Everything I Own, Part 6: So Close!

Contents of my tool box

Contents of my tool box

Long-time readers know I’ve spent the past 6 months working on a complete home inventory.  I started in March and I still have about 2 weekends of work to finish it off, plus another weekend to format the results. There is some chance it could be done in September!

There are lots of ways to do a quick home inventory, such as:

  • Take video in each room and talk about what’s there
  • Take photos of each room, and list the main items or costly items
  • Take photos of the insides of closets, cupboards and drawers
  • Print off a checklist of common household items and check off which ones you have
  • If you have ever used a moving company, keep the packing list from your last move
  • If you’ve made an international move, keep the list of items you exported to your new home

I would recommend any of these rather than doing nothing!

Higher on the effort scale, you can list your possessions individually and take photos/video of them, and/or you can enter all that info into an app or a software program. I have been using the iPad app MyStuff2 Pro because I can easily bring it from room to room with me.

What - you don't have a potato brush AND a mushroom brush?

What – you don’t have a potato brush AND a mushroom brush?

I started with higher value items such as furniture and electronics and worked my way down. In true exacting fashion, though, I realized there is almost nothing too small to be included. For instance, it really doesn’t matter whether I have a $2 spaghetti measurer or egg separator. However, it’s good to know that I have 68 small kitchen gadgets/tools and that their combined value is about $340 (since several of them are sets, like a set of cookie cutters or a set of wooden spoons). The individual items may not count for much, but their replacement value does. Beyond money, I like having a list of the gadgets I own – it’s easy to check what I have, and avoid duplication.

The main reason it’s taking me so long is that I have moved furniture and bins and boxes and cleaned the entire house and everything in it from top to bottom. Every area is decluttered and re-organized. As you might have seen in a previous post, that includes the garden shed, and the horrible deep closet under the stairs (not shown)! You may remember I was rather traumatized by cleaning out my kid’s room, who left home two years ago. I am over it now – I redecorated it just enough to cheer myself up when I go in there. (Link would be appalled to know I have put the childhood Pokemon poster back up, LOL!)

So far I have delivered more than two car loads of excess to yard sales and charities. I am still embarrassed by how much “stuff” I have.

trinket boxes

trinket boxes

Not long into this project, I knew I wasn’t doing it to assess the insurance value of my stuff, or even to declutter the house. It turned into almost a mediation on ownership. By handling every item, and cleaning it, and deciding whether to keep it, and if so, how to display it or store it, I came face-to-face with how I am living my values. Why do I have 8 vases and no flowers in the house? Why do I have 64 photo frames and only 6 photos displayed in the house? Why do I have 40 trinket boxes packed away with nothing in them? Anyone walking in would see I have a lot of books and movies, but wouldn’t guess at all the items neatly packed away and never used.

So am I a hoarder? I don’t think so. To me, a hoarder is someone who saves 90 ice cream containers because they’re “useful,” or who can’t even use their home because of all the stuff in it.

This one's a keeper?

This one’s a keeper?

Some conclusions I would make about myself are:

  • I am sentimental and save a lot of personal mementoes
  • I have an unhealthy obsession with toys and games and childhood memorabilia (my own and Link’s)
  • I am thrifty and refuse to re-purchase anything I ever bought (“I have one of those! And it’s still good!”)
  • I have a warped sense of what is Enough
  • I am completely wrapped up in First World Problems

I have just one more room to list, the office, which was just re-designed last January. And the books are already counted! When I’ve finished, I will need to make some decisions about all of the unused stuff in the house, and how it would feel to let it go, and what kind of person I would be if I weren’t surrounded by my comforting cocoon of possessions. I will be giving myself until January to figure that out. I’ll let you know how it goes – and who I turn out to be!

Conclusion: The home inventory was finished on December 26 and posted here.


  1. todadwithlove

    I love how you discover yourself in the whole process…that itself is priceless.

  2. I enjoyed your post… The part about the vases with no flowers etc resonated with me, as did dealing with kid memories. My daughter has already been willing to give away books that I was not ready to let go of. ‘Elmo Loves You’ … You can’t get rid of that! Yet somehow when we are far from home none of those things really matter. It amazes me how adaptable I am in a new place without my stuff! Do you remember George Carlin’s standup skits on “stuff”?

    • I vaguely remember the George Carlin skits – I see they are on YouTube, so I will check them out! It`s funny, I have moved many times and I have always felt reassured by having my stuff around me. I had my stuff in storage for about 2 months while living in temporary housing, and I couldn’t wait to get it back. But now I find those feelings fading.

  3. I think hoarders refuse to get rid of anything at all, and you have given stuff away to charities, so you are not a hoarder 🙂 I will use my ex as an example again – he had 11 bottles of eau de toilette that he’d been given as gifts and didn’t use them but refused to get rid of them. And he had two copies of the SAME book and refused to get rid of one. It drove me mad…

    I’m more like you, I like to know where everything is and declutter on a regular basis. Of course this is much easier if you’re a single person living in one room without a lot of storage 🙂

    • Yep, it is easier to declutter on a regular basis living in one room with no real storage spaces. 🙂 Dar I am constantly amazed at how you have continued this process, I would be overwhelmed. It will be interesting to see what decisions you make about the things you are still holding on to and why you either keep them or let them go. There is no way I would consider you a hoarder, to me a hoarder can’t get through their piles of stuff to get in the majority of their home. I have a friend who was married to a hoarder. He even had a jar of every finger and toe nail clipping ever snipped from their 5 children. It was gross. Nothing could be tossed, every single school paper was saved along with each fragment from dishes or glasses that were broken.

      I do agree with your attitude that if it’s not broken I don’t need a new one, I think that’ how it should be.

      • Those hoarding examples are scary! About the “not broken” thing – it’s true that I hold onto things so I won’t have to buy them again later. But 20 years might be a bit much when they’re not being used, LOL!

    • I like the examples you gave, wow! I do know where everything is. One nice result of my project is that I can either declutter regularly from now on, or just pre-clutter by screening what comes into the house!

  4. Hmmm, I think we have a lot in common. When I read through your list of conclusions about yourself, I mentally put a tick next to each one. Making an inventory of everything I own is something I don’t think I could face yet though 🙂

  5. Those trinket boxes did have me wondering ‘did Dar go and collect them from all these nooks and crannies, or are they all stored). And then you answered it! Like Lois, living in a small/minimal storage place helps you constantly refine and slim down – and now days it’s usually small things, some keys, a notebook etc. I don’t think you’re a hoarder, but I think there’s a sliding scale between minimalist and hoarder…

    • I think the biggest motivator for me right now is that I feel I’m living in a “permanent” home. I am certainly never going to have a bigger one. So I can put to rest any thoughts I had about how various objects and collections would look in a larger or different space – there simply isn’t going to be one. I find that quite liberating! I’ve always said I’ll never be a minimalist, though. I just aim for orderliness!

  6. Fiona

    That’s an amazing effort to have stuck with it and be almost at completion (can you come and do my house next?!)

    I love the conclusions and thoughts about the process. Will be intrigued to see the decisions and outcomes at the end!

    • It would be so much easier to do someone else’s house. I would be ruthless, mwa ha ha!

      One thing I’ve realized is that having one child, things don’t get passed down, worn out, broken or lost as they do in larger families. Looking back, I might have bought less kid stuff if I’d realized that IT NEVER GOES AWAY! And that’s even after distributing some things to cousins and friends, and thoroughly sending off baby and preschool items. Food for thought!

  7. Fiona

    PS. Hope the first few days at the new location have gone well!

  8. The background I come from “One should let go of worldly attachments”. Having said that I myself have lot of attachments to my personal stuff, I should take up your idea and start to reflect my house and other possessions I pride on.

    • I expect I will always be far too attached to material goods. My goal is to be more thoughtful. More and more I am realizing I have things in storage that other people could make good use of right now.

  9. EcoCatLady

    I’ve gotta admit that I just can’t imagine taking on a project like this, or wanting to! You stated that you thought that the “shooting from the hip” methods were much better than doing nothing… which struck me as curious. Do you think there is actually some sort of benefit to doing this? I mean I guess I can see how it could spur one on in an attempt to get rid of some stuff, but my messy and disorganized brain is struggling to see any other benefit. Please help the slob understand! 🙂

    • There’s only one real reason for doing a home inventory: to document the contents of your home in case of a loss, such as fire or flooding, and help determine the value for insurance purposes. If you are uninsured or really don’t care about having your previous possessions replaced, then it’s a moot point. In my case, I would like my insurance company to know that I had 40 sweaters or Rom had 7 electric guitars, for example, so that we wouldn’t just get the basic minimum payout. If I had $100,000 in possessions, I would not like to start over with a $50,000 payout. Other than that, I have liked going through everything and routing out duplicates and finding new homes for things other people can use. That’s all!

  10. Well that makes sense in terms of the insurance thing, although I’d be willing to bet that I’d come out ahead with the standard payout given my house full of dumpster dives and thrift store ‘treasures’! 🙂

  11. OH my gosh. That pooh bear is divine! I love classic pooh and my little girl of 8 carries her pooh bear everywhere! That being said, I am downsizing for an expat more and I have to tell you it’s about done my head in and I have about 20 months to go before I move! SO… If I actually did an inventory right now, I might accidentally lose my mind! haha! I do believe it’s a good idea for insurance reasons though, and the photos are good keepsakes of how we decorated and what we kept, 20 years from now you can look back and see if you still have the same things!
    Much love and have a great weekend!

    • Thanks, Tammy, I can tell you understand! in my previous round of decluttering, before the home inventory, I shipped out a lot of old ornaments and keepsakes, and just kept pictures of them. I really don’t want my house to look like a museum of the things I liked when I was 23! Meanwhile, I am a big fan of the EH Shepard Pooh, but must I have a big collection of everything I happen to like? Ack, it is doing my head in, as you say!

  12. Pingback: My Minimalist Wardrobe: Counting our smalls! | Move to Portugal

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