Most people accumulate many possessions over the years. In the case of a loss or theft, this makes having a home inventory essential. You never know when disaster might strike—within minutes, cherished or valuable goods could be ruined. Keeping an archive of your belongings will accelerate the process of replacing damaged property. It will also help you make better decisions about the insurance coverage you need before a disaster strikes. An inventory of your belongings is important for homeowners and renters alike.
Follow these three simple steps to archive your home:
- Make a list of your possessions.
Some people prefer a low-tech approach to list-making—index cards or a notebook, for example—while others are comfortable with spreadsheets on a CD or USB drive. The method doesn’t matter, as long as the list is thorough, well-organized, and kept in a safe place. You should also remember to adjust your files periodically, deleting items you’ve gotten rid of and adding any new purchases.
- Photograph your living space and possessions.
Use a digital camera or a smartphone to capture rare, important, and expensive items, both in close-up shots and in wider pictures that show their position in the room. You should also photograph each wall, as well as closets and drawers. And be sure to label your photographs clearly, so you can correctly identify which numbers or details belong to which item.
- Store digital photos and inventory in a safe place.
Once you’re finished, find a safe place to store your records. Make a copy of everything and store it away from your home. For hard copies or a USB drive or CD, it’s often best to use a bank safe deposit box. For digital archives, internet-based providers offer digital storage, online backups, or cloud technology to easily access or change your records.
- Use an app to simplify your organizing efforts.
There are various apps available to help make a home inventory easy to do. You can create a catalog of your belongings quickly and easily using your smartphone to:
- Take photos of your belongings
- Catalog each item by room and category
- Note purchase price and purchase date
- Take photos of the receipt for each item
- Track items in multiple properties or homes
- Quickly browse a gallery of your belongings
- Export your inventory as a spreadsheet or PDF in case your phone is ever lost or damaged.