Got Storage? Then You Have Too Much Stuff!

Jeff and I just returned from a two and half week road trip. We traveled 2,400 miles, saw lots of friends and family, hiked at Crater Lake and through the Redwood National Park in Northern California, saw two plays, ate fabulous food and generally had a great time. Traveling 2,400 miles, you pass through a lot of towns of all sizes, and I was struck by the number of self storage facilities. They appear to be in every town, usually near the highway, though I’m sure there are more stashed beyond the sight of passing travelers.

The Self Storage Association (SSA), an industry lobby group, reported in their 2014 – 2015 Industry Fact Sheet that there are more than 48,500 primary storage facilities (those where self storage is the main business) in the United States, with over seven square feet of storage space per person in the country. These facilities were 88% full at the end of 2013, with nearly 9% of US households having rented a storage unit. Of those who rent a storage unit, 68% live in a single family home, 65% have a garage, 47% have an attic and 33% have a basement, seemingly adequate storage space. Yet 52% say they plan to rent their unit for more than a year.

Storage units are great facilities if you are between houses and need to temporarily store your stuff, however, if you have long term plans for your storage unit, you just have too much stuff. Even if you don’t have long term plans, you are likely to rent your space for longer than you expect. Out of sight, out of mind. The nationwide average cost of a climate controlled 10×10 storage unit is $151 per month ($118 for non climate controlled). At that rate it doesn’t take long for the cost of storing your stuff to exceed the value of the stuff. In twelve short months your total rent for a single unit will add up to over $1,800, and the statistics above indicate that many renters have more than one unit.

What is in there anyway? Could you replace what you’re storing for less than you’ve paid in rent? If you haven’t seen it in a year, do you really need it? Americans have too much stuff, and having paid for our stuff we are reluctant to give it up. But give it up we must! Even if you just give it away, you will be $1,800 a year to the good. Better yet, sell what you can and put the proceeds and the rent savings toward your future financial security.

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