05 March 2013

Tracking Home Inventory

About a month ago, I received a message from my sister informing me that her house had been robbed and that pretty much everything of value had been stolen.  Luckily, she wasn’t home when the robbery took place so she wasn’t in any danger of being harmed.  Not everything that was taken can be replaced (e.g. family heirlooms, jewelry, etc.) so we are hopeful that at least some of her valuables will be located.  However, if they are located, she will still have to prove they are hers.  Luckily, she had recorded the serial numbers of the items (e.g. camera, laptop, etc.).  Having the serial numbers recorded does not guarantee that one will get their stolen property returned to them.  However, if your stolen property is recovered, it will definitely increase the likelihood of getting your items back.

A day or two after my sister’s bad news had settled in, I started thinking about what would happen if I were in the same situation (which, obviously, I hope to never be).  I could get to a few serial numbers on-line based on when I originally registered specific items.  However, I did not have an official home inventory list of the valuables throughout our house.  So, I decided to start the list (I spaced the task of filling out the list over the course of a couple of weeks) in Excel.

Rather than create my own home inventory list in Excel, I decided to search the available templates.  Searching for “home inventory” turned up two templates:

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Creating a new spreadsheet based on this template provides a great starting point for tracking the valuables throughout your house (or office or wherever you want to track an inventory).  The template is easy to use and understand.

However, not everyone has Excel installed and available.  No problem!  With Microsoft’s SkyDrive, you can get access to Microsoft’s Web Office Applications at no charge (i.e. FREE)!  If you haven’t already signed up for a SkyDrive account, I highly recommend it.  The first 7GB of storage space is complete FREE, plus, you also get access to the web versions of Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote!

One thing to consider is that the web version of Excel does not have the same rich set of templates available that you would get in the desktop version.  All that means is that you have to come up with the spreadsheet design yourself.  To make it easier, I’ve already created a Home Inventory Excel spreadsheet (loosely based on the template shown above) and made it publically available to simplify the process.  This spreadsheet looks something like this:

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Probably the biggest advantage of tracking your home inventory within a SkyDrive-based document is that if your computer is ever stolen (let’s hope that never happens!) you will still have your home inventory (and any other documents you’ve stored in SkyDrive) safe and accessible from practically any other device you have access to.

Also, along with serial numbers, descriptions, cost and value, it is a good idea to take pictures of your valuables as well.  You cannot paste images into a web-based Excel spreadsheet (you can in the desktop version) but you can create a dedicated folder within SkyDrive to store pictures of your valuables (which can be linked to from within your spreadsheet).  Just something else to consider when building out your inventory.

You can download the above Excel-based Home Inventory template from here.

*Full Disclosure: I’m a SkyDrive Insider, ask me about SkyDrive or learn more about the SkyDrive Insiders program here.