What Do You Have in Your Favorite Room?
How many of your belongings can you put on a list or name without looking?
Whatever you answered, I guarantee you, you are wrong.
Give it a try with this short Home Inventory Quiz.
Pick one room in your house to think about, you are there every day, right? Go to sit in another room to take the quiz.
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How to Create Your Own
First, take out a notepad and draw a line down the middle of your paper making two columns.
Next, take about 5 minutes to write down everything you can remember from that room on the left side of your paper.
Now, go into that room and in the right column, make a list of all the things you didn’t add to your first list.
Be sure to look at what is on your walls, sitting on your tables, on the floor, along with other accents that decorate your room.
I don’t need to tell you that everyone is usually pretty amazed at all the things they never thought of. We all stop paying attention to the things we see every day. Weird but true.
You know where I am going with this, having a Home Inventory is SO important.
We are going to cover the details on how to create one and make it your own.
Why You Really Do Need to Create a Home Inventory
Did you know, according to the Insurance Information Institute, only about half of us have an inventory of our homes? Why?
This is a job that is so easy to put off until tomorrow! Why?
- Because we don’t really believe anything is going to happen to us.
- We don’t think we have that many things that are really valuable.
- Most people think they could remember the most important things in their house if they needed to.
Don’t Wait Until It’s Too Late
Lately, in, the news we have watched countless people in our country and around the world dealing with loss from unbelievable natural disasters often resulting in total devastation of entire towns!
Of course, we watch these stories in horror, yet most of us don’t believe that any of these things will ever happen to us, and for the most part, we are right- until it does.
So, what are we talking about here?
- Home Fires
- Wild Fires
- Winter Storms
- Home Break-Ins
When someone has to cope with such an enormous trauma, it is really difficult to use any mental energy on the details of what they have lost and will have to replace.
In a state of shock and disbelief the only thing that is important is that everyone in the family is safe. The reality is, there is going to be so much to deal with going forward.
If something were to happen to your family home, how comforting would it be to know you have an inventory of your belongings so you know exactly what you have lost and what you will need to replace?
It Happened to Me & It Can Happen to You
I can personally speak to the importance of creating an inventory of your home.
We did have an unexpected fire a few years ago. We were out of our home for 5 months.
I can tell you that the above statements about how a person feels after a disaster are all true. Initially, we absolutely no grief or emotion about the physical things we had lost and we had no idea of the long road ahead.
We were consumed with gratitude that no one was hurt.
Our house was pretty new to us and we were lucky enough that we hadn’t completely moved in all of our furniture and personal belongings yet, so creating the “loss list” was easier than if we had lived there for 20 years.
Even with that, I can’t emphasize enough that you don’t realize how much you have lost until you try making a list to replace it.
I am not making light of our fire, but I have to share that as I left the house to call 911, I grabbed my phone, computer, and purse, which were right on the counter on the way outside.
Ha! My husband grabbed the car keys and had the good sense to back the car out of the garage! I admit had I been alone, I would have never thought of saving the car.
He explained to me later that his real thought was not only saving the car but knew it had gas, and the house was on fire.
Steps to a Create Your Home Inventory
You need an Inventory that holds everything you need in ONE place.
Using Technology Will Make This So Much Easier
You have the option of taking pictures, videos, using spreadsheets, or Inventory apps.
Pictures to me are a must. You really can’t have enough pictures, but you are going to have to decide how to organize them. I suggest one Album named Home Inventory and then folders in that album for each room. If you want to learn how to do this, you can in
How to Declutter and Organize Digital Photos, Now & Forever.
Take pictures of your clothes in the closet and in drawers, you don’t really need a complete itemized list here, but a general idea of how many sweatshirts, dress pants, suits. You get the idea
There is no way most people can remember what is in their kitchen drawers! I hope you have a drawer like me that has almost everything a cook could want.
You don’t need to list everything on your home inventory list, but a picture will help you remember if you do need to file an insurance claim.
Video- Video is a good idea too because you can narrate as you go room to room. When you start your inventory, take a video of every room. Don’t forget the walls, floor covering and light fixtures.
However, video is not in place of pictures. You need both.
Spreadsheets and Notes
I am a fan of using spreadsheets because of sorting the ability and using the calculation formulas.
We also use Apple Notes to keep all our important records and lists together. You can attach pictures, video, documents, and spreadsheets. Everything is all in one place ready to update as needed.
I will be offering a course on using Apple Notes as a fantastic option to digitally organize not only your home inventory but the rest of your life as well.
Watch for how to enroll in my newsletter.
Another thing I wasn’t prepared for was coming up with the value of what needed replacing. Gather as many receipts as you can get your hands on and get in the habit of taking pictures of all your receipts. – You won’t be sorry
Also, Does your insurance policy have a replacement value of the original price
or replacement value with current prices? – Find Out!!
Do you have warranties, serial numbers, model numbers, etc? etc stuffed somewhere? If so, get them out and take pictures. If not, open the door or look on a back panel.
Most appliances or electronics have the information right there, take a picture
Steps to Start Your Own Home Inventory
This does not have to all get done in a day. Please take your time, or you will burn out!.
We both know you are going to clean a bit and throw things as you go. That’s a good thing! We are ALL talking about decluttering and minimalizing!
So, maybe plan for 1 hour a week? You will be amazed at how much you can get done in an hour.
- Work in one room at a time. Keep in mind the kitchen, basement and GARAGE are going to take some time.
- Take pictures as you go.
- Start with large pieces of furniture or appliances.
- All wall art or things sitting on top of counters or tables
- Move to cupboards or drawers (you have probably already discovered this is an ideal time to throw things away!!!)
- Clothes, shoes, purses, coats are tough. Just take pictures and estimate how many of each.
- Be sure to take pictures of jewelry, family heirlooms, etc
- You thought I forgot about the garage, didn’t you? This is one way I can make my husband come in handy here. I’m sending him out there.
- After the garage, also inventory all the tools you have including power tools, lawn mower, etc. – These are the things I would forget if someone didn’t tell me.
I know this sounds silly, but take pictures of the pictures you have in frames around the house.
If you haven’t digitalized your photos yet, you need to. Don’t start while you are working on this inventory! I will show you how to get that job done in How To Scan & Digitize Your Family Photos Like a Pro.
Here is the spreadsheet I use and am sharing with you. The following are my headings:
- Room or Location
- Name of the item
- Estimated Value
- Photo ( insert a link or tiny photo) see more below
- Serial Number or Model Number (for small and large appliances, and devices like your laptop
- Original price
- Copies of receipts ( Yes or No) Actually you should take a picture of the receipt and then attach the link.
Tip: When adding a photo to Google Sheets you are given the option of inserting a photo into a cell and the photo is automatically resized to fit the cell. See an example when you download the spreadsheet.
Pick Your Home Inventory App
There a multitude of apps with some reviewed by The Balance that focuses on home inventory and has a variety of features.
As I reviewed the recommended apps, I found 4 that looked appealing for my purposes.
Sortly was my favorite and I plan on actually trying it, I will let you know in a newsletter how it goes.
I liked that the app offers folders and subfolders to allow for sorting room by room. You can choose from a long list of descriptors for each item, stores pictures and will even calculate the total value of all of your belongings.
Memento Database also works with ios and Android.
This app offers more than 3,000 templates ready to use allowing you to save and sort your data to help you find what you’re looking for when you need it. A feature that appealed to me was that you can sync it with Google Sheets allowing you to edit on any device.
Nest Egg is and ios App that allows all the sorting features you need and you can export to a spreadsheet, but the most interesting feature from this app in my book, is that you can scan barcodes of items making getting details a breeze.
My Stuff Pro is great for keeping track of collections. Do you have a library of videos, games, books, etc? If you are a collector you may want to check this out.
My Stuff will also let you scan barcodes allowing you to not only sort by categories but share all the info across your devices. The free version allows for a limited number of items, but the Pro version is unlimited.
Back It Up and Keep it Current
Bottom line, the important thing is that you have a current inventory of your belongings in case of disaster, a break-in, moving, or all the other reasons- they are all good.
Whether you decide to use a spreadsheet, an app or a notebook, be sure to back it up and keep it in a safe place.
If using a spreadsheet or an app like Apple Notes, store it in the Cloud and even back it up to an external hard drive, or you can keep with a friend or a family member.
So get started today. You don’t have to finish in one or two days, but make a plan to spend an hour or two a week working on your inventory.
Last Minute Tips
Going forward when you purchase new things, add them to your inventory right away.
Instead of putting ALL your rooms on one spreadsheet, you might want to make tabs along the bottom and have an inventory list for each room. If you need help doing this, let me know!
I have added another page to my inventory that I highly recommend.
Include a page that keeps track of what you donate. This is so so helpful at tax time!
When you donate clothes or furniture, etc, remove it from your inventory and add it to your Donations Page, with hopefully what you paid for it, and current value.
If you use a spreadsheet like the example I have provided here, simply share it with a close relative, and they always have access to your inventory even current updates. When you make changes, they see it too.
P.S. When you open the shared spreadsheet it will be in “VIEW ONLY”. Go to FILE and MAKE A COPY. You will be prompted to name your new document and now you can start adding inventory and make it your own.
You can also download as a .pdf and print.
Please share your own tips in the comments below, and please ask questions either the in the comments or shoot me an email.