Think about your home for a moment, and pretend that every item in it has just vanished. Could you accurately list everything that is no longer there? Would you be able to recall the contents of every cupboard, cabinet, drawer, and shelf? What about all of your books, movies, and music? Or the family heirlooms you’ve taken ownership of over the years? What about that valuable collection of action figures you’ve been adding to for so long?

Whether you own a little or a lot, you should consider creating a personal asset inventory that documents the contents of your home.

A personal asset inventory is basically a list of your possessions which have monetary or personal value. The level of detail you enter for each item in your asset inventory will vary depending on the item’s value, how common or rare it is, and how it came into your possession.

Using your smartphone or tablet and a dedicated app, you can create a home inventory that’s simple to edit, lets you search for specific items, and backs up your inventory to the cloud for easy retrieval.

Why should I create a personal asset inventory?

There are a number of situations in which a personal asset inventory would be very useful, if not vitally important:

Moving Out: If you’re making a move to a new home, especially a long-distance move to a different city or state, having a detailed inventory of your possessions can help you to identify anything that goes missing once you’ve unpacked your things.

Lending Out Items: Do you have friends or family members who regularly borrow books from your collection? Or, do you occasionally lend a power tool to your neighbor? Many home inventory apps let you highlight items you’ve loaned to others so you don’t forget about them or wonder where they are.

Home Burglary: Most insurance companies will not automatically take your word for it if your high-end electronics or valuable antiques are stolen from your home. Also, people whose homes have been burgled often have trouble identifying which things were taken. A home inventory can be used as a checklist to determine the status of your possessions, and is invaluable if you need to file a house burglary insurance claim.

Catastrophic Event: A fire or natural disaster can literally destroy your home and everything inside. If this happens, there is no better way to approach your insurance company than with an itemized inventory of your home’s contents. Most personal inventory apps store a copy of your records in the cloud, so you can retrieve them with your phone—or even a replacement phone, if necessary.

Estate Planning: While a Last Will and Testament outlines how you want your estate to be distributed, it rarely contains an extensive list of your personal items. Several personal inventory apps let you export your information as a file (usually a spreadsheet or PDF) which you can print or store on a memory card or thumb drive.

How do I create a personal asset inventory?

You should use a dedicated app on your tablet or smartphone to create your personal asset inventory. While you can create a home inventory with a pad of paper and pencil, unless all of your earthly possessions fit into a single carry-on bag, it’s much simpler to go digital. Just like keeping track of your purchases is much easier with a personal finance app, managing your asset inventory is better done with the mobile device you have at hand.

A personal asset inventory is a great way to document and track your possessions. Click To Tweet

A great place to start when creating a personal inventory is your home insurance company. Your insurance agent can give you valuable tips on which items to enter into your asset inventory, and which assets you should skip because they are assigned a bulk replacement cost. This could include things like replacing the contents of your pantry, fridge, and freezer, or buying all-new toiletry items for your washrooms.

Another good reason to contact your insurance company when starting your personal inventory is that some major insurance companies offer their own asset inventory app, or have a recommendation for the app they’d prefer you to use. If they don’t do either, you can proceed using whatever app you prefer.

What are some personal asset inventory apps?

Here are a few of the more popular personal asset inventory apps available for iOS and Android mobile devices.

Encircle (iOS and Android)

Encircle is a little daunting at first glance, as it supports a number of professional insurance industry features. However, the app’s Inventory for Homeowners functionality is intuitive, and its use of photos and videos to help document possessions is a great time saver.

My Stuff – Home Inventory (iOS)

My Stuff – Home Inventory lets users organize items by room and location, making it easier to create a comprehensive list of assets. Users can also create collections and easily move items between them, an excellent way to keep track of things like books or tools you have loaned out to family and friends. A nice security feature: you can use a password to protect access to the app and its contents.

Nest Egg – Inventory (iOS)

Nest Egg is a powerful home inventory app that’s actually fun to use. It includes features like product information lookup through barcode scanning, automatic warranty tracking for purchases, online price checks, an item lending function, and inventory exporting in CSV or HTML formats.

Know Your Stuff (iOS and Android)

Know Your Stuff is a free app with no ads or in-app purchases required, making it a good choice for people on a budget. KYS is a decent home inventory app that includes the ability to store your inventory in the cloud for safekeeping. If a catastrophic event occurs, inventory data can be accessed through a web browser on any PC as well as your mobile device.

Start your own personal asset inventory

Whether you own a little or a lot, creating a personal asset inventory is a great way to document your possessions in case you ever lose items during a move, to theft, or to a natural disaster. Your home inventory can help you to better deal with insurance companies, as well as keep track of items you lend to others.

Finally, making a personal inventory gives you a new understanding and appreciation of the things you own, and can help you make educated decisions if you ever decide it’s time to downsize your life.

How have you documented your assets?

Posted by Aaron Axline

Aaron Axline is an author, technology journalist, blogger, and knowledge management expert.

One Comment

  1. […] as possible when you create your list. This task is much easier if you have previously created a personal asset inventory you can refer to while doing your walkthrough. If you don’t have an inventory, try to be as […]

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