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Taking care of your things pays off big because you don't have to spend the cost, time, and energy to replace lost, stolen, or damaged items.

Taking care of your things also pays off in terms beyond just the replacement cost. You can avoid the anxiety and hassle of reporting a theft or the lost time or enjoyment by not having an item when you need it.

TACTIC: Stay alert to avoid being a victim of theft.

Pay special attention to your belongings in busy places like airports, college campuses, shopping malls, and rail and bus stations. Don't let go of your belongings, and pay special attention when you are sitting down to eat, making a phone call, or are at a ticket counter. Keep valuables with you at all times, and don't carry your wallet or anything in your back pockets.

Check at your local library or police department for information about how you can lower the probability of being a victim of crime.

TACTIC: Rent a safe deposit box.

Your bank may offer safe deposit services where you can place items in a small drawer to be stored in a secure area in the bank. The modest cost of a small safe deposit box can give you a very effective way to store important information outside of your home, and small valuables can be protected against theft from your home. Throughout this book, I suggest placing various items a safe deposit box.

TACTIC: Take out homeowners or renter's insurance.

Insure your possessions against loss due to accidents or theft. The money spent on renter's insurance is a good investment.

TACTIC: Inform yourself of and follow the proper use guidelines of each item you have.

Don't misuse a tool. Wear proper safety equipment in all sports and hobbies. Besides protecting your life from potential loss or injury, you reduce the risk of damaging or breaking something. Even a minor accident can cost you thousands of dollars in direct costs and take up a lot of your time and energy. Using things properly is also usually the most efficient way to get something done anyway.

TACTIC: Backup key electronic information and data.

If you have a computer, regularly make copies of your important information, and place these copies on floppy disks. Place these floppy disks in a safe deposit box or in a secure location somewhere outside your home (perhaps locked at your office or at a trusted friend's home). You can use high-capacity disks or CD-ROMs to backup large amounts of data.

TACTIC: Copy or digitize important documents and photos of valuables.

Make copies of important documents such as identity cards, passports, deeds, wills or legal documents. Take pictures of valuables--everything from your bicycles to furniture, computer, and electronics. Store the photos or disks containing the digital information in a safe deposit box or the secure area of a site you have access to outside of your home.

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