brown squirrel on gray tree trunk

Do you have an inventory?

The worst thing about the tree was all the squirrels. It was the tallest tree on our block and the squirrels jumped from branch to branch all day long. Fun for them, even more fun for Daisy who barked every time a squirrel darted across our fence onto the tree.

The neighbors decided to take their tree down last week. Maybe because they were sick of hearing Daisy bark at squirrels all day, maybe because a branch had already fallen and narrowly missed crashing into their roof.

Houses are close together in this neighborhood. One wrong move, and large pieces of tree would be landing on our house.

Time to do an inventory, but no time to do an inventory.

Is there anything these phones can’t do?

I’m sure there are plenty of inventory apps out there but the need to know what would be lost occurred to me only as they were taking the tree down. Smartphone to the rescue. I took pictures of the room that would be destroyed, going around panoramically so I captured everything.

If the tree had fallen and the insurance adjuster had come calling, those simple photos would have told me exactly what we were missing.

Make a DIY inventory

Spend a few minutes with your phone, documenting your place. The beauty of a smartphone is you can zoom in on the photos later and see all the details.

Of course, if everything’s all cluttery and you’d only be able to photograph the top layer, or the outside of lots of boxes, that’s another reason to start decluttering.

Did your heart jump with joy at the idea of a tree falling through your living room so you don’t have to deal with all that stuff? I can help.


  1. NAPO members HomeZada and Pinventory are go-to solutions for a detailed home inventory, but you faced the possibility of impending doom with quick-witted aplomb! And yes, we’re all kooky for fearing having insurance or a will might trigger the bad things those items are meant to ameliorate. It’s like we’re covering our eyes and sticking our fingers in our ears, going, “la la la, you don’t exist if I can’t see or hear you!”

    1. Yup, we humans are funny! It rains because we don’t bring our umbrellas, and planes stay in the sky because we keep them up through vigilant worry. How powerful our mind thinks we are!

  2. I agree. Having an inventory is a wonderful thing. We had a detailed inventory for moving overseas. My husband’s job required it. HomeZada is a NAPO affiliate and has a fabulous free app as well as an even better paid subscription series. The free version is quite robust and easy to use. The great thing about the paid version is that it will also remind you of important household maintenance tasks – like changing the filter on the furnace or AC unit. Check it out.

  3. In these days of odd weather emergencies that cause flooding, fires, and downed trees, having an inventory of a home’s contents seems like a no brainer. Why are we resistant to doing it? It’s kind of like getting wills and health proxies in order, perhaps. So many of us delay facing potential tragedy, illness, or death. We don’t like to think about it. But you make a great point, that the unexpected can and does happen. So the better prepared we are, the more flexible we can be to move on from a difficult event. I love your approach to inventorying, which is simple and takes away the barrier of it being an impossible or BIG undertaking. Even having a basic record is better than no record. I appreciate the nudge.

  4. We live in tornado country, so an inventory makes total sense. I had one at our previous home, and your post is a fabulous reminder that I haven’t done one in our current place (we’ve been here five years now – time to get cracking!). I just used my phone to take photos before, but I’m seriously thinking about testing out an app this time around.

  5. There are good inventory apps, and I think to get properly reimbursed by insurance, you need to have very specific records. That said, I had a similar experience and realized that if there were a fire, I might not even remember what I had in every room. I grabbed my phone and made a video of reach room, talking about what was in it. This exercise didn’t have all the receipts, but it was a first step, and it gave me a bit of peace of mind. I worry about trees all the time because we have big ones and the storms often bring them down.


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