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A new year, a clean slate — the start of a new calendar always brings us a much-needed feeling of change. But if you don’t want to bring last year’s worries (like that chipped paint you keep walking past in your hallway) into the new year, take a little time to assess what needs to get done before the clock strikes midnight. (You’ll be thankful you did!)
If you need a little inspiration to get you started, we’re sharing seven household tasks to tackle before the new year begins — from a deep clean to a deeper dive into your budget, you’ll feel more prepared than ever to embrace the next 365 days ahead.
1. Deep clean your home.
Start the new year off fresh with a super-deep home cleaning. Not only will it make you feel accomplished, but with a little elbow grease, you can actually extend the life of your favorite home appliances, furniture, and electronics! That’s right: taking the time to routinely clean the inside and outside of your appliances can help you avoid tougher messes in the future — and potentially, an unexpected repair bill.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- Disposable rags, towels you don’t mind throwing away (warning: it can get messy), and scrub pads.
- Buckets of water: one for fresh water and one for dirty water.
- Your favorite cleaning supplies like all-purpose sprays, dish soap, degreasers, and bathroom cleaners.
- Rubber gloves
- A scrub brush or an old toothbrush (for those nooks and crannies that have seen better days).
And if you need the inspiration, here are the spots to focus on:
- Ceiling fans
- Cabinets and drawers
- Floors and crown molding
- Your kitchen appliances (oven, stovetop, microwave, toaster (because those leftover breadcrumbs are a fire hazard!), refrigerator, freezer, sink, and dishwasher).
- Your bathroom (grout, shower, shower curtain, toilet, sink, cabinets, and mirrors).
2. Check out the post-holiday deals for appliances you need to replace.
While you were cleaning, did you notice your microwave is on its last leg? Or that there’s a leak coming from your fridge? Don’t fret that you missed Black Friday — you can still get a great deal on a household appliance after Christmas and on Presidents Day! Be sure to check online or your mailbox for your preferred store’s deals.
If you end up getting a deal you couldn’t pass up, consider purchasing personal property protection — in addition to your manufacturer’s warranty. If you zoom in on the fine print, warranties only cover your item for a specified period of time and for things like a manufacturer defect. But if you’re looking for additional coverage for spills, scratches, cracks, breaks, drops, and the like, consider personal property protection. Check it out here!
Whether you do this before or after your deep clean is your personal preference, but it’s just as important. Taking stock of your belongings and decluttering can reduce stress and give you the space to replace unwanted items for things that truly “spark joy”.
Some items to consider decluttering:
- Half-burned candles
- Expired products and food
- Unworn or old clothing
- Books and magazines you’re not going to read again
- Bills and paperwork you don’t need
- Excess blankets and decorative pillows
- Random knick-knacks collecting dust
- All that “junk” in your junk drawer
4. Change the oil in your vehicle.
Making sure that you change the oil in your vehicle (on time!) is one of the most important things you can do to maintain the life of your wheels. Depending on your vehicle’s make and model, you may need an oil change every six months, 3,000 miles, or 10,000 miles. Here are a few reasons why it’s important to regularly change your oil:
- Keeps your engine clean. As oil flows, dirt and other particles can build up in your engine. If you don’t change your oil, sludge can begin to form. Changing your oil regularly keeps your engine fresh and free of damage.
- Gets you better gas mileage. Miles per gallon are affected by a number of factors, like environment, terrain, driving habits, and vehicle maintenance. Without proper maintenance, the dirt and grit buildup can cause friction (also known as the enemy of engine performance). A clean engine reduces friction, allowing you to drive without any extra fill-ups!
- Helps with better engine performance. You probably can tell by now that changing your oil helps significantly with keeping your engine clean and long-lasting. (And performing at its best.) But did you also know that over time, oil breaks down from heat exposure? This can make it harder to go where it needs to — and with the extra buildup, keep your engine hotter for longer.
5. Complete small home improvement projects.
Don’t put off your “one day” tasks any longer. Go into the new year with nothing on your home improvement list — so you can focus on the things that matter most to you.
Are any of these tasks on your to-do list?
- Change burnt out light bulbs
- Toss dead plants
- Paint a room in your home
- Fixing any scratches, chipped paint, or furniture that needs a little TLC
- Replace air filters
6. Create an emergency preparedness kit.
Depending on your location, natural disasters can be a regular occurrence or a once-in-a-lifetime event. No matter the situation, it’s best to be prepared. Having an emergency preparedness kit can give you some serious peace of mind — and the ability to focus on a disaster plan, evacuating (if necessary), and your family’s safety.
Consider adding these items to a large waterproof container:
- Drinking water (a good rule of thumb is at least one gallon per person per day)
- Nonperishable food (like canned veggies and protein bars)
- Flashlights or portable lanterns (with extra batteries!)
- A first aid kit
- A can opener
- Supplies like toilet paper, moist towelettes, trash bags, and disinfectants
- An extra set of clothing
And depending on your situation, you might need:
- Baby food, bottles, and diapers
- Pet food
- Prescription medications, eyeglasses, and contact lenses with contact solution
7. Set your budget.
A new year means it’s a fresh opportunity to take control of your finances. Take an afternoon to evaluate how you spent the year before, how much you’d like to save in the upcoming year, and how you can cut back on certain fixed expenses, like streaming services or other bills.
If you’re saving for something big, ask yourself: would an unexpected expense of $1,000 for a new refrigerator set you back? If you’re like most, it will. Around 63% of Americans don’t have enough savings to cover a $500 emergency — but we have a solution.
If you’re not ready to replace items like your major household appliances or well-loved electronics, it’s another reason to consider a personal property protection plan. For just a few dollars a month, you can be sure that your expensive purchases last — and if anything happens, your item will be repaired or replaced with a 5-day service guarantee. Learn more about protection plans (and all the items you can cover) here.
Your stuff really does have an impact on the way you feel — and setting aside an afternoon or two dedicated to cleaning and tackling unfinished tasks can bring about big feelings of accomplishment for the year ahead. So grab your rubber gloves for cleaning, your calculator for budgeting, and your trash can for decluttering — and let’s get to it!