The price of using self storage

A friend recently sent me the following confession in an e-mail:

I just cleaned out my storage unit that I have had for 7 years. (I think I opened it when I moved from the townhouse to my apartment.) What a bunch of crap! I saved a couple boxes of books I’d been missing, and some high school stuff I pulled out — medals, trophies and plaques.

So, I did the calculations on what this storage unit cost me. 7 years = 84 months times approximately $120 a month = over $10,000!!!!! I am flabbergasted I spent so much on storing what was basically crap. It’s just so easy when it’s $120 a month. Think of what I could have done with $10,000! That’s a costly uncluttering lesson!

I think that self storage is a good idea when used temporarily, such as for a few months when settling someone’s estate or if you’ve sold your house and are staying in a hotel while you’re waiting to settle on a new house. Once the word years is involved, though, it’s no longer temporary and uncluttering is in order.

Had she tossed out all of what was in her self storage unit seven years ago, my friend could have repurchased the box of books and even commissioned someone to remake her medals, trophies and plaques, and still had more than $9,000 left in her bank account. (I doubt my friend would have had someone remake her medals, though, I’m just saying she could have and it still would have been far less expensive.)

If you have a self-storage unit, consider taking the time to clear it out and save yourself a good amount of money. If the idea of cleaning out the space overwhelms you, hire a professional organizer to help you. The fee you’ll pay to the professional organizer will be less than what you would pay to continue storing your stuff.

More facts about self-storage:

  1. The state of self-storage in the U.S.
  2. Organization facts from Mother Jones

51 Comments for “The price of using self storage”

  1. posted by wonderworld on

    Because of what I thought would only be a temporary move out of state, due to a family emergency, I put everything (everything!) in storage. Ten years later I finally was able to “go home” to empty out the storage unit (a 10 x 20 space at $130 per month for 10 years!).

    Holy crap! Literally! What wasn’t mold or insect damaged ended up being the head scratching “Why the heck did I save this?” item. Also, furniture items can only handle the weight of boxes and other furniture piled on them for so long before legs begin to bow & couch cushions become permanently reformed! I ended up having to pay junk haulers $800 to haul off the ruined furniture & other trashed items (boxes & boxes & boxes!!!). Then, after many car loads (and gallons of gas) of hauling the salvageable stuff to the donation drop offs, I was able to pare everything down to 5 small boxes of keepsake things that couldn’t ever be replaced.

    All the years I had been “temporarily” living somewhere else I was faced with the dilemma of buying a new item every time I thought I needed something. But I would say “Why should I buy a new dish rack/ironing board/ coffee mug/etc. when I have one in storage?” (only 1,500 miles down the road! LOL!) That forced me to live minimalisticly for sure, though I more often than not found the item I needed for free by going to Freecycle or just asking someone if they had one they didn’t need. The important word here is “needed”! If I didn’t “need” it I wouldn’t get it. And with a storage unit full of stuff for all those years I wouldn’t get something just because I “wanted” it. Remember, I was only going to be there temporarily!

    So then I had a household of stuff in one state (temporarily), while paying storage on a household of things I couldn’t access in another state! A state of financial insanity to be sure!

    The funniest/saddest part about this whole scene is that while living “temporarily” in another state I went & fell in love, got married, bought a house, & started a family! Meanwhile a day didn’t go by when I didn’t say: “I’ve got one of those in storage!” Finally my new husband couldn’t stand it any longer. So together we took a vacation & went & cleared out the storage. I was actually embarrassed by all the junk I had saved & more embarrassed by all that money wasted! He was patient, non-judgmental, & understanding- however, he occasionally asked as we unpacked another box of stuff: “Explain to me again why you’ve been paying storage for 10 years for 3 shower curtains/a toaster/a cracked vase/etc.?!” And of course I had to laugh at myself- followed by tears for all the money wasted! And of course there was all that psychological & emotional stress attached to things that were meanwhile slowing decomposing in storage anyway!

    I found that most of the “sentimental” stuff was ruined & actually didn’t mean all that much any more anyway. Why should I hold onto fotos & ticket stubs & coffee mugs, etc. from former lovers if I am now married to the love of my life?! (Besides, the guy who gave me the coffee mug turned out to be a jerk anyway, that’s why I never married him!)

    Self storage is just a metal box that we pour a lot of money into & there is no return on the investment!

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