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.
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 SelfStorage.com, 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:
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