April 01, 2009


It’s always interesting to see what drives people to take action... Often, catastrophic or tragic events are 'triggers' that motivate introspection (this also regularly includes a monitoring of ones personal finances). The recent flooding in Fargo got me thinking about the significance of having a home inventory ...

Obviously the threat of property loss from fire, theft, etc. is very real. FBI statistics report that burglaries occur nearly every 15 seconds; in addition, in a "normal" year, there are typically 400,000+ home fires, 1,000 reported tornadoes, and $2 billion in flood damages.

Another reason to develop a home inventory is "stuff" ... Even if you aren't a pack rat, if you were to inventory your possessions, you'd quickly realize that you have a lot of stuff! This exercise may lead you to realize that your insurance (renters or homeowners) coverage is inadequate or may lead you to investigate other areas of your financial life that need to be explored.

You'll be relieved that there are numerous tools available to assist you in the process of creating a home inventory. In addition to a general inventory, many resources do much more - i.e., provide a record keeping system to help you document what you have and a way to manage receipts and other cost information. What would you do if you were to wake up in the morning to an empty house or apartment? Would you be able to document your possessions? Just as critical, could you substantiate the costs for those items??

In addition to inventory resources that can be purchased, several free resources are available (with impressive capabilities!) - here are a few:

Home Inventory Shareware and Freeware
Know Your Stuff - Home Inventory
My Stuff - Home Inventory Software

My suggestion - simply do something. Go ahead and start small; maybe start in one room or with your higher cost items. What I've learned over time is that 90% of personal finance is inertia... once momentum starts, it tends to continue rolling. Besides, Murphys Law suggests that if you take the time to create the documentation, you won't need it!