Our state is well versed in emergency preparation. We have emergency pantry supplies, back up power sources, and lots of batteries. We are prepared.
Learning about the uncertainty and frequency of emergencies, we are reminded of the next steps and the necessity of creating and organizing a home inventory. September is National Preparedness Month which reminds us about the importance and value of a home inventory. We often put off this work because it can be a time consuming. However, it can be manageable in small steps. Here are a variety of systems to create your home inventory and baby steps to get started.
Know the use and goals of your home inventory
Knowing the goal for your inventory is important. Is your goal for your home inventory to assure that you have sufficient financial coverage? Are there items in your home that you want to equitably pass to your children and want to know the value? Do you want to be secure in knowing you could replace what you have in case of an emergency? These different reasons are all important goals separately or together for your why behind the effort of this work.
There are different options for home insurance coverage. Check your policy for coverage of your home, especially to determine what is covered and how it is covered. Your policy could be cash value where you begin with receiving cash/check for the existing value of your items. Or your policy could be replacement value, where you receive a check to replace the items at the current cost. Check coverage on big ticket items, such as jewelry, art and collectibles which may have increased in value and require additional coverage from your standard homeowners insurance policy.
Estate planning and equitable division of items are important as we age. Talk to your legal counsel about what types of inventories would be most valuable. It may be important to list specific items for your family members in accord with your long term wishes. This inventory will be one part of your estate.
Paper and Digital Inventories
Your inventory can be digital, paper, or a combination of both.
Digital options includes these possibilities.
- Video your home and it’s contents, talking through the names and details of the items. Copy the video and place one at your house and another off site.
- Use an Excel worksheet or GoogleSheet to list the items room by room.
- Your documentation should include the name of the room, the category of the item (art, jewelry, electronics, furniture, decor,) item description, brand name if applicable, where purchased, model and serial numbers, date purchased, and purchase price. The estimated value could be optional information.
- Scan in sales receipts of items and connect this information with your Excel worksheet or GoogleSheet.
- Take photos with your smart phone and create albums within your photos to organize your inventory.
- Back up all documents to the cloud to access these if you are away from home.
- Use HomeZada or Pinventory online inventories to capture all your information and keep it stored in the cloud.
Paper options include these possibilities:
- Create a binder with photos of each item and paper receipts of purchases inserted into sheet protectors.
- These can be separated using dividers with categories such as electronics, furniture, appliances, and jewelry. Or these can be categorized by room, such as bedroom 1, bedroom 2, bedroom 3, living room, kitchen etc.
- Cross reference with between categories using color.
- Use the same requirements for this inventory as your digital inventory.
- Duplicate your paper binder and keep one copy off site.
|Date of Inventory|
|Item Number||Room||Category||Item description||Purchased from||Model and Serial Number||Date purchased||Purchase Amount||Estimated Value|
|Primary BR, 2nd BR, 3rdBR, Living, Kitchen||Art, Jewelry, Electronics, Furniture, Clothing||Brand, size, materials, number||Name of store, Online, or from family|
Here’s what to be sure to include:
- Item number (one for each item listed)
- Room (location of item)
- Category (art, furniture, electronics, household goods, grooming, etc.)
- Item description (Brand, size, materials)
- Purchased from (Macy’s, Best Buy, etc.)
- Make and model, or serial number if available
- Picture of item for insurance purposes
- Purchase date (helps with depreciation, by year)
- Original price (if you have the receipt you can scan and attach it)
- Estimated value
Organizing your vital documents
This might be where you are most organized! Many of us have a safe or a waterproof grab and go box. Here’s a list of what should be a part of your vital documents. You can also keep these documents digitally on Evernote or save them on a flash or external hard drive in your waterproof box or safe. Be sure to use strong password for your Evernote account.
Start your home inventory now
- Start with one room, then move around your home adding rooms.
- Start with recent purchases, then work backwards
- Start with the most expensive or big ticket items first.
- Count clothing by category and by designer. Make note of any items that are especially valuable.
- Store sales receipts, purchase contracts, and appraisals in a file or digitally.
- Add to your inventory as new items are purchased.
Right now it is the most important time to start your inventory.