Thursday, March 1, 2012

Spring Cleaning Part I: Household Inventory

Welcome to March, one of the more comfortable months here in the state of Texas- I thought it'd be good to share some inspiration for spring cleaning. I've got a few ideas for more "man of the house" type projects that we can get done that I'll post in later articles. As a famous Canadian philosopher once said: "If the women don't find you handsome, they should at least find you handy."

I was reminded when I saw the news this morning about the powerful tornadoes that swept through the midwest, that now would be a good time to run this article. Whether you rent or own, having a household inventory can save you hours of headache in the event of a burglary or the destruction of your home. It's also a good bargaining chip to use against insurance agencies that have a knack for holding up the bare minimum of their agreements with you.

  1. Find a place to store the information remotely. There are websites specifically that will do this for you, but personally I use a worksheet I made in Google Docs. You'll want to be able to access the list from anywhere in case your computer is stolen or destroyed. I'd also keep a copy on a secure flash drive in your bug out bag
  2. I've found the simplest way to go about doing this, as I mentioned, is to use a worksheet in Google Docs. I've set up mine with the following headings: Item, Manufacturer, Model, Serial Number, Date of Purchase, and Cost. Then make sheets for each room of the house or break it up by category. I used the following categories: Electronics, Tools, Appliances, Furniture, Recreational Equipment, and Miscellaneous. It's important to get as much data off each item as possible. Look hard for the tags with the information, just putting down iPod doesn't really help. Apple has both a serial number and a model number on the product. With electronics sometimes you can only get to it in the "about device" section of the software, it's not actually stamped onto the hardware. 
  3. Scan receipts as proof of purchase, and photograph or video record all the spaces in your home. This adds another layer of proof that you actually own the items you list. Remember to store all this data remotely too. Remember to photograph things like your dining utensils and movie collection. They might be more difficult to itemize on your list so having photographs is a good alternative.
  4. Update the list regularly. It may take a long time to construct the list initially, but with regular maintenance, it's not hard at all to keep the list current. 
  5. For unique or handmade items and jewelry in your house the best thing to do is to get them apprised. Unfortunately, this is also expensive to do- if it's not in your budget, thoroughly photograph these items- its better than nothing. And sometimes jewelry can be recreated from photos.
  6. Know your renters or home owners insurance policy. Pay special attention to what your deductible is, how it handles replacement- will it cover full replacement of what was lost, or will it only cover the depreciated value of what was in your home? Know how much of your [wife's] jewelry would be covered in the event of loss or theft- there's usually a separate clause pertaining to this. If full coverage isn't offered you may want to consider a separate policy for those sparkly items. 

*As a random note: the idea of spring cleaning can actually be traced back to the spring time feast of Passover when the Jews purge their homes in remembrance of the miracles God preformed when they were enslaved to Egypt.

You may also like:
Spring Cleaning Part II: The Grill
Bug Out Bags
B Dubs Pulled Chicken Sandwich

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