How To Create An Effective Home Inventory System With Evernote

As a home or car owner, how many of you have ever thought about what you would do if something were to happen such as a break in, fire, flood or anything else were your belongings are damaged. I know I’ve never thought much about it until it happens. I had my car broken into as a teen, where all I had was spare change to be stolen, and I still don’t put enough effort into protecting my belongings in every way I can.

While we are all required by law to have insurance, when something happens, how many of us can keep our heads and even remember what possessions we have?

That is exactly why we should all have a home inventory.

A home inventory is a catalogue of all your belongings and what they are worth. In case of a fire or break in, you can take your home inventory information to your insurance company and have documented prove of what your belongings are worth, in case there are ever problems with an insurance payout. Another benefit of knowing what belongings you have and what they’re worth is that when reviewing your home owners insurance policy, if you notice a belonging that you have insured that you no longer own, removing that from your policy could decrease your premiums.

The only problem is, how exactly do you take inventory of your possessions? How do you do it in a way that is efficient and maintainable, searchable and effective? I’ve tried a dozen home inventory systems and have never been impressed, but there is a piece of software that I’m very impressed with that I have found will work just perfect for a home inventory system: Evernote!

Evernote is a feature rich note-taking system with the ability to categorize notes, include audio and images in notes and essentially organize anything you want to remember.

So how can you turn this note-taking system into a home inventory? Here’s how:

Before you actually take inventory, you need to set up your system.

Sign up and open Evernote in your browser or download the desktop application and open it on your computer. Create a notebook for each area of your life. If you own a car, create a folder for your car. If you own a home, do the same. If you have a lot of possessions you want to include in your home inventory, create multiple notebooks for the different areas of your life such as electronics, jewelry or sport equipment. The more specific you are, the more useful your home inventory will be.

With your system set up you are now ready to inventory your possessions. There are two ways to go about this.

The Smartphone way

If you’ve got a smartphone, iPod touch or iPad, this will be much quicker and easier.

With your smart phone, download the Evernote app and sign into your account. Next, go to each of your possessions and use the snapshot function of the Evernote app to take pictures and upload them to your Evernote account. During the snapshot process, you can give notes a title, select a notebook for them to upload directly into as well as tags which can help if you have multiple pieces of jewelry inside one jewelry notebook, for example. Notebooks can also be assigned when you’re finished taking all your pictures.

For more valuable things such as your car or your electronics, take multiple pictures at every angle. If something gets damaged, or you get into a car accident, you’ll want pictures of every perspective to accurately assess damage.

The Non-Smartphone way

If you prefer to use a digital camera, go ahead and go through the same process of taking pictures of all your possessions. After that, open Evernote on your computer and proceed to make new notes for your stuff. After you title them, click “attach” near the note title and select the image, or images, of you stuff and click save. Do this for all your pictures and belongings.

After you have everything inventoried and uploaded into your account, you’ll want to detail the images. Log into Evernote on your computer and list things like estimated price, any previous damage, date of purchase and even warranty information. If you want to get really crazy, you could upload your receipts and tag them along with your inventory shots.

And that’s all there is to it. Now all your stuff is inventoried, searchable and safe. Heaven forbid, if you get in a car accident, there is a fire at your place or you get robbed, you can look at exactly what was lost and what it will cost to replace.

Do you have a home inventory system?

Image by dvs

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5 People have left comments on this post

» Kevin @ Thousandaire.comNo Gravatar said: { Feb 17, 2011 - 08:02:32 }

While I’m sure this is valuable, I can’t imagine spending this much time cataloging my crap. I’ll just have to be happy with remembering stuff in case of an emergency.

With that being said, if I ever did decide to catalog, I’d probably use Evernote. It looks pretty cool.

Jesse MichelsenNo Gravatar Reply:

Sorry Kevin, your comment got lost among the entries to the giveaway.

Either of these methods to get your stuff into Evernote should only take a couple hours and you’ll only have to review this stuff when you make a big change at home, which is when you should probably review your home insurance policy anyway. But it all depends on what kind of stuff you have at home. If your time is worth more than all your possessions, why worry 🙂

» aracelis.guessNo Gravatar said: { Feb 24, 2011 - 06:02:00 }

Great idea! My home insurance agent also advised me to take the help of a home inventory calculator available on the company’s website to calculate the value of my possessions. It really helps!

Jesse MichelsenNo Gravatar Reply:

Thanks! Its good to see an Insurance company actually pressing this matter, might I ask which insurance company it is?

» mikshirNo Gravatar said: { Mar 25, 2011 - 12:03:09 }

The “take a picture of it” is a powerful way to log your inventory and I’ve used it to a lesser degree in the past. Evernote as well is a natural collection place, especially with some of Evernote’s search and other capabilities. The principle missing ingredient that has prevented me from a full on project is the lack of easy summarization, and relatedly handling of metadata such as serial numbers, where purchased, purchase price, estimated value and so forth; and assuming these were there getting tallies on the number of items and value (per category) which would be useful for insurance. Do you have any ideas on how you or someone might handle this in this system? I imagine there might be a clever convention perhaps in conjunction with a script that could be used to scrape the necessary information into a spreadsheet.
First things first though, get it all in there.

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