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Life Lessons of a Military Wife (overseas in Europe!): The Property Inventory and Your Next Move

Life Lessons of a Military Wife (overseas in Europe!)

My goal here is to make your life easier, especially those who are in the unique situation of being a military spouse. Yes...I've been around...but in a good way...and hopefully can share those tips, tricks and shortcuts with you too. I've been on this military bus for over 40 years now. My goals in life are to have a well-run home, few money worries, well adjusted children, money socked away and whatever happiness I can scoop out of life.

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After life as an Army brat, being in the Army myself and marrying a soldier, I can honestly say I have a bucket full of life lessons I can share to help you make your everyday life easier and enlightening. Don't waste your time making unnecessary mistakes and benefit from others who have come before you on your journey through life.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

The Property Inventory and Your Next Move

Many of us love going to a new place but hate the actual moving process. In fact, in all honesty, I despise it! I have found some tools though that can make your move a lot less stressful and worry free. At the forefront of getting your house and stuff in order, is making sure you have a good record of everything you have of value.

Follow these simple tips to get organized and ready to move.

  • Set a dollar value amount of things that you will track (I chose $20, meaning I won't track anything of lesser value unless it is some kind of heirloom or something you think you will have a hard time replacing)
  • Whenever you buy something new, keep the receipt; put these receipts into an envelope which will go in your fireproof safe; alternatively, you can scan that receipt into your computer (label these jpgs with the name of the item and the date and put them all into a property inventory folder); keep a backup; I will talk more later about some tools that will take your property inventory to the next level
  • Get a notebook (a graph paper notebook works best) and write in the following columns; if you are computer savvy, you can write up a spreadsheet instead
    • Date purchased
    • Item Name
    • Manufacturer
    • Store (where you purchased item)
    • Serial Number (if it has one)
    • Purchase price
    • Value (sometimes the value is more, such as for a collectible)
    • Photo (annotate "X" if you have taken a photo or it is on video)
    • Info (any other info you think is important)
  • Start filling this information into your notebook (this may be tedious if you've never done it before, but it is worth it once it is done)
  • If you have a lot of items, you may want to just videotape (and make a copy); otherwise, take a photo of each item or group of items
  • Make sure you have two copies of your inventory and keep one copy off-site (I have one copy with a relative)
  • For collectibles or something of greater value, I like to print off a page from the internet that lists the same or similar item for sale; try to find a collectible item for sale that also lists some of the history or background on the item too (for reference)
Congratulations, you've got a workable home inventory! I've heard countless stories (many I read in the USAA magazine) of people who had to PAINFULLY reconstruct their purchases, which sometimes took many months and countless numbers of hours of effort after the unthinkable happened! Save yourself the time NOW and get it done NOW...while the going is still easy!

If you've read this far, then you want something more. Okay, let's hear it you say. I have taken it one step further myself and invested in two little products that have made my property inventory so easy to manage, change and track. The first item is a software program called Frostbow Home Inventory. This automates your inventory and stores it in a database format. It is also compatible with Microsoft Excel. The program allows you to print out a variety of charts and reports. What I like best about it, is that for each record, you can scan in a receipt and a photo. You can do also do searches. You can annotate when you loaned something out, broke it or got rid of it. If something is a heirloom, I write out why in the description. I think it's important for our kids to know, what has sentimental value and why we are still hanging onto that particular item!

After awhile, I did get tired of using our large all-in-one printer to scan receipts, so I invested in a small pocket scanner called the Neat Receipts Scanalizer. This little thing has the added benefit of scanning just about anything, and my next project is to scan important documents before our next move, so I can start whittling down some of the papers in our file cabinet...but that's a whole other story!

So, before it gets to being crunch time before your next move, get a head start and get your household in order now. Do you have any tips to keep track of your growing household stuff?

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1 Comments:

Blogger Scully's Moulder said...

Awesome post! We do a lot of this too. I use Quicken to track our personal finances. The newer versions have an option of attaching an image to a transaction, i.e. cleared checks, scanned receipts, paycheck stubs (LES), copies of bills.

Depending on the freproof safe you purchase, some of them are rated for digital media protection (thumb drives, discs, etc.) and some of them are not. Definately keep a backup off site. If you've got a safe deposit box, there's an excellend choice. Thumb drives are becoming exceedingly less and less expensive as are external hard drives.

We have photos (hard copy and digital) of all the valuables, to include photos of serial numbers as well. It does take some time to do in the very beginning, but once it's done, maintaining it is rather simple.

August 10, 2007 at 11:49 PM  

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