As the late comedian George Carlin once said in his standup routine, a house is a place to keep all of your stuff. This is true, especially in today’s consumer-driven environment. Take a look around your home or apartment and you’ll probably find a lot of stuff. There are probably places in your residence that have stuff that you forgot existed. In some cases, you feel overwhelmed by everything you own. In other situations, you feel proud that you could purchase all the stuff.
With either case, you need to make sure that there’s some sort of list of these household items, just in case something happens to them. For example, some of your stuff gets stolen or damaged. On the extreme side, you could lose all of your items in an event like a fire. In either situation, you will need to replace what is lost in order to feel some semblance of security. Apartment and home insurers can do this for you with ease as long as you have an inventory of lost products. Without such a list it’s harder for the insurers to pay out.
This is why taking an inventory of your residence at the beginning of each year is important. Not only does it help keep track of everything but it also stops your emergency fund from being depleted in case of loss. Here are some tips on how to inventory all that stuff around you.
The first thing to do is go around the residence and write down everything you would need replace in the event of loss. This includes clothing by category, electronics, appliances, and yard care products like lawn mowers. Write down the date and location of purchase for the more important items. Higher end purchases like jewelry and collectibles should be itemized separately. In fact, they may need to be insured in a different manner, so consult with your agent for additional information.
Film and Stills
Go through each room of the residence with a video camera and describe each of the items out loud that you are going to inventory. Next, put the video camera down and pick up the still camera to take pictures of these items.
Don’t keep all this information on your computer’s hard drive or an envelope in your office. Instead, download the video and stills onto a DVD, print the inventory list, and place it somewhere secure. You can store a copy at your residence, preferably in some type of fireproof lock box, but another copy should be placed in an outside area like a safety deposit box or a relative’s residence.
There’s a good chance you’ll be purchasing other items throughout the year. In cases such as this, you need to update your inventory list. No need to pull the material out every single time you buy something. Rather, do so every quarter to make sure you have the most up to date information.