Inventory Management

Inventory Management: Keep Track Of Your Stuff

Does the term “inventory management” in connection with your move sound a bit overwhelming? Think of performing a home inventory as taking control of as much of the moving and packing process as possible. Like any complicated project, it helps if you break it down into smaller, manageable tasks. Fortunately, there are some great tools available to help you keep track of your stuff during a move.


Before you dive in and start packing moving boxes, do some planning. If you’re a list maker, this is where you’ll begin. If you are doing your own packing, you’ll need to make a packing list, get moving supplies, including packing materials and labels (color-coding is good). Once you’ve tackled this task, you’ll be ready when it’s time to pack.

Reduce the inventory before you move

Now is the time to be tough; this is the purging portion of your moving process. Let’s face it— we all have too much stuff! As you go through your belongings, there are three actions to consider:

  • Tossing it. It makes no sense to pack and move stuff that should be thrown out. If you’re hesitant, ask these three questions:
    • When was the last time you used or wore it?
    • Do you really need to keep it?
    • Do you want to pay to move it? Even if you move yourself, it’s just more weight, meaning fewer miles per gallon.
  • Giving it away by recycling or selling. Use a charity donation list to tally the type and quantity of items you plan to donate to Goodwill or other charities. The donation list doubles as a record of tax-deductible donations, which is useful at tax time. Or have a moving sale.
  • Pack and move it. Now that you’ve decided what’s going, get it out of the way so you can start your home inventory.

Home inventory list

One way to begin your inventory process is to make it visual. Draw a rough sketch of the layout of your house and label the rooms. This will be your room-by-room guide. Now make a packing list of the items for each room and start packing.

In addition to your packing list that you’ve created, you can be even more thorough and use a home inventory spreadsheet. It can be kind of a master list for packing, too. Download this handy template home inventory spreadsheet.

Labeling and color-coding

Labels are one of the most critical moving tools. Buy colored labels and come up with a color-coding system for different rooms. If you’re using this tracking method, you can now start making the labels for each room. Be very specific—n opt just for your movers so they know where things will go, but for you when you’re unpacking. Don’t just write “Bathroom,” make it “Master bath: Towels.”

List for movers and insurance companies

This master list of your home inventory will be helpful if the movers lose or damage anything in the move. They should have a copy of the list, too. It can also be valuable if you have a fire or flood in your new home and need a list of belongings for your insurance company. Be sure to update it after you move and when you acquire new goods. Insurance companies require this inventory if you file a claim.


Make sure everyone in the family sees the inventory list and the room-by-room packing lists. They should be especially familiar with their own room’s list and contents. If old enough, kids should pack their own room.