New Year’s is loaded with resolutions to get fit, get healthy, get a job, get organized, get [insert personal goal here], but I’d rather forget all that stuff and use the New Year as an opportunity for some once-a-year-I-should-do things.
There are lots of things I put off or don’t think about during the course of the year, and the New Year is a great time to get down and dirty. There are so many projects, but here are a couple of ideas to consider:
- Check your household’s fire extinguisher. If you don’t have one, you should! Keep it near the kitchen for easy access.
- Review your Will or other estate documents. Any changes during the year that should be reflected?
- Check your credit report. In Massachusetts, you get a free one once a year.
- Make doctor’s appointments.
- Change batteries in flashlights, emergency radios, and smoke detectors.
- Wash or dry clean items that you don’t clean often, like curtains, coats, rugs or windows.
- Go through closets, basements and garages and throw out old materials or donate used items. Check with your town about proper disposals and schedule pickup from organizations like the Salvation Army.
- Dust hard to reach areas like recessed lights or ceiling fans.
- Change furnace filters or schedule a safety check.
- Have granite counter tops? Seal them once a year to keep them from getting stained or worn.
- Vacuum your mattress to clean out the dust mites.
- Organize photos on your computer. Or make a yearly family album online, via sites like Shutterfly or KodakGallery.
- Organize files on your computer.
- Back up your computer documents, videos or photos.
These are just some general ideas that you can put on your once-a-year-to-do list. Do you have other ideas? Things you do once a year?
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Re: #2 above – Yes! I always tell my clients that once a year they should just take out their estate plan, dust it off, see if it sounds about right to them, and talk with their lawyer about whether any changes in life or law have made some revisions necessary to ensure that the plan will still work as intended whenever the time comes. Too often people “set it and forget it”. That is, they think (& I hear) “oh we took care of that and did our Wills when Bobby was born.” That’s great! Except that Bobby is now 10 and that estate plan is woefully out of date and in need of a regular once-over and possibly some minor maintenance. I spent the whole month of December receiving messages from clients who wanted to make minor changes. That’s why I have a client membership plan – to provide yearly maintenance as well as a whole host of other services as necessary throughout the year. I think most estate planning attorneys still say clients should review their Wills, Trusts, and other estate planning documents every 3-5 years. That may work when we’re in a more static phase of life, but it’s just plain too long to wait when we’re in our 20s-40s or so, building our families, changing careers, and working hard to acquire wealth for our families. In the space of three short years, I personally had moved (including interstate) 3 times, had two children, and bought and sold 2 properties. Life happens fast – we need to keep up with it! Thank you for the reminder!
PS: I just spent most of the day doing #4 above (that’s a lot of Dr. appts for a family of 5!).