Have you ever thought about everything in your house? Like all of it? At once? In one list?
When your house burns down, you get a list of what was in it and what it was made of. This list includes everything from the hooks on the walls to the light switches to the couch. Each bit–ceiling insulation in the living room and a pillow–gets a replacement value, a percentage of depreciation, and an actual cash value. These numbers then dictate what your house and all the stuff in it is worth. Many of these numbers are created in a massive database that the insurance company keeps–at least this is my guess–that includes various averages and assumptions. These numbers are useful in that I can’t remember what I paid for a lot of stuff, or what it would necessarily cost to replace.
This accounting presents some odd moments. First, I get a lot of stuff on sale or used. So a lot of what we have was pretty nice, but we certainly didn’t pay full price. Some of our stuff looked nicer or newer than it was because we took good care of it (Aside: I’m having a hell of a time with verb tenses.) But we’re getting the replacement value so that we can, as the insurance guarantees, replace it.
We refused reimbursement for the broken printer that was sitting by the front door waiting to go to Goodwill. We also refused reimbursement the many alter candles we had squirreled away that we would bring out for Halloween or Christmas. And, yes, we end up with alter candle leftovers because there are just enough church ladies who can’t throw away the end of a candle even when their pastor wants to switch them out for taller ones.
All told, we’ll likely end up using about half of what we’re insured for. Some of that is a function of getting a lot of stuff back: the high-quality wooden furniture, most clothes, the good stuff (ceramics, glassware, and metal) from the kitchen. I always felt like we had enough stuff, maybe a bit too much, but not too too much. But we’re insured for twice what we have. Crazy.
And, thankfully, others’ extra stuff has become some of our in-between stuff. Friends have donated dishes, pots, sheets, towels, etc. My folks have sent quite a bit of stuff they were saving to use down here at some point. And the house we’re renting has a lot of the furniture. So we aren’t necessarily in need of a lot of stuff, both because we’re getting it from others and we’re getting our stuff back (at some point). But we’re certainly learning how much less stuff we do need, not that we had much. We’ll see how we use our insurance check, what we find we need to replace and what we find we don’t.