Daylight saving time ends at 2 a.m. Sunday, giving back the hour that seemingly was taken from us in the spring.
For most of us, it’s time to fall back this weekend. In addition to moving the clocks in your house back one hour before you go to bed Saturday night, use the end of daylight saving time as a reminder to check a few things around the house. After all, you’re gaining an hour — why not put it to productive use?
Here’s how to allocate your extra hour to get the most peace of mind, and bang for your buck.
1. Smoke detectors: 10 minutes
The most important batteries in your house are those that power your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Even if they appear to be OK, replace them. But if those batteries are still good — if you changed them when daylight saving time began March 13, they probably are — don’t toss them. Save them for less critical household items like flashlights and TV remotes.
Did you know smoke detectors also expire? Check yours for an expiration date. If it’s past its useful life, replace it.
2. Home inventory: 20 minutes
When was the last time you made a list of all the things in your home? If your house burns down or is otherwise destroyed, a home inventory will be the most valuable thing you have left.
The ideal home inventory is a list of everything you have, along with the date you bought it and the purchase price. If you lose all possessions, you are ready to simply hand the list to your insurance company and get reimbursed.
If creating such a detailed list sounds onerous, at least walk through each room in your house with a video camera or smartphone and create a video of your stuff, reciting the price and purchase date of the expensive items. Then you’ll at least have the ability to create a list should the need arise.
Don’t forget to keep that video away from home. Storing it online would be ideal. If you’d like to use free software to create a more thorough inventory, you can get it from the Insurance Information Institute.
Here are tips to secure important paperwork and documents in the cloud.
3. Furnace filter: 5 minutes
You should check and change (if necessary) your furnace filter every month. Clean filters can reduce heating costs by 10 percent, and can prevent expensive repairs. But if you haven’t checked yours in a while, do it now. And keep doing it the first Saturday of every month from now on.
You’ll find more simple things you can do to reduce energy costs and stay cozy in “16 Ways to Prepare Your House for Winter.”
4. Retirement plan review: 10 minutes
Many families spend more time planning a vacation than planning their retirement. Pull out your most recent 401(k), 403(b), IRA or other retirement account statement: Do you have enough exposure to the stock market? Too much?
One rule of thumb is to subtract your age from 100 — that’s the percentage you should have in some kind of stock fund. So if you’re 35, you’d have 65 percent of your retirement savings in stocks. If you’re 80, you’d have 20 percent.
But remember, this is a rule of thumb, not a rule. Do what makes you comfortable.
5. Insurance review: 15 minutes
Insurance can consume up to 9 cents of every dollar you spend. So it makes sense to ensure that you’re getting your money’s worth. You likely have at least four types of insurance: car, home, life and health. Pick one type every six months and make sure you’re getting the best possible deal.
There are plenty of places to compare insurance rates, including our insurance shopping tool. So pull out a policy and see if you can do better for the same coverage.
The simplest way to save on most insurance policies is to raise your deductibles to the highest amount you can comfortably afford. Remember, the purpose of insurance is to prevent financial catastrophe, not financial inconvenience. As I’m fond of saying, if you insure yourself so that you’ll never lose a penny, you’ll never have a penny to lose.
If you did everything in the above list within the allotted time, you’ve accomplished some important stuff. And because you gain an hour this weekend, it theoretically took no time at all!
On the other hand, if all that seemed too ambitious and you end up simply spending an extra hour in bed, don’t feel guilty. It’s all good. But when you get an extra minute or two, do these things: It’s truly time well-spent.
How do you intend to spend your “free” hour? Share with us in the comments section or on our Facebook page.