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Blog: Minimizing Financial Clutter
52 WEEKS TO FINANCIAL ORGANIZATION: #12 Create a Home Inventory

They say that knowledge is power. If the unthinkable happens losing most or all of the contents of your home in a fire or other disaster having knowledge (and documentation) of your possessions will give you the power to begin rebuilding your house and your life much more quickly.
This week's homework is to create a home inventory. 
My husband, who is in the property and casualty insurance industry, told me that your homeowner's insurance agent will love you if you can produce a home inventory after you experience a loss.  Yes, we all could use more love, but in that situation we could really use some quick cash.  That's the payoff for taking the time now to complete a home inventory:  you'll have peace of mind knowing that your personal property has been documented in case of disaster and that you won' t have to worry about trying to mentally re-create the contents of your home that no longer exist.  As a result of your good organization, you'll receive money from your homeowner's insurance company without a lot of delay and hassle.  You'll also be able to substantiate any losses when you prepare your tax return.
There are three ways you can create a home inventory:
1.       Home Inventory Computer Programs
There are many home inventory software programs, both free and for purchase.  I really liked one program in particular, called Know Your Stuff, which was created by the Insurance Information Institute.  It is FREE and very user-friendly.  (You don't have to be a computer genius to use it.)  The best thing about it is that it stores your inventory on a remote server, accessible from any computer.  When you make a new purchase, it's a snap to add it to your inventory.   I signed up and quickly entered the names of the rooms in my house.  Now I just need to go room-by-room and enter the contents.   To get started, go to http://www.knowyourstuff.org/iii/login.html.
2.       The Old-Fashioned Way
Paper-and-pencil lists, along with photographs, purchase receipts, and videotapes of your rooms work just fine, if you are more comfortable with those tools than the computer.  (Although you ARE reading this on the computer, aren't you?!).  It will probably be easier to do this if you work with a partner.  When I created my first home inventory, my friend followed me around the house with a video camera, videotaping the contents of my house as I described them and told her when I purchased them.  Afterwards, my friend helped me create a spreadsheet of the contents of my house, with descriptions, dates of purchase, and purchase price.  I keep the list, the videotape, and the purchase receipts for major purchases in my home safe.  If you choose to create your home inventory in this manner, be sure to date your inventory list, store it safely, and consider storing a copy of it off-site (with a relative, friend, or in a safe deposit box).
3.       Pay Someone to Create It
If you know yourself well enough to know that there is no way you will ever do this by yourself, and you can't find a buddy to help you, there are people you can hire to perform this important task.  Most residential professional organizers can help you.  Go to www.napo.net to locate a professional organizer near you.  You can also check with your homeowner's insurance company for a recommendation.
Regardless of how you do it JUST DO IT!  This is one area where procrastination and disorganization can seriously hurt you. 

posted on: 3/29/2009 11:30:00 AM by Katherine Trezise
category: Finances

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Minimizing Financial Clutter

by Katherine Trezise

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About Katherine:

Katherine Trezise is president of Absolutely Organized, based in Baltimore, MD. She is president-elect of the National Study Group on Chronic Disorganization. Katherine holds a masters degree in business administration, is a Certified Professional Organizer® and a Certified Professional Organizer in Chronic Disorganization®. Absolutely Organized specializes in helping people organize their homes, paperwork and financial records to make room in their lives for the things, people and activities that are most important to them.

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