Sunday, March 30, 2008

On taking inventory.

Even before I interviewed a local sheriff deputy about his house burning down, and asked what our credit union could do to help his family out, I knew a complete listing of everything I owned was a good idea.

After all, fires happen all the time. I’ve already had valuables stolen from my car. And shucks, zombies could take over any day now.

So I decided that March would be "taking stock" month, a sort of spring cleaning that put all my material possessions in order, taking photos of everything I owned, and keeping information like serial numbers and replacement costs in a handy spreadsheet should disaster strike. Little did I know how much work it would entail.

But it’s all been supremely worth it.

Little did I know, for instance, that my comic collection includes almost 800 comics worth more than $3,200. Just my Spider-Man collection clocks in at $1,500, give or take a few hundred. It took a day in a half, with some online help, to figure all that out.

Few things scare me more than the thought of someone breaking in to our apartment and making off with one of my Macs. While it’s true that I lock my Apples down with enough passwords to make Fort Knox jealous, and I do a decent enough job of backing up all my data with external hard drives, but still.

What’s funny is that, if you take my comic collection, it’s worth more in ashes than it is sitting in the five or six boxes that store them. People aren’t willing to pay a good price for the latest edition of "Ultimate X-Men," but if they all burned up my insurance company would have to give me top dollar for them.

Everything I have is worth something. It’s hard for me to guess what the exact values are, but I’ve read that as long as you keep some sort of record, you’ll be paid back if disaster strikes.

Part of this project has involved cleaning and gutting as well. I have magazine subscriptions that date back years, and some of the issues I’ll never even look at again. Into the recycling bin they go.

All of this will be documented in spreadsheets, photos, iTunes lists, and burned onto a CD that will be kept off-site. After all, it doesn’t make sense to keep an inventory if the inventory melts in the flames with everything else, right?

So here’s my advice: if you have things you value, and they’re not all indestructible, take the time and effort and document everything. Everything. Stand in each room, even, and take a general "here’s-this-side" photo, just in case you forget anything.

Photos, quilts, childhood toys - those you can’t replace. But no sense in watching everything go up in smoke. We’re not all Superman, and we can’t keep everything in the Fortress of Solitude.

It’s called CYA - which means "Cover Your Assets" or something like that. There’s no better time to take stock than now.

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