Stop Storing and Save – Storage Units Are A Waste of Money

storage units

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

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11 Responses to Stop Storing and Save – Storage Units Are A Waste of Money

  1. Will says:

    America suffers from what I like to call “stuffitis”. People love their “stuff” and don’t want to get rid of it, even if it’s not only totally useless, but also costs them money.

    eBay and Craigslist are great alternatives to get rid of clutter in one’s home!

  2. hahaha – when I first read the title I thought it read “Stop SNORING and Save!”

  3. princessperky says:

    I will ditto the whole ‘get rid of it’ line, really how much stuff can one person need?

    Now I do see a need for self storage for short term issues, moving out of one place before being able to fully move into another, and the like. but in general most folk using them just plain store stuff…they need to visit flylady and clear it out.

  4. Another reason: “de-clutter” your home for staging when you are trying to sell.

    That’s why we have stuff in storage. And, no – it isn’t stuff we can get rid of. It’s mostly furniture that we will need and want in our new home.

    As for storing children’s toys and clothes, that’s just crazy! We use Rubbermaid bins and pack them into the shed in the back yard. We do this every time the seasons change and it works great, and all it costs is the price of a Rubbermaid (or generic) bin!

  5. AndyS says:

    Great article. If you can store it for more than 12 months then maybe you can chuck it.

  6. Hahaha-“stuffitis”, and I thought it was “Stop SNORING and Save” too! Eye Heart Craigslist and my neighbors down the street who gave me cash for the extra stuff I bought when I suffered from a near-fatal case of stuffitis.

  7. At a mortgage workshop held a few weeks ago in my city, one of the handouts warned those who are going through foreclosure against trying to save their household goods through a storage unit.
    Reason: most people in those circumstances cannot afford to keep up the unit payments.
    Suggestion: get rid of or sell as much as you can, taking only what you can keep in your next home or with trusted friends or relatives.

  8. Miranda says:

    “Stuffitis” indeed! If you can put it away in storage, without using it, for years, do you really need it? I like to periodically go through my stuff and sell or give away what I haven’t used in the past 18 months. It really helps us keep the clutter down. And before I buy something, I think about how often it will be used. If I’m not really going to use it, I don’t really need to buy it.

  9. GaelicWench says:

    I am currently renting a storage unit, but solely because the modular home I am renting has no garage. It’s the smallest unit offered and for which I pay $35 a month.

    I dislike having to rent one because this can get downright expensive. That’s $35 I can apply towards a credit card to pay if off more quickly.

    Anyways, storage units for the short term is feasible, but not for the long term as has been the case for us. The unit is fairly small, and it’s storing items I had at my other house before my divorce. An indoor-outdoor vac, luggage, but NO seasonal items, which I refuse to collect because of the demand for storage space. To those who love putting out seasonal things – Easter, Christmas, Thanksgiving – and make things look festive, a big kudos. But for DF and myself, we keep it to an absolute minimum and only if it can be stored in a small Rubbermaid container. :p

  10. Pete says:

    I remember the first couple of storage-unit vendors in South Florida, USA, got very wealthy when they correctly predicted that newcomers from the north would be immediately out of room because there are no basements in the southern part of the State.

    Yes, Americans love their stuff and the de-clutter message is beloved by the real-estate industry because it makes our houses easier to “show”. At the same time, we pride ourselves on our ingenuity and frugality in being able to design things out of spare parts, re-use, etc. Guess what – those parts are “stuff” needing to be saved somewhere (Remember: visiting flea markets, garage sales, and junkyards every time you need a part is a time-eater and also more than ever these days, a costly fuel endeavor). Bottom line: keeping “stuff” around is not always wasteful, although I’d agree that paying for storage probably is.

  11. Denise says:

    In my humble experience after much wasted money, let the “stuff” go asap, and take a look at George Carlin’s take…

    Laugh and then have a plan to get the stuff out, sell but donate if the selling is not working out. Plan a Saturday for about 2 hours to gather, sort and dropoff to donation centers. Tell people who may know someone who knows someone in need. Peace!

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