Close your eyes for a moment. Picture the room you’re sitting in, in your mind.
Picture each item, focusing especially on the items that mean the most to you or have the most monetary value. When you’re done open your eyes. Did you miss anything? If you’re like most people, no matter how certain you were that you remembered everything, you still missed a lot of things that you would want to replace.
And even if you did pretty well, do you know off the top of your head what items were still under warranty, what was insured and for how much? In other words, if this hadn’t been an exercise, but an insurance agent or a police officer writing down a list of your valuables after a burglary or a hurricane, would you have been happy with the list you made?
I didn’t think so.
Memory is a wonderful thing, but it can be affected by many factors, like stress, trauma and fatigue – exactly the things that happen during an emergency. That’s why putting together a list of your treasured or valued objects while they’re sitting in your living room and still in great condition is a MUCH better idea.
And while we’re at it, that reminds me of something else we all have to deal with. I don’t know about you, but to us, it seems like there’s a new cellphone, computer, or gadget of some kind out in the stores every day.
Every time you decide to buy a new one, it comes with more cords and manuals than anyone has room to store. And if you decided to spring for the protection plan too, that hits the mailbox a few days later. With just a few new toys, you can easily end up with a folder full of paper.
Who can keep up with that?
YOU can! And very easily, too. In the Action Steps below, we’re going to create a Home Inventory. Just go through the steps, and decide room by room what items to include. In fact if you have kids or grandkids in the house, this is a great project for them. Once you decide which items to include, send them off on a scavenger hunt, list in hand along with a digital and video camera and have them take photos of each item. Then when they’re done, enter each item along with its information into our downloadable Home Inventory Form, and you’re done.
1. Download Our Home Inventory List
Click here to grab a copy of our Home Inventory Form, or if you already own our book Ready, you’ll find copies in the book and in the downloadable forms.
2. Grab Your Cameras & A Pencil
Go get your video camera, your digital camera, your list and a pencil and begin walking through each room of your home. Start with the living room, usually home to the most expensive electronic equipment.
3. Document All the Info You Can Find
For each valued item, (electronics, furniture, cars, art, jewelry or any other items that would be expensive to replace or repair), fill in a short description, the manufacturer, serial number and any other information you know about it.
If you have a copy of your warranty information, or original purchase receipts for any of the valued items, note the information on them on the Home Inventory List, then put those documents on the side until Step 6.
4. Your Chance To Play Spielberg
As you stop at each item, take a digital photo of it, to show its current condition. If the item is damaged in a disaster, you’ll have proof of the item’s original condition to give to the claims adjuster. It will also remind you what the item looked like, if it ever needs to be replaced
5. Spielberg Revisited
Once you’re finished with the room, grab your video camera and do a quick video tour. At the beginning of the videotape, clearly state today’s date and the room you’re photographing. And while you’re taping, be sure to show the general condition of the room as well as your valued items.
6. Paperwork, paperwork
Gather all of the warranties, protection plans, certificates of insurance, provenance papers and receipts that you have found, and put them in the same location. It doesn’t matter whether it is a file folder or a section inside your safe. Just make sure that every time you purchase a new item that comes with any of this paperwork, that you put it in the same place.
7. Now for safekeeping…
Print, scan or make three copies of the Home Inventory List, the walking tour photos, the video and the warranties, receipts and other documents that you located earlier and store them in at least three secure, damage-proof locations. That way if one or two of the locations are inaccessible, you’ll still be able to grab the information you need.
And that’s it! Just follow the steps and you’re done. No more having to remember every single thing in your house. Just be sure to update your list every six months. Or if you watch a lot of QVC or HSN, every three months…
Have Fun Getting Your Stuff Together!
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