Year-End Home Checklist

By | December 30, 2008

Unnecessary waste of food, like letting the food sit in your home for a long time and letting it expire, becomes a waste of money. Poorly run equipment wastes more electricity and tends to fail more early. Crowded and dusty homes have a negative impact on your energy level and lifestyle which then affects your financial life. In recession times, especially, we want to make the most use of all the things we own. We want to keep spending to a minimum and preservation of cash to a maximum. By keeping an up-to-date inventory of what we own, it gives you a good idea of what you can keep and what you can throw away.

The end of the year is a good time to do an annual inventory check for all the important things in your home. The purpose of this annual check is to make sure everything in your home is in tip-top shape, from having edible food in your fridge to fresh batteries in lifesaving devices to clean bathrooms.

I rarely cook at home and the items in my fridge often expired before I used them. I started a cleanup process in my refrigerator in December and looked at all the items in there. I threw away many expired items, like butter, milk, fruits, vegetables, and even ice cream. I cannot believe there were so many things that were expired in my fridge until I started looking the expiration date of each item. Even my full box of Lipton tea had expired and had to be thrown out.

Next, I went to check to see if any of the medicine in my cabinet is expired. A quarter of the items in the cabinet were expired, including cough medicine and acetaminophen tablets. I threw them out. Just remember that even supplements have an expiration date.

I then looked at all the equipment in my house and made sure they were in good working order. There were some electronic devices I haven’t touched for months or even years. I powered them on and off to see if they were functioning. I know I won’t use those devices anymore, so I put them in a box, where I will later decide whether to sell, donate or trash them.

[ad#square]My home tends to collect a lot of dust, especially in areas where I don’t normally visit, like the back of television sets and computer units. Another reason is that I have carpeting at home and they tend to build up dust. I powered off all the electronic devices and wiped off as much dust as possible. I did a session of vacuuming around the apartment.

I also did a clean up in my closet. I removed many pieces of clothing I would not wear any more and set them aside for donation. Hopefully the donated clothes will help keep some homeless people warm.

I have a drawer where I store the mail documents I received throughout the year. I plowed through all the papers and threw away all the unnecessary mail. Now the drawer is almost empty again.

After I finished the whole process of cleaning up my home and checking all my inventory of food, medicine, and electronic devices, I created a check list and make it more general. Below is the list I came up with.

Food
Check for expiration dates.

Photo credit: www.gasrefrigerator.net

Photo credit: www.gasrefrigerator.net

Refrigerator
Check the items in your fridge and cabinets for expiration dates. If the item has expired, discard it. If the expiration date is near, place a note on the item so you would be reminded to consume it before it expires. For items without a stamped expiration date, use your best judgment or ask someone who has more experience. When in doubt, it is probably better to lean on the safer side and discard the food, since spoiled can give you a bad stomach or worse, food poisoning.
Food Cabinet
Can foods are usually stored for months in the back of cabinets and stayed untouched. Look at the date stamps on the labels of the can foods. Throw away the expired ones. Donate the soon-to-be-expired can foods if you cannot eat the contents in the cans by the expiration date. The same goes for other types of food that can be stored for a long period of time, such as instant noodles.
Pet Food
If you have pets, be sure to check the pet food too, if you don’t want your pet to get sick.
Fruits
Fruits should not be stored for too long. They usually become bad after awhile. It is better to consume them while they are fresh.
Grocery List
Take the time to make a grocery list of what you have and what you need, and bring this list with you the next time you go to the supermarket.

Medicine Cabinet
Check the items in your medicine cabinet. These items are often overlooked because they sit in the cabinet and normally go unnoticed for long periods of time. It is a good idea to replace tablets, pills, and first aid solutions if they have expired. Have an ample supply of first aid material or common used medicine in case of emergency.

Clothes
It’s a good time to clean out your closet. See which clothes you don’t need anymore. For example, screen through all your summer clothes and put all the ones you won’t wear in a separate bag for donation.

Mattress
Many of us do not pay attention to rotating the mattress. If you have a traditional mattress, it’s a good time to flip the mattress over and sleep on other side. Rotating to the side extends the shelf life of the mattress, thus by saving you money.

Equipment
All equipment should be tested periodically and maintained properly to increase their lifespan.

Photo credit: Appliancist

Photo credit: Appliancist

Washer / Dryer
Make sure there’s nothing clogged up in the washing machine. Check that the water tube connectors are tightly securely. Clean the dryer lint and wash it.
Air Conditioners
During the winter, most air conditioners are stowed away. If yours is accessible, check the air filter to see if needs replacing.
Heaters
Some heaters may need work to get the heat running, for example, like the old heaters with pipes that needs hot running water. Sometimes the heater may not be warm because the hot water is not reaching there, especially if you live on the higher floors. I used to live in an apartment that uses this heating method. The pipes would be cold and I would have to release the water from a nozzle in the pipes until hot water starts flowing. Once the hot water starts flowing in the pipes, the heat builds up and then room becomes warm. It is low technology but it’s an important step to take if that’s what it needs to warm your home.
Carbon Monoxide (CO) Detector and Fire Alarms Devices
Check the batteries in these devices. Since these devices are crucial in detecting life-threatening danger, you should use fresh batteries and not wait until the batteries die out. The beginning of a new year is a good time to start with fresh batteries.
Clocks and Portable Devices
Check the batteries in these devices. It’s a good idea to check the batteries and replace them if necessary, especially your main alarm clock. You want to be sure your alarm wakes you up for work/school after New Year’s Day.
Television
Broadcast TV stations will stop sending out over the air analog signals after February 17th 2009, as mandated by FCC. If you have a digital TV, you are set and you do not need to worry. If you have an analog TV (one way to tell is if the back of the unit has a hook-up for an outside antenna), then you would need to buy a new digital converter box

Dusting
Dust is not good for electronic devices/equipments, not to mention that it is also not good for our health.

Photo credit: Rockband.com

Photo credit: Rockband.com

Computers
The computer and other units like printers and scanners build up dust quickly around the machine whether it’s a desktop or laptop. If you have a desktop, look at the back of the computer, there’s usually a pileup of dust. Also clean the area where all the wires run and the back of the monitor. The same goes for a laptop, especially if it sits in one area for a long period of time. If you have a wireless keyboard and mouse, like I do, make sure you also check the battery indicator. You wouldn’t want the devices to run out of battery while you’re working on something important in your computer.
Television
The back of the TV set usually collects a lot of dust. Use an extension that would reach the back of hard-to-access areas for cleaning.
Back of Sinks
Clean the back of the sinks. Remove anything you have blocking the path before cleaning.
Bathroom Vents
The vent in the bathrooms collects tons of dust over time. If you can remove the plate, you can run it under soap and water for easier cleaning. Otherwise you would have to reach up and clean it where it is, usually near the ceiling.
Wall Corners
The corners of walls tend to collect dust.

Mail Documents
Have a drawer or box dedicated to holding all the mail. Every once in a while, go through all the mail and throw away mail that you do not need to keep. Note: Financial documents should be kept for at least two years; tax documents should be kept for at least ten years.

Storage
You may want to go through your storage area and see what can be donated or put on sale on the Internet to make some money. You may find items that are useful and save some money.

Create your own check list and keep track of your inventory. It is a good time to see what you need to buy and what you can sell, donate or trash. Share your thoughts and feel free to add on to this list.

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