In America, it appears we are not wired to let things go. We see value in everything, and as a result we’ve turned ourselves into a nation of collectors (or maybe more accurately, a nation of packrats). What’s worse, our love affair with stuff has seemingly taken on the guise of a national pastime. But in some sad cases, it’s become an obsession.
Not only do we like to collect our own stuff, we like to marvel at other people collecting stuff. We have social media platforms like Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram where people go to admire others collections of items of a shared interested. Video games collections, stamps, cars and guns. The landscape of collectibles is as varied as it is vast.
But I’m not alone. Many, many of us are such avid collectors of things we can’t bear to get rid of that an entire industry has sprung up to meet our ever growing need to store.
Where to Put It All?
According to the Self Storage Association, the US now has 2.3 billion square feet of self storage space. That comes out to 78 square miles of storage space. In perspective, that comes out to 7.3 square feet of storage space for every man, woman and child. There are now nearly 50,000 self storage facilities in this country where 50 years ago there were none. In comparison, there are less than 10,000 self storage facilities scattered throughout the rest of the world. As a nation, we’re shelling out more than $22 billion a year to have someone else store our things.
That’s a lot of money. So if we are going to utilize self storage, here are a few tips to make the most of it.
Is It Worth It?
Here are a few questions to ask yourself to see if your things are worth storing.
When is the last time I used this? Think hard on this one. Do you really need to hang on to those clothes you haven’t worn in five years? When was the last time that bicycle saw the road? If you haven’t used something in quite a while, realistically you won’t use it again. So why spend the money to store it?
Why do I want to keep this? Be honest here. This is a really good question to help you figure out if this belonging is worth the price of storing it. If it has true sentimental value, then by all means keep it. Otherwise, if it’s little more than a worn out piece of furniture that seems important only because it’s been around forever, let it go.
Will this gain value over time if I hang on to it? This is a zinger question. Many of the items we squirrel away, we do so believing they will be worth something someday. Unless one of your hobbies is tracking antique furniture or the like, you’re better off selling it now rather than hoping to make a small fortune down the road.
Do I foresee using this in the future? Maybe is not an answer. Hanging on to that old jacket from the good ol’ days in the hopes it comes back into fashion isn’t an excuse. Holiday decorations, on the other hand, are perfect candidates for a storage unit.
Can someone else use this more than me? If in doubt about keeping an item, donate it or put it up for sale. Opportunities abound to sell unwanted items online or by an old fashioned yard sale. Bring out the entrepreneur in yourself and unload some baggage at the same time.
How much storage do I need? Now that you’ve whittled down the things that you are going to keep in storage, the next step is to figure out how much storage space you actually need. Will a unit the size of a small closet work? How often do you plan to enter your storage unit? Also, keep in mind that over time, you are likely to add more to the unit than you take out.
These are just a few questions to ask yourself and consider when thinking about renting a storage unit for your extra belongings.