How Much Would You Replace If You Lost Everything?

Post revision: I wrote this post after seeing images of the horrifying wildfires in California.  This prompted me to think about what would happen in a similar event.  It turns out that someone in the personal finance community was right there.  They were safe but lost everything.  There’s actually a few different posts tied to this topic.  I’m honored to be among them.  See the bottom of the post for the ‘Chain Gang’ on this topic.  

There have been a lot of disasters around the world lately.  Earthquakes.  Hurricanes.  Wild fires.  In each of those tragic situations, many have lost everything.

I live in Michigan.  Many would never consider this a great destination.  Summers are beautiful but short. Because it’s practically surrounded by water, winters are often gray and slushy.

But one thing we have going for us is that we’re not a big target for any natural disasters.

  • Earthquakes – We’re not on or near any known major fault lines.
  • Hurricanes – We’re nowhere near a coastal line.  We might get a day or two of rain a few days after a hurricane fizzles out.
  • Tornadoes – While we’ve had some bad tornadoes, they’re generally not an ongoing, serious threat.
  • Wildfires – We do have a lot of trees here.  There have been instances of fires, of course, but we get enough rain to generally keep things moist enough.  Our worst droughts don’t hold a candle to anything out in California.  Another good benefit from being nearly surrounded by water, I suppose.

What If We Lost Everything?

But it still got me thinking, what happens when you lose everything?  The latest tragedy on the news is the Northern California wildfires.  The images on TV show fire taking out entire neighborhoods.  In many cases, not a thing is left standing.  There is absolutely nothing to save.

So what would you do if that happens to you?

Pretend you have something come in and take out your home and everything inside.  In the scenario, everyone comes out safe, but your stuff?  Gone.  All of it.

So, once you settle with the insurance company, what do you replace?

Nobody will put their house back together exactly as it was.  There’s no way anybody replaces things item for item.  It just doesn’t happen.

What Percentage Of Items Would You Replace?

It got me thinking.  If you lost everything, what percentage of items would you actually replace?

I don’t know if I can have a hard number, but it’s definitely less than 100%.  Let’s think about a few things.

House

Most people will end up replacing their house.  But in some cases, you might not.  You might not rebuild.  You could sell the lot and buy another home.  Even if you did build a home, it would likely be different.  For one, everything will be new.  You might have a different layout.  You’ll choose different finishes and fixtures.

Clothes

If you lost everything, you’d need a new wardrobe.  But would you replace, piece by piece, what you had?  I know I wouldn’t.  I’d probably start off with a much smaller wardrobe to begin.  Think of your current clothes in three tiers: New, Good, Near The End.  New items would likely be replaced, as would some good items.  But right now, you probably have a lot of items that you keep but don’t wear often.  Maybe they’re near the end of their life. Perhaps they’re more reminders of something.  In any case, with shirts, pants, shorts, etc. I can almost guarantee I would have less than I do now.

Kids Stuff

We have a lot of stuff from when the kids were babies or younger than they are now.  Some we keep in case anyone else might need it.  Other items we just haven’t gone through yet.  We’ve got a whole lot of toys that can be sold or donated.  The kids would need to replace stuff they use today, but that’s it.

Bedding and Towels

Let’s face it.  When you replace bed sheets or your towels, you probably keep the old ones.  You stick them aside in case you need them for guests or emergencies.  While you’d need to replace what you use, there’s stuff you don’t that you’d skip.

Holiday Stuff

I know for a fact we wouldn’t replace all of our Christmas stuff.  One of the things I have is a Christmas village. I’ve built up the collection for years.  I love it and put it out every year.  But if we lost everything, I’m not sure I would instantly replace it.  Since many of the items were gifts, or bought at special times, replacing the whole thing piece for piece wouldn’t be the same.

Heirlooms and Other Irreplaceable Items

We’ve got some items that were passed along from family.  You simply couldn’t replace the item.  Even if you did find that exact same china set, it’s not the one your grandmother picked out and used.  The same goes with pictures (pre-digital era) and other treasures.

What Does This Mean?

Thinking about this gives me a few takeaways:

  1. I need an updated digital inventory. It’s hard to imagine going through and documenting things by the item.  But a video walkthrough would let you see much of what you lost.  This would help for insurance purposes.  It’d also help you create a list of items to replace.
  2. There’s a lot of excess. If you could live without something after you lost it, could you now?  I wouldn’t get rid of the heirlooms.  But, chances are you’re sitting on a lot of items that you wouldn’t miss.  Maybe now is your chance to reduce some clutter.
  3. It’s hard to imagine.   You live with the stuff you have.  You spend hours buying it, cleaning it, keeping it.  To imagine not having any of it is pretty hard, isn’t it?
  4. It reminds you of what’s important.  As hard as it is imagining life without your items, it’s just stuff.  I know that if something bad did happen, none of it would matter.  My wife and my kids.  That would be my list of what I’d need.  It would suck to lose everything else.  But even if you did lose everything else, guess what?  Life could still get back to normal one day.

The Chain Gang

Here are other posts.  Please give them a read.

Anchor Post: DadsDollarsDebt – Tubb’s Fire – A Sudden Evacuation19
Co-Anchor: Chief Mom Officer – A Harrowing Escape Inspires The Personal Finance Community – Beyond The Emergency Fund5
1: OthalaFehu – Cool As A Cucumber2
2: The Retirement Manifesto – Am I A Prepper?1
3: Mrs. Retire to Roots – In Case Of Emergency Follow The Plan
4: The Lady In Black – Emergency Preparedness1
5: The Green Swan – Preparing For The Worst1
6: Minafi – Minimal Hurricane Preparation3
7: A Gai Shan Life – Earthquake and disaster preparedness1
8: The Financial Journeyman – Emergency Preparation: Be Proactive1
9: John And Jane Doe – Thinking the Worst: Emergency Planning or Fighting the Last War?
10: Adventure Rich – Emergency Preparation Up North
11: Money Beagle – How Much Would You Replace If You Lost Everything?
12: Crispy Doc – Fighting Fire With FI/RE1
13: She Picks Up Pennies – How Can A Planner Be Unprepared?
14: Chronicles Of A Father-Getting Ready for a Natural Disaster

Readers, have you ever thought about potentially losing everything?  If every material possession went away, how much do you think you’d replace?  What does this tell you about how much you have now?

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

Projects Around The House – 2017 Edition

This year has been a pretty busy year generally speaking.  Even though there’s a few months left in the year, we’re just about wrapped up with our project list around the house.  Mostly because our budget is exhausted!  Of course, something unexpected could happen.  But, we’re hoping we can make it through the rest of the way.

Exterior Painting

The house hadn’t been painted in at least ten years.  Maybe as long as eighteen.  How do I know?  Because we moved in ten years ago, and the house is eighteen years old.

image from Morguefile courtesy of jade

Most of the home exterior is brick or siding, but all the trim work is wood.

We had some wood that was definitely rotting around some windows and corners.  Paint was flaking.  It was in pretty rough shape.

I happened to be talking to a fellow dad in my son’s Cub Scout troop and mentioned our need.  He mentioned that his former neighbor was a house painter.  He said he did great work and was very reasonable.  They’d just used him to paint their house, and he invited me over to take a look.  I went over right away and it looked great.

I brought him out to get a quote.  It was less than what I thought we’d spend.  We decided to use him.  In addition to painting, he power washed the exterior.  He replaced the bad wood.  He scraped where it was needed.  All cracks and crevices were re-caulked.  He added screws to areas where some nails had popped out.  He primed where needed.  And he put two coats everywhere, and in some cases three.

He even painted our shutters and front door with new colors.

The place looks great.

Appliances

We bought new LG kitchen appliances earlier in the summer.  On a side note, click here to find out why GE was ruled out.  We’d already had a newer dishwasher, so we didn’t need that.  Our purchases were made at JC Penney.

We had the fridge and stove installed.  The microwave is still in the box.  I just need a pair of hands to help install that myself.  But so far we love the new appliances.  We have extra fridge and freezer space (the old box got moved down to the basement).  In addition, the oven cooks to a more accurate temperature and cooks evenly.

Plus, it gives the kitchen a more updated look.

Deck Painting

Our deck is starting to show age pretty considerably.  We’ll probably have to have the horizontal surfaces replaced in a couple of years.  I’ve done some pretty meticulous paint jobs over the years, which has helped.  I plan to give it a quick painting in the next couple of weeks.  I’m not going to bother with the power washing and scraping.  Unfortunately, I think that’d do more harm than good.  I will give it a light wash and paint.  I think doing it before the winter will help give it an extra year or two versus if I wait another year.

Tree Trimming

The neighbors have trees in their yard that hang over our yard.  Over the years, the trees have grown considerably.  I’ve longed to get them trimmed for a while.  The neighbors really don’t care about the overgrowth on their side.  I’ve got a quote that I knew couldn’t be beat.

The problem is that I can’t get the company to come out!  The good news is that they’re the same company that our subdivision uses for the common areas.  I’ve used them before.  So, I’ve gotten used to having to bug them to get the work done.  It’s a pain to chase them.  But they do good work and the price is right.  We’re hoping to snag them before the year ends.

That’s all we have lined up and planned.  Again, hoping that there aren’t any emergencies.

As for next year, we’ll see.  Stay tuned.

Readers, have you done any home improvement projects?  How did everything go?  Let me know in the comments below.  And thanks for reading!

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

Five Money Updates – July 2017

How’s everything going in the money world?  I realized that I’ve been talking more on the lifestyle side of things and not as much as money.  I guess that happens after writing for so many years!  I just don’t like repeating myself.  But we have had some money updates over the past few months.  Here’s a few things going on.

We Refinanced Our Mortgage

We were in a 15 year mortgage with a payoff date in 2026.  This let us pay off a good chunk of our balance.  However, it wasn’t leaving us a good deal of cash flow, so I thought of a refinance.  I wasn’t interested in a home equity loan because of the cash flow issue.  With rates practically the same as our original loan, we decided to move forward with a refinance.  Since we used the same company, we also got $1,000 off of our closing costs.  The process was very smooth.

We Got New Appliances

We’ve been looking at new appliances for a couple of years.  Our fridge space was too small, so we were looking at an upgrade.  We ended up pulling the trigger over Memorial Day.  Sales were really good and we ended up getting a stove and microwave as well.  Why?  So we could have matching stainless steel in our kitchen.  I guess this probably means stainless steel will officially go out of style now after all these years!

Our House Needs Painting

The exterior of our house is primarily brick and vinyl.  But the trim around the edges and soffets is wood, and it’s looking pretty bad.  A number of pieces are rotted, so we need to find someone that can do light carpentry, caulking and painting.  I’ve got two referrals and will be looking for a couple of more.  Hopefully we can get this done before fall.

We’re Going To Mexico

It’s hard to believe but we’ll be celebrating our ten year wedding anniversary in September.  It’s been an amazing

Image from MorgueFiles courtesy of Lash.

journey.  We started saving a couple of years ago so that we could do something special.  We never decided just what that was until we settled on a trip to Mexico!  We booked at an all inclusive resort through Costco, and will be using accumulated Southwest points to take care of our airfare.  This is the first trip out of the country together.  In fact, we both needed to get passports, which we recently did!

I Got A Raise

It was nice to get an announcement last week that I’m getting a 3% raise.  That won’t turn me into a mogul or anything, but it’s nice to keep up with inflation.  This is the largest raise I’ve received in a while, so I won’t complain one bit!

How are things in your neck of the woods?  Post your money updates in the comments below.  Thanks for reading!

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

Making Our Craigslist Selling List

Have you used Craigslist for buying and selling?  We have used it occasionally, but I think it’s time to consider stepping it up a notch.  As I look around the house, I realize that we have a lot to sell.  It’s time to make our Craigslist selling list.

Early Returns

We have a garage full of kids riding toys that we have no use for.  Tricycles, smaller bikes, and scooters for young tots were great.  But they’re not needed anymore as our kids are way too big.

I’m of the opinion that toys are meant to be played with and to bring kids joy.  These things aren’t happening with toys that sit collecting cobwebs.

There were eleven such items in the garage.  I noted their condition.  I went online to look at what the items would cost new.  In most cases, I settled on a price around half of what it would be new.  And, I listed ten of them.

Within a week and a half, four of the items sold.  We sold a boys bike, a balance bike, a tricycle, and a Cozy Coupe.  Nobody haggled on the price, so I think the method I used was fair.

As for the other six items, I’ve got two ideas.  I may lower the price.  I also may use Facebook Marketplace, which I guess is pretty popular for kids toys and such.

Either way, it’s nice to have even four items gone and some money to take its place.

Expanding Our Reach

In the past, I haven’t used Craigslist to do much selling.  And, when I did it was for about the most complicated items you could sell.  Cars.  I’ve sold several cars over the years.  While the transactions always ended up well, it wasn’t easy.  You had a lot of crackpots or easily spotted scammers.  There were a lot of lowball offers.

I guess I assumed that’s how it was for just about everything.

But these toys went so quickly and the sales were so easy that it gave me hope.

I started looking around and realized that we have a lot of things around the house that are serving no purpose.  These seem like they would make great Craigslist items.

A First Glance At Our Craigslist Selling List

Just off the top off my head, I can think of a whole slew of items we’d like to sell.  Here’s a few:

  • An old couch and chair just sitting in the basement.  It’s nothing fancy but could probably fetch $50.
  • An exercise bike that works but that I just don’t care to use.  I would guess I could get $75 or so.
  • A brake controller that I used to tow our RV in our previous vehicle.  These are at least $100 new so I would think at least $50 could be had.
  • A little plastic slide in the backyard that was great when the kids were two but now looks ridiculous when they try to play with it.

And those are just the items I can think of.

My goal is to walk around the house and look through each room and write down any items I can think of.

To keep my sanity, I would not list every item all at once.  But keeping 5-10 items listed at all times seems manageable, doesn’t it?

I also need to decide on a strategy of what to do if something doesn’t sell.  Do I offer it for free?  Do I take it to Salvation Army? These are things I need to have a plan for.

I think Craigslist or the similar sites can be great for us to clear out some of the clutter that we have.  I’m hoping to get moving on this now that I’ve had some early success.

Readers, do you regularly use Craigslist or a similar site to sell items that you don’t need?  Any tips or tricks for me or other readers?  Please let me know in the comments below.

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.