My recent search for homeowners insurance raised some interesting questions (not least of which: why doesn’t “homeowners insurance” have a possessive apostrophe – which would, of course, go after the “s”? You can find the answer here, if you are so inclined.)
Among the mundane details of home size and composition is the question of coverage: What kinds are necessary? And how much do we need?
(I suppose if I were a responsible homeowner, I would be asking myself these questions every year when my policy renewed. But, well, I have three small children. Which is my go-to excuse for almost everything these days, even if it isn’t exactly apropos.)
As we were discussing how much personal property coverage I should purchase, one broker recommended I form a rough guess of what it would cost to replace the items in each room of the house, add it all up, then tack on an additional $40,000.
“You have way more than you think you do,” he said.
In the days since that conversation, I’ve caught myself mentally tabulating the value of our possessions as I go about my day. Pull out a pan – $50. Blow-dry my hair – $30. Sit down to write – $300 (chair and ottoman), $700 (laptop).
The broker was right – the money adds up quickly.
Seeing dollar signs as I use everyday items helps me to not take our material goods for granted. It’s one way of remembering how much we have . . . but I’m not convinced it’s the best way.
Here’s the problem.
While I know that I will be grateful to have the financial assistance should our home ever burn to the ground, assigning dollar amounts is a poor indication of value.
For two reasons:
On the one hand, how can I determine the worth of the onesie that both girls wore home from the hospital? Or the rocking boat built for the kids by their grandparents? Or the cabinet doors Jonathan made using repurposed mahogany from his Granddaddy’s home?
On the other hand, it’s all stuff, just stuff.
“You have way more than you think you do.”
It’s far more true than he knows.
He meant it as a commentary on the fact that most Americans have so many material possessions that they don’t even know the monetary value of what they have.
But the more I think about it, the more I see it as a statement about my own lack of gratitude, my own tendency to take all that I do have – materially, yes, but also physically, mentally, spiritually, emotionally, relationally – for granted.
I have way more than I think I do. Maybe it’s time I started trying to change that.