Home Inventory: What is it and Why is it Important for Military Families

Good Afternoon Everyone!!

For anyone who doesn't have a home inventory done, run, don't walk to your computer and do one now!!  I'll wait...

All done? Okay, good!

A home inventory is something that every household should have anyway but they are even more crucial for military families.  We move.  A lot.  And every time we move there is a chance of something getting lost, broken or stolen.

So a bunch of things were damaged and are missing when your truck arrives at your new duty station.    You call to file a claim to have them replaced and what do they ask for?  What are the items, how much did they cost, where did you buy them, what color were they, what phase was the moon when you bought them, when can you sign over your first born child...  Yeah.  And what a pain in the butt it can be to try and find or recall all that information especially while under stress.

This is where a home inventory comes into play.  It is simply a detailed list of your possessions.  Now I'm not saying you need to have a 500,000 page spreadsheet that lists everything down to how many pairs of socks you have.  My basic rule of thumb is a detailed list of everything in your home that costs $50 or more then basic documentation of the other items.  For the detailed list, you want to list everything you can think of about the item.  Detailed description of the item, serial number, where you bought it, when you bought it, how much you paid for it, where in your house it is and some good, clear photos.  For the cheaper items, I usually just have a photo of it.  Just enough to jog my memory if need be.  Good examples of this are photos of the inside of closets, inside cabinets, inside drawers and shelves.

Home inventories can be as simple as a notebook that you hand write and include printed photos, a spreadsheet on your computer or even online services.  It is all about how detailed and organized you want to be.  I prefer online programs, specifically the Home Inventory app which I wrote a detailed review on over on my other blog The Review HQ.  This app is very detailed, organized, and comes with several back up options so you never have to worry about loosing your inventory.

Now starting an inventory from scratch is going to take some time and patience but in the end, it is worth it.  Once it's done, all you have to do is keep it updated.  I recommend just updating it every time you sell or buy anything $50 or more and retake the photos of cheaper items (like drawers) once a year or so.  I also recommend that you take extra time to make sure your inventory is complete before you start packing for an upcoming PCS and make sure you have it backed up in several places so you can easily find it if you need it.  We always keep ours backed up in a couple of different places online as well as a physical copy in our fire box (or PCS binder).

Another plus of a good inventory?  You don't have to guess on how much insurance you need.  Once you have a total approximate dollar value of your items, then you have a much better idea of how much you need to be insured for and that will help to save you money in the long run.  If you are over insured, you are paying too much each month for insurance you don't need and if you are under insured, you could end up having to pay out of pocket to replace items.

Until next time!