In the event of property loss, would you have a record of all the valuables and important documents in your home? If the answer is no, I encourage you to begin putting a home inventory together today. A home inventory establishes a central location for you to store photos, receipts, manuals, and the warranties of your assets, and you will have quick and easy access to this information during times of intense stress.
Home insurance is the most obvious reason to have a home inventory, but wouldn’t it be great to have documentation instantly when your dishwasher breaks? And wouldn’t it be wonderful to have an inventory that supplements your estate planning, so that your wishes can be carried out without argument? There is tremendous peace of mind when our ducks are in a row, but this is a project that will require an investment of time because it cannot be done in a day. The best way to avoid getting too overwhelmed is to break it up over a period of time. Is there room for this on your to do list?
In my opinion this is a project that is just as vital as having a Will. But sadly, tedious laborious projects do not get done like they should. Although we know these projects are important, we believe the probability is low that anything will happen, so the attention we give to it is minimal. If you are familiar with Stephen Covey’s time management matrix, items that land in the “Important but Not Urgent” quadrant often fall prey to procrastination.
I get it. I have times in my life when I feel like I am on a treadmill, and projects considered important, but not urgent, get continually shoved to the back burner. But a recent situation, I personally observed has lit a fire under my toosh. Had there been a home inventory, life would have been so much easier. So, I will no longer procrastinate now that I have witnessed someone else’s financial devastation. Aside from getting our home more organized, if we ever run into an insurance situation, we are prepared.
Not having proper documentation can make it challenging to determine the full scope of items lost and more difficult to gather replacement quotes. Insurance companies have a reputation for challenging claims. In the recent Canadian news, an Ontario woman was denied a payout when her house burned down because the fire was started by her husband. This traumatic example is just to underscore we have to dot our “I’s” and cross our “T’s” to ensure our insurance claims get settled quickly and without hassle.
In my quest to create a home inventory, I started with an Excel spreadsheet, and entered item details into columns. Separately, I scanned receipts and took photos of items. I felt the process was like washing the kitchen floor with a toothbrush! I wanted a software program where all information could be kept in one location, and I could also enter information from my iPhone. Just having read Gary Keller’s book “The One Thing” we are prompted to ask ourselves:
“What is the one thing that I can do such that everything else becomes easy or unnecessary?”
His exploratory question helped me reconsider the spreadsheet method for tracking our home inventory, and to look for a better solution. I needed to find a program dedicated to doing home inventories.
In short order, I found a home inventory application that was compatible with our Mac and iPhones. The app, developed by Binary Formations, is called “Home Inventory” and is available at the Apple App Store. What sold me was this YouTube overview given by Diana Hamilton, the managing partner of Binary Formations. She made the data entry and document uploading processes look seamless.
We purchased the program for under $30, and cannot believe how fast we were able to complete a full inventory of our master bedroom and living room. The interface is so intuitive. We created a folder for each room of our house, and then we went room by room to list each asset in the appropriate folder.
We used our iPhones to take photos which were added automatically to the appropriate folder.
Once all the photos were uploaded, we circled back to add detailed information of makes, models, and serial numbers and records such as warranties, manuals, photos, and receipts.
We saved the source file to our DropBox account. Saving to a cloud server allows our data to be accessible offsite in the event of a disaster. We just have to ensure we never have the inventory file opened by more than one computer at a time or we could corrupt the file, and we must ensure the file is backed up properly. I have learned that lesson before too.
We love that we can enter items offline, and can use our iPhones to scan bar-codes for faster input. If you have a large book collection this will be a time saver!
Offline input will allow us to enter the items in our RV or even from a storage facility. We can enter all the information, and it will sync to the cloud next time we are on our WiFi. Then, one of my favourite features – it provides detailed reporting! How cool is that! Excel, can you do this?
That’s not all. Check out the estate planning tool. Icing on the cake!
There are many inventory applications, but Binary Formations Home Inventory for Mac delivers the convenience with outstanding features for us. But if you have a PC, or want to consider other options, then Google can introduce you to other alternatives. Here are a few low and high tech options to consider, but you will see with additional research there are many:
What You Own Home Inventory Software – Windows 10 and Mac compatible and resembles the one we purchased from Binary Formations.
Home Inventory Smart Windows App – Available at the Microsoft store for $8.99.
Keep Track of What You Own – This program is PC compatible and was ranked high in the comparative reviews.
Home Inventory Template – If you want to do it in a simple Excel spreadsheet, Farmer’s Insurance built this free template that allows you to edit and add details.
Evernote – A great tool for storing all sorts of information and can sync with all your devices if you have the premium subscription. You can add a Home Inventory “Notebook,” then a “note” for each room of your home, then create a table with details on each item. You can also purchase an Evernote Home Inventory kit from Simplify Days.
Is this a project that you want on the back burner much longer? You can see how this project can not only give you ultimate organization, but it could potentially save you from a huge financial loss in the event of a theft or natural disaster. Unfortunately, any loss is a blow to any family, but you shouldn’t have to struggle with insurance companies to get re-established. I hope this information inspires you to put your home inventory project on the front burner.
Gary Keller of the “The One Thing” reminds us that, “no one succeeds alone.” You know this project is vital, but you have no idea how you are going to do it because you barely have time to sleep as it is. As professional organizer, I can take on your organizing projects that you know are important, but have no time or desire to do, and offer accountability to get it done. Organize to Optimize would be happy to provide a free 30 minute exploratory call to discuss how we can work with you to create a digital home inventory that organizes everything in one secure place. Check out my other services and package rates, here.
I want to help you get ready, to be ready!
Professional Organizer and Productivity Specialist