41. Catalog your house for insurance
What should make the master list? Whatever's not nailed down, from furniture and rugs to furs, dishes, and jewelry. If you kept the receipt when you bought these items, great; jot down the value. If not, note where and when you got it.

Then photograph, or better yet, video every room, from every angle. Burn the information onto a couple of disks and send one copy for safekeeping to Aunt Becky on the other side of the country. A tip: Go to knowyourstuff.org for free software that lets you create a virtual replica of your home online and then tally the value of what's in it.

Homeowner's Insurance 101

42. Shovel snow without having a heart attack
Heart attack fatalities spike after a heavy snowstorm. Avoid early morning snow clearing; your blood clots more easily after you've been sleeping. And don't drink coffee or smoke before shoveling, because caffeine and nicotine speed your heart rate and constrict blood vessels. When you do go out to tackle the white stuff, try pushing it like a plow instead of lifting. Wet snow is a lot heavier—about 20 pounds per cubic foot
and won't push well. If that's the case, then make sure to keep your back straight and your knees bent as you drive the shovel into the snow (1). Lift with your legs (2), then walk to the place you want to dump it (3). Spraying silicone on your shovel before you use it makes the snow slide off more easily. If you get winded, take a breather, have some cocoa, and come out later to finish the job.

43. Keep in contact during a blackout
Remember that outdated push-button phone you tossed in the attic—the boxy one with only 12 keys, a tangled spring cord, and no electrical plug? That will work, unlike your cordless, which runs on electricity, or your cell phone, which relies on a tower that runs on electricity. If you sold yours at that garage sale years ago, head to RadioShack for a cheap princess phone. Then find a place to plug it in, so it'll ring on when the power's off.


44. Fix a hammer mark on trim
If the ding's on a finished surface, poke the area repeatedly with a needle, then flick several drops of water on it. Cover it with a damp rag and iron it on the cotton setting. The water absorbed into the wood will evaporate and expand the crushed wood cells. Concentrate the iron's heat on just the shape of the ding by placing an upside down bottle cap over it. Repeat until the wood regains its shape.

45. Reuse paint thinner
Clean brushes used to apply oil-based finishes in a wide-mouthed jar filled with paint thinner, then cover the jar and let the paint residue settle to the bottom. After a few days, carefully pour off the clarified solvent into another jar. Cap the jar and save it for the next cleaning. Let the residue in the first jar dry and harden (keep it away from flames), then discard.

46. Get free advice from the guy at the hardware store Like a wise neighborhood pharmacist who dispenses free advice, your local hardware store clerk is a pro on demand—and in demand. So don't wait until you're renovating to get on his radar. Make his place of business a regular pit stop for essentials on the way home from work or in the afternoon; avoid Saturday mornings. Make friends in his down time, and you're guaranteed special attention when you need it. "A lot of people start a project and get in over their heads," says John Olson, owner of Home Hardware, a 53-year-old business in Waldwick, New Jersey. "We're happy to help out. And if they're a regular, we'll open up a tab and guide them from demolition to finishing."

47. Safely lash lumber to your car If you must haul your stack of 2x4s home rather than wait a day for delivery (which can also put you out $50 or so), lay the boards from front to back on the car roof to minimize wind resistance. Cushion the load with cardboard so you don't scratch your car's paint, and stack the wood neatly. Secure it at two or more points with racheting straps, wrapping the straps through your open front and rear car doors before closing the doors over them. Bypass bungee cords, which won't allow you to close the doors. Have an employee at the lumberyard check your work, and fasten a flag to it before you drive off—carefully.
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