It had an interesting night Monday night. I woke up at 2:00 am to the fire alarms blaring. I leapt out of bed, made sure my roommate was up (I think she could sleep through anything) and then tried to corral the cats. I managed to get one, and the second one refused to come out from his spot inside the box spring. I crossed my fingers that this was just a false alarm, grabbed my coat, the cat carrier, my purse, my keys, and my roommate, and we headed out.
Carrying 15 pounds of cat down 10+ flights of stairs is an adventure, by the way.
We stood in the parking lot of the building, hoping that the lack of sirens meant that it was a false alarm. A number of my neighbors commented that this had happened about two years ago, sometime before I moved into the building, and that was reassuring. It was a nice evening, but I was glad I had a jacket. A number of people left their apartments without anything in their hands – no coats, no keys, nothing. It’s important to get out as fast as possible, but since I keep my purse and my keys in a very specific place, it was easy to grab them as I left.
The alarm finally went off, and people started to go back into the building. It came back on for a few seconds, and then finally stopped. We waited a while to see if we would get an all clear, but didn’t hear anything (we had come out onto the back parking lot, and based on the number of people with us, most people must have gone down to the front of the building). Finally, we went back in. Luckily for the scaredy-cat, it was all a false alarm.
I found out this morning that someone had pulled the fire alarm in a back hallway on the first floor. It may have been a prank, but it’s also not an uncommon ploy for someone looking to break into an apartment. People race out, often leaving their doors unlocked. In our building, the doors lock automatically behind you by default, but you can change that. I haven’t heard if they caught the person or if anything was missing, or if it was actually just a stupid prank to begin with.
As I was standing in the parking lot, I didn’t once think about the items in my apartment that might burn up. I was worried about my cat, obviously, but at no point in time did my things cross my mind. I did have a fleeting thought that I wasn’t all that well dressed and might need some other clothes, but it was a general “I need clothes” thought, not “Oh no, my pink sweater!”
It was one of those moments where I realized what was important. Sure, I would have been upset if everything I owned burned up, and the loss of my cat would have been devastating, but everything else was replaceable. It’s just stuff.
Megan is a 30-something government employee in the Washington, DC area. She got interested in Personal Finance when she got out of college and realized that her paycheck wasn’t going to go as far as she had hoped. Since starting this blog, she has managed to buy a house and make a solid start on her retirement goals, and hopes to help others do the same. Here is her story:
In 2007, I was a gainfully employed 20-something with no debt but not a lot of knowledge about personal finance. It was a co-worker’s comment about Roth IRAs that sent me to the internet, searching for information. It was then that I realized that I really didn’t know a whole lot about personal finance and that my current financial situation was due a lot to inherent frugal tendencies, generous family members, a fear of debt, and good luck. While that was working for me, clearly I needed a better plan.
While I had no debt, I was also pretty much living paycheck to paycheck and not worrying about going over budget (I say this as if I had a real budget) because I had an emergency fund set aside to cover any overages.
Except that’s not what an emergency fund is for.
So I did a lot of research, read a lot of blogs, and decided that I needed a plan. I needed to budget. I needed to know what I was spending my money on. I needed to prepare for the future.
I decided to create a blog not only to make myself accountable to others but also to share the knowledge that I gained along the way. I’ve learned so much from my fellow bloggers, and I hope that my readers can find something useful in what I have to share as well.