A home inventory list serves multiple purposes. It provides a proper documentation of your belongings for an insurance company in an event your home is broken into or damaged; it helps you keep track of items that require main or adjustment and as an added benefit, it can help you to organize and prioritize your possessions and maintain a lean home.

Part One:

Make Your Inventory. You should have a home inventory list which would allow you to keep tabs on what and how much you own. Completely setting up the inventory is a tedious process, so give yourself a week or so to complete it. Start accounting for one room each day, or dedicate a weekend to get it done.

Step 1 – make a spreadsheet. There are a lot of sites that offer tips on how to record your belongings, including FEMA and Insurance Information Institute. Specific insurance agencies also offer checklist guidelines; you should check with your agent for the minute details of your plan and what it covers.

Step 2 – start documenting your belongings. Make a spreadsheet which accounts for inventory of room by room, with columns for item description, quantity, model/serial number, year purchased, place purchased, and the respective cost of the good. To be on the safe side, maintain a backup of the receipts, appraisals or serial numbers for electronics and appliances.

Step 3 – you should take photographs of the items and create a backup on the computer file along with your spreadsheet. It’s also wise to take pictures of receipts. Another good option is to take a video walking room by room and saving that with your backup. Try to cover your entire house with the photographs as the pictures will provide as an evidence.

Step 4 – create a backup of all your data which you accumulated in Step 1,2 and 3 online through Dropbox or Google Drive which gives you ample amount of storage facility. Another option is to keep it on a USB drive at your office or family/friend’s house. The online backup can be accessed from anywhere and is a great source of information being kept safe in case your computer gets stolen or damaged.

Part Two:

Use Your Inventory. Hopefully you will not have to use your inventory file in the event of a disaster or burglary but you will find it helpful to put it to use in your daily life. This might make you realize that you own too much stuff which you might not be using at all.

Step 1 – go through the list you have made and then physically go room to room to highlight any item that can be reduced. You may realize that there are a lot of things that you actually do not require.

Step 2 – once highlighting the unnecessary items is done, you can either sell them through a garage sale or give them to charity as per your liking.

Step 3 – with the inventory list in your hand, account for your good in each room. Take your time and go through each item. Have a friend or family member do it along with you so that you do not get bored.

Step 4 – once you are done removing unnecessary items, revise your list. For now, whenever you make any new purchase, update it to your inventory. By keeping your records up-to-date, you will have a clearer picture of everything you own which will make it easier for you to realize when you do or do not need something. This will help you figure out the time and effort that goes into owning an item which will in turn make it a lot easier for you to buy less any buy better.