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Daylight saving: 5 ways to spend your free hour

You're gaining an hour this weekend. Here's how to use that time to protect your home and your finances.

By Stacy Johnson Nov 5, 2010 10:40AM

This post comes from Stacy Johnson at partner site Money Talks News.


For most of us, it's time to "fall back" this weekend. So move the clocks in your house back one hour before you go to bed on Saturday night.

But, before you do, here are five suggestions on how to allocate your extra hour to get the most peace of mind -- and bang for your buck.


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 -- since you changed them when daylight saving time began back on March 14, they probably are -- don't toss them. Save them for less critical household items like flashlights and TV remotes.


Did you know that smoke detectors also expire? Check yours for an expiration date. If it's past its useful life, replace it. And speaking of fires ...


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 purchase price. If you lose all your possessions, you're ready to simply hand your list to your insurance company and get reimbursed.


But if creating such a detailed list sounds onerous, at least walk through each room in your house with a video camera (even some smart phones will do) 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 store that video away from home -- 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.


Furnace filter: five minutes. You should be checking/changing your furnace filter every month. Clean filters can reduce heating costs by 10%, not to mention preventing expensive repairs. If you haven't checked yours in a while, do it Saturday. And keep doing it the first Saturday of every month from now on.


Retirement plan review: 10 minutes. It's been said many times: Most families spend more time planning a vacation than planning their retirement. Pull out your most recent 401k, 403b, IRA or any other retirement account statements.

Do you have enough exposure to stocks? 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% of your retirement savings in stocks. If you're 80, you'd have 20%. But remember, this is a rule of thumb, not a rule. Do what makes you comfortable. (Also see: "Manage your 401k in 1 minute.")


Insurance review: 15 minutes. You 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 pay less for the same coverage.

The simplest way to save on most insurance policies is to raise your deductibles to the highest number that 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.


That's it!

If you do everything on the above list within the allotted time, you'll accomplish some important stuff -- and since you gain an hour this weekend, it theoretically will take no time at all.


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. It's all good. But when you get some extra time here and there, do these things. It's truly time well spent.


More from Money Talks News and MSN Money:

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