Create a Home Inventory in 3 Easy Steps

Updated October 2021

USAA Community Creating a Home Inventory small.jpegThe loss of household goods and documents can be devastating. The risk of something being damaged and lost during a move comes to mind first for most military families, but it is easy to forget unfortunate burglaries or fire can happen anytime. A dear friend of mine returned from a holiday trip to find their home had been broken into and everything was gone (electronics, cars, personal documents, even her clothes). It has reminded (and encouraged) me to update our home inventory and make some smarter decisions about keeping track of our household goods in the unfortunate event something happens and I need proof and documentation of my personal and household belongings or for our next PCS.


How do you get started?



Here are 3 steps to help you create an inventory of items in your home.


Create a Home Inventory in 3 Easy Steps - USAA Member CommunityStep 1: Make a plan


It is an enormous task to tackle so choose one room a day or week depending on your available time. You can also assign each family member a room and have it be their responsibility to track the items in their assigned room. Whatever you decide, do not give up!

Step 2: Pick a method

  1. Video and photo documentation: I feel this is the easiest way to quickly take stock of your goods. Begin by opening all cabinets and closets and slowly go through each room filming or photographing each closet, shelf and cupboard's contents, as well as recording details of furniture and electronics. Ensure you focus on serial and model numbers for large appliances, and electronics. Lastly, save copies of the photo and video in two places, just in case your computer or camera is damaged/stolen or lost.

  2. Mobile Application: Use a mobile phone application for quick and easy capturing of your goods. I use the free Encircle App that guides you through the process by room and item.

  3. Receipt tracking: We try to keep all of our major receipts for things like our TV, appliances, electronics, bikes...any item at the time of purchase was a "big ticket" purchase. Store these receipts along with your other important documents (ours are in a filing cabinet that we ALWAYS move ourselves). These can be used as "proof of value" when filing a claim for a missing or damaged item.

  4. Registering Goods: You can register many electronics and appliance purchases with the manufacturer. This is an additional place your purchase information can be stored (as well as keep you up to date with recalls and warranty issues). I have recently done this with all our major baby related purchases. 

  5. Spreadsheet inventory: Create a spreadsheet on your computer to have an electronic comprehensive inventory. This is the most time consuming and comprehensive method of taking an inventory of your household items. You can begin by cataloging your household items with these sample categories:
    o Date purchased
    o Item Name
    o Manufacturer
    o Where you purchased item
    o Serial Number/Make and Model
    o Purchase price
    o Value (antiques collectables, etc.)
    o Photo
    o Additional Details (i.e. family heirloom, grandmother's china, etc.)

This list can also be used to update your renters and homeowner insurance policy.


Step 3: Do it!

I am not disciplined enough for the manual spreadsheet entry option (the most comprehensive) but instead chose to use a Home Inventory mobile application in addition to making a quick video (filmed on my smartphone) of our big ticket items (TV Computers, cameras) as backup.


By taking time to record and document items in your home, you’ll be better prepared should something need to be replaced due to natural disaster or mishap after a move.

How do you handle inventorying your home? Do you have any tips and tricks to share?



Navy Wife Navy Mom
New Member

EVERY January 1 (while the house is somewhat neat and the Christmas decorations are up!) we make videos of every room in our house AND the outdoor areas!! every closet, every dresser drawer, every bath, kitchen and garage cabinet. It's the LITTLE stuff that adds up after a calamity. we learned this lesson the hard way after my mother-in-law had a fire and she didn't have an inventory... trying to recreate how many pairs of shoes/boots... how many sweaters and pairs of slacks and dresses??? before we had Cloud back up, we put our recorded videos and photos on memory cards/sticks and sent them to a relative (won't do you any good in the house or your PCSing load!). now it's backed up to the Cloud and we have access wherever we are! and we now SCAN important docs and receipts which are also backed up!!

Briana Hartzell USAA

Navy Wife Navy Mom,

I applaud your thorough efforts! It is a wonderful idea to video everything (and great thinking to do it around Christmas time!). I also think sending a back up to a relative is a wonderful idea- not only in case of a PCS but in your mother in law's case- after a disaster! Thank you so much for sharing!

New Member

Great idea for documenting household items and values.  Thanks for the comments. Valuable information.

Briana Hartzell USAA

Thanks for commenting Mo45!

Frequent Visitor

I have used the Know your stuff inventory program but was notified today that the program/app is not going to be supported and closed down. I was advised that any thing I have needs to be downloaded by July1. So now a search for a new app commences.

Briana Hartzell USAA

Sciwiz- I was disappointed to hear they are not continuing the support of the Know Your Stuff application. At this time, I don't have a recommendation for a different program- but I am researching! I will be sure to keep you posted! Thank you for taking the time to comment!

New Member

The Encircle App is a good alternative if you want to use a mobile app for inventory. Similar to the Know Your Stuff application. You can also access it through a web browser.


Encircle App on web


Encircle App on Google Play


Encircle app iTunes Apple Store