It’s always fun to buy something new for yourself or your home, whether it’s a TV, piece of jewelry, or decorative trinket. Such an item can bring joy, but it can also easily get lost in the chaos of everything else you own.
A memento may wind up being shoved into the back of your hall closet and not resurface for a couple of years.
That’s where a home inventory comes in handy. Besides helping you keep a well-organized home, it can play an important part in a homeowner’s insurance process. If you’ve never done one before or even really thought about what it entails, then consider moving it to the top of your to-do list for 2024.
What is a home inventory?
A home inventory is a collection of all your personal possessions that you can turn to should you ever need to file a claim with your homeowner’s insurance. It tends to include a description of the items you own, their estimated value, copies of receipts, purchase dates, and serial numbers. Though you likely won’t have all this information for each item, collecting as much as you can will help you keep track of the different objects you own and how many of each you have.
However, for high-ticket items in your home that aren’t easily replaced, such as electronics or family heirlooms, it is essential to either include a copy of the receipt or get an appraisal to include in your inventory. First, doing so can help you purchase the right amount of coverage for your home. Just as important, it can ultimately make the whole filing process a little easier—if you must file a claim because an object is stolen or damaged in a way that falls under your insurance policy, you will have proof of owning it as well as its estimated value.
While it’s best to have a home inventory for insurance purposes, it also can be a useful way to organize your home. Having clutter-free living spaces can play a big part in your mental health as it can help you better relax, thus reducing stress and anxiety. Whatever may be motivating you, be sure to take the time to sort through and catalog your possessions.
Types of inventories
The kind of inventory you make will depend on your personal preference. You can do a written, digital, or visual inventory or any combination of the three, so consider which option you think would be simplest for you to reference back to and regularly update.
- Written: This is a complete written list of the different items in your home and all other necessary information. You can create a virtual spreadsheet that you can easily update or opt to handwrite a physical copy. Just be sure to keep a copy of the inventory not only in your house but also in an outside location.
- Digital: A digital home inventory could be as simple as keeping a regularly updated note on your phone, but you could also use an app to keep track of your belongings. Ones like Itemtopia, Homechart, and Sortly allow you to add every item in your home to a list, which you can then divide by room or according to your personal preferences. Include photos of each item, and update the list as soon as you buy something new.
- Visual: Whether it’s a collection of photos or a video walk-through of your home, a visual inventory provides proof of your ownership of each item. Take pictures or videos of each room in your house and the specific items in them. You can store these on your phone for your reference should you ever have to file an insurance claim.
The inventorying process
If you’re overwhelmed by the idea of creating a home inventory, just remember one thing: take it one step at a time. You don’t have to look through everything you own all at once—choose one room or closet and then sort through your items in that specific area, deciding what you want to keep, donate, or toss. This is your chance to declutter your spaces, so if you haven’t used an item in years, perhaps it’s time to say goodbye to it. You also might find belongings you forgot about, which gives you the chance to make better use of them.
After sorting through your items, make note of what you’re keeping. You can do this via your chosen method, such as by writing down each item or cataloging it in an app. Include a description of the items as well as the serial numbers and any other information you know about them. Your goal here is to keep track of as many details as possible so you can easily reference them in the future.
After you’re done sorting and inventorying each object in that area, take a picture of the fully completed space.
When you’re finished with the first space, you can then move through the different locations of your home, repeating this process in each one. Bring your partner or kids into the mix, making it a family affair. (Just ensure they don’t make the process take longer.) And don’t forget about items you have stored outside the home, such as in a shed, garage, or storage unit, since those are often covered under homeowner’s insurance as well and may need to be organized or decluttered.
Ultimately, a home inventory is a great way for you to keep track of the items in your home both for your own purposes and for filing a claim for lost or damaged items. Either way, it’s never a bad idea to keep records of what you own, so make time this year to work your way through your rooms and make note of your most valued and valuable possessions.