Category Archives: Finance


How would you like your change?

Two tens have the same value as a twenty. Wadded up or neatly ordered, paper currency has the same value either way. But a lot of us may have strong preferences for how we hold our cash.

I bring this up because I reached into my own wallet this afternoon to find a single, two fives, and a twenty. They were out of order, a couple upside-down, and one of the fives was folded awkwardly. Grrr…. Slightly annoyed, I pulled the four bills out and reordered them neatly, all facing the same way, right side up, and ordered in lowest value to highest, from top to bottom.

No OCD here, just a preference for having my cash in order. I couldn’t tell you why it matters to me, other than having taken to heart my retail training from 30-some years ago, when the bills were to be stacked just so in the drawer.

Other peeves? I don’t like receiving change with the clerk handing back the bills into my palm first and then dropping the coins on top of them. What am I supposed to do with that? Instead of cradled neatly in my palm, the coins are loose, on top of a relatively slick surface. I now need to pick them up with the hand I have free and maneuver them into the coin slot of my wallet, still grasping the bills with the other hand… Awkward.

And what about those coins? How many do you carry around? Do you just keep all the coin change you receive and use it as you spend? Do you drop the coins in tips jars, charity boxes, or a coin jar at home for later consolidation? If you save them, how is the cash used later?

I usually have a few coins with me, but they are heavy so I don’t keep a lot. When I have too much change, whatever that means, I drop the excess into a coin cup at home. Jim drops the pennies in another jar and raids the rest for coffee. I’ve never asked what happens to the pennies.

Our younger generation hardly uses cash or coins at all. My son pays for almost everything with a debit card, so he rarely has cash. This may be the way of the world ultimately.

How do you like your change? How do you carry the bills and coins? What do you do with coins?

Since the name of the post is “Cash”, I thought I’d link to a song from favorite Johnny Cash. Thoroughly appropriately, it is the Ballad of the Forty Dollars. Waylon Jennings joins him.


Inventory your stuff!

Wildfires, tornadoes, earthquakes, hurricanes, floods… every part of the country is susceptible to disaster; every one of us is vulnerable to natural (and human-instigated) phenomena. Climate change issues are likely to make these worse in the future.

Keeping ourselves and our loved ones safe is the highest priority for most of us, but these events also can lead to severe financial hardship. What can you do NOW to mitigate your financial harm when disaster strikes? INSURE. Know what your insurance covers. And be prepared to make a valid and complete claim by having an inventory of your stuff.

Anyone who owns a home (with or without mortgage) and anyone who rents (or stays rent-free with someone) should have insurance to reduce financial losses in a disaster.

Two Purposes of Homeowners’ and Renters’ Insurance

Two primary purposes of homeowners’ and renters’ insurance are to protect you from liability claims and to protect you from actual property losses.

Liability, when discussing insurance, is the legal responsibility to pay someone else for damages as a result of your actions or inaction. If you do not repair your sidewalk and a pedestrian trips, breaking her hip, you may be liable for the cost of her medical treatment. A renter may have liability, also. For example, if a renter turns down the thermostat too far over a winter vacation, and the pipes freeze and burst, the renter may be liable to the landlord to pay for damages. Both homeowners and renters need insurance, if only to protect them against liability claims.

Property insurance is the portion of your policy that covers losses due to damage or theft. You may experience actual physical losses of property or the use of your property, due to disaster.

I want to be very clear: I am not talking about insurance coverage of any business equipment, business malpractice, or business loss-of-revenue due to interruption of business activity. Please talk to your insurance agent about these concerns, as they likely fall outside the personal insurance I am discussing.

Some losses are not covered under typical homeowners’ policies. Flood, earthquake, and mold damage are not, generally, and require specific insurance, separate from the homeowners (or renters) policy.

From the National Flood Insurance Program note that

In 1968, Congress created the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) to help provide a means for property owners to financially protect themselves. The NFIP offers flood insurance to homeowners, renters, and business owners if their community participates in the NFIP. Participating communities agree to adopt and enforce ordinances that meet or exceed FEMA requirements to reduce the risk of flooding.

In addition, if you are eligible for flood insurance and wish to obtain it

It takes 30 days after purchase for a policy to take effect, so it’s important to buy insurance before the floodwaters start to rise.

Make sure you don’t wait until the water is rising. It’s just too late then. Similarly, this article last year from the Durango Herald noted homeowners can’t add insurance as the wildfires burn.

In addition, some household assets may need supplemental insurance for full coverage. For example, your valuable jewelry, musical instruments, computer or other electronic equipment, may need a rider or supplemental policy. Talk to your insurance agent to make sure you know what is covered under your policy, and whether you need additional coverage.

If You Need to Make a Claim

If disaster strikes and you need to make a claim due to property losses, you MUST know what is lost to submit a complete claim. That may not be easy for most of us, as we’d have trouble listing all the items in our home. For example, think of the cupboard closest to your stove. Can you list every item in the cupboard from memory? Can you list every item in your hall closet from memory? Probably not. Virtually every property insurance company recommends creating an inventory of assets, and many provide worksheets, spreadsheets, and other devices to do so. The task, though, would overwhelm many people, as even the least acquisitive of us typically own thousands of items. It would be ever more overwhelming while dealing with the distress of tragedy.

Instead, inventory the simple way. You’ll at least have a help in remembering what you own. Just use a camera, phone with camera, or video camera and make sure you take images of every room, all walls, and inside each drawer, cabinet, cupboard, and closet. If there are items of special value, such as antiques or high-end electronics, take close-ups of them. If you have receipts for valuable items, also create digital images of those. Though it’s still a time-consuming task, it gives you a huge boost in your ability to remember and claim all that was lost.

Then STORE those images away from your home. These days the easiest way to do that is to upload them to a photo service, or even email them to yourself.

If you lose use of your property and need to stay elsewhere for a period of time, keep all receipts for lodging to provide documentation for your claim. Also save receipts for repair, clean-up, and replacement costs. Your insurance agent will want copies of all of these to process your claims.

I hope none of us experience losses due to natural or man-made disasters. The probability is high, though, that many of us will. Please be prepared. INSURE. Know what your insurance covers. And be prepared to make a valid and complete claim by having an inventory of your stuff.


Note that state insurance laws vary. Please discuss your concerns and coverage with your insurance agent to optimize the value you get from the policies you buy.