Home inventories are invaluable for showing insurance companies what you lost in a break-in, fire, or other catastrophe. They're also quite handy for surveying, decluttering and organising your loot. These five tools will help you inventory and organise your collection of stuff.
Photo by jinkazamah.
Delicious Library (Mac, $US40)
Delicious Library is a popular inventory application for Mac OS X. Delicious Library gives you an iTunes-like interface mashed up with the appearance of a traditional bookshelf. You can scan books, DVDs, CDs and other barcode-toting items right into Delicious Library and manually enter other items like tools, clothing and more. Half the appeal of Delicious Library is how easy it makes the home inventory process. The other half is how easy it makes loaning things out, selling things online, and interacting with your stuff beyond simply cataloguing it.
Spreadsheets (Windows/Mac/Linux, Variable Cost)
While the majority of people voted for Excel, we tweaked the entry to spreadsheets in general — one hardly needs the advanced features and price tag of Excel for a simple home inventory list. Whether you're using Microsoft Excel, Open Office Calc or Google Docs Spreadsheet, the common spreadsheet offers the flexibility to create just the home inventory you need. Whatever categories or variables you want to include in your inventory to properly catalogue your collection of stuff you can create a custom-fit using a spread sheet. It isn't as polished and pretty as some of the other home inventory tools in the Hive Five but it certainly gets the job done. The screenshot above is of a free home inventory template provided by Vertex42.
Taking pictures or recording video of the contents of your home is an old and insurance-agent-recommended method of taking stock of your possessions. Armed with a digital camera or camcorder it's easy to shoot as many pictures or minutes of video as you need. Always take an extra few seconds to snap a picture or zoom in on the serial numbers and the important details of your possessions — flip a piece of china over to show the make, take a close up picture of a stamp or proof mark on an antique that shows the age and value, etc. Burn the pictures or video to a DVD and/or upload them to a secure account online to ensure you have them when you need them. Photo by orangeacid.
iTrackMine (Web-based/iPhone/Smartphone, Free)
iTrackMine is a web-based personal inventory manager. You can type in — or scan with an appropriate barcode scanner — the ISBN or UPC numbers of items in your possession. You can also import data from places like iTunes, GoodReads.com and Delicious Library to instantly populate your collection. iTrackMine supports not just the cataloguing of set categories like books or movies but anything you want to put into it. Where iTrackMine really stands out from the other options in this week's Hive Five is insurance report generation. iTrackMine is the only tool highlighted here that has a specific function to generate a report you can hand right to your insurance agent.
Evernote (Web-based/Windows/Mac/iPhone/Android, Basic: Free/Premium: $US45 year)
If you're already using Evernote as your ubiquitous capture tool, it's a natural jump to use Evernote to capture photos and information about your possessions to put together a home inventory. Capture photos of items and serial numbers, hop into your Evernote account and add any additional information plus a tag like "home inventory" or "insurance list", and you've created a simple home inventory with minimal effort. A large home inventory will probably push you beyond the limits of the free account — compare the free and premium accounts here — but your upgrade to a premium account comes with more benefits than just increased storage.
Have a tip or trick for creating a home inventory? Have hard-earned advice from needing a home inventory after a burglary or disaster? Let's hear about it in the comments.