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The Storage Unit Quandry

Last week, I helped a friend move a bunch of stuff out of her storage unit. Interestingly, I had helped her family move out of their apartment more than a year ago and most of the items in storage came from that move. Most of the items in the unit had not been gone through in over a year. We hauled everything out of there. Some of the items were delivered to family members, and several boxes were brought back to her current apartment. But about half of the items in her unit were either thrown in a dumpster or donated to organizations. let me repeat, half of the items deemed worth keeping 16 months ago were either garbage or donated.

An article in Curbed.com states that one in 11 Americans pays an average of $91/month to store their personal belongings in an offsite storage unit. In the United States, you’ll find nearly 50,000 self storage facilities with a whopping 2.311 BILLION square feet of available storage. Have you ever been to the Hoover Dam? Imagine that space being filled up with your old college books, boxes of kitchen tools, broken up furniture, sports equipment you don’t use anymore and old toys. Now imagine it being filled up 26 times. That’s how much stuff can be stored in self storage facilities in the US today.

I once knew a family who lived in a lovely, good-sized home with a two-car garage. They had filled the garage and a shed with their items, and proceeded to build a second shed which was shortly filled to the brim. If I recall correctly, one spouse suggested that maybe they needed to rent a storage space. The other spouse said that, “No, two sheds and a two-car garage were enough.”

I also once worked with a gal who had been paying for her storage unit for more than 10 years. She had a large collection of valuable furniture she had stashed before she moved out of state and was paying for the storage of these items every month since that time. She was not a wealthy woman and struggled to make ends meet, yet she continued to pay for items she wasn’t using and likely were losing value every month.

Storage can be hard on items. Over time, dust, damp, mold, insects and rodents can be a problem. One family I worked with found mouse droppings in almost every box which ruined many of the items they had stored.

There are times when self-storage can come in handy. My family has used self-storage units twice in 22 years. When we were first married, we combined our belongings into a small, two-bedroom condo without a garage or shed storage. We rented a small self-storage unit for about a year until we moved into our first home. We dropped in periodically to pick up boxes (like for Christmas ornaments), but we were really happy to be done paying for that when we moved out. We also rented one for about two weeks when we were decluttering and staging our last home for sale. It was just nice to have a space to stash larger items we wanted to move, but didn’t really want in sight while we sold our house.

One of the decluttering bloggers I follow is A Slob Comes Clean. One of her rules to live by is the container rule. When whatever you have doesn’t fit into it’s container, it’s time to downsize whatever doesn’t fit until it does fit into your container. It could be argued that your home is your container. If your items don’t fit in your home, it’s time to decrease the number of items you’re trying to fit.

What’s not fitting into the container of your house right now? Are you currently paying for a self-storage unit in your community? If you were to go through everything today, would you find treasures you were glad to have? Or would you donate and dispose of most of it? Consider the cost of keeping items you don’t want, don’t use, are losing their value and are possibly getting ruined by being stored for so long. Outside of the actual cost, what is it costing you emotionally to be hanging on to these items?

If you need help managing the stuff in your storage unit (or your garage, your basement or your shed), give Northwest Home Coach a call! I can work with you to manage your belongings and bring some peace back into your life.