I live in an 8 story apartment building located in downtown Denver, Colorado. I choose to live here because it’s within walking distance to work and I always wanted to try downtown living with quick access to restaurants, bars and the plethora of city activities. However, I quickly learned that apartment buildings as an adult are very similar to college dorms as a freshman.
Yes, some apartments are nice, expensive and selective, but I don’t live there. I live in a regular apartment building where people are loud on the weekends and like to pull the fire alarm. Ugh!
Fire Alarm goes off
Literally the first weekend I moved into this apartment building, the fire alarm went off at 11:20 pm (that should have been a sign), I was still up and I freaked out, like nearly had a panic attack. I was in a new environment I wasn’t yet comfortable in, full of flammable boxes and everything I owned was moments away from going up in flames, literally.
Initially, I thought it was just a joke someone pulled the alarm because I’ve never been in a real fire before, but this building’s alarm was screeching. Deaf people down the street could hear it. So I popped my head into the hallway and sure enough, I saw smoke.
Fudgsicle (I don’t cuss a lot). This building is going to burn.
What’s important enough in my life to save
In this moment, the fire alarm is blaring, I see smoke and I’m covering my ears, trying to think what I should take with me. What do I save?
It’s funny to think about, everything I own is in a 582 square foot studio apartment. So I went from one end of the apartment immediately assessing the value of everything in a snap judgment.
- Bookcase (Let it Burn) – It only has books, movies, and expensive art supplies. I can rebuy those later. Bye, bye first edition of the Harry Potter books.
- Bed (Let it Burn) – Beds cost a ridiculous amount of money and I don’t want to pay for another one but it’s crazy to try to save a bed, no matter how comfy. Bye, bye bed.
- TV & Gaming System (Let it Burn) – Funny how important buying a big tv is or how much time you spend watching Netflix, but in a moment like this, you’re so easy to leave it behind. These are replaceable, you can always get a new one. Bye, bye Xbox One.
- Clothes (Took 2 Pairs of Clothes) – If everything was going to burn down, I would need a few sets of clothes to get through the next couple of days. I literally pictured myself going through the insurance claims over following weeks, so I wanted some clothing I could get by in. I grabbed some shirts, socks, pants, boxers and a jacket.
- Kitchen (Let it Burn) – Who am I kidding, I barely cook. There is absolutely no food or kitchen appliance/utensils that I would want to save. Sorry Chef Ramsay, bye, bye kitchen.
- Computer (Take the Computer) – I pretty much live my life through my computer for both personal and work stuff. While you can always buy a new computer, it was the documents on it that held the importance. Since it’s such a big part of my life, plus I imagined I would need it for any paperwork I needed to submit to the insurance. So the computer came with me.
- Golf Clubs (Let it Burn) – I wouldn’t have time to play while drowning in my tears over my burnt apartment. Goodbye putters.
- Hiking Bag (Let it Burn) – I actually considered taking the hiking bag with me. It already had all my hiking gear in it. Like my tent, sleeping bag, supplies and even some MREs. Everything I figured I would need to live in the street for a bit. However, I decided against it because I would probably crash with a friend. I was really iffy on this, but the bag can burn.
- Firebox of important documents (Took with me) – All my important documents like my car title, social security card, passport and everything are kept in a fireproof lockbox, a very heavy lockbox. So while I figured it would likely survive a fire, I was paranoid and threw it in my duffle bag.
- Wallet, Keys, Phone (Took with me) – These were probably the most important because they were the first thing I thought of. Especially the wallet (ID, credit cards, cash). Anything I didn’t have I could bye. So these came with.
Lastly, since I knew everything in my apartment would burn, I snapped a few photos from different angles on my phone so I could show my renter’s insurance everything they needed to reimburse me more.
So in a span of 3 minutes, while the fire alarm was blaring, I assessed the entirety of my life assets and deemed them worth saving or not. Isn’t that crazy to think about?
When I left my apartment, the most important things I owned was a set of legal documents, a computer, my phone, 2 set of clothes and my wallet. That’s it. It really makes you wonder what’s important enough in your life.
How the night ended
I grabbed my duffle bag full of the most important “things” in my life and took off down the hallway. Since I was still new, I had no idea where the stairs were. Luckily building codes require them to be posted around the elevators. So taking the stairs, I excited outside along the sidewalk with the rest of my 200 apartment residents. Then the fire trucks came.
Fireman charged through the doors and disappeared leaving everyone moseying around and chatting amongst ourselves. Conversations could be overheard of “dumb drunk people” to “did you see smoke, I saw smoke”.
We were left on the sidewalk with no information for 20 minutes before we heard the fire alarm go off and the firemen exit the building. We were given the all clear and started to walk in. As I passed, I could hear the building manager speak to some other tenants explaining that someone on my floor came home drunk and attempted to cook on the stove, filling the apartment and our floor with smoke.
Silly drunk people.
Seriously the fastest way to assess your life’s stuff
While I went back to my apartment a little angry for the whole ordeal. I was bewildered that I was currently holding everything important in my life.
Likewise I discovered what wasn’t important and how easily I thought “oh, I could always just buy another one”. All of my “stuff” had a price tag and was so easily replaced. It forced me to wonder what is actually important in my life. What can I get rid of and what do I actually need. Also what new stuff do I actually need to buy and would I actually save it in a fire? If not, do I really need it?
Of course, I don’t ever recommend you wait till your house/building is on fire to do a life assessment, but it is a challenging exercise to wonder what handful of your things you would save in a fire.
What would you save?
Wallet Squirrel is a personal finance blog by best friends Andrew & Adam on how money works, building side-hustles, and the benefits of cleverly investing the profits. Featured on MSN Money, AOL Finance, and more!
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