This morning I saw an interesting article in the New York Times about the rise of self-storage facilities in this country. Most people don’t need these. I have actually used a storage unit once, for three months to avoid carting my college stuff home for the summer, but we got the first three months at half price, so it wasn’t a bad deal. I’m also a member of a non-profit that has a storage unit for the equipment that is used once a year at our annual event. We have no office, so this solves the problem of storing stuff none of us want in our homes the other 364 days a year. I’m not saying the units don’t have a purpose, just that the way most American us them is a waste of money. It’s time to get rid of yours.
Stop Storing Stuff You Don’t Need or Want
According to the article, a full 15% of storage unit renters are storing stuff they “no longer need or want.” What? If you don’t like something enough to want it, and you don’t need it anymore, why don’t you sell it or throw it out? As the article pointed out, you’re more likely to buy something new when you do finally need a replacement. By storing it, you’re throwing away money rather than throwing away an object that has no value anymore.
Stop Storing Excess Stuff
Some people have so much stuff that it won’t fit in their homes and overflows into a storage unit. If you have that much stuff, you probably have stuff you can get rid of. Rather than pay hundreds of dollars for a storage unit, have a garage sale and make a couple hundred dollars. If it’s something you don’t value or don’t use often enough to keep in your home, it’s not something you need to own anymore. The argument that you paid for it so it has value, is bunk. That money’s gone. Don’t throw more money after it.
New Stuff is Cheaper Anyway
If you spend $200 a month to store an item originally valued at $800, you’ve exceeded its value after just four month. So, give it away, throw it away, or sell it. Then buy something new. It will probably be cheaper. Why not put that $200 a month into a savings account to go towards the purchase of replacement stuff when you need it? Then your money could actually make you money rather than being wasted.
Ignore the Emotional Attachment
I knew a woman who had a storage unit crammed with stuff that had belonged to her deceased father. Because it was his, she attached value to it. Except that she was keeping it in a storage unit rather than enjoying it, so had no true value. If you’re storing something that you have an emotional attachment to, but no actual use for, take a weekend to go through the stuff. Experience the memory, and then move on. I doubt your father would want you to spend $200 a month storing his old furniture (non-antique). He’d want you to save your money.
Don’t Store Other People’s Stuff
This is the most egregious example in the article. A man was storing stuff for his ex-fiancee, stuff that had once been stored in his garage, and then moved into a storage unit that she made him pay for. I also read a story in Dear Abby about someone who had been storing a friend’s stuff in her garage for six years, and now needed the room. She wondered if she was obligated to get a storage unit for it. If your friend, neighbor, relative, or ex hasn’t laid claim to their stuff in years, they probably don’t need it. Give them a call and tell them they have 10 days to remove their stuff, or it will be thrown out. If they don’t, get rid of it. You are under no obligation to pay to store the junk someone else dumped on you.
A Better Storage Option
If you have valuables that you must store off-site, get a safe deposit box. It’s much cheaper than the $50-200 a month that a storage unit would cost, and more secure. Other than that, if it can’t fit in your home, garage, or shed, get rid of it. I bet that you’ll never know it’s gone.