Financial Experiment: You have 20 Minutes to Evacuate. Pack your Bag.

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Financial Experiment: You have 20 Minutes to Evacuate. Pack your Bag.

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What does evacuating and packing your bag have to do with personal finance, and why you would want to put yourself through this stress anyway? 

I have had to leave the accoutrements of home with only a bag in hand a few times; these experiences have been enlightening, and they've a played a significant part in my minimalist - and inexpensive - lifestyle.


Pack Your Bag. Now!

If you have 20 minutes and any curiosity, get up this very minute (don't even finish the article - just finish reading the instructions), set a timer for 20 minutes, then grab one bag/backpack/suitcase and start packing to evacuate your home...forever.

Don't think!

This works better if you don't have time to think about or plan what you would pack. The imaginary fire is coming, and you need to get out now. The more impulsively you work, the more you might learn from yourself.

Ok, Think a Little...

While you're racing around impulsively packing your bag, think about what you'll need for day-to-day survival. You'll want some clothes and toiletries, but you can't take them all. You'll also probably want to rescue family photo albums, special or priceless items, and some useful tools as well.

Assume that you will be staying somewhere like a hotel where the basic needs of life are just need everything else...and you can't ever go home again.

Don't Forget Your Passport, and...

Are all your official documents within easy reach? How long does it take to organize just these alone? The clock is ticking!

Make it a Family Affair

If this evacuation were really happening, everybody would be scrambling. It's fun to compare bags in the end; so anybody in the family who is up for some chaos, grab a bag and get cracking!

(The instructions are done so that means now. Go!)


What did you Pack?

Welcome back! What happened? Did you focus more on necessities or sentimental items? Were you wracked with indecision?

Look at what you packed. Could you leave your home forever with this bag? Or is there something you'll regret not having brought along?

Was Time an Issue?

How long did it take you to find the things you needed? I didn't arbitrarily choose 20 minutes for this financial experiment; that's exactly how long I had to evacuate my place in Australia a few years ago, when their worst-ever natural disaster - the Victorian Bushfires - bore down on my home.

Although I'm not a doomsday conspiracist, anything can happen, any time. You're better prepared for anything if you're organized.

What's Important, What's Replaceable

Somewhere amid this experiment you might have considered what's important in life, and what's replaceable. And the more you critically examine what is in your home, the more you may realize most of it is replaceable.

Among the replaceable items, it's a matter of choosing what will help you stay functional and comfortable, and even....happy.

Even among the irreplaceable items, you may need to choose what will serve you going forward (emotionally and logistically).

Why this is a "Financial" Experiment?

This experiment touches on personal finance in a few ways:

  • Having your important paperwork organized and accessible is a sign of financial health. For example, if the evacuation was real, not having your insurance information increases complications when lodging your claim. Just pull out your latest semi-annual financial review, and you should have all the information you need!
  • In realizing what is important in life, we often conclude that "stuff" means less. This can be a valuable financial insight, especially when debating whether you really "need" that impulse item.

So...what did you pack?


Could You Get Rid of Everything You Own?

Are You Throwing Away Money? The No Garbage Experiment

Financial Experiment: The Minimalist Vacation


 Nora Dunn, travel and lifestyle expert guest blogger for leading provider of debt relief, CareOne Services, Inc. Nora Dunn

Nora Dunn is The Professional Hobo: a full-time traveler and freelance writer. She is a contributing writer under the CareOne Debt Relief Services A Straight Talk on Debt blog. Having sold her business and belongings to travel, she has been on the road since 2007. She travels in a financially sustainable manner, taking advantage of creative volunteering positions. As a former certified Financial Planner, she is financially responsible for her actions along the way. She believes there is a fine balance between planning for tomorrow, and living for today. Compensated Blogger for CareOne Debt Relief Services.

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  • This is great advice.  Having lived in NYC right after 9/11, it's become routine to have an emergency bag at the ready.  Enough clothes for a few days, essential toiletries, passports, copies of legal and financial paperwork.  I use dropbox for some paperwork that way it's accessible anywhere.  Everything else is replaceable.

  • Must say this makes me think about organizing my paperwork even more! Thank you. x

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