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Do A Home Inventory: 4 Financial Reasons

Do A Home Inventory: 4 Financial Reasons

    Stuff. We all have it: books, clothes, other items that just build up in our homes. Some of us have more stuff in the garage, in storage, in our parents’ basement. Stuff isn’t necessarily a bad thing — although too much stuff can be a major problem. But for many of us, the issue is that we don’t really know what stuff we have. Doing an inventory of our stuff, and keeping it up to date, can help us financially, as well as organizationally.

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    Why Bother?

    1. Knowing what stuff we have can be a life saver in an emergency. If there’s a flood or fire, the insurance company is going to want to know what you had before they’ll agree to give you a check to replace it. And if you don’t have insurance, taking an inventory can help you get an idea of whether you really need it.
    2. If you’ve got an idea of what you already have, you’re less likely to buy a second something you already have. I was routinely guilty of buying books I already had copies of until I went through and actually recorded all the books I have. It was a lot of work, but I’m saving money.
    3. Going through all your stuff can help you decide if you want to get rid of anything. While you may not be able to sell every piece of stuff you want to get rid of, you may be able to make money on some of it or trade it for something you really want. Those spare books I had? I traded most of them for other books on my wishlist.
    4. You may be able to slim down your stuff or reorganize it in such a way that you don’t need storage outside your home anymore. You can save money (or goodwill) on storage — and get more use out of the stuff you have without having to go root through storage to find something you want.

    How to Inventory Easily

    Doing an inventory can seem too huge to manage at first glance. Even if your home is relatively clutter-free, there’s a surprising amount of stuff in it. But an inventory doesn’t have to be done all at once — and it doesn’t actually have to include every single thing in your home. To get started, you need a plan of attack. Perhaps you’ll work on one room a day — or even one square foot. Perhaps you’ll start with a certain category of belongings, like electronics. You’ll also want to start with an idea of what you don’t want to inventory. You can use a lower dollar limit, or ignore those items that you wouldn’t want to replace if you lost them.

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    You’ll also need a system to use to inventory your stuff. While you can take the spreadsheet approach — meticulously recording every item and a description in a spreadsheet — that may not be a practical option in light of other limits on your time. There are plenty of options for creating an inventory of your possessions, however. Some are specifically designed for a certain type of stuff (such as books or DVD) while others are more general.

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    • Real Simple’s home inventory worksheets: If you want to take a ‘get in, get out’ approach to your inventory, these simple worksheets can be a great option. You simply write down what you see when standing in a particular room — and for some rooms, Real Simple has already listed some standard items so that you only need to add serial numbers and brands where appropriate.
    • The camera method: Got a digital camera? You can create a quick and dirty inventory by going through your home and photographing everything. You’ll want to back these photos up somewhere outside your home, in case of an emergency. It’s also a good idea to tag or label the photos in order to simplifying sorting through them.
    • Collector software: There are hundreds of applications for ‘collectors,’ software that you can input all the books, DVDs or other items of a certain type into. From there, you can print off lists or manage them online, as well as easily add new purchases. If one category of ‘stuff’ dominates your home, this might be the easiest approach to an inventory.

    It doesn’t really matter how you inventory your stuff, as long as you can easily save a copy of your inventory outside your home. Even printing off a copy and giving it to someone you trust can make your life easier in the event of a disaster, although using an electronic back up method has its benefits: it’s easier to update whenever you add something new to your home. If you do take your inventory as an opportunity to declutter your home, it’s also important to remove anything you get rid of from your inventory. It can also be a great opportunity to organize those items that you don’t necessarily have out all the time. As I was creating my own invenotry, for instance, I actually managed to get all the tools in my home into the same closet. It may seem like a small victory, but it saves me time when I’m hunting for something and when I’m putting things away. It also means that I can see what tools I have at a glance, reducing the chance that I’ll wind up with a monkey wrench I don’t need.

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    Last Updated on March 30, 2020

    What to Do in Free Time? 20 Productive Ways to Use the Time

    What to Do in Free Time? 20 Productive Ways to Use the Time

    If you’ve got a big block of free time, the best way to put that to use is to relax, have fun, decompress from a stressful day, or spend time with a loved one. But if you’ve just got a little chunk — say 5 or 10 minutes — there’s no time to do any of the fun stuff.

    So, what to do in free time?

    Put those little chunks of time to their most productive use.

    Everyone works differently, so the best use of your free time really depends on you, your working style, and what’s on your to-do list. But it’s handy to have a list like this in order to quickly find a way to put that little spare time to work instantly, without any thought. Use the following list as a way to spark ideas for what you can do in a short amount of time.

    1. Reading Files

    Clip magazine articles or print out good articles or reports for reading later, and keep them in a folder marked “Reading File”. Take this wherever you go, and any time you have a little chunk of time, you can knock off items in your Reading File.

    Keep a reading file on your computer (or in your bookmarks), for quick reading while at your desk (or on the road if you’ve got a laptop).

    2. Clear out Inbox

    Got a meeting in 5 minutes? Use it to get your physical or email inbox to empty.

    If you’ve got a lot in your inbox, you’ll have to work quickly, and you may not get everything done; but reducing your pile can be a big help. And having an empty inbox is a wonderful feeling.

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    3. Phone Calls

    Keep a list of phone calls you need to make, with phone numbers, and carry it everywhere.

    Whether you’re at your desk or on the road, you can knock a few calls off your list in a short amount of time.

    4. Make Money

    This is my favorite productive use of free time. I have a list of articles I need to write, and when I get some spare minutes, I’ll knock off half an article real quick.

    If you get 5 to 10 chunks of free time a day, you can make a decent side income. Figure out how you can freelance your skills, and have work lined up that you can knock out quickly — break it up into little chunks, so those chunks can be done in short bursts.

    5. File

    No one likes to do this. If you’re on top of your game, you’re filing stuff immediately, so it doesn’t pile up.

    But if you’ve just come off a really busy spurt, you may have a bunch of documents or files laying around.

    Or maybe you have a big stack of stuff to file. Cut into that stack with every little bit of spare time you get, and soon you’ll be in filing Nirvana.

    6. Network

    Only have 2 minutes? Shoot off a quick email to a colleague. Even just a “touching bases” or follow-up email can do wonders for your working relationship. Or shoot off a quick question, and put it on your follow-up list for later.

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    7. Clear out Feeds

    If my email inbox is empty, and I have some spare time, I like to go to my Google Reader and clear out my feed inbox.

    8. Goal Time

    Take 10 minutes to think about your goals — personal and professional.

    If you don’t have a list of goals, start on one. If you’ve got a list of goals, review them.

    Write down a list of action steps you can take over the next couple of weeks to make these goals a reality. What action step can you do today? The more you focus on these goals, and review them, the more likely they will come true.

    9. Update Finances

    Many people fall behind with their finances, either in paying bills (they don’t have time), or entering transactions in their financial software, or clearing their checkbook, or reviewing their budget.

    Take a few minutes to update these things. It just takes 10 to 15 minutes every now and then.

    10. Brainstorm Ideas

    Another favorite of mine if I just have 5 minutes — I’ll break out my pocket notebook, and start a brainstorming list for a project or article. Whatever you’ve got coming up in your work or personal life, it can benefit from a brainstorm. And that doesn’t take long.

    11. Clear off Desk

    Similar to the filing tip above, but this applies to whatever junk you’ve got cluttering up your desk. Or on the floor around your desk.

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    Trash stuff, file stuff, put it in its place. A clear desk makes for a more productive you. And it’s oddly satisfying.

    12. Exercise

    Never have time to exercise? 10 minutes is enough to get off some pushups and crunches. Do that 2 to 3 times a day, and you’ve got a fit new you.

    13. Take a Walk

    This is another form of exercise that doesn’t take long, and you can do it anywhere. Even more important, it’s a good way to stretch your legs from sitting at your desk too long.

    It also gets your creative juices flowing. If you’re ever stuck for ideas, taking a walk is a good way to get unstuck.

    14. Follow up

    Keep a follow-up list for everything you’re waiting on. Return calls, emails, memos — anything that someone owes you, put on the list.

    When you’ve got a spare 10 minutes, do some follow-up calls or emails.

    15. Meditate

    You don’t need a yoga mat to do this. Just do it at your desk. Focus on your breathing. A quick 5 to 10 minutes of meditation (or even a nap) can be tremendously refreshing.

    Take a look at this 5-Minute Guide to Meditation: Anywhere, Anytime

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    16. Research

    This is a daunting task for me. So I do it in little spurts.

    If I’ve only got a few minutes, I’ll do some quick research and take some notes. Do this a few times, and I’m done!

    17. Outline

    Similar to brainstorming, but more formal. I like to do an outline of a complicated article, report or project, and it helps speed things along when I get to the actual writing. And it only takes a few minutes.

    18. Get Prepped

    Outlining is one way to prep for longer work, but there’s a lot of other ways you can prep for the next task on your list.

    You may not have time to actually start on the task right now, but when you come back from your meeting or lunch, you’ll be all prepped and ready to go.

    19. Be Early

    Got some spare time before a meeting? Show up for the meeting early.

    Sure, you might feel like a chump sitting there alone, but actually people respect those who show up early. It’s better than being late (unless you’re trying to play a power trip or something, but that’s not appreciated in many circles).

    20. Log

    If you keep a log of anything, a few spare minutes is the perfect time to update the log.

    Actually, the perfect time to update the log is right after you do the activity (exercise, eat, crank a widget), but if you didn’t have time to do it before, your 5-minute break is as good a time as any.

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    Featured photo credit: Lauren Mancke via unsplash.com

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