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How to Inventory Your Belongings

Taking inventory of your belongings is one way to master your move and take control of your permanent change of station. Don’t leave the tracking of your items up to the movers. Knowing exactly what you’ve got and where it’s stored will make for a smooth transition when you unpack in the new home. Here are some tips on how to conduct an inventory:

Received PCS Orders? Make your move a smart move.

Once you receive your PCS orders, it’s important to coordinate your move immediately. Follow seven steps to make your household goods move a smart move.

  • Take pictures and videos of your items.
  • Record the serial numbers.
  • Keep your inventory list in a safe place like the cloud or a safe deposit box.
  • Update your list often.

The movers will inventory your household goods, but their list won’t account for the value or condition of your belongings. Conduct your own inventory to cover all your bases.

Technology makes it easy

You’ll just need a smartphone or a camera and a computer to make the list. You can also download free home inventory software at, or ask your insurance company for a recommendation. Here’s what to record:

  • Item name, description and condition.
  • Number of items, (for example, “12 pewter forks”).
  • Model and serial number, if applicable.
  • Purchase information: where and when you bought it, the cost, an estimate of its current value, and whether you have the receipt (shoot or scan it if you do).
  • Photo data, such as filename or number, and how it’s tagged in your files.

Now it’s time to take photos or videos of your valuables. Record specific brand names for any high-priced items. To get top-quality photos and video, follow these steps:

  • Unclutter the area. Put away your stray socks and tidy up around the house before you photograph your valuables so they can be clearly seen.
  • Capture every room and photograph everything. Shoot high-value items separately, and don’t forget small items; they can add up if you need to replace them all. Don’t forget to shoot the camera or digital device you’re using, too.
  • Shoot from all sides to show the condition and any brand names. Write the serial number on an index card or sticky note to label the item before you photograph it.
  • Open cabinets, drawers and closets. Get close-up shots of these areas for an overview of what’s inside them.
  • Don’t forget the garage or attic. Shoot both inside and outside to capture everything.
  • Talk while you walk when shooting video. You can add a lot of details if you narrate your video. Make some notes beforehand so you don’t forget any details.
  • Keep your list, photos and/or video somewhere safe. They won’t help you much if they get lost it in the move. Keep a flash drive copy in a fireproof safe or a safe deposit box, use a cloud storage site or ask your insurance company if they have an electronic storage option.
  • Don’t forget to update your inventory. You’ll want a record of any new items you get, too.

Make a list, update it and keep it safe. A strong inventory will make unpacking in your new home much smoother so that you can seize the adventure of your move.

Check out other ways you can master your move with Military OneSource »

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