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When my children were babies, my husband (at the time) and I were flat broke. I mean rob-the-kids’- piggy-banks-to-buy-macaroni-and-cheese kind of broke. We cut corners on every possible expense to provide shelter and the bare necessities for our young family. One kid was still drinking infant formula and both were still in diapers. Ouch! Big ticket items that added up to huge expenses! Our out-going expenses far exceeded our income. When it came time to buy renter’s insurance, I laughed it off. There was no way I had room in our budget for something as frivolous as renter’s insurance! And besides, I rationalized, what could possibly happen? In my mind, buying renter’s insurance was a waste of money, no matter how much someone else tried to convince me that we needed to purchase it, if for no other reason than peace of mind. I knew that the insurance was pennies a day, but when you are breaking into piggy banks to put food on the table, pennies a day translated into actual food I would be taking from my babies’ mouths.
Then one day, our apartment building burned to the ground. Burned. To. The. Ground. I clearly remember the date was April 30th, because in the midst of the most shocking event of my life, I saw the irony that the next day was May Day. May Day, May Day, our ship is going down!! Help!
No one in our apartment building had renter’s insurance. We were all left to start over. In fact, my family was the luckiest family (if you can call having your home burn to the ground lucky), because we lived on the ground floor and the firemen were able to pull some of our belongings out onto the street for all the world to see. My son was 6 months old and my daughter was 1 ½ years old. Now we were homeless with no resources to start over except grit, determination and the kindness of strangers.
Fortunately, the fire happened during the day and no one was injured in the fire. We found out later that the fire was started because of an electrical short in the unit directly above ours. But, alas, everyone in our building was suddenly homeless and trying to put their lives back together, regardless of the cause. The Red Cross stepped in and helped, friends and neighbors offered food, clothing and a couch to sleep on. Co-workers raised money to help us get a new apartment and buy some clothes.
This was a horrible situation to be thrust into. No one is ever prepared for an emergency of this magnitude, but without renter’s insurance we were straight up out of luck. There was no insurance settlement to ease our transition to new housing or help offset the cost of replacing nearly all of our possessions. We were on our own to piece together our new lives. After the fire seared a hole into our lives, I felt foolish for not being more responsible and protecting our family for such a nominal cost. Pennies a day would have protected us and given us a somewhat softer landing after a catastrophic event like the fire we experienced.
Not wanting to tempt fate, ever since the day of the fire, I have made sure our home and our belongings are insured. This is a call to action: if you don’t currently have renter’s insurance, get it! Today! You most likely will never need to use it, but in the event you do, you will be eternally grateful that you made such a small investment in yourself and your belongings. While I couldn’t prevent the fire, I could have protected my family. I wish I had listened to the whispers of others to buy renter’s insurance, but I chose to ignore those whispers. Hopefully, if you don’t already have renter’s insurance, you can learn from someone else’s (mine) mistake and not have to actually experience the lesson to heed the warning.
Photo Credit: Michael Blann / Digital Vision / ThinkStock
I swear my house gets the most clean when I only have fifteen minutes to tidy up. I have a five year old, so my house typically looks like a category 5 hurricane disaster zone: Barbies and their tiny little shoes, toys, and costumes are everywhere. So, if you’re like me, your house might be a mess. Don’t be so hard on yourself – it’s been a long week! Maybe you’re having guests over or you just want to at least pretend that you are a neat housekeeper. It’s ok. Not every house looks like a page ripped out of Home Design. In fact, I don’t think I have ever met someone whose house looks like that. Fret not, savvy dwellers: Here’s the 15 Minute Guide to a Clean Pad – and it will make Mama proud.
If you only have time to clean one room, clean the bathroom. Why? Guests spend more time in the bathroom than any other room in the house. You don’t have to break out the pumice stone or toothbrush. Clean the bathroom mirror, sink vanity, and toilet. Don’t worry about the shower unless your guests are going to be staying overnight (then clean it). If you move fast, this won’t take but a few minutes.
Dishes by hand = cruel and unusual punishment. If you have a dishwasher, I’m not even gonna lie to you: I’m totally jealous. Load that bad boy up, run it, and wipe down your counters. Clean the top surface of your stove, and haul out the trash and recycling. Don’t focus on the nitty gritties like cleaning the interior of the oven or broiler- you can save those projects for another day. Or not. (You didn’t hear me say that.)
3. Living Room
Pick up the sweater you flung over your couch, tidy up the magazines on your coffee table, and arrange your shoes neatly. Dust if it needs it, but just lightly. Vacuum quick – and boom! You’re done.
Photo Credit: Wavebreakmedia Ltd / Wavebreak Media / ThinkStock