years.

Active Contracts, Property Records, Insurance Documents, and Stock Certificates: Keep as long as they’re active. Once they’re complete, you can discard.

Marriage License, Birth Certificates, Adoption Papers, Wills, Death Certificates, and Paid Mortgages: Keep forever.

Once you have all your financial papers in order, purchase a few storage boxes to hold everything. Label the outside with what’s in the box so you always know where your important financial documents are located.

Source: Her Money

9 Tips to Get Your Home Ready for Spring

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Spring’s popping up all over. Longer days, early blooms – these are signs that it’s time to make some simple home repairs after the long winter. Here are 9 simple jobs to take care of in order to make sure you’re ready for the change of seasons.

Inspect your roof. Check for loose or missing shingles, and ensure that seals around skylights are in tact and that chimney flashing is still in good shape. You don’t want any leaks during spring showers.

Check your gutters. While you’re inspecting your roof, inspect your gutters, too. They may have been overworked in the winter, with ice dams and falling branches. Clear the debris, check your downspouts and drains, and make sure the gutters are still secured to the house.

Check your pipes. Pipes that freeze and then thaw can cause some problems. Look for sign of damage under your sinks. And while you’re checking pipes, now is a good time to check your washing machine and dishwasher hoses and do a quick check in the attic, basement and crawl spaces for leaks.

Inspect your siding. Do a quick walk-around of your house and make sure no siding has been damaged or come loose.

Caulk your windows and doors to make sure these are sealed and still able to protect your windows and doors from water getting in.

Check your screens for tears. As long as you’re caulking your windows, check your screens, too. If any have tears or holes, now is a good time to repair those so you can open your windows and let in the fresh air.

Patch driveway and sidewalk cracks. Shoveling and salt can do a job on your cement in the winter, leading to cracks. Repair these now to keep them from growing and causing bigger problems.

Get your heating and air system checked. Call a qualified and recommended HVAC technician to come out and do a check on your system. Your heater worked hard in the winter and now your air conditioning is going to work hard in the summer. Make sure it’s in top condition. And, while you’re at it, change your filters.

Check trees and bushes for broken limbs and snapped branches. Heavy snow can harm trees and bushes. A good trimming can prevent additional damage. Grab your clippers and spend some time outside.

Getting your home ready now means more fun this summer! 

It’s Time to Get to that Spring Cleaning!

Angry woman vacuuming while man is resting

It may be too early to get out and do a lot of garden prep for spring, but it’s definitely not too early to get going on some spring cleaning jobs inside your home. Here are a few things to tackle inside to get your home springtime fresh, while you wait a little longer to start on garden prep.

Clean walls and ceilings. When was the last time you did this? Use a vacuum cleaner attachment to remove dust; test a degreaser in a hidden area of the kitchen to tackle that room’s walls with a degreaser and sponge.

Dust books and bookshelves. It’s time to take books off the bookshelves and actually dust them. And before you put them back, clean the shelves, too. And while you’re at it… now may be the perfect time to donate some of those books that you’re really not going to read again (or for the first time) to a local nonprofit.

And then dust the rest of your house. Dust from top to bottom, in the hard-to-get-to places and in the obvious places. Clean the top of the fridge, the top of curtain rods, the baseboards, and behind furniture. Always work from the top of the home to the floor and don’t use sprays, which really attract and hold more dust.

And then vacuum. A quick vacuum after the dusting will let you get any of the dust that lands on the floors.

Change out the batteries. Now’s a good time to change the tired batteries in smoke detectors and CO2 monitors. You should do this a couple of times a year, so if you do it now, mark your calendar for Halloween and change them out then, too.

Clean window treatments. Some draperies and curtains may be machine washable so read your labels. Some may be dry cleanable. And blinds are always ready for a thorough dusting. These items are dirt magnets. Do it now and you won’t cringe when it’s time to open your windows.

These are a few odd jobs that will get you started on spring cleaning. Don’t try to do the whole house at once. Start with these tasks and tackle others later. When your home is springtime fresh, you’ll be glad you put this effort in!

Home Projects for the Valentine’s Day Honey-Do List

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Sure! Flowers are nice and dinner out is almost always a success. But if you really want to say, “I love you,” try one of these easy February home maintenance projects and show what it really means to love someone!

Freshen up the bedrooms.
Wash all of your sheets and blankets and run them through the sanitize cycle on your washing machine. Are your pillows able to go in the washer? Wash those, too! And any bed covers that can be washed should be and others should go to the dry cleaners. Fresh bedding makes for a fresher home.

Dust the places no one sees.
So we dust our table tops, shelves and book cases. But how often do we dust those places no one sees? February is the perfect month to dust the tops of door frames, dust window ledges and wall boards. Dust all the lamp shades and bulbs, too.You’ll be surprised at how much brighter everything looks because you do this task.

Clean your windows.
Let the winter sun warm your house up even more (or make it sparkle anyway!) by washing the windows. You may not be able to do the outside windows in the cold weather, but you’ll see an immediate improvement in your home, if you simply clean the insides of the windows. Dust the blinds and spot clean your curtains.

Clean under your furniture.
You don’t have to vacuum the entire house if you don’t want to (but you will when you start this project!), but move the couches and the chairs and tables and vacuum beneath them. If there’s a place that you usually work around, then now is the perfect time to move it and clean where no one sees.

Wipe the places that get touched a lot!
Take some time to clean the places that never get cleaned but should. Wipe down the legs of chairs and tables, door knobs and light switches, and the knobs on all cabinets and drawers. If you touch it to turn it on or off or to open or close something, clean it today!

Clean small kitchen appliances.
Do you have a spotless microwave and an oven so clean you are proud to leave the door open? Yet, if someone were to look at the bottom of your mixer, they’d see cake batter from two years ago? It’s time to clean your small kitchen appliances. Wipe down your mixers; change the filters on your coffee pot and run a water vinegar mix through it; shake out the toaster crumbs. What other appliances can you find to clean?

These are six Valentine’s Day Honey-Do jobs that will prove you love everyone in your home, and yourself, too! Happy Valentine’s Day!

Teach Your Kids to Love Their Home and DIY Projects

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Do you want your kids to grow up and already love a good DIY home maintenance project or at least understand the value of a clean and tidy home? Start working with them while they are young. Kids actually think cleaning the house or helping with home repairs is fun, so the sooner you engage them in this, the better.

Start while they’re young. While involving kids in housework and home maintenance may take more time, getting kids started while they are young will teach them the importance of caring for a home and taking on some hard work. Kids can hold flashlights, hand you tools or carry a light toolbox. Older kids can help with the screwdriver, replace light bulbs or take part in chores like vacuuming or cleaning

Get kids their own toolbox or yard tools like a kids’ rake or lawn mower. Let them imitate you nearby. This makes participation a game.

Talk about what you’re doing. As you work on home projects such as gardening, painting, repairing, cleaning, talk to your kids about what you are doing. You can teach them more and keep them chatting.

Let them decorate their own rooms. Kids spend a lot of time in their rooms so the more they do to make them their own, the more they will like them. They will also feel ownership and want to be in charge of keeping their rooms clean. Comfortable is important.

Teach your kids about important jobs for home owners that some adults don’t think about, including:

Help them locate the breaker box and flip the correct switch when you lose power. They can also help you label the breaker box, a task that a lot of homeowners plan to take on but never do. Kids love to run around the house and let you know what lights are off or on when you flip a switch.

Show them where to turn off the water for the house or in a bathroom. Kids are known for putting weird things down toilets. No matter how often you say not to, they still do it. Even if you don’t show them where the house water turns off, show them how to turn off an overflowing or running toilet.

Change batteries in smoke alarms. Let kids help you change the batteries in smoke alarms. You should do this twice a year and it’s a great time to teach kids about home maintenance and home safety. This could even be a good time to talk to your kids about a fire evacuation plan.

And make a quick cleaning fun!

Have a Musical Cleaning Event! For a fun cleaning game, turn on your favorite fast song and have a race to see who can clean up the most toys while the song plays. Whenever you turn the song on, the kids clean. ! Kids think this is a blast and race to beat each other. You end up with tired kids and a clean room!

Keep Your Home Clean and Fresh and Save Money with Homemade Cleaning Products

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Are you in a pinch for some glass cleaner or sink scrub and you’re in a hurry to make the house presentable for some unexpected guests. Chances are good that you already have what you need to make your home sparkle and smell fresh. Here are some quick home cleaning remedies.

Make your own all purpose cleaner and deodorizer: Mix 4 tablespoons of baking soda with 1 quart warm water. Pour it onto a clean sponge and wipe.

Clean your glass. Combine 2 cups of water, 1/2 cup white vinegar or cider vinegar, 1/4 rubbing alcohol in a spray bottle. Add a few drops of lemon juice for a fresh scent. Spray on paper towel or soft cloth and wipe. Don’t use this to clean windows on a hot, sunny day as you risk the solution drying quickly and leaving streaks.

Make lemonade with your lemons:

Combine lemon and salt to shine your chrome faucets.

Rub lemon juice on your cutting boards to help stains fade. Let it sit overnight to really work and then rinse in the morning. As a bonus – this kills some germs, too.

Scrub grout with lemon juice and an old toothbrush.

Put a half a lemon on a small plate in your refrigerator to remove odors; change weekly.

Do more with your dryer sheets. Dryer sheets can help you remove baked on food from pots and pans. Place a dryer sheet in the pot, fill with water and let it sit overnight. Then sponge off in the morning. The antistatic agent weakens the bond between the stuck-on food and the surface of the pan, while the fabric softener works to loosen the food.

Does your toilet need a quick cleaning? Drop two antacid tablets in the bowl. Let them soak for 20 minutes and scrub with a brush and flush. A can of cola works also, if you pour it in and let it soak for an hour before scrubbing.

Combat mold and mildew on tiles and shower curtains. Make a paste of lemon juice and baking powder. Spread it on, leave it for two hours and rinse.

Dust with a paintbrush. A dry paintbrush with bristles that are at least 3 inches long can be used to dust the surface and grooves of your knickknacks. You can use a pastry brush for framed photos and to reach places that are difficult as it’s softer.

Clean your bud vases with rice. To wash a narrow vase, pour in 2 tablespoons of dry rice and 1/2 cup water. Cover with your hand, shake vigorously and rinse.

Spray some hairspray. Spray hairspray on painted walls and wipe immediately to remove marker from walls. eed to remove crayon? Scrub with a toothpaste covered toothbrush or massage baking soda on it with a damp mircofiber cloth.

A little lemon, some baking soda, a hint of vinegar….you’re good to go with your clean home!  Happy home making!

Rest Easy by Setting Up Your Bedroom for a Good Night’s Sleep

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Are you ready for a good night’s sleep, but your bedroom is not? A few simple changes can have you sleeping like a baby again in no time.

If you need a new mattress, get one.
You don’t need a fancy mattress. The mattress that allows you to sink into a deep, natural sleep and wake up in the morning without aches and pains is the one you want. And there’s only one way to find out which mattress that is. You have to sleep on it. Find a shop with 30-day guarantee and give your mattress a test drive for a month.

Find the right pillows.
Make sure your pillows are as comfortable as your mattress. You may need to try out several different kinds before you find your perfect pillow, but these are a must for a good night’s sleep.

Sooth with a soft scent.
A spritz lavender scent on your pillows before bed will help calm your exhausted mind.

Chill before bed.
Lower the temperature of your bedroom before you climb into bed. Lower temperatures tell your body it’s time to sleep. If your bed partner objects, tell him to bundle up.

Control the noises you can control.
If the dog’s snoring wakes you up, then put him in another room. If your partner snores, work to find treatment. Snoring can do more than just wake someone up. It can be a real health concern. You’ll sleep better with less noise and when you know everyone is healthy.

Close the curtains.
You sleep better in the dark. If your eyelids flutter open as you move from one stage of sleep to another, even streetlights or a full moon can wake you up.

Turn off the lights.
Your brain can misinterpret even dim lights and wonder if it should wake you up.

Pull on socks.
Studies have found that wearing socks to bed helps you sleep. It may be that warming your feet and legs allows your internal body temperature to drop.

Ignore the clock.
Turn your clock’s face or digital readout away so you can’t see it. We wake slightly throughout the night. A glimpse of your clock—and the realization that you have to get up soon—is enough to jolt you out of sleep and keep you out.

Turn off your phone.
A text, an email or a social media message can produce a ping on your phone and cause it to light up. There’s nothing about a cell phone that makes your sleep sounder. If you think you need it for its alarm, get an alarm clock.

Ready to rest easier knowing your questions about home mortgages are answered?