Red-Headed Storage Rant - A Follow Up

Oh how last week's post about storage units was a mixed bag of reactions. Some loved it while others were mildly to superbly irritated. A couple were brave enough to comment on the post. A few decided nastygrams were the way to go. It reminds me of the Gloria Steinem quote:

The truth will set you free. But first it will piss you off.

Let's start with a quick clarification since some just didn't see it. That post is meant to be a wake-up call to those that are losing their things because of lapsed payment on a storage unit. Can we all agree that handling your things and getting the money yourself is better than lapsing payment and letting strangers profit off of your things or carelessly throw them away?

If not, you're welcome to check out many other blogs in this great big, glorious internet. I'm not everyone's cup of tea and obviously not yours.

Now then.

There are certain situations when having a storage unit is perfectly acceptable - staging your home for sale, traveling the world for a year, military deployment, temporary jobs on the other side of the world, true storage for inventory for a small business, or as one commenter mentioned, getting knocked on your ass and needing time to regroup.

What do all of these things have in common?

They're temporary.

TEMPORARY.

Many times, the thought behind getting the unit is temporary, but reality and inertia take over and next thing you know it's three years later and temporary has lead to "normal." Once someone breaks the inertia from either the truly temporary or what has become regular (I refuse to say permanent - don't allow it to become permanent!) situation, I hear the same thing every time.

I obviously don't need any of this stuff because otherwise it wouldn't be here. What was I thinking?

Then they tend to mentally add up how much money they've thrown away and that's where I stop them. No need beating yourself up. Now you know and it's time to move on and not let it happen again.

However, I am going to add it up for you because you may be caught in that inertia yourself and need a little kick. Let's look at two scenarios brought up in the comments.

First, the renter's dilemma. You were living in a larger home, moved into a smaller home and put the excess in storage just in case you need it for a future home. It sounds great in short term, but this situation doesn't always stay short-term. How does it look long-term?

Say you're renting a climate-controlled (you like this stuff after all), 10x15 unit. The range is $115 to $150, so we'll say yours is $135 per month.

  • 1 month = $135
  • 1 year = $1620
  • 5 years = $8100

Looking at it this way, it's easier to see that if you're going to be in this situation for longer than a year, you'll save money buy selling the things, putting that money into a special account and putting in a payment of $135 per month towards furnishing your future home. Doing it this way, you can get some really great things for your new home instead of using the things that have acquired the "storage unit smell" or having to get fresh anyway because things have deteriorated.

The other situation that was brought up was holiday storage for a small home. Let's say you go with a $50, 5x5 unit. (Again climate controlled because extreme conditions can ruin some of your decor.)

  • 1 month = $50
  • 1 year = $600

If you're cool with spending $600  every year to store decorations, then have at it. Or you may decide that with that money it's easiest to store your most cherished items in your home and purchase fun new stuff every year.

The choice is totally yours.

If you find yourself in need of a quick, temporary solution in storage units then make sure you don't get caught in the ease of staying. Look at what the accumulated cost of storage is and give yourself a definitive end date of getting out. Already stuck in there, work on getting yourself out so you can spend your hard earned dollars on things that will better support you!

Side note: In looking for the average length of time a customer rents a storage unit, I found an interesting quote. Some owners were discussing their clients that rent for 10 years or more (!!!) and wondered why that was the case. One owner said he'd love to poll his long-term customers to see why they've stayed so long but is also "afraid to wake the sleeping giant."

No matter what your situation, don't become the sleeping giant.