Author Topic: House fire  (Read 6399 times)

FitStash

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House fire
« on: April 03, 2013, 10:38:46 AM »
Just as a disclaimer, this doesn't really involve any badassity on my part.

Last Wednesday, my apartment building burned down and took all my "stuff" with it.  Fortunately, we were able to get all the people and two of my four cats out in time, but that's about it.

Oddly enough, the day before the fire, I started getting into the idea of minimalism and purging the unnecessary stuff out of my life (I just came across
http://www.raptitude.com/ and http://mnmlist.com/, and they both fit pretty well into the mustachian ideology.)  Now I can really focus on only getting quality things that I actually make regular use of, and not accumulate cheap "stuff."  David has a nice article on "things" vs "stuff" on raptitude that I recommend.

I now realize how rich I really am.  Not really in terms of money (yet) or stuff, but in terms of relationships and things that actually matter.  It was a humbling experience to see people (complete strangers) come out of their homes at 3am in 29 degrees to hand us blankets and put socks on our bare feet.  It really solidified my belief that we humans are naturally good and social creatures at our core.

Also, I now support renters insurance!

BlueBird

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Re: House fire
« Reply #1 on: April 03, 2013, 10:44:27 AM »
I am so sorry that you're having to deal with this.  You seem to have an amazing attitude about it, but man, that's tough! 

Just wanted to let you know that your local Red Cross may be able to help you with some short term recovery stuff or direct you to other agencies that will.  I know you're not looking to replace a lot of stuff, but they can usually help with the basics.

I'm so glad you and the kitties are ok! 

Dr.Vibrissae

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Re: House fire
« Reply #2 on: April 03, 2013, 10:47:13 AM »
I'm glad that you are safe, and I'm sorry for your loss.  The thing that terrifies me most is the thought that if the house goes I amy not be able to save all the animals.  I wish you the best of luck in rebuilding with a renewed focus on what is truly important.

Spork

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Re: House fire
« Reply #3 on: April 03, 2013, 10:59:47 AM »
I'm glad that you are safe, and I'm sorry for your loss.  The thing that terrifies me most is the thought that if the house goes I amy not be able to save all the animals.  I wish you the best of luck in rebuilding with a renewed focus on what is truly important.

Exactly this.  This has been a thing that has worried me for as long as I can remember....  not that I can really do anything to fix this fear.

Reepekg

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Re: House fire
« Reply #4 on: April 03, 2013, 03:01:31 PM »
I lost "everything" in an apartment fire about 2 years ago. I had just moved back to the USA from abroad as a grad student, and had some cheap ikea furniture and not much else. I can tell you that it was incredibly freeing not to experience "loss" because I hadn't accumulated physical possessions I valued highly. I really felt for my downstairs neighbor who had all beautiful furniture and a huge tv, because her world was shaken up hard by it. The lesson learned for me was to spend on great experiences instead of physical things which can be lost.

Living simply has its advantages, and though I'm really sorry and know how much of a pain this can be, you have the right attitude to move forward.

And +1 for renters insurance and documenting your possessions.

CanuckExpat

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Re: House fire
« Reply #5 on: April 04, 2013, 12:09:06 PM »
FitStash and Reepekg: I'm glad you both made it through your experiences ok; I'm curious why you both recommend renters insurance after having lived through the fire. Did you have it and find it useful, or was it something you wished you had.
If you don't mind me saying, I'm not certain why you (or I) would have wanted it. You can afford to replace your possesions, the insurance wouldn't handle everything, so wouldn't it be a better idea to just save the money on the premiums and self insure?

mustachecat

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Re: House fire
« Reply #6 on: April 04, 2013, 02:15:34 PM »
Holy shit, that's terrifying. So glad you made it out okay, FitStash, and so, so sorry for your loss.

I'm glad that you are safe, and I'm sorry for your loss.  The thing that terrifies me most is the thought that if the house goes I amy not be able to save all the animals.  I wish you the best of luck in rebuilding with a renewed focus on what is truly important.

Exactly this.  This has been a thing that has worried me for as long as I can remember....  not that I can really do anything to fix this fear.

I'm not sure how things would actually play out in an emergency situation, but we have two carriers with towels in our bedroom closet. The plan would be to each grab one cat, wrapping them in a towel (it's easier to get them into that carrier that way), shoving them into the carrier, and then bolting. It's so scary, though, because one of our cats would definitely be cowering somewhere dark, and she's so tiny.

anastrophe

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Re: House fire
« Reply #7 on: April 04, 2013, 02:36:23 PM »
Holy shit, that's terrifying. So glad you made it out okay, FitStash, and so, so sorry for your loss.

I'm glad that you are safe, and I'm sorry for your loss.  The thing that terrifies me most is the thought that if the house goes I amy not be able to save all the animals.  I wish you the best of luck in rebuilding with a renewed focus on what is truly important.

Exactly this.  This has been a thing that has worried me for as long as I can remember....  not that I can really do anything to fix this fear.

I'm not sure how things would actually play out in an emergency situation, but we have two carriers with towels in our bedroom closet. The plan would be to each grab one cat, wrapping them in a towel (it's easier to get them into that carrier that way), shoving them into the carrier, and then bolting. It's so scary, though, because one of our cats would definitely be cowering somewhere dark, and she's so tiny.

I have the same thing but I actually do home fire drills with my pets. Not a lot, because that would be traumatizing for them, but I know that at 3am I'm working off muscle memory and any practice I can get will help if it happens.

There were three house fires in my area this week and some people died in one, very scary. I am looking into renter's insurance ASAP.

Glad you're okay FitStash.

Starstuff

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Re: House fire
« Reply #8 on: April 04, 2013, 02:57:45 PM »
FitStash and Reepekg: I'm glad you both made it through your experiences ok; I'm curious why you both recommend renters insurance after having lived through the fire. Did you have it and find it useful, or was it something you wished you had.
If you don't mind me saying, I'm not certain why you (or I) would have wanted it. You can afford to replace your possesions, the insurance wouldn't handle everything, so wouldn't it be a better idea to just save the money on the premiums and self insure?

Remember that some of we Mustachians are young and just beginning our journey. If I lost everything today, I wouldn't stand a chance without a lot of help from family. Renter's insurance would make the difference between a lot of debt (including personal) and remaining financially independent(-ish).

c

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Re: House fire
« Reply #9 on: April 04, 2013, 06:42:48 PM »
I'm sorry to hear that. We lost everything, including our cats, in a fire a few years ago. I'm really happy that you are ok and you were able to save some of your beasts.

We didn't have renters insurance. I was making good money and we had very generous relatives so were able to find a place to live and get new "stuff", but the insurance would have paid for a place to stay. Crashing with friends when we were so emotionally raw was not fun.

Take it easy, it's a huge shock and a horrific loss. I remember people saying "oh you're so lucky, you get to get all new stuff" when really I liked my old stuff.

Feel free to message me if you have any questions or need to unload.

Reepekg

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Re: House fire
« Reply #10 on: April 04, 2013, 10:45:18 PM »
FitStash and Reepekg: I'm glad you both made it through your experiences ok; I'm curious why you both recommend renters insurance after having lived through the fire. Did you have it and find it useful, or was it something you wished you had.
If you don't mind me saying, I'm not certain why you (or I) would have wanted it. You can afford to replace your possesions, the insurance wouldn't handle everything, so wouldn't it be a better idea to just save the money on the premiums and self insure?

This is actually a really provocative question. I still have stubble and am new to the MMM lifestyle, so I automatically recommended renters insurance out of habit because almost everyone in the general population would view losing all their stuff as both traumatizing and a massive financial loss. When you have nothing left and need to rebuy every little thing from socks to ketchup, it adds up so fast. And you need to make a lot of purchases right away just to meet your basic needs, so there really isn't time to get things on sale or look for a good bargain.

At the time of my life when I experienced the fire (mid-20s), most of my friends and neighbors had accumulated enough furniture, clothes, big tvs, etc. to put a loss from a fire in the $40-60k range, which I know they didn't have sitting around in an emergency fund. I had maybe $15k in the bank. I hadn't gotten around to thinking about insurance, so I felt let off the hook that I only lost maybe $2k of cheap furniture and clothes because of super lucky timing. I could easily recover, but I worry others couldn't.

But Mustachians? It could go either way, but I think Starstuff is on to something. If you are far along the path and have the stash to comfortably replace everything you need (or have few possessions), you can calculate out the value of your possessions/your premium expenses vs. the risk of fire and self-insure. If you're new to the ways of MMM and have maybe $30k in possessions and a shiny new $10k stash, you might consider the $18/month a reasonable investment in security in the short term. Basically, I made the recommendation not on the basis of the numbers, but on the emotional "this could have been so much worse and could happen to others."
« Last Edit: April 04, 2013, 10:50:18 PM by Reepekg »

Lina

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Re: House fire
« Reply #11 on: April 05, 2013, 07:55:51 AM »
Is renters insurance expensive? Here it is about 100 USD up to 35 000 USD. 100 USD is the cost of replacing all my socks so I think it is definitely worth the expense.

Starstuff

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Re: House fire
« Reply #12 on: April 05, 2013, 08:37:52 AM »
FitStash and Reepekg: I'm glad you both made it through your experiences ok; I'm curious why you both recommend renters insurance after having lived through the fire. Did you have it and find it useful, or was it something you wished you had.
If you don't mind me saying, I'm not certain why you (or I) would have wanted it. You can afford to replace your possesions, the insurance wouldn't handle everything, so wouldn't it be a better idea to just save the money on the premiums and self insure?

This is actually a really provocative question. I still have stubble and am new to the MMM lifestyle, so I automatically recommended renters insurance out of habit because almost everyone in the general population would view losing all their stuff as both traumatizing and a massive financial loss. When you have nothing left and need to rebuy every little thing from socks to ketchup, it adds up so fast. And you need to make a lot of purchases right away just to meet your basic needs, so there really isn't time to get things on sale or look for a good bargain.

At the time of my life when I experienced the fire (mid-20s), most of my friends and neighbors had accumulated enough furniture, clothes, big tvs, etc. to put a loss from a fire in the $40-60k range, which I know they didn't have sitting around in an emergency fund. I had maybe $15k in the bank. I hadn't gotten around to thinking about insurance, so I felt let off the hook that I only lost maybe $2k of cheap furniture and clothes because of super lucky timing. I could easily recover, but I worry others couldn't.

But Mustachians? It could go either way, but I think Starstuff is on to something. If you are far along the path and have the stash to comfortably replace everything you need (or have few possessions), you can calculate out the value of your possessions/your premium expenses vs. the risk of fire and self-insure. If you're new to the ways of MMM and have maybe $30k in possessions and a shiny new $10k stash, you might consider the $18/month a reasonable investment in security in the short term. Basically, I made the recommendation not on the basis of the numbers, but on the emotional "this could have been so much worse and could happen to others."

It's not even about having a lot of stuff. I still have debt, and only $4,500 in the bank. So while my stuff is worth probably $10k at the extreme most, and I could probably get back on my feet for less, it's just cash we in the beginning don't have. Since my parents aren't in a place to help me, and more debt isn't even a vague option, the extra $5 a month I pay in renters is a remarkably sound investment.

hops

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Re: House fire
« Reply #13 on: April 05, 2013, 09:28:39 AM »
I'm glad you and your cats are okay, FitStash.

About renters insurance: Two years ago our upstairs neighbors had a kitchen fire that quickly spiraled out of control. They were unhurt, but between fire and smoke damage and the sprinkler system going off most of their apartment was destroyed. The fire didn't spread to our unit but our kitchen and living room had to be torn apart due to water damage.  It was crazy: One minute we're relaxing in our living room, the next there are three fire trucks outside and we're standing in six inches of snow in our pajamas being told that it could be two or three months before we can come home again.

The neighbors had no renters insurance. They had to throw out all of their furniture, their clothes, most of their electronics and a good percentage of their other belongings.  The complex manager later said that it was likely the complex's insurance company would try to go after them personally for damages.  (She was doubtful it would do any good but it did result in an immediate requirement that all renters buy insurance that includes liability coverage.)

At the time we paid around $115 per year for a renters policy that covered something like $35,000 worth of personal belongings and $100,000 in liability.  While our neighbors stood in the parking lot shell-shocked and crying, waiting for the Red Cross to pick them up and take them to temporary lodgings, our insurance agent was offering to find us a hotel and instructing us on what to do next. We ended up not filing a claim - we stayed with relatives for a week (which was challenging for the reasons c mentioned) while the complex readied a temporary unit for us; and we had so few high-end possessions that we were able to act quickly and protect our furniture and electronics from water damage. But if we hadn't been home at the time it would've taken just a few minutes for the sprinklers to ruin most of our stuff.

We were saving for a house at the time and had around $70,000 in an ING account. We could have self-insured but felt renters insurance at $115 per year was a no-brainer for the reasons Starstuff and Lina mention. Another Mustachian consideration to make during events like this is the cleanup. The company our complex hired to dry out our apartment started circling like sharks once they learned we had renters insurance. They were relentless with cheap scare tactics and intimidation during one of the most stressful and vulnerable situations of our lives. They also provided some great comic material when they presented us with an inventory list of everything in our apartment and what they would charge to professionally clean it. In most cases their cleaning charge was much higher than what we paid for the item: for example, $70 to clean a $35 plastic chair.

StarryC

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Re: House fire
« Reply #14 on: April 06, 2013, 02:55:04 PM »
Even if you can "self insure" for your possessions, renters insurance is a good call for the liability aspects.  It will cover liability related to your rental (like hops' situation) but also other personal liability, like if your dog bites someone or someone is injured in your rental, or you are otherwise sued for something not related to your car or employment (anyone can sue you for anything, it will cost you money to defend even if they lose).   I pay $105 a year.  If I invested that at 8% for 20 years it would be about $5500.  I'm willing to lose that much for the peace of mind.   

jnik

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Re: House fire
« Reply #15 on: April 10, 2013, 02:35:18 PM »
We were fortunate in that we were able to come back to an intact house, but we had similar feelings...gosh...two years ago now! We also had the luxury of time: as soon as the fire started I got papers together for if an evac order came, then once we knew we wouldn't have to work the next day we decided to leave immediately (as it turned out, mandatory evac was called 12 hours later). Once we got kitty, papers, and a quilt my mother made, it was "well, it's all about the same now...either we pack a u-haul or we call it good."

It's that time of year again...should put together the grab-and-go box.

Glad you're okay. Sorry to hear about the two kitties.

MissStache

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Re: House fire
« Reply #16 on: July 02, 2013, 09:24:18 AM »
Is renters insurance expensive? Here it is about 100 USD up to 35 000 USD. 100 USD is the cost of replacing all my socks so I think it is definitely worth the expense.

Not for me.  I have $30,000 worth of renter's coverage from GEICO for about $150/year.  That is 100% worth it to me. 

FitStash

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Re: House fire
« Reply #17 on: July 02, 2013, 10:17:17 AM »
FitStash and Reepekg: I'm glad you both made it through your experiences ok; I'm curious why you both recommend renters insurance after having lived through the fire. Did you have it and find it useful, or was it something you wished you had.
If you don't mind me saying, I'm not certain why you (or I) would have wanted it. You can afford to replace your possesions, the insurance wouldn't handle everything, so wouldn't it be a better idea to just save the money on the premiums and self insure?

You should also consider the fact that renters insurance covers your liability as well.  Our apartment complex's insurance is threatening to sue me on top of everything.  Fortunately, in my case, it is physically impossible for the fire to have been caused by us, so it's more of a scare tactic.  However, if I had renters insurance, my insurance company would just battle it out with theirs.

Zamboni

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Re: House fire
« Reply #18 on: July 02, 2013, 10:39:42 AM »
I'm sorry to hear about the fire and particularly your cats who died :-(

Quote
Our apartment complex's insurance is threatening to sue me on top of everything. 

Wow, that's amazing.  Threaten to sue them back!  Say that you think the apartment complex's negligent maintenance caused it!  Carry on and act like a crazy person; go off the deep end about your poor cats and tell them it's all their fault.  Act hysterical (even though it's clear that really you're quite sensible.)  That'll learn them. 

I've only ever had to file a homeowner's insurance claim once, and to make a long story short I was not at all impressed with the "service."  They did pay it eventually, but it was like pulling teeth the whole way.  I switched carriers after that.  I do think renter's insurance is so cheap (mine was $9/month when I rented) that it is worth the peace of mind.