Valentine’s Day aside, February could well be one of the worst months of the year. It’s cold and wet. And the whole month feels like Groundhog Day over and over again! But being cooped up at home can really help you focus on things that need to be done in the house so that when warmer weather and longer days finally arrive, you’ll be able to enjoy them.
Some tasks to complete this month:
Start organizing your taxes. If you do your own taxes, take advantage of any coupons or special offers that might be available on tax software. If you’ve used a particular software in the past, you may be lucky enough to get a great deal on this year’s version. If you’re a member of AAA or other organizations, you may be able to get special discounts or rebates. Do some shopping before you buy!
While you’re getting your tax paperwork together, tackle that pile of owner’s manuals, warranty cards, receipts, and bank account statements. You know that pile that’s sitting over there, in the corner of your desk, maybe even on top of your filing cabinet!
Spend a week (or three) deep diving into the freezer and kitchen cabinets to use up food that you forgot was there. You know, the ham you bought at Thanksgiving and never cooked? The bacon you got at a great price last fall? That stuff! Be creative. Mix it up. Look online for out-of-the-ordinary recipes. When you think about it, using up food you forgot you had is pretty close to getting an unexpected pay raise!
Start your spring cleaning early, going room-by-room until your house is sparkling. Pay attention to things that don’t usually catch your eye:
• IN THE BATH: Check grout and caulking and to make sure it’s solid and doing its job. Regrout/caulk as needed. Ensure the toilet is properly seated and the bolts haven’t come loose. If you sometimes have to jiggle the handle, adjust or replace the innards to stop the water loss. Check water supply lines for leaks and tighten or replace as needed.
• LAUNDRY ROOM: Check your washing machine hose. Hoses that look worn or don’t give, or that are more than five years old, should be replaced. Following manufacturer’s recommendations, use a washing machine cleaner to get the gunk out. This is especially important for high efficiency/low water use machines. Clean the lint trap with every load and deep clean the dryer duct and vent every month or two.
• KITCHEN: Check grout and caulk work, as well as water supply lines. Replace or repair leaky faucets. Clean out the fridge and make sure to vacuum the dust and dirt from the condenser coils. You can purchase a special brush to assist with this project. Replace water filters in your fridge at least every six months or as often as recommended. Clean your garbage disposal by running crushed ice through it, then follow with baking soda and citrus peel for a fresh smell. Follow manufacturer’s directions and run your dishwasher through clean cycle.
• ROOM BY ROOM: Repair any damage to interior walls, touch up paint as needed. Vacuum curtains, window blinds and ceiling fans.
• ELECTRICAL: Check to ensure that all ground fault interrupter receptacles are working; check extension cords to make sure none are frayed or have furniture or other items sitting on them. Avoid extension cords as much as possible.
• HEATING SYSTEM: Check fire extinguishers, carbon monoxide and smoke detectors; replace batteries as needed. Replace your furnace filter at least every three months, more often if you smoke or live in a dusty area.
• OUTSIDE: February is a great time to prune trees and shrubs and cut back perennials. Many gardeners start seeds in February, especially if they have a protected area indoors. Some summer bulbs can be planted now, too. Be sure to check your roof and gutters after snow and ice storms to avoid build up and potential damage.
Finally, now’s a perfect time to make your warm weather plans and book your spring/summer getaway. Added bonus? It will give you something to look forward to as February drags on!