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10 ways to save on self-storage

Renting storage space is sometimes necessary, but many people spend thousands to keep stuff they don't really care about.

By Stacy Johnson Oct 10, 2011 4:27PM

This post comes from Brandon Ballenger at partner site Money Talks News.


Americans buy -- and keep -- a lot of stuff. That's made self-storage a $22 billion industry, according to its major trade group, the Self Storage Association.


Most of us have seen them dotting the landscape. According to the industry group, 84% of all U.S. counties have at least one self-storage facility, and 10% of Americans use them.


Some of us shouldn't. In the video below, Stacy Johnson of Money Talks News shares his story of spending more than $18,000 over the past decade to store stuff worth only a fraction of that amount. Watch it, then read on for tips.

Hopefully the video convinced some of you pack rats to take a long, hard look at what's going in your storage unit. Here's more advice to save:

  • Get more organized. It's true that time is money, and going through all your stuff is a chore. But do you want to pay rent on junk you're never going to use again because you're too lazy to sort it out? Take a weekend and cull the clutter. You'll feel better, and save money. Hint: If you haven't touched it in more than a year or forgot you even own it, odds are you don't need it.
  • Sell or donate stuff. If you have a lot of stuff in good condition that you no longer need, maybe a "self-storage sale" (in your yard or garage, of course) is in order. Too much bother? Donate goods to charity for a tax deduction. Either option will help partially recoup the costs of storing the stuff you do keep.
  • Weigh replacement cost. Some people keep everything, thinking, "I might need this someday," while others too readily toss or sell stuff (especially furniture, which does take up a lot of space) they'll end up buying again. Be realistic, because either mistake can be costly.
  • Rent the smallest space you need. Storage units usually start at 5 by 5 feet and can be 8 feet or more tall. Practice your real-life Tetris skills and see what fits in there; you can always upgrade if you need to. If you're looking at long-term storage, you also don't need to leave space to be able to access everything, so pack tight. Put the stuff you'll need to pull out soonest at the front.
  • Store with friends or family. If you know someone with extra garage space, ask if they'll share. They might be more receptive to the idea if you offer to pay a few bucks a month. Better yet, maybe you  have something they can borrow and use until you have space to reclaim it.
  • Compare the cost vs. a larger apartment. Sometimes, storage space does make the most financial sense. If you have to rent a larger apartment than you'd otherwise need in order to store essential stuff, $50 a month for storage space may beat $200 a month extra in rent. But if you're living in a condo or townhouse with a homeowners association, ask if they have storage space for rent. It might be cheaper than public storage units.
  • Haggle. According to The New York Times, occupancies at storage facilities nationwide are down 2% to 3%, so your odds of negotiating a better deal have improved. Compare rates and pit them against each other. Start with, where you can search by ZIP code for prices.
  • Check discounts. Some storage companies offer "move-in" specials with discounted rates or maybe a month free. There may be discounts for seniors. Also, Self Storage Association-affiliated storage companies offer military perks.
  • Buy your own. You may be able to fit everything in your garage by buying a few shelving units and plastic bins, or a stand-alone shed. These items may cost more than a couple of months of renting, but save money in the long term.
  • Buy less stuff. The best way to reduce future storage costs is to own less. That sounds obvious, but most of us are a lot better at buying goods than losing them. Be a minimalist, not a hoarder. Your house will look better, you'll feel better, and your bank account will thank you for it.

More on Money Talks News and MSN Money:

Apr 19, 2014 3:02AM
Oh it's very important article I think.You should have a plane for what you want to do.If some one follow the tips I think he will be achievable .The self storage units are growing up day by day.
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