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Organizing 101: Importance of a Household Inventory

Updated: Feb 10, 2023

Keeping tabs on items entering and leaving your house, having a running list of family valuables/ household assets, or a list of appliances/renovations are all perfect examples of household inventories.

This list is flexible, for it can be simplistic or complex, or as vague or granular as you wish, depending on your individual needs/the inventory's purpose.

Wondering why you are unable to stick to your budget month over month? Or maybe you are accumulating your assets in preparation for taxes or other financial changes. No matter the reason, a household inventory can save you time & also money.

If you don't already have a household inventory don't worry, most homeowners don't. The nice thing is, is that it's never too late to start.

This blog article will help guide you in creating your own personalized household inventory from start to finish. Not only will this help set you up for success, but after we've created our inventory, I'll talk about the importance of maintaining it long-term with some timelines and simple strategies to add to your household routines.

Let's get started!

Why is an inventory important?

If you are planning any big renovations to your home, or are looking for ways to cut back on your monthly spending, start with creating a household inventory.

So what is a household inventory exactly? This is a master list of items/assets that are currently inside your home.

Think of your house like a warehouse (just briefly!) and you need to keep track of the stock (household items) so you know what you have & don't have. This can be kept as detailed, or as high level as you wish. I sometimes recommend to my clients to create multiple lists such as ones that are used in specific rooms & require more frequent updating (i.e. kitchen/pantry stock) and ones that are for larger purchases/household decisions (i.e. renovations) and may not need to be updated or referenced as frequently.

Here are a few examples of items you may want to include in your own inventory:

  • Furniture

  • Jewelry

  • Appliances

  • Electronics

  • Renovations/ Home Repairs

Looking to sell your home? Keeping an up-to-date household inventory will allow you to easily provide up-to-date & detailed information to your Real Estate Agent to answer buyer questions, and help with the listing process.

Also, in the event of an emergency, having a comprehensive list of assets and items for your insurance company will make the whole process run smoothly & with less stress. It never hurts to be prepared!

I also recommend including photos of the items alongside the inventory list in the event they are needed for insurance or other purposes. These will go a long way in addressing any issues or changes to your home over time.

Now that we know what a household inventory is & why it's so important, let's talk about how to create an inventory for your home today!

How to create your first household inventory

The easiest way to start your very first household inventory is to open a blank Excel sheet.

I highly recommend creating the list first as a digital file. Not only is it easy to add or remove items, but it can also be accessed remotely.

It is also important to keep a copy saved on your local Harddrive, and also in the Cloud (password protected) in the event you need to access the information when you are away from home or in case of an emergency.

The Excel sheet for larger items/assets should include (but not be limited to) the following headers:

  1. Item name

  2. Year and/or place of purchase

  3. Model/Serial Number of the item

  4. Purchase Price/method of payment

  5. Name of the company that installed or performed the household service

  6. Date of installation/service performed

The Excel sheet for a specific room/purpose should include (but not be limited to) the following headers:

  1. Item name

  2. Quantity

  3. Date last purchased

  4. What room it belongs in

  5. Date the list was last updated

In a folder where the Excel sheets are kept should be any photos of any big-ticket purchases (appliances, furniture etc.) or renovations/repairs done to the home. This way all of the information is kept in one spot and can be referenced easily.

As I mentioned above, a copy of the lists and the photos should be both stored on your computer hard drive and the Cloud for security and accessibility options.

Once you have your templates, you are ready to start collecting the information and filling in the inventories with all their relevant information. It is important to keep in mind that the first time you do this exercise it will likely take a while and feel cumbersome. However, once the list has been created & only requires updating, this task will become easier and faster to complete.

Try not to become discouraged or frustrated with the process, anything worth doing is worth doing right, no matter how long it may take. Progress (no matter how small!) is still progress and your mind (and maybe even your pocketbook) will thank you in the long run.

Your inventory is created, now what?

You've created your very first Household inventory, bravo! what?

Just like any other organizational habit, maintenance is key to long-term success.

Depending on the type of household inventory you decided to create, reviewing the list and updating the items may need to happen on a frequent or infrequent basis. Here are a couple of rules of thumb

  • If the list is to track spending/costs - update monthly

  • If the list is to track large purchases/household changes - update it yearly

With the hard part out of the way (creating the list from scratch for the first time), the regular upkeep of your inventory(s) should not be an overly onerous task to complete.

I recommend, at least for the first few updates, to put a reminder in your calendar or phone at the interval you wish to update the list (i.e. month, bi-yearly, yearly) so that it is not forgotten and you can make some time in your busy daily schedule to update the inventory.

Also, to make this task flow as easily as possible with your already established routines, try to arrange this at a time when you are doing other household administrative tasks (i.e. yearly taxes,) or add it to your "To-Do List" when preparing for renovations, moving or even selling your home. This way it will seem like an extension of those items and not an additional task to worry about.

Lastly, and most importantly, if you keep multiple copies of the inventories in various locations, be sure to update ALL lists in ALL locations at the same time so everything stays current and you don't need to second guess in the event of an emergency if you are looking at the most recent list or not.


Now that you know what a household inventory is and how it can help keep you organized, I encourage you to try creating one for yourself (think of it as a New Year's Resolution!) 🥳

🤞🏻 Remember, organizing is a process. Learning new routines and strategies takes time, however, the more you repeat those processes the more likely it is that you will see long-lasting results!


Ready to get started?

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About the Author: Brittany Smith lives in Ottawa, Canada with her husband and feline furbaby Zoey. She is a Certified Professional Organizer, Owner, and Founder of Control the Chaos, a Professional Organizing business that provides personalized in-home, virtual and digital organizing services aimed at transforming anyone's chaos into calm.

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