Cleaning Out The Storage Unit To Save Money

anna newell jones storage unit

Cleaning out the storage unit was kind of terrible but we made it through. We never anticipated having a storage unit for long but month after month (and 1 1/2 years later) we found we were still shelling out $77 every month for it (!). So we paid $1,386 to store our crap. Talk about a waste of money! *head shakes with disgust*

I justified it just like it’s so easy to do with so many other things. These were the reasons I decided we needed the storage unit back when we got it:

  • “I need this stuff!”
  • “These things are cute!
  • “These things cost money!”
  • “I don’t waste things!”
  • “I’m not going to get rid of this thing if we’ll just need to re-buy it again! Why do that!?!”
  • “We won’t have the storage unit for long, it’s not going to be a long-term thing…”
  • “I’m just not ready to part with this stuff.”
  • “Um, this thing is part of my memories and if I give this up then I might gradually start forgetting my life. I don’t want to forget my life.”
  • “I need these old Domino magazines because I might need to paint or decorate something someday and I need them for reference, d’uh.”
  • “We don’t have the space to store all this stuff in our place so OBVIOUSLY a storage unit is needed!”

You know how this story ends. It ends with the stuff still sitting there not being used and gathering up a soft velvety blanket of dust. I was finally at the point where I was ready to DE-CLUTTER, DO WITHOUT and TAKE ACTION!

Well, let’s not get rash… I wasn’t ready to get rid of ALL of it but I was ready to down-size on the crap. I made piles and put a lot of it in a “Yard Sale” box, and even put some of it right into the trash if I thought no one would be able to get any use out of it. I went through all of my childhood and high school stuff and that was a very large process. You know that stuff that is just automatically transported from place to place because it is easier to do that than to actually you know, GO THROUGH IT FOR REAL? That stuff- I actually dealt with it- old notes, old photos, old schoolwork, old certificates, old paperwork, old knick-knacks, old everything.

It was time to clear out and it was time to take this “responsibility thing” up another notch.

Luckily, we have a little itty bitty and free (!) storage unit that came along with our place. We used to keep our bikes in it but we re-thought that and decided to use it for what it was intended for – you know, storage! D’oh.

We got a few of those plastic stackable bins (so we could be done with the cardboard boxes that tear and get buggy) and we got ourselves organized. It’s such a nice feeling to have it all in one (free) place BUT the absolute BEST part is to not be spending that crazy amount of money every month! That means more money is getting saved and that is an awesome feeling!

Next, it’s time to get a Yard Sale together, and it’s time to try to make some cash from my junk. Now… does anyone need an instant trophy collection or an instant vintage fan collection? ;)

Do you have a storage unit? If you do have a storage unit have you calculated how much it has cost over the years? Is it more than you thought it was?

P.S. Looking to declutter and minimize? CLICK HERE to learn about the Fearless Minimalist Guide


13 thoughts on “Cleaning Out The Storage Unit To Save Money

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  1. Stephanie HAefner

    Yay for you!! Ever watch that show on History Channel, I think, where the guys go and buy unclaimed storage units?? Really addictive show.

    We have never had a storage unit…always been pretty good at getting rid f things I don't need…though my husband my beg to differ!! he would toss a lot of my stuff if I let him. But we have an attic and that's what attics are for!

  2. Karen Peterson

    I think I just fell in love with you.

    Another blogger directed me this way and I'm SO glad. For starters, I have a storage unit that I really need to get rid of. And you've inspired me to do it fast!

  3. Hana

    I had a storage unit when I graduated college and moved back in with my parents. When I finally moved out of my parents house into this teeny, tiny apartment, most of my crap went into their garage. (At least I wasn't paying money anymore). But just this past summer, I finally decided to revisit all that forgotten stuff in their garage – sounds like it was a lot of the same stuff you had – old schoolwork, evidence of my previous Hanson obsession, etc. But previously, I really did feel like, "Oh my gosh I'm going to forget my life!" (I laughed when I got to that spot in your post). It finally all went in the trash, and it felt so good. And my mom could park her car in the garage again :)

  4. Rich

    I've never really understood the storage unit thing. Of course, I live in a house with a basement and a garage which often looklike storage units. My guess is that I have way more stuff without a storage unit than you did with your storage unit.

    Which brings me to the main point of this post. While we are all here because we are, or have been, in debt, for me at least debt is not the problem. I started thinking a lot about this last summer when my garage was had stacks of boxes 6 feet high with small aisles running between them; think pictures of the house of a hoarder you might have seen on TV. Debt is not the problem. I believe it is a symptom of a life out of balance. When this first dawned on me I looked around and started to see how crazy our life was by design, or maybe by lack of design. I commute 120 miles (RT) to work, my wife commutes about 45. She worked 12 hour shifts several days per week and was in school on the others. Our kids were in daycare 5 days per week. We had a babysitter picking our kids up at daycare, bringing them home and feeding them. After dinner I typically worked to midnight. Weekends were spent catching up to do it all again. We were existing, not living. The result of such a life is that we were accumulating stuff but did not have any time to use or enjoy it. We barely had any time to spend together. So when I saw a garage full of stuff I had no time to use, it woke me up. It was s sign of how crazy life was; how out of balance it was.

    When we were first married, we lived in a small apartment, made 1/5th of what we do now, and had very, very little crap. And we were happy. Granted, some of that was being newlyweds, but I see now that a large part was the simplicity of life. More stuff has definitely not meant more happiness. It seems that once basic needs are met, including some basic entertainment/fun needs, beyond that more stuff starts detracting from enjoying life because it all must be paid for and maintained.

    Years ago there was a show called Clean Sweep, where they would go into peoples houses and help them get rid of their unused stuff. I loved that show, I think because it was the first glimmer of awareness in myself that something was wrong with our life balance. One thing that they taught was that if there is some item you really want to keep, either honor it (e.g., display it in a prominent place in your home) or use it. Otherwise, get rid of it. Don't store it in a box, garge or storage unit. That is the simplicity I am aiming for again. Getting out of debt is just one piece of this vary large puzzle.

  5. Serendipity

    Growing up, my parents always had a storage. Nevermind the fact that we had a three bedroom townhouse with a two car garage. My parents were clutterbugs and I didn't realize until I was 21 they had passed it down to me. I've worked really hard on it but it's hard seeing how my fiancee is kind of like that too. It's hard to imagine paying someone to hold your stuff, if it's stuff you don't really need. Good job on decluttering and hopefully you can make some money selling some stuff. :)

  6. Oggie

    My friend's older sister was featured on your blog today and I've been madly reading your posts all evening!

    This entry really hit home for me! I don’t have a storage unit, but I do have patient
    parents who have a few of my boxes in their attic (alright, so I have a free storage
    unit)…and I have a basement of disorganized boxes full of memories I can’t seem to get rid of. I’ve had the exact same thoughts go through my mind, excuses to keep ahold of “things.” What if I forget that funny note my best friend and I wrote to each other in history class in eighth grade? Gotta keep it. What happens if there is a good craft in that magazine and that’s my ticket to earning extra money on Etsy? Gotta keep it. I spent hard-earned money on this candle-holder, and just because it’s not my style anymore doesn’t mean it’s trash. I’m keeping it. I’d hate to hurt my mother’s feelings and get rid of this burnt-orange, Coldwater Creek suit jacket (Coldwater Creek even though I’m only 27) she bought me even though I don’t like it and I’ll never wear it…but what if I can use that fabric for a project? I should probably keep it.

    In my heart of hearts, I’d love to be a person who would be able to leave it all and fly off somewhere if I had the chance. But maybe it’s because I don’t make a lot of money, so I equate “getting rid of” and “throwing out” with loss of money. Or maybe it’s because I don’t want to hurt my mother or grandmother or sister’s feelings when they get me something, even though I don’t love it (again, it’s free so I should take it, right?). How does someone get over those ridiculous thoughts?

    Rich is probably right; these feelings toward “stuff” are just symptoms of something out of balance. Holding on and not letting go, wanting to remember an experience so badly I have to keep the things that remind me of it, etc. etc. How do I get over that, though? My boyfriend throws anything and everything out. And while we both hate clutter, he doesn’t have shoeboxes full of junior high notes to friends. How is he able to disconnect? (I sure hope he doesn’t go through my craft drawer when I’m not looking!!!) Someone tell me how!!! While I’m so afraid of debt that it keeps me from doing things or going back to school, my bigger fear is that I can’t learn to simplify.

    I will keep reading and look for ideas! Thanks so much for documenting this experience!

  7. amy t schubert

    My husband and I moved from a 2-bedroom townhouse to a bedroom in his parents house (for a job) and put nearly all our belongings in storage.

    We *just* bought a house and were able to reclaim all our things. Feels SO good to not be paying that storage fee.

    But now we need to go through it all and see if we still want/need it 4 years later.

    (note: Our mortgage (4bdrm house) is about the same amount we were paying for a 1bdrm apartment + storage unit before. Deal!)

  8. aminorfigure

    I’ve never understood people who keep a storage unit!!! I had one once, when I graduated from college and immediately left for a two-month-long summer program, after which I would be moving in with my boyfriend in a new city in an apartment that wasn’t available yet. But that was to keep all of my things in while we weren’t living in our new place yet. I don’t understand people who live in small apartments and keep half their stuff in storage units indefinitely. If it’s not in your house, you probably won’t ever bother going all the way to the storage unit to retrieve it, just so you can use the fancy fondue pot for your Saturday night dinner party. (Or whatever.) You’ll just make something else instead. And if you live without whatever it is indefinitely, chances are, you don’t really need it at all. My boyfriend and his family are SUCH pack rats–it drives me crazy. He found out last Thanksgiving that their family was keeping their photo albums in a (non-climate-controlled, probably-filled-with-cockroaches) storage unit, while all sorts of other non-sentimental crap (broken Christmas decorations, half-finished 20-year-old woodworking projects, etc) had made the cut to stay in the house. He was furious, obviously. And I just don’t get the point.

    1. Anna Newell Jones Post author

      Ohhh, I’d be upset about the photo albums being the storage unit too! It’s hard to break the “gotta keep it” attitude. Whenver I need a good kick in the butt about keeping too much stuff I watch a couple episodes of Hoarders and it gets me back on track;)

  9. Sandra Drake

    Thank you for the great advices! It can be really difficult to manage the storage when you are used to all the stuff you have.


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