Do you really need to take an inventory of your stuff?

home_inventory1This summer is the first summer in our new home. That means we have a new neighborhood and new neighbors. Any time you move you never know how the neighbors will be. Luckily we have met several of our neighbors and we cannot complain at all! Not only do we have great neighbors but our little community does all kinds of cool stuff together throughout the year!

One of the events is a community wide garage sale. Apparently this garage sale has been held every June for over 20 years. Each house (and there are about 200 homes in our community) is invited to participate, and from what we were told there have been lines of cars coming in and out of our neighborhood with shoppers.

AWESOME! Now, since we had moved in a few months prior we had accumulated quite a bit of stuff and this was the perfect opportunity to get rid of it. For weeks before the sale my husband and I went through everything. We had piles of stuff for the garage sale, piles to take to Goodwill and then piles to just dump! The night before the garage sale we stayed up late organizing our things and pricing them in anticipation of the huge lines of cars and shoppers we were told would arrive.

garage sale photo The next morning we were up at the crack of dawn setting up. By 7:30 we were ready for business. About an hour later we started to get a steady flow of people, but nothing had been sold. As we sat there just looking at our things we couldn’t help but wonder what is wrong with our stuff? Customers would walk up and down our driveway with their hands behind their back just looking and walking out of our yard. We didn’t have typical junk items at our sale. Our stuff ranged from snowboards, to art and fashion an electric fireplace and more. Yes they were all gently used but in great condition. These items were things we no longer had room for, couldn’t fit into or we simply wanted to change out decorations in our bedroom, family or living room. We had expensive art work that is still in style but was too girly for my husband, the snowboard was perfectly fine but our 14 year  old “man child” had grown out of it after one season. Yes I may be biased that our stuff wasn’t junk, but it really wasn’t. It was still sell-able.

So then we started to wonder if our items were priced too high. price markdownWe took off all of the price tags and just told everyone to make us an offer on items they wanted. I had a clothes rack set up with a bunch of nice dresses and expensive jeans that I didn’t want (or couldn’t fit into) anymore. They weren’t terribly worn and when I bought them new they were worth a pretty penny. I knew I wouldn’t get full or even half price and totally low balled the figure myself but I had a lady offer my .50 for my $120 pair of jeans. I looked at her and said no, and I thought I would rather give it away to someone who needs it for free than take .50 for it. I was blown away after that, and after about three hours we had barely sold anything.

At the end of the day we had only made $46.00, and as we thought we had a horrible day our neighbor across the street only made $43.00. So we didn’t feel as terrible. Our neighbor had told us that this particular year was the worst turn out he had ever seen and no one was buying anything. For the amount of work we did I am not in a rush to participate next year. mean girlsI was annoyed that after all this work, no one wanted our stuff it wasn’t even about making money. It made me feel like my style and taste was terrible and I live in a house of junk. I felt violated almost like I was being personally attacked, and took it personally a little. It was that feeling of the “mean girls” back in high school for making fun of your outfit. I did feel better after hearing my neighbor’s story but still, so much work for nothing…OUCH!

The good news is that we did clean out our home and organize it so the Goodwill will be getting a hefty lot from our household! Keywords, “will be” the piles of unsold garage sale items still sit in our garage two months later, I guess I should work on that, but it has been way too hot to hang out in the garage and clean it! I did end up $46.00 richer than I was the day before. So it wasn’t a total loss.

Home Inventory importanceNow that my house is a little less cluttered it is a great time to take an inventory of the items we own. Why would I need to take an inventory of my personal belongings? Well because should you ever have a loss either by natural disaster, fire, theft, vandalism, poor renovations, old pipes, etc and your belongings are stolen or damaged the insurance company will want a list of those items to help repair or replace whatever was stolen or damaged. How many of us can actually say we have a home inventory list? Or what about those receipts or appraisals for higher value items? Confession – I don’t even have an inventory list yet. What I do have are appraisals for some jewelry items for my husband and I but that is about it.

If we were to have a fire and our home was damaged the insurance company will ask us what we had in our home to try and replace the items as best as possible. If I don’t have a list I can tell you at that moment after a loss my brain, or anyone else’s brain, probably won’t be working clearly to write out a detailed list for my adjuster. You also want to make those lists and total the amount of coverage you’ll need for all of the items in your home. Even if you are not a homeowner, your renters policy will still provide you personal property so you’ll want to make sure as a renter that you do have a renters policy and figure out if you have enough personal property coverage.

I am talking about going through everything people, each room from top to bottom and even in your drawers and closets. Think of it this way, if you took your house and dumped it upside down everything will fall out. This is all of your personal property. Document everything, and take photos. You can even make a video and just walk around your house with your smartphone or video camera and walk through each room and go through the closets. The more information you have the better your insurance company will be able to pay out your claim.

There are also many apps, free and paid, that you can download on your phone to help organize your inventory. If you don’t have a smartphone you can create an excel spreadsheet or just write out on a piethe cloudce of paper each room and list out each item, the approximate purchase date and the value. When you have completed your inventory you’ll want to store it in a safe place, and possibly save it on your computer, or store it in a safety deposit box at the bank. If you have an emergency kit place a copy of your home inventory inside the emergency kit so if there is an emergency the inventory will be there. Or put in in the cloud, whatever that is.

You will also want to call your agent and check your coverage options. Some companies will only pay the Actual Cash Value for those items otherwise known as ACV, but many companies will provide Replacement Cost of your personal property and may charge a small additional premium for it. But that additional premium is well worth it if you have a loss down the road.

Example: you have a couch that is 10 years old or even 5 years old and your home has a total loss from a fire like this one. total loss house Your policy is ACV so you will get what your 10 year old or 5 year old couch is worth with depreciation which probably wouldn’t be anything. This would be equivalent to garage sale or Craig’s List prices. Versus if you have replacement cost the company would look at what it would cost to purchase a new couch just like it.

Make sure that with your higher value items you save your receipts and if applicable get updated appraisals every couple of years. If you have some items that are of higher value you will want to ask your agent about specifically listing them on your home or renters policy. This is most common with jewelry and artwork and called “Scheduling” in the insurance world. We have had many customers schedule artwork, rugs, oriental carpets, signed sports memorabilia etc. This is also something you want to do if you have a collection. Our agency does work with a company that insures only collections. That is all they do so they know everything there is to know about insuring collections. Your collections may not be covered or only partially covered under your homeowners policies so you will want to check the conditions of your policy to find out.

Take a look at your garage too! If you are into cycling, bikes can get pricey so make sure you ask your agent to see if you can schedule your bike or any other expensive piece of sporting or exercise equipment. The bottom line is you want to make sure you are covered in case something were to happen. Remember, insurance exists to protect you against financial hardship. So, take an inventory and put it in a safe place so if heaven forbid, something happened you are prepared. Stay tuned for my next post about how I will complete my home inventory and find out which smartphone app I used! It’ll most likely be a free one, cause I hate spending money on apps!

American Diversified Insurance Services, Inc.

A: 201 Natoma St Folsom, CA 95630

P: (916)985-7500 F: (916)985-7302 T: (916)389-1820

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