Moving is a part of life. It seems like these days, getting a self-storage unit is becoming more of a part of moving!
I learned this the hard way as I saw my parents move from their house of 34 years. Some of you may recall my mentioning this, particularly via a story about a cool letter from my grandfather that I never met, which was uncovered while packing for the move. Needless to say, there were a ton of things that needed to be sorted through. I did what I could to help out when I had the chance.
Anyway, after the whole process was complete, my father ended up deciding to rent a storage unit. It just made sense at the time, it was the almost inevitable outcome at that point of having so much accumulated stuff, and so little time to figure out what to do about it.
Now, I don’t recall the exact price, but I think is was something like $200 per month. There was a lot of stuff, and as I think about it, it might have even been more than one storage unit rented. The bottom line is, this is a lot of money that is being spent to store things. If you annualize that amount, it’s $2,400 per year. Ouch!
This, as well as some other conversation I’ve seen around the personal finance blogosphere regarding storage units, got me thinking of ways to save money on storage units. Along those lines, here are 10 ways to lower your expenses on storage units:
1) Don’t be emotionally attached to your material possessions. Is it surprising that this is at the top of the list? I put this first because I’ve seen it come into play not only in the moving example I noted above, but in the case of another person I know who kept items for years that ended up costing more to store than what they might be able to fetch in terms of replacement value. Remember, people and objects are different – the former we naturally become attached to, while the latter might be irrational in some cases. Think rationally in terms of your material possessions.
2) Compare storage cost with replacement value. If your items cost, let’s say $100 per month to store, you’re looking at $1,200 over the course of the year. If their replacement value is $1,500, then why spend $1,200 on a year of storage? Just do the math and it might become clear what makes sense and what doesn’t.
3) Purge items you don’t truly need or use. Now, I think that the purging of items should be a more frequent action that just once you’re about to move. Rather, make it a practice to regularly get rid of things you don’t need to hold on to. You can even get some money back by selling items, or help others in need by donating. The latter option might offer some good karma 🙂
4) Accurately assess your storage needs. The bigger your storage space, the more money you will be spending, right? Thus, it makes sense to take an accurate inventory of what you feel you have to send to storage, and gauge exacly what kind of storage unit you can get. The smallest one you can get, without damaging any items, just might be the one you should get.
5) Ask family to store items if they have space. Okay, I do like to be self-sufficient and I detest freeloading. That being said, you might be fortunate enough to have parents or another family member who could easily store some things for you. Maybe you can work a deal with them in return, or show appreciation in ways such as an occasional dinner out, tickets to a show, etc. Sometimes, family might be glad to help – particularly if they have the space anyway. Just be prepared to return the favor in some other way.
6) Compare prices. Not all storage facilities have the same prices. Some are more, some are less – even within the same general location. It can help to shop around a little bit, as monthly cost savings can add up.
7) Consider storage in low-cost areas. As long as your items will be safe, you might want to consider looking at storage in low-cost areas or out of the way places. Again, much like comparing prices within a specific locale, prices in different areas might be quite different was well.
8) Negotiate. As with many things, prices may not necessarily be fixed and unchangeable. It might be worth a shot trying to negotiate and come up with a better rate.
9) Look for coupons or discounts. You never know, you might be able to score a deal on storage units. Take a look around, particularly online, for such deals.
10) Don’t get a storage unit! Sure, it’s a broad, sweeping generalization, but I suspect that many people get a storage unit hoping that it will be for the short-term, but end up keeping it for quite a while due to inertia and/or time constraints. Then, the costs can really add up significantly over time. If you can manage your accumulation of things to match your expected available living space, you just might be able to avoid getting a storage unit and save a lot of money in the long run! Not that I’m against storage units, because they can really offer value to some people in different circumstances. But the best way to save might often be to not spend at all!
My Questions for You
What do you think of self-storage units?
Have you ever had one, or do you have one? If so, how has it worked out for you in terms of the cost/value tradeoff?
Have you used any of the tips above, and/or do you have any additional tips to share?