Your challenge this week is to create a personal home inventory to be able to present to an insurance company if the need ever arose.
The first question that might be coming to your mind is why should I create a household inventory? It sure sounds like a lot of work.
Well, creating one does require some effort, but that effort is well worth it. The reason is that although we don't like to think about these things much, our homes and possessions can easily be detroyed by fire or natural disasters, or stolen from us.
That is why we have insurance. To rebuild our homes and restore our possessions when things outside of our control happen. However, if you've got to file an insurance claim you've got to both know what was lost, and also be able to prove you owned it, to be able to get compensated for it. That is where an inventory becomes useful.
Are you new here? This challenge about creating a personal home inventory is part of the 52 Weeks To An Organized Home Challenge. (Click the link to learn how to join us for free for future and past challenges if you aren't already a regular reader).
You could create an exhaustive inventory of everything you own, down to the pencil or dust bunny, but that is too much trouble, and not worth your time. The inventory I suggest focuses on the big stuff, and uses short cuts to help you maximize the usefulness of your inventory for the least amount of effort.
To create your personal home inventory easily I suggest that you take lots of digital photos and/or use a video camera to go through your home documenting the stuff you own.
Here is the equipment and other things you should gather together for this process:
* I've created both of these printable documents for you to fill out. Just click the links to get copies of them for yourself.
Using your camera or video equipment go systematically, room by room, throughout your home documenting your possessions. Make sure to open drawers, closet doors, peer inside storage containers, etc.
If you use a video camera try to narrate as you go along, telling what the various items in each room are, and any other important facts about them such as when you purchased it, how much it cost, its condition, etc. In addition, as you see items with serial numbers make sure to show them on the camera and read them outloud.
Do something similar with your camera, but take even more extensive notes with your home inventory forms, since you can't narrate your thoughts out loud with photos.
To make sure you don't forget to document anything important run through the home inventory checklist to help jog your memory about all the rooms and types of items you should document.
Don't get bogged down with this step though. Focus mainly on the big ticket items, and large groups of items, instead of trying to inventory every single object separately.
The next step in creating your personal home inventory is to gather any readily accessible receipts or other documentation about the big ticket items in your home that you inventoried.
This additional documentation is not necessary to have, so don't worry about it if you don't have it, but it is just additional proof that you owned the item, and also its value.
For the future, as you buy new items for your home that are of large value you can place these receipts with your inventory to make it more thorough. (You can reference the Create a Personal Tax Organizer System and Organize Receipts Challenge for more ideas on how to organize your receipts).
You can either scan or photo copy these additional documents to keep with the CD or DVD you will burn in the next step.
Once you've taken your photos and/or video, filled out the forms, and gathered any additional documentation about any items in your inventory, the next step is to make multiple copies of all this information.
The simplest way to do this is to scan any paper, digitize all of the information, and burn it onto multiple CDs or DVDs. If you can't scan items you can just make photo copies of the most important paper items for safekeeping, along with some type of copies of the photos and/or videos.
The final step in making your personal home inventory is to store at least one copy of it outside your home. You can place it in a safe deposit box or leave it at a trusted friend or family members' home, but whatever you do, get it out of your own house.
The reason for this is that if your home is destroyed, or your possessions stolen, you may no longer have access to the copy of your inventory that you'll keep in your home. And of course, that is the type of situation in which you really need to access your inventory. So, don't skip this final step.
You should also periodically update your inventory as you acquire new possessions, and get rid of old ones. I suggest doing this once a year. If you stick with me through all the challenges in the 52 Weeks To An Organized Home Challenge we'll come back to this challenge again next year and you can just update it again then.
I would love to know how this week's challenge about creating a personal home inventory is going for you. You can tell me your progress or give me more ideas for how you've made your own inventory below in the comments.
In addition, I love before and after pictures, and stories about your successes. You can get featured in the Creative Storage Solutions Hall Of Fame if you send in information about what you've done for this challenge. You've worked hard to get organized, so now here's your chance to show off!
We're working on our homes slowly, one area at a time, so don't get too distracted from this week's challenge.
However, just to give you a glimpse of what we're working on next, we'll be starting a section about getting ready for the holidays. The first of these tasks will be organizing and storing your china and glassware.