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Daylight saving time ends at 2 a.m. Sunday, giving back the hour that seemingly was taken from us in the spring.
In addition to moving your clocks 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. If those batteries are still good, 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 the date has passed, replace the detector.
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 your possessions, you are ready to simply hand the list to your insurance company and get reimbursed.
We’ve got step-by-step directions in “6 Tips for Making a Home Inventory Right Now.”
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.
3. Furnace filter: 5 minutes
You should check and, if necessary, change your furnace filter every month. So, if you haven’t checked yours lately, do it now. And keep doing it on the first Saturday of every month from now on. Clean filters can reduce heating costs and prevent expensive repairs.
You’ll find more simple things you can do to reduce energy costs and stay cozy in “Prep Your Home for Winter With These 16 Low-Cost Tricks.”
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 — the remainder is the percentage of your retirement savings you should have in some kind of stock fund. So if you’re 35, you’d have 65 percent of your 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
You likely have at least four types of insurance: car, home, health and life. Every six months, pick one type of insurance and make sure you’re getting the best possible deal on it.
There are plenty of websites for comparing insurance rates. 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.
For more cost-cutting tips, check out:
- “9 Ways to Drive Down Your Auto Insurance Rates“
- “8 Foolproof Ways to Slash the Cost of Homeowners Insurance“
- “15 Ways to Beat the High Cost of Medical Care“
- “Ask Stacy: Should I Drop My Life Insurance Policy?“
If you do everything on this list, you will have accomplished some important stuff.
On the other hand, if all that seems too ambitious and you end up simply spending an extra hour in bed, don’t feel guilty. 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.