Have you ever taken a moment or two to simply stand in the center of a room in your home and take a careful look around? What did you notice during your super-quick visual scan? If you’re like most people, you noticed you have a lot of stuff.
A quick Internet search for “How much stuff do we have?” brings up a slew of articles from media sources, home organizers and simple-life advocates citing the following statistic: The average American household contains approximately 300,000 things. That’s a lot of stuff.
Think about how much stuff is lurking in your closets, basement, attic or garage. How much of it has any actual monetary value? Probably a lot of it. How many items have sentimental value? Probably many do. On the other hand, how much of it is redundant or unneeded and could be given away to help others? How much of it is just useless junk? You won’t know for certain until you take the time for a closer look. It’s time for a detailed home inventory.
Why do a home inventory?
Given all the stuff that most of us have, it makes a lot of sense to do a home inventory. Here’s why:
First, you will find out exactly how much stuff you actually have. Depending on how organized (or disorganized) your home is, creating a detailed inventory can help you to confidently purge or give away unneeded items and better organize your household, making life simpler. It may also very well relieve some of the psychological weight of it all.
Second, and very important, your home inventory will enable you to more easily calculate the total value of your personal assets. This will help you determine whether you have enough insurance coverage for personal property under your homeowner policy. Once you can accurately tally the worth of your possessions, you can work with your insurance agent to make sure everything is covered.
Finally, a home inventory (updated regularly) will make your life much easier in the event of a theft or home disaster. For example, if you were to experience a home fire, imagine having to sort through the debris and piece together the detailed information you will need, on top of all the other stress involved with the calamity. You may never be able to demonstrate the true value of your lost possessions. Actively keeping track of your possessions and important related details will make the process much less complicated, should you ever need to make a claim to replace your personal property.
You can do it!
Granted, the idea of conducting a thorough home inventory can be extremely daunting. How do you sort through and classify it all? It can feel completely overwhelming. Technology can help. Many tools exist, including home-inventory apps, to make the process doable.
Having a digital inventory means you can easily update it. Home-inventory apps enable you to organize your items by room or collection, for starters, and to keep track of serial numbers, purchase records, warranties and user manuals. You can upload photos of the items for a visual inventory. You can track the value and depreciation of items. Some apps allow users to export data to Excel spreadsheets or a PDF, or to connect to Dropbox or Google Sheets, for example.
At least one app, HomeZada, uses machine learning in the form of video-recognition AI (artificial intelligence) to identify and categorize both personal-property objects and fixed assets (such as appliances).
The trick is to get started
Take baby steps, working on one drawer, one closet and one room at a time. Add newly purchased items right away, before they get mixed in with the rest of your stuff. Purposefully schedule 15 minutes (or however much time you can spare) several times a week to work on your inventory. These strategies can help keep the process moving forward. If you keep it up, little by little, one day soon you will be done.
Conducting a home inventory can seem daunting, but it’s worth the effort. Equipped with the proper tools, you can take control of your stuff. In the process, you can gain a sense of relief that you have a handle on your possessions. You will also undoubtedly find peace of mind knowing that all your assets will be covered by insurance in the event of theft, loss, or catastrophe.
by Kris A. Mainellis