Should You Have A Storage Unit?

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If you are like me – on a Spring Cleaning jag – don’t forget your storage shed! Do you really need it? You may be better off dumping what is in there, saving the monthly fee, and then buying the items new if you ever need them again.

storageunitpackedWhen I dabble in a little Storage Wars viewing, there’s always booty in them thar lockers.  The skeptic in me says that once the unit is sold to one of the show’s regulars, a producer hides an interesting or valuable item in the rubble.  After all, who’d tune in if were all hunt and no treasure?  Here’s a VCR, some baby clothes, and…  Oh, lookie there – an original 15th century vase from the Ming Dynasty.  Am I too cynical?

Do you pay for offsite storage?  What is the value of the stuff in there?  Years ago, I helped a buddy load a storage unit with a bed, a crib, baby toys and a couple oscillating fans.  He spent more money renting the storage unit for only one year than the value of the stuff he put in it.  He could have given the stuff away, and then used the money he saved not paying for a storage unit, to buy the stuff new if he ever needed them again.

Paying for a storage facility can be a huge waste of money.  $100/month = $1,200 a yearevery year. 10 years = $12,000. Is the stuff even worth it?  Before you spend money on a storage unit, here are some things to consider:

Downsize:

  1. Instead of getting a storage unit, sell or donate what you have.  I’ve had great success doing this, as I wrote about in Crazy Chip’s Cyber Yard Sale Tips.  If you need it later, buy it new, or from a thrift store, or on Craigslist or eBay.
  2. A lot of folks put old tax returns and mortgage documents in a storage unit.  I suggest scanning those documents into a PDF so you can easily access them on your computer.  I do that with my Canon Pixma, then shred the old documents.  I have used an Aurora shredder for years.  In the future, ask your accountant and mortgage dude or dudette to send you PDFs of those documents.  I use Carbonite to back-up my computer files, including these documents.  Very handy.

If You Wanna Keep Your Stuff:

  1. If you live in a house, buy a plastic storage shed to put in the back yard.  You can buy one brand new for a few hundred bucks.  That is still less than what you’d pay for one year of a storage unit, and you have easy access to whatever it is.  If you are renting and you move, sell the shed to the landlord.  It is a great perk for a rental.  Each of my rental units has its own shed.
  2. Install a pull-down attic ladder in a hallway of the house.  Nail down plywood onto the joists to create a floor for your stuff.
  3. Store in someone else’s house.  There might be an old lady down the street who would welcome the extra income.  My dad did that when he wintered his boat in Mrs. Whitcomb’s garage.  Also check out StoreAtMyHouse.com
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