March 17th, 2017 | David Simpson

Spring cleaning

It is that time of the year when it will be warming up and we start looking forward to the spring.  Many use this opportunity to clean out the house, garage or other place that has been filled with various items.  By this time, most have filed their tax returns and can now file away the papers along with a copy of the tax return.

The idea of spring cleaning goes back several millennia.  In ancient Israel, households have traditionally cleaned the house thoroughly ahead of Passover in an effort to get rid of anything that has been leavened or fermented by yeast.  In the Middle East, the Persian New Year (falls on the first day of spring) has been the main reason for a thorough cleaning.  The Catholic Church would clean the altar and clean out the church ahead of Good Friday services in the spring.  More recently, in colder climates, the best months for cleaning were in March and April since it was a good time to shake out rugs and drapes as well as clean out chimneys.

Spring is a good time to review papers to make sure you are not keeping unnecessary documents.  This can be a good time to make decisions about keeping or getting rid of statements and other tax information each year.  If you are finding this difficult due to the overwhelming nature of the situation, behavioral psychologists have labeled this: Choice Paralysis – becoming overwhelmed with the complexity of a decision, and avoiding it or putting it off.  If you have more than ten years of statements and tax documents, you can start with those (double check with your tax advisor if your are concerned) and bring those as part of our Shredding Party in mid-April.

Another spring cleaning idea is to clean out any storage unit, closet, or garage so that you can use this space or no longer pay for a storage unit.  If you have any papers with personal information, bring them to our Shredding Party but if they do not have personal information then recycle them.  If you have anything you have held onto because of what you paid for it and have difficult letting go, behavioral psychologists have a term for this: Endowment Effect – An individual values something which they already own more than something which they do not own yet.  If you donate these items, you may be able to take a deduction for the current value.

Is there any space in your house or storage area that you need to clean out?  If you clean it out, it may provide value in the form of peace of mind or a tax deduction (or both).