Know Your Stuff home inventory software

Lifehacker recently reviewed the Insurance Information Institute’s Know Your Stuff inventory software, and the product quickly caught our attention:

This software will help you create a room-by-room inventory of your personal possessions. Having an up-to-date home inventory will help you:

* Purchase enough insurance to replace the things you own.
* Get your insurance claims settled faster.
* Substantiate losses for your income tax return.

You can always simply make a list in a notebook and save receipts and photos in a file. This software, however, should make this task fun and simple. More importantly, with the click of your mouse, you can update this list as you buy or eliminate personal possessions.

The advice to “document your possessions before you suffer a loss from a fire, hurricane, burglary or other disaster” is valuable. Our site programmer who recently lost his home in a fire wholeheartedly agrees with the mission of this software.

If you haven’t yet completed a home inventory, consider letting Know Your Stuff help you with this task. It is available for both Windows and Mac operating systems.

Thanks to reader Samir, for calling this to our attention.

31 Comments for “Know Your Stuff home inventory software”

  1. posted by Peter on

    This sounds like a great, but tedious idea. Is it something that you have to consistently update as you purchase furniture, paintings, mirrors, etc.?

    http://yinvsyang.com/

  2. posted by Mer on

    If you have so much stuff you need inventory tracker software to keep tabs on it, you have too much stuff.

    To me, this contradicts the idea of simple living.

    I think it would be easier to take a video camera and walk around your house, doing careful sweeps around each room. Then you could list it all in an Excel spreadsheet (for the purpose of recording serial numbers, if you wanted). But the tape would be good documentation for insurance purposes.

    @Peter – if you want to keep the inventory current, you would have to add new purchases to it. Me, i’d just snap a picture of it, if it was that valuable.

  3. posted by Sheryl on

    Mer – a video camera would be helpful, assuming that you own one. We don’t.

    I downloaded the software and it seems like it’s very easy to use. Entering everything in it could be a daunting project (even if you’ve simplified and decluttered, you’d be surprised at how much stuff you have), but I’m going to break the job down into pieces & fill it out a little at a time.

  4. posted by Jens Dalsgaard on

    Is there an online version? In case of fire – my computer would burn too.

  5. posted by Kevin on

    This is great. I have always kept track of stuff in an excel spread sheet, but when you have receipts and photos you end up storing things in three different places. This software solves all of those issues.

    What I like is that I can just print to PDF a copy of our database and email it to myself and have it stored on a web server in case of emergencies. Thanks for the recommend.

  6. posted by brandy on

    For Mac users out there, Delicious Library may be another good solution: http://www.delicious-monster.com/

    You can actually scan a lot of media (CDs, DVDs, video games) using a webcam, though other things have to be entered manually. And you can export your library to your iPhone or iPod.

  7. posted by Elisha on

    I can see this software being handy in helping you declutter. Nothing like having a written record of too much stuff to help you narrow it down a bit. Enter only the stuff you would want to replace, then get rid of everything else.

  8. posted by Re on

    While I have not used this software, I think a home inventory with pictures and receipts is important. I previously worked with insurance companies and after a fire or disaster getting a home inventory together was so overwhelming and difficult for most people.
    We have been working on our own home inventory and it has definately helped us to declutter. Updating it is not really a big issue as we so rarely buy new things anymore.

  9. posted by infmom on

    Years ago I set up a Works database for descriptions of our items and their serial numbers. We also had permanent stickers with consecutive numbers, that we put in unobtrusive places on the items likely to be stolen, and made a record of those numbers, too.

    That’s gone through several revisions over the years, but the current database is woefully out of date, so we’re going to get a high-quality tape for the video camera and walk around and document everything and put the tape in a safe place somewhere else.

    My mom gave me the video camera for my birthday a few years ago and I really haven’t used it for much, so here’s a way to actually put it to good use. :)

  10. Profile photo of Erin Doland

    posted by Erin Doland on

    @Mer I think you missed the point of this post. The reason to record what you have isn’t about how much stuff you own, it’s about properly caring for what you do. If something is valuable enough for you to choose to keep it, then it is worth the time to protect it. If your home burns in a fire and takes your family car with it, wouldn’t you want to replace the car? Or your stove? Or your bed? Or even some of your clothes? Even ascetics have stoves and clothes.

  11. posted by Egirlrocks on

    I can see where software like this might be useful to catalog one’s music or DVD collection, but cataloging everything you own? It’s easier to open all the cabinets and closets and take pictures or do the video thing. It would be a wise idea to keep a copy of all you recorded offsite (maybe send a copy to a friend or relative out of state).

  12. posted by Mer on

    I very much believe in caring for and protecting my possessions – I just don’t want to buy software to do it. I thought I should point out that if you DO own a video camera (actually my Kodak digital camera takes MP3 videos too) you can simply make a sweep of the house and enter it (into the program of your choice) later at your leisure.

    The point of my comment was that you don’t have to buy special software to do this. I’m happy to use what I already have around.

  13. posted by John on

    Mer,
    Umm… I’m not sure if you looked at the site for the software this article linked to but it is free. Oh and there’s no such thing as an MP3 video. Sorry to nitpick but I just wanted to clarify.

  14. posted by Sandy on

    Buy? The website stated that this software was free to download and use.

  15. posted by Mer on

    @John – You’re right. It takes Quicktime movies.

    @Sandy – I went to the site and yes it’s free to download. However they do charge for the offsite data storage.

    Again, just saying that I’m going to use what I have rather than acquire something else, even if it’s a free software program that may take up minimal space.

  16. posted by Beverly D on

    This is good software and free. I’ve been using a Quicken product for quite awhile that I like, but of course it wasn’t free. A feature it has is the ability to indicate who gets what when I die. I know many of you aren’t thinking about that but I have lots of valuables and a blended family so it was important to be clear about who gets which piece of jewelry and china. And yes, whenever something new comes in it has to be entered into the database.

  17. posted by Mr. Motorcycle on

    I’m an insurance adjuster. I deal with this stuff all the time. Ironiclly, I had a post about this exact subject set up in advance to be published today.

    I think the video ia a better idea, because your insurance company is likely going to have their own forms to fill out, and not want to accept this format. If you spend the time it’s going to take to do this, you’ll only be upset, when your insurance company asks you to do it again, in their forms. This, in my opinion a time waster, not a time saver, unless of course you like doing things twice.

    See my post for more details if you are interested.

    http://01mrmotorcycle.blogspot.....house.html

  18. posted by Sheryl on

    Elisha – The software comes with a “room” already entered into it called a “donation room”. You can use it to record the things that you come across as you do your inventory that you want to donate.

    Some of our relatives have video cameras, so I just might see if I can borrow one.

  19. posted by Leslie on

    Do you know if this software includes the ability to attach pictures to the descriptions of items? That would be very helpful.

    I think it’s probably worth doing even if you do have to re-fill out separate forms for the insurance company, because if your house burned down, you’d need to have that information somewhere in order to fill out the forms. Although I suppose a video could serve the same purpose, but not all of us have access to video cameras. I guess it really comes down to a personal choice of what method of home inventory works best for you. I recently took an online course from HP on creating a home inventory and they detail several methods, including video, still pictures and software. I can’t remember if this particular software was mentioned or not, but they did mention just using an Excel spreadsheet.

    I haven’t started mine yet – for some reason I keep thinking I need to finish uncluttering first, but I suppose there’s not really any reason I couldn’t do the two things simultaneously. But I was forcibly reminded a couple weeks ago when a trailer in our court burned down that I should really get on that.

  20. posted by Mer on

    @Mr. Motorcycle – I deal with insurance companies and one thing I’ve found is that they’re all different in their practices and paperwork to some degree.

    That’s why I advocate video – it can only help, not hurt and you can use it as a visual aid in filling out either the KYS software or the program of your choice. Plus I think it would help provide supporting evidence for a claim.

    If you don’t have a video camera, see if your digital camera takes little movies like the Kodak. Some cell phone also let you record videos as well as pictures.

    Just be sure you offload it to some other form of storage (online, multiple media in a safe deposit box, whatever). Do the same with your software if you choose to use it.

    The point is to do something, anything to safeguard your stuff. I’m not slamming the specific software, just trying to advocate a “use what you have” approach. If you like the KYS software, by all means use it.

  21. posted by DanGTD on

    Seems like an useful piece of software.

    Having an up-to-date home inventory will not only help you get your insurance claim settled faster, but also help you purchase the correct amount of insurance.

  22. posted by timgray on

    Having used that software AND experienced a loss I’ll tell you right now, it’s useless.

    We were robbed, and all my inventory lists of the home was…..

    On the laptop that was stolen and the backup was in the fire safe that was stolen. Better solution is to compose your list of items in an email and leave it on your yehoo.com or gmail account. no fancy software needed to read the file, it’s effortless to forward it to your insurance agent, and it is one less piece of clutter around. (you need to keep the software and your install key around)

  23. posted by Kevin on

    @timgray

    you could have (and should have) made a PDF of the file and emailed to yourself, or printed out a copy and left it at a relative.

    The software isn’t useless.

  24. posted by Aku on

    Even having software to help you, documenting everything around you is SO unfairly difficult, that I don’t think anyone will honestly try doing this, unless they own 100 things. I can’t bring myself to document my things anymore than what I need for finding them.

  25. posted by Sasha Mitchell on

    I use a Mac & Filemaker Pro, and it came with a free template for doing a home inventory (or else I downloaded it – can’t remember – but it was FREE – and it is very easy to do) I already had all my manuals (often with receipts attached). I ran around snapping pictures of my things, looked up prices in my Quicken records. It took a few hours, but worth it for piece of mind. I printed it out and mailed a copy to our insurance agent (plus we had a rider for our electronic stuff, so I really wanted it downloaded. I also included a screenshot of all the applications in my computer!)

  26. posted by Mr. Motorcycle on

    After reading all of the comments made here, I do realize that there are a lot of valid points on using the software if you wish as well as doing a video. Eventually you will have to fill out some kind of form if you have a loss of this type. It may be easier to fill out “this” form at you leisure, and while not stressed out about your loss, than the other way around. Either way, I advocate doing the video at a minimum, and if you wish, supplement the video with the list. Even if you don’t have a video recording devise, might I suggest renting or borrowing one.

  27. posted by MLEONARD on

    I WORKED WITH THIS SYSTEM FOR ABOUT 8 MONTH, ENTERING THE USUAL INFORMATION ASKED FOR AS WELL AS RECEIPTS AND PICTURES( JUST STARTED ADDING PICTURES).I REACHED A POINT WHERE I HAD A FILE SIZE OF 105953 KB AND NOW THE PROGRAM WILL NOT OPEN…MESSAGE IS “NOT A VALID HOME INVENTORY FILE”. ANYONE ELSE HAD THIS PROBLEM?

  28. posted by Parker Lisle on

    This might help some of you. A downloadable program is good but as one user mentioned their computer was stolen. Not much help now. You might want to check out online inventory tools like http://www.redlightdepositbox.com. Would also help with the file size problems.

  29. posted by Buzzer on

    I agree with Parker, I’ve used http://www.third-drawer.com for a while now and I find it really good. Its much easier not having to install software and its free too. There is a bit of work in loading information in, but I only put information in for big ticket items and I re-use that information surprisingly often.

  30. posted by Taylor at Household Management 101 on

    A computer prgram may be helpful for some, but I would really suggest using a camera or video camera to create your household inventory, because it is quicker and also a picture is worth a thousand words. In addition, you need to keep your household inventory in two locations, your home, but then also somewhere outside your home because if your home is destroyed so will your household inventory, and then it does you no good if you don’t have a back up.

  31. posted by Roberta Roberts on

    There is a lot of talk about home inventory software, but they all seem to focus on large physical assets. I have across software that can do that but goes much further than most home inventory software programs because you can keep track of positively anything you want to with it, things like what is in your wallet or purse, and clucb memberships, electrical circuit routes, the location of underground wires and anything else you can think of and which an organized person should have at their fingertips so it is available when it is needed. The program is called ‘the RecordsKeeper’ and there is a lot of incredibly useful information at their website. I came across it and it is doins everything I can think of. The website is http://therecordskeeper.com
    Check out all the pages on this site for some interesting ideas.

    Roberta Roberts

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