Moving? Be Sure to Make a Home Inventory Part of the ProcessBy Pauline Hammerbeck May 30, 2012 | 04:00 PMPosted in: Home
So, you’ve just moved into your new home. You’ve got a box opener and you’re ready to slash some cardboard. While you’re re-acquainting yourself with all your worldly possessions (panini maker, where’ve you been all my life?), there’s no better time to create a home inventory and account for everything you own.
Sure, it sounds a little Type-A, but it’s also smart. A home inventory will help you determine how much home insurance to buy, and, over time, keep your accumulations in check (do you really need another humidifier?).
And if you ever lose your belongings to a burglary, fire or other disaster, having access to a complete record of your stuff will ease some stress when it’s time to file a claim, and when it’s time to verify your losses at tax time too.
How to create this master list? After all, you’re not exactly a minimalist (see: humidifiers, too many). Here are some tips, both high tech and low.
Put pen to paper
The good old-fashioned way to create a home inventory is to take out a notepad and start a list. You can organize it by category, such as electronics or furniture. Or, for the most thorough approach, categorize everything by room, then sub-categorize from there (for example: living room: electronics; living room: furniture.)
That way, you won’t forget the high-powered electric toothbrush your dentist convinced you to get (something you may have forgotten while your mind was on all your tech devices).
A home inventory checklist is a good starting point and can help guide you through this process. And, of course, if you’re so inclined, an Excel spreadsheet is a great home inventory tool.
Capture your stuff on ‘film’
Make sure to take photos of big-ticket items, such as art work, electronics and jewelry (capture serial numbers and other identifiers). And you’ll want to walk around your house with a video camera, opening cabinets and drawers and narrating as you go.
Name the price
Having visuals of your possessions is a highly effective means of documenting value, but you should still keep receipts with your inventory (if you still have them). For items which you don’t have receipts, use your best judgment and write down the approximate value or use one of many apps and websites to help determine the value of your personal property.
Try a home inventory app
If you like the idea of really geeking out about your stuff, there are plenty of digital cataloging options—some are even free. In most scenarios, you are using your smartphone to upload photos of your possessions and then using their templates and guides to enter vital statistics, such as make, model, and price.
Some inventory applications, such as Digital Locker, allow you to search prices by barcode (this is helpful if you have the original box for the TV, but not the receipt, or if you want to recall how much a CD or book cost—barcodes lead to prices).
After going through all this work, don’t just throw your list into a shoebox in your closet. Store a copy of your home inventory—whether it’s a CD, thumb drive or notebook—in a safe deposit box or at a friend or family member’s house (keep your own copy, too, of course!).
Mobile apps offer the convenience of backing up your inventory in the data-storage “cloud”.
Which ever method you choose, you’ll be ready even if your house suffers damage from an event.
And the last point to remember: Keep your list up to date. Whenever you make a major purchase, promptly add the details to your inventory. Don’t wait until the next time you move!
Guest blogger Pauline Hammerbeck is an editor for the Allstate blog, which helps people prepare for the unpredictability of life.
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