How will you know what has been lost if don't know what you have?


   Your blessings are the first thing you count when disaster strikes and no one is hurt. The next tally is your losses. Whether burglary, natural events, or fire caused the disaster, some or all of your household possessions are gone and need to be replaced.

    Without a complete home inventory, however, you'll probably never know for sure everything you had and what it is worth. That means your police report and/or insurance claim will be incomplete, and chances are you won't be reimbursed for everything you lost. And remember each of your possessions.

    That's pretty sobering thought, but if you need a little more convincing to do a home inventory, try this exercise: Take pen an paper into the kitchen. Now, write down everything in the living room- but don't leave the kitchen! when you are finished go into the living room and compare your list to what is really there. You'll be surprised by how many item you've missed.  If that happened when you filled out your insurance claim form, you wouldn't receive compensation for many of the items you missed. Then try to date and value every item. Be specific: How old is the TV? How many CDs do you own? Without this information, you can't be sure an insurance claim will cover the full value of the itemized losses.

    There is no place like the present to do a home inventory. Here are few tips:

  • Do it now. Set a deadline for completing the task, but start now. You don't get a warning that you'll need inventory.
  • Note everything.If the disaster strikes, you'll be replacing everything form the TV to the pots and pans, and they cost plenty to replace all at once.
  • List everything in closets and drawers. It may not occur to you but the cost of replacing clothing and shoes adds up, too.
  • Keep a list of items stored elsewhere-mini-storage, your in-law's garage, and safe-deposit boxes.
  • Receipts or copies of receipts for big-ticket items- TV's, stereo equipment, computers, and other office equipment- should be kept with the inventory. Also, keep photocopies of important documents (tax returns,house title and deed, birth certificates, a list of credit cards and bank account number) with the inventory.

    This needn't become an over whelming task. Family Money recommends a "quick-star"t program with a detailed follow-up: Take a camera or video recorder from room to room and around the out side of your home, getting a picture of all your possessions. Put the tape or photos in your safe deposit box, then do the paperwork of the details.