“Household goods” are things found in your home that are for maintenance and for all-around general use. They are assets that represent part of your net worth, although they are not considered to have high liquidity. It's a good idea to keep a list on file, along with pictures and receipts, of all your household goods for insurance purposes. Another reason you may need to list your household goods is if you’re filing bankruptcy. Bankruptcy rules vary by state, so when valuing household goods for a bankruptcy, you should consult your bankruptcy attorney.
Furniture and Furnishings
Furniture and furnishings are not only things such your bedroom furniture, bookcases, sofas and chairs, but are also other things including pictures you hang on the wall, vases you put flowers in, rugs, lamps and wall clocks. If you have particularly valuable items that you bought and keep for expressly for investment purposes, like antiques, coin collections or fine art, it might not be appropriate to put them in the “household goods” category. You should keep an appraisal for assets like these and, depending on their value, possibly insure them separately. To make that kind of determination, you should consult your insurance agent. When determining the value of household goods, insurance policies go by how much you would have to pay to replace the item (replacement cost); bankruptcy courts determine value by how much you could sell it for (fair market value).
Appliances and Kitchen Stuff
Your refrigerator, vacuum cleaner, washer and dryer, electric mixer, espresso machine and that pasta machine you got as a wedding present are a few examples of appliances that are considered household goods. So are dishes, flatware and pots and pans. Don’t forget about electric toothbrushes — those things can be expensive to replace. Any appliance that is built in and that would be included with the house if you sold it, such as a stove, is not in the category of household goods.
Televisions, DVDs and DVD players, CDs and CD players, video games and game machines, books and even musical instruments are all considered household goods. Cameras are household goods, too, as long as you aren’t a professional photographer, in which case they would be classified as “tools of the trade.”
Clothing and Accessories
Clothing and shoes, as well as watches and jewelry, come under the category of household goods. Clothing is a good example of how replacement value can differ from fair market value. To replace your clothes would cost considerably more than if you sold them at a garage sale.
Exercise equipment and bicycles are household goods, as are things such as lawn mowers and tools — as long as they are used for home maintenance and not for a business. And while you may think of them as family, pets are considered household goods, too.
Lisa Dorward was a corporate financial executive and business consultant for more than 15 years before becoming a writer in 2003. She has B.A. degrees in both history and creative writing and earned her M.F.A. in creative writing in 2008, specializing in novel-length historical fiction.