Document Your Property
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Can I tell you about one of the times I knew my husband was a real keeper? When we got engaged and started talking about combining households, we both agreed we should do an inventory of what we each had.
So he came over one Saturday armed with Excel and coffee (which may have turned to wine after a few hours), and we went through everything I had and decided what to keep and what to pitch. Pretty much everyone in my life will attest to the fact that I have always had a lot of “stuff,” so doing this was no small feat.
But we did it. And guess what. That laid the groundwork for having all my “stuff” documented in case we ever needed it.
I’ve modified the simple spreadsheet we used and have included it in our Resource Library, which you can get FREE access to here.
What kind of property do you need to document?
In short, everything you’ve got of any value that you’d want to replace if your house burned to the ground. Your grandmother’s silver might seem irreplaceable, but take photos of it all the same. If the pattern still exists, you’ll be able to assign value to it and replace it if you need to.
You’ll want to document your furniture, artwork, papers, and clothing. Cars, bedding, generators. Wallpaper samples and paint colors. And don’t forget all the stuff in your kitchen. Yes, this is a lot. But trust me – if you ever need all this information, you’ll be really glad you spent the time on it.
Also, don’t forget to document your home and its condition. If you need to replace anything after a storm, you may not remember what kind of roofing tile you had and the condition of the roof may mean you can’t figure it out. Photos will really help in recovery.
How should you document everything?
A couple of ways. Start with a spreadsheet that lists everything out by the room. Then make sure you’ve got good photos of everything you’re documenting.
You should also walk through your house room by room and take a video of each room. You should also do this with the outside of the house.
Set up a file in the cloud (Craig and I share folders on Dropbox) and store the photo and video files there. And the more organized you can keep those digital files, the easier it will be if you ever need them.
If you go to our Resource Library, I’ve included all the steps you need to get everything documented and recorded. I’ve also included a guide to organizing it in the cloud. To get the password to the library and access all this, click here.
Insurance And Savings Audit
This step is one of the most crucial to putting together a good financial emergency plan. If something were to happen, you need to make sure you have the funds to recover.
How long have you had your insurance policies? If you’re like me, the money gets auto-deducted from your bank account each month and you don’t think much about it. You’re just pretty sure you’re mostly covered if something were to happen. Probabaly.
But be honest – when was the last time you took a look at your coverage? You really should conduct an audit every couple of years. So:
- Review your policies. Are they current? Are they still accurate for your needs?
- Will your homeowners and auto insurance be enough to take care of you in an emergency?
- If you’re a renter, does your lease reflect your current rent and is your renter’s insurance up to date?
- Do you have flood insurance? Do you need it? How about hurricane insurance?
- Do you live in an older home? If so, it could cost 25-50% more to rebuild – make sure your insurance policy will cover that.
- Have you acquired any other items of value (art, jewelry, furs, etc.)? Your insurance may require a separate policy or rider to cover these.
- Keep physical and electronic copies of your policies. Store physical copies with your other important documents and keep electronic copies in the cloud – I’ve mentioned we like Dropbox, but there are numerous services you can use.
I’m guessing you’ve already thought about your savings in the context of working towards retirement. But what about an unforeseen expense? Without solid preparation, that could wipe out everything you’ve got.
A good rule of thumb is to have six months of expenses in reserve in case you lose your job – or in this case, something more devastating were to happen.
That being said, there’s not necessarily a “right” answer to what to have in reserve. Especially when you’re living paycheck to paycheck struggling to put anything away. Some people feel just fine having a couple of months of income in reserve. Some feel better having a full year set aside. Whatever your number is – make it a priority to build up enough that you could survive while you wait for insurance to kick in if something catastrophic were to happen.
And while we’re on the subject, if you are occasionally living beyond your paycheck, a better savings goal is to set aside funds to cover a number of months of expenses rather than just reserving a few months of your income. You know, just in case. But savings and budget strategies are probably topics for another post.
Getting together a financial emergency plan together is just one step in making sure you’re prepared for a catastrophe.
You also need to put together a “go-book” of all important documents, identification, and contacts – financial and otherwise. You’ll want to put together a family emergency plan and make sure every family member understands it. And you’ll want to gather emergency supplies in one place. Supplies that will enable you to shelter in place or to evacuate.
In the next couple of posts, we’ll tackle all of this. We’ve done the work to make it easy for you to get your emergency plan together. You can get access to all the checklists and guides in our resource library FOR FREE here.
I’d love your thoughts. Do you have any good tips or tricks for making sure you have the resources to survive a disaster? Comment below!