Everything I Own: Complete Home Inventory

You might think my house looks like this! (Photo Credit: Powerhouse Museum)

You might think my house looks like this! (Photo Credit: Powerhouse Museum)

I have spent the past 10 months conducting a thorough inventory of everything I own. I thought it would take 3 months of weekends – then 6 – and now I’ve gone from March to the end of December! In my previous posts I’ve talked about how the exercise evolved from an insurance document… to an opportunity to clean and declutter… to a soul-searching examination of my relationship with stuff.  

For anyone out there who is starting out or starting over, I hope you will do the right thing and consider the entire life cycle of everything you bring into your home. I didn’t, and you’ll see the result!

Before I tell you about the ten thousand plus items I own, I made up my own rules for the home inventory:

  • I didn’t include structural or built-in items like the furnace or the kitchen cabinets.
  • I didn’t include the cars, the garden shed or the fence.
  • I didn’t include consumables: food and drink, personal care items and cleaning supplies.
  • I listed everything else, from a box of paper clips, to the kitchen table, to every DVD in the house.
  • For the count, everything purchased separately counts as one item: a package of printer paper counts as one, and a set of dishes counts as one.
  • The purchase price and the value of my stuff are nowhere near the same. Since this started for insurance purposes, I estimated replacement costs. You’ll find the prices are all over the place. I listed the purchase price if I knew it, but I marked it down if I knew I could replace it cheaper. However, I didn’t mark anything up. If I had to sell everything I own, I would get a pittance!
  • I said that very cheap or heavily used items were worth nothing, such as used pencils or old tea towels.
  • I recorded the replacement cost of homemade items as zero, not because they’re worthless, but because they’re irreplaceable – and the same for documents and photos.

I’ve mentioned in previous posts that my stuff is typical of my generation in some ways, but there are differences, too. In the 27 years since I left home, I’ve moved 10 times. Since I was never very settled, my personal possessions were my security blanket. They followed me wherever I went and created an instant “home.” I also spent a lot of adult years single, so I spent more money on personal items (such as books and CDs), less on household items (like furniture) and far less on recreation (like sun holidays and hot tubs).

Rom stores his music CDs like this (he got rid of the plastic cases) - he has 3 boxes like this.

Rom stores his music CDs like this (he got rid of the plastic cases) – he has 3 crates.

Here are some random and shocking facts about the things I own:

  • We have $25,000 worth of electronics and $25,000 worth of music CDs.
  • Despite being very precious to us, our cats only own 17 things – and they are all shared! Maybe I should live more like they do!
  • I discovered a box of 100 floppy disks with work files on them from the 1990s. Worse yet, I printed all the emails I received for the first 5 years I had email!
  • I have enough ornaments and decorative objects to fill several homes, but they aren’t displayed because the cats knock them over. Yet I haven’t been able to give them up.
  • Both Rom and I have an embarrassing amount of toys, some from our long-ago youth and some new. We could say we collect vintage toys, but really, I think we are just pack rats who had happy childhoods.
  • People walking into the house see the crammed book shelves and say, “You have a lot of stuff.” But I am pretty much a neatnik – everything is organized and accessible. There’s just too much of it.
A very small sample of the Christmas tree ornaments at our house

A very small sample of the Christmas tree ornaments at our house

Here is the summary:

Category Count Value
     
Appliances

47

 $  6,412.00
Arts and Crafts

153

 $  894.00
Bedding and Linens

183

 $  3,037.00
Books

1895

 $  18,950.00
Camping

27

 $  820.00
Car

26

 $  835.00
Cleaning and Laundry

113

 $  2,464.00
Clothes – D

396

 $  9,361.00
Clothes – R

313

 $  7,345.00
Collections

938

 $  8,237.00
Documents and Photos

73

 $  0
Electronics

222

 $  25,428.00
Fitness

16

 $  2,347.00
Food Preparation

645

 $  3,585.00
Furniture

72

 $  11,849.00
Games

45

 $  937.00
Garden and Lawn

81

 $  1,507.00
Hardware

177

 $  1,462.00
Holiday

474

 $  2,143.00
Home Decor

300

 $  3,489.00
Jewellery

271

 $  3,400.00
Luggage

12

 $  563.00
Media – DVD

326

 $  4,640.00
Media – VHS

102

 $  0
Media – Video Games

52

 $  200.00
Music – Cassettes

22

 $  0
Music – CDs

1792

 $  25,431.00
Music – Downloads

196

 $  799.00
Music – Magazines

422

 $  0
Music – Sheet Music

15

 $  0
Music – Vinyl

357

 $  525.00
Personal Care

36

 $  1,664.00
Pet Supplies

17

 $  260.00
Stationery

234

 $  997.00
Storage Containers

123

 $  1,720.00
TOTAL

10173

 $  151,301.00
Typical scene at our house (except for the clean coffee table)

Typical scene at our house (except for the clean coffee table)

Here is the worksheet for pet supplies (chosen because it is a small category):

Name Brand Number  Price Location
Boot Mat (for food dishes)

1

 $    10.00 House|Kitchen|On Floor
Cat Carrier, Large Pet Voyageur 300

1

 $    45.00 Shed
Cat Carrier, Small Pet Voyageur 200

1

 $    40.00 Shed
Cat Climber

1

 $    52.00 House|Living Room
Cat Toys (Pkg)

1

 $    10.00 House|Kitchen|On Floor
Food Dishes

2

 $    14.00 House|Kitchen|On Floor
Laser Toy

1

 $      2.00 House|Kitchen|Drawers
Litter Boxes

2

 $    20.00 House|Laundry Room|Floor
Litter Scoop

1

 $      8.00 House|Laundry Room|Floor
Pet Beds

2

 $    30.00 House|Kitchen|On Floor
Pet Brushes

2

 $    10.00 House|Laundry Room|Utility Shelves
Spray Bottle

1

 $      2.00 House|Kitchen|Counter
Water Bowl

1

 $    17.00 House|Kitchen|On Floor

I did a worksheet for every category. I made sure to give a name, number, price and location for everything. The rest of the info varied – I listed serial numbers for electronics, the colour or size of something if it seemed relevant, and so on.

The big question you are probably asking is, “Why?” It all began when I wondered if my $180,000 contents insurance (an amount proposed by the insurance company) is sufficient. Answer: Yes! I also wanted to clean and declutter the whole house (which is now done), because I find clutter stressful. I dislike the feeling of not fully knowing what’s in my house, if I kept or gave away something from years ago, or that sinking feeling I get when I’m in a store and I am about to buy something and it dawns on me: “I don’t know if I already have that or not!” Since Rom moved in (end of 2009), he brought all his personal stuff with him and it’s never been Analyzed in an Exacting Way, so of course I had to see to that! I won’t be making him get rid of stuff because that would be too hypocritical.

It bothers me to think I have a lot of duplicates and unused stuff that a less fortunate person could be using on a daily basis. I gave away two carloads of stuff. I still have a ridiculous abundance. At the back of my mind, I can’t help but think about things like, “I would hate for anyone to have to go through all my stuff if I died.” I know that’s morose, but the more I deal with, in the Land of the Living, the less someone else will have to deal with it later! I saw a quote today that I loved, “All clutter is postponed decisions” (Source Unknown)

I am also worried about my values! Why am I so attached to Stuff? What have I taught my kid? Ironically, I tried to buy good quality kids’ toys, games, furniture and decor, and insisted that everything was treated with care. Now it’s lasted a couple of decades and those deferred decisions are still waiting for me!

I know the answers, though. Besides the “buzz” of shopping (which I am getting over), I am addicted to comfort, and novelty, and improved efficiency, and beautifully designed objects. I love being surrounded by the potential of thousands of hours of books to be read, movies to be watched, crafts and recipes to be made. I like the feeling of abundance – especially when everything is neatly stockpiled and organized. It makes me feel successful, and that is hard to give up. At the heart of it all, I like to be at home and I really value domestic life…which is what this blog is all about.

How does your home rate: minimalist, medium, or mega-stuffed?

For the uber-curious, my complete home inventory can be downloaded as an Excel workbook here:

An Exacting Home Inventory 2013

52 comments

  1. Holy cow you are certainly exacting! And $25,000 of CDs?? Wow! On the flip side, we should probably do this as well, both for insurance purposes and to really inform our selves about how much stuff we actually have (Im sure when asked to guess how much stuff we would estimate much lower than what we really have). Good job!!!

    • I remember you saying you’d photographed or video-ed the rooms at your place so you’re ahead of the game! I don’t know that I would recommend this project to anyone unless you have a lot of time to kill over the winter :) But it was an eye-opener for sure.

  2. This is amazing. I am so impressed by all the work that went into this!

  3. jamielredmond

    We thought we haf sufficient contents insurance…until our house was burgled! What was taken would all fit in a standard backpack, but it was worth over $10 000! We reassessed everything in our house and came up with a more accurate estimate.
    Thank you for the work that went into this post.

    • Thanks for dropping by! Wow, those thieves sure knew how to pick out the high value, portable items! I would just hate to have a break-in; you would feel so violated. I’m sorry you went through that.

  4. You did a great job! I’m so astounded at what your stuff valued at, and it makes me re-think us not choosing to get renter’s insurance. I think when I guestimated the cost of our items it was around $3k…but we’ve now purchased at least half of what we own used, so I’m sure that skews things as well. I seriously need to get to my home inventory, so I can really see what we have. Great job!

    • Thanks! Insurance coverage is tricky…the idea is to cover what you’d have to pay to replace the things you would need help replacing. If you were certain you could get the same items again used, a lower amount would probably do, but if you had to buy new, you’d want to pay for more coverage. In my case, some things I paid $20 for 20 years ago are now available in the same quality at the dollar store, and all electronics are cheaper, and so on. Almost nothing has gone up in value (I refuse to speculate about “collectibles.”)

  5. This is impressive! I am now really tempted to attempt my own version in order to see how much we actually have…I think our house is fairly stuff-free, but I would probably be surprised if I added it all up! I refuse to go into the garage though, as that is my bfs domain, and it is MESSY! I’ll just have to get him to tell me roughly what is in there..

  6. Fiona

    I think this post needs a very special Blogger’s Award for 2013! That is an amazing amount of work (and such interesting results!) I really like how you’ve articulated the ‘why’, especially the bit about abundance and how it makes us all feel successful and comforted. That is so true! That is why I love walking into homes that are full and abundant. Now that I’ve read this though, I know we urgently need to re-evaluate our own household insurance. We currently have *no* contents insurance at all. I think we need to urgently sit down and have a proper look at what’s in the house!

    • Thanks, Fiona. Oh dear, while I would certainly want to own less if I had to start over, I definitely wouldn’t want to pay for it out of pocket! Also I would find it depressing to start with an empty house and gradually buy things when I could afford it – I am quite happy to leave those times behind in my 20s! Maybe I will have to redefine “successful”…

      • Fiona

        Oh, not at all! I think it’s a sign of “life well-lived”, which is a great thing!

        But I am getting slightly paranoid now that I have drastically underestimated my own “stuff”…hmmm…getting a basic insurance quote is the first thing on my job list tomorrow!

      • My insurance policy automatically suggests contents insurance of 80% of the home’s assessed market value. I suppose it makes sense that more expensive homes have more stuff (and more expensive stuff). I am paying a high rate and I don’t like it, but I consider it a necessary “evil.”

      • Fiona

        That’s an interesting rule-of-thumb – thanks, Dar!

  7. EcoCatLady

    Holy Kazoli! First of all, I’ve heard that quote about clutter being postponed decisions from Hellen Buttigieg – who is a professional organizer who used to host a TV show called “Neat”. Don’t know if she thought it up or not, but in either case I think there is great truth to it.

    Anyhow, my basic thoughts are:

    - Wow! You still own vinyl?
    - Only 73 documents and photos?!? I have an entire file cabinet full of that sort of thing.
    - I wonder how many books I own… I want to get rid of most of them because they mostly just make me feel guilty that I don’t read more.
    - That’s a sh*tload of CD’s! But something tells me you probably listen to them all!
    - Your cats are total minimalists compared to mine!
    - 222 pieces of electronics?!? Did you count things like cables and connectors separately?

    I seriously can’t believe you did this! I’m afraid I might have more stuff than you but with significantly less value – like, um… an entire garage full of scrap lumber and who knows what else is out there! I think it’s dangerous to live in the same house for nearly 18 years!

    • Ha, yes, there is still a good amount of vinyl in the house. I got rid of 2/3 of mine, but then Rom moved his in! We do listen to the CDs – every couple of years I make a point of listening to all of them over a year or so. The electronics count does include all the cables and accessories. We have 14 computers or tech devices in the house, 3 of which are mine (Rom is an IT Guy, after all). The Documents and Photos includes about 20 BOXES of stuff and about 40 photo albums!

  8. Wow, that is quite a list! You were definitely more thorough than I was when I did ours (which you inspired me to do). One thing that was interesting to me is that when I brought together similar things that were scattered over the house I was always left wondering why we had so many variations on each theme. We definitely lean more towards minimalism than you do but a lifetime does add up.

  9. I am joining in the chorus of “This is amazing.” I agree with Fiona: this is deserving of a special blogging award. I can see why it took 10 months. I can’t imagine be so thorough.

    I love the self-analysis that has gone with the inventory. I don’t think it is morbid to think of others who may have to go through your stuff when you are no longer around. But then I can be a cold, unsentimental piece so don’t listen to me.

    My house is probably medium, but then that’s because it is quite big. In a smaller house it would be very crowded. And we do have quite a load of junk, especially under the house, that really need to go. (Including vinyl, EcoCat!!! I bought a turntable a couple of years ago to convert to vinyl to digital and it is still in its box.)

    • Thanks! I have several friends who have had to go through family members’ houses after a death. When the person had a cluttered and disorganized house, it was a sad process. Especially when they had to throw away so much stuff that wasn’t stored or maintained properly – it can’t even be donated then. I bought my USB turntable in the hopes of converting vinyl to digital, but after doing 2 or 3 albums, the sound quality was so poor that it wasn’t worth it. I just listened to the albums for a while, and that was fun in itself.

  10. This is amazing and you’ve inspired me to buy an inventory app and do my own home inventory, of the bigger stuff anyway. I started an inventory spreadsheet after reading your money or your life (it’s one of the steps), but I didn’t get real far (500 items, but half of that is clothing and I did not enter each item, just groups). It’s a bit sad that I’ll need to re-enter those items in the new system, but I didn’t do a very thorough job the first time and had no pictures, receipt info or even good serial/model number info.

    I used to think my amount of stuff was on the light side compared to people in my everyday life (not compared to minimalists, but I don’t actually know any true minimalists in real life), but my house is feeling quite stuffed lately, despite the fact that I’ve done several purges in the past. It’s a neverending process I suppose.

    • I used the MyStuff2 Pro iPad app; it had every conceivable feature I wanted. Then I exported the files as CSVs for Excel. I have done some major purges in the past, too, such as used books and clothes, but then I added a whole new person and their stuff :)

  11. This is just amazing!!
    I’m curious about the CD’s. How did you list/value them. As you probably know I spent the summer helping my Mum to organise her own collection – she has thousands all with different degrees of value. We would ideally like to list them all on something, but she doesn’t really ‘do’ technology.

    Our house? I’m going for part-minimalist lol :):)

    • Thanks, Laura. I did not attempt to find out the replacement value of each CD. For every single disc CD, I estimated $15, for 2-disc CDs, $20 and so on. We each have some boxed sets worth more, but I am not tracking them like investments – that would mean finding a buyer when the price is high! If I sold my CDs I would probably only get $1 each at a used CD store, but they are getting harder to find on CD now (as opposed to downloads) so that’s why I went with $15. An album on iTunes is $10 here.

      I will never be close to a minimalist – I can only strive for staying organized and limiting future purchases!

      • That’s a good way to value. I’m not sure what I’ll do with Mum’s collection (mostly jazz) when the worst happens as it has it’s own bedroom right now! Now if only I was a Miles Davis fan…..

      • Aww, it really is a shame we can’t morph our tastes to what is available! There might be someone out there who would make a bid on the whole collection.

  12. N Snyder

    Amazingly Awesome!! Love It

  13. Wow! I’m so impressed by your efforts – I can’t even guess how long it would take me to do something similar. And I think it would end up like my clothing count, my initial estimate would be low and then I’d be shocked after calculating the final amount! Our insurance company also insures us for a set amount based on our home’s value. Reading this makes me think I should call and find out what that number is and what information we’d need if something were to happen . .

    • Thanks! I have heard tales of insurance companies trying to give low amounts as payouts because the “victims” couldn’t prove they had 40 sweaters, 15 pairs of jeans, 500 CDs, etc. Of course they are very alert to fraud. But the simple way would be to take pictures or videos of the contents of your house (and closets, dressers, etc) once a year.

  14. That is so interesting. I’m sort of tempted to follow suit but I think that it might take me nearly just as long.

  15. Good for you for getting it done. Wanna come by my place and inventory my stuff? Pretty please? LOL

  16. Lisa

    Like others above, I am impressed with your exacting inventory! Since I have moved so much in my adult life, I think the amount of stuff we have is less than others in similar circumstances, but we are far from minimalists. On our last long distance move, the mover said we would have been a ‘small’ move, if it were not for my husband’s tools! Now that we plan on staying put for a bit, I can see how the clutter can/will build. I hope to stay on top of it, but already the basement is filling with “postponed decisions”, including some of my mother’s stuff I have no idea what to do with (big framed portraits of me from my childhood are likely not donate-worthy, and it seems weird to hang them in my house) :)

    What annoys me, is that I cannot change the amount of my contents value. Like yours, our insurance provider calculates the amount based on a percentage of the assessed value of the house and separate buildings, but it is not a suggestion and I can’t change it. I am stuck in their mold of ‘more expensive house = more stuff and more expensive stuff.’ Our house is only more expensive due to the area and the land we have, the house is not large or fancy, but our content’s value has doubled from one house to the next! Question for you – will you keep a copy of this inventory off site in case of fire etc? I know one is supposed to keep important papers etc. in a safety deposit box or the like, but we still have not taken this step.

    • Glad to hear from you, Lisa! It’s funny you should mention about the childhood portraits. I can envision my kid feeling burdened with things like that someday. I have been in my current house 9 years (the longest I’ve been in one house since I left home) and plan to stay here indefinitely, so I need a strategy, too! I have a copy of the inventory on a flash drive which I keep at work – my workplace is a concrete building and unlikely to ever sustain fire damage! If I don’t hear from you in the next few days – Happy New Year!

  17. At long last, your exacting mission is complete! Good on you – as many have said, it’s far more in depth than they’d do! That being said, I bet you mostly enjoyed the process.

    I like to think I’m minimalist, but I have far more clothing than a minimalist (like Fiona) needs, and I have more kitchen stuff than is essential – partly for entertaining, but also a little from the merging of two houses. In linens and entertainment (books etc) I’m minimal – only two sets per bed, very few owned books, no DVDs and a handful of CDs.

    The biggest thing for me is keeping on top of ‘incoming’. The BF’s mum is trying to downsize in the longer term and was trying to get him to bring back stuff (which was hard with a 7kg carry on limit!) The BF kept asking ‘if I’d let x in’, which I found strange. I’ve never said no to anything of his – sure I didn’t love his couch, but it’s in our bedroom. I sold his washing machine after it sitting idle for weeks, and he agreed to do it. Anyhow, in some ways it feels like I’m ‘mean’, but on the other hand, I’m pleased he is equally mindful of what comes in.

    I totally agree there is comfort from having stuff. For me, I look at the stuff that I don’t use or touch or get value from (usually things sitting on books shelves, or in lower drawers) and then I think critically on why I have those things. That’s why I’ve been happy to keep French grammar texts which I can share with those who need them, or a book I know I’d like to show/tell/lend to someone. I too, at this young age, worry about someone having to process everything when I die. It’s why I self imposed one box of school memories, and one from uni years (which is not yet full, so gets each years bundle of cards/tickets and other momentos).

    Happy New Year – just catching up on commenting though I did read them when they were published.

    • Thanks again, Sarah. I did enjoy the process, otherwise I would have just taken a few photos and been done with it. It wasn’t just for something to blog about :) as you well know. I really liked having to think about all my stuff and its fate (short term and long term). Another plus was that I was able to show Link pictures of their “stuff,” rather than having to go through all the boxes, so all of that is now decided too (lots of toys = keep, lots of ornaments and decor = donate!) I think as time goes on and I see how long the boxes and bins are sitting there static, the easier it will be for me to continue paring down. I have “discussions” with Rom quite often about bringing stuff in – he is quite prone to buying electronics and music gear, but has scaled back recently! Happy New Year to you – I’m glad you’re back!

  18. Pingback: Everything I Own, Part 6: So Close! | An Exacting Life

  19. Perfect timing on your article.

    I hope you don’t mind I included you in a link on our article talking about the importance of doing a home inventory. (See the link-in our name to read it)

    I think your article will give people the encouragement to do this for themselves!

  20. Pingback: Everything I Own – Part 2: Getting Started | An Exacting Life

  21. Pingback: Everything I Own – Part 1 | An Exacting Life

  22. Pingback: Everything I Own – Part 3: Questioning | An Exacting Life

  23. Pingback: Everything I Own, Part 4: Seeing Some Progress | An Exacting Life

  24. Pingback: Everything I Own, Part 5: Stalled? | An Exacting Life

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