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Spring cleaning: Update your home inventory

Spring -- can it get here soon enough? -- means a thorough home cleaning. Why not take care of some annual financial maintenance as well?

By Karen Datko Feb 1, 2011 9:38PM

This post comes from Jim Wang at partner blog Bargaineering. It's part of Bargaineering's 2011 Spring Cleaning Week.


If you watched any television during the holidays, chances are you saw (and fast-forwarded through) a lot of jewelry commercials. I learned what every kiss begins with, where "he" went to, and how long a diamond is "for."

If you bought anything sparkly this winter, chances are you'll want to make sure it's protected in the event it's lost or stolen. That goes for any new golf clubs, televisions, or other big-ticket items you may have purchased. (If you had a "December to remember" -- well, that's covered by auto insurance.)

While jewelry is typically insured by a jewelry rider, almost everything else in your home is covered by your base insurance, and you'll want to update your home inventory to make sure you remember what you own. While insurance will cover an item if you can prove you owned it, a home inventory makes it easier for you to remember and document if you need to.

What's involved

A home inventory is simply a list of all the "valuable" items in your home. It's really up to you how to decide what is valuable and what isn't. It's really a matter of documentation: Do you want to spend the time documenting your ownership of a $10 item? If so, that's valuable to you.


A home inventory can be very simple or very complex. On the very simple side, make a list of all the valuables in your home, take a photo as a kind of proof of ownership and condition of each, and assemble purchasing information you have (receipts, invoices).


Some people like to take a photo of each room and then individual photographs of high-dollar items like televisions. Digital photos are basically free and easy to store, so the more the merrier.

A photo of the room is helpful because it can help you remember what was in a room. If your home is burglarized, you'll probably remember that you had a television on the wall, but you may not remember that $200 universal remote until much later. A photo can be helpful.


Updating the inventory

Updating the inventory is a cinch. The key is remembering to do it after big gift-giving events like birthdays and the holidays. When updating the inventory, the same rules apply -- photograph and document anything new you've acquired since the last time you did a home inventory.


In the event you received a gift and don't know how much it cost, you can always get a copy of the current price of the item at a retail shop. Insurance companies usually pay replacement cost at current market value, so the original price won't matter, but it's good to know, for yourself, how much it costs.

Remember, the key to a home inventory is keeping it up-to-date. The last thing you want to have to do is try to remember what was in a room after a fire or burglary.


Finally, it's important to keep your home inventory in a safe place. Since mine is stored electronically, I have it saved on my home computer, a portable hard drive, and elsewhere online. In the event your computer is stolen, you don't want your inventory to go with it.


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