Personal storage facilities are appearing everywhere. Whether new garage-like structures or refashioned warehouses, factories, and banks, all have the purpose of storing our culture’s accumulated stuff. For the “low” price of $39.95 a month, you can rent the smallest of these empty boxes — a space not much bigger than a walk-in closet. The more you have, of course, the more it costs to store. However, by thinking through some alternatives, most storage expenses can be eliminated or, at the very least, decreased.
Reasons for placing items in storage vary greatly; one common reason is running out of space in living quarters. Whether it’s an overgrown collection or simply an accumulation of this and that bought over the years, the problem of too much stuff seems to be solved easily by stashing everything in storage to deal with later. Before addressing your lack of space by renting more, it is wise to consider other options.
Think about how much you value the stuff you want to store. Is it really worth the price of storing it? If so, are there other things in your home that are worth less to you, things that you could sell or give away? Try eliminating things you don’t value before storing things you do. After all, how much can you really enjoy something kept in off-site storage?
If you find that you cannot bear to part with anything you own, try to find ways to create more storage at home. Even tiny apartments have small spaces here and there that can be turned into storage spots. Organizing gadgets, though costly, are often less expensive than several months’ storage fees, and homemade alternatives to store-bought organizers are even less expensive. If you truly must rent storage space, be sure to use the space as efficiently as possible so that you can rent the smallest space possible.
Sometimes people rent storage units for inherited possessions. Sorting through the estate of a loved one can seem so overwhelming that families have been known to place everything in storage to deal with after the grieving is over. Before long, years have passed, and the family heirlooms still lie mingled with household junk in one big storage pile. If you truly cannot bear to go through your loved one’s things before his or her home must be sold or rented (or if you can’t get everyone together who needs to take part in the sorting), consider setting a deadline for yourself to clear out the storage unit even before you rent it. Decide how much you are willing to pay in rent and be sure to go through everything before your fees hit that amount.
At least one storage rental site suggests using a storage unit to house supplies for a home repair or remodeling job so that you don’t keep tripping over them while the job is going on. In most cases, remodeling jobs are costly enough without adding in storage fees. Besides, you may find that tripping over supplies will give you extra incentive to finish the job quickly.
Some parents rent storage units to keep toys and clothing for younger siblings after the older ones have outgrown them. Though this strategy sounds frugal at first (you are reusing your things), it is not very cost-effective. For baby and toddler clothes you cannot guarantee that the seasons will be appropriate for each size of clothing, and styles change quickly, too. Plus, you can easily buy a houseful of like-new toys at yard sales or online for less than the cost of storing them for a few years.
If you have an online store and maintain more inventory than your home can hold, storage units may be a legitimate business expense. Before signing a contract, however, look into renting retail space in a low-traffic area. You may find the equivalent amount of space for a lower price, and you can open your doors for walk-in customers while you are working.
College students heading home for the summer and others in the midst of a housing transition frequently rent storage units, as well. College students with inexpensive furniture and personal items may find replacing their goods each year to be less expensive than renting storage; those whose households are more established should consider the cost of storage when budgeting for any time spent on the road or living with others.
As for living on the road, if you are considering purchasing an RV or boat and cannot store it on your property, remember the cost of storage when you decide how much to spend. If you do not expect to use the vacation vehicle frequently, it may be more cost effective to rent one for vacation or buy an RV or boat to resell immediately after the trip of a lifetime.
If you are renting storage space to keep duplicates of important documents and family photos to protect them from possible fire or flooding at your home, consider asking a trusted friend to keep these items for you. You can offer to keep some of your friend’s papers in exchange.
No matter what the reason for renting storage space, many of us get into the habit of paying a storage bill without really thinking about how much these bills add to the cost of ownership. When you take the time to evaluate your reasons for keeping your personal things in storage, you may discover that you can save a lot simply by finding another way to manage your possessions.
Image courtesy of Esther17