Do You Have Too Much Crap? – Money Wasted on Self-Storage

have ya got too much crap

This is a post by husband Aaron. I love it when he writes posts:D – Anna


Humans have been finding ways to store items for various reasons since the beginning of time. The Egyptians stashed bodies, entrails and other goodies in the Great Pyramids. The ancient chinese buried seeds and other treasures in terra-cotta pots in large underground storage areas. Pirates knew the benefits of hiding one’s plunder at remote, exotic locales. We often even go into death with some of our most prized possessions by our side in the last storage unit we’ll ever know… the coffin. In modern times we store our excess collectibles not in pits marked with an “X” on the map, but in huge, over-priced climate controlled buildings with big orange doors.

Do you have too much crap?… 

It’s no secret that we humans are pack rats, we are hardwired to collect things because of the notion that in American society, more is better. The more we own the more successful we feel. Due to the human need to collect stuff a whole new industry was born. Self-storage. It’s hard to pin down an exact date when the first self storage unit popped onto the scene but the general consensus seems to be that the first official modern storage unit open in Texas in the 1960s and were little more than prefab tin garages built on the outskirts of towns. Others say the first open in Fort Lauderdale, Florida in 1958 and, apparently, it is still in business today. The reason self-storage units came into existence is a debatable subject as well, but the driving factor is consumerism. We Americans spend more money on consumer goods than any other country in the world. We have collected so much stuff that we can no longer contain our possessions in one spot. We are forced to rent out a few extra square footage at some off site storage facility and go visit our precious items on the weekends. We essentially have begun renting our useless stuff their own little apartments, complete with climate controlled environments (our house doesn’t have central air, let alone guards and security monitors). Isn’t it a strange concept that our junk would reside in a safer, more comfortable environment than we do?

According to the SSA‘s (Self Storage Association) website the self storage industry is one of the fastest growing sects of the commercial real estate market in the US over the last 35 years with annual gross revenues of 22.45 billion dollars. The self storage industry is considered to be “recession resistant” by many Wall Street analysts since one out of every 10 homes currently rents a storage unit, and as of June 6th 2012, there are about. 2.3 billion sq. feet of rental space in the US, which is roughly 3 times that of Manhattan island. To put it another way, there is 7.3 sq. feet of self storage space available for every person (man, women, and child) in the nation. Operators of self storage facilities report occupancy levels to be at 90%.

All this makes me think that we all just have too much stuff. Think about how much time, energy and money is wasted housing objects that we care so little about, we don’t mind if they are sitting across town in a dark (albeit air-conditioned and secure) storage unit.

Do we own our possessions, or do they own us?

Simplicity, needs over wants, and frugality can all keep us from living under the control of our possessions and from being shackled by our debt.

 

Do you really need everything that own? Do you have a storage unit? And have you determined how much it’s cost you to store your stuff?

(We were shocked when we added it up for our old storage unit. See this related post: Cleaning Out the Storage Unit to Save)

10 comments

10 thoughts on “Do You Have Too Much Crap? – Money Wasted on Self-Storage

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  1. Lindsey

    I have never had a storage unit, but as a single person living in a large house, I had the entire house filled with my possessions. One day I realized how little I used most of my things, how cluttered they made my house and more importantly how overwhelmed they made me mentally. So I embarked on a project to really declutter my like and simplify my home and the things I own. 3 years later, I have donated/sold/given away two thirds of my possessions, I rarely shop, I lack for nothing yet I own very little. Truthfully, I am still decluttering because I still feel the urge to simplify more. Best decision of my life, it has changed almost every other aspect of my life and has made me a much more content person. A lot of times, less really is more.

    Reply
    1. Anna Newell Jones Post author

      Thanks for telling us your experience; that’s so cool that you’ve been able to get rid of so much stuff. It’s amazing how getting rid of crap frees the mind. I found that to be true in my life too. Less stuff to take care of, manage, maintain, re-arrange, think about… gah. So much better with less…

      Reply
  2. Money Beagle

    I’m of the opinion that storage units should be used for transition periods, like if you’re moving or in a temporary location. If you’re getting one simply because you have too much stuff to fit in your living space, then you need to start looking at ways to cut back instead.

    Reply
  3. Meghan

    I’m totally torn on this one! I just moved to DC, where I am now sharing an apartment and am living in a 11×10 room + bathroom. I am saving a bunch by having roommates, but not all my stuff fits! The idea is to save until I can buy a house. The storage costs $100 a month, which is no small amount of money! My bike is stored in there. I have extra pictures that I will use when I have more wall space. Let’s see… there’s the trunk and a box from childhood that my parents wanted out of their basement, camping chairs, a cabinet that I would like to somehow fit in the apartment, 2 tubs of Christmas stuff, a bin with house stuff, and a bunch of empty plastic bins (plus other stuff, of course). It does fill the 8×7 cage. Since I need a home for a couple things, I’ve kept all of it. I probably don’t need to pay to store plastic bins but I guess it keeps me from having to buy lots of boxes?

    I guess I’m justifying this by thinking that once I have a normal-sized space (800 sq ft or so), I can ditch the storage?

    Reply
    1. Anna Newell Jones Post author

      An idea is to go through the stuff, get rid of (sell or donate) what you don’t like or want anymore so you can get a smaller, less expensive unit. I think the key is to not become complacent with having a storage unit. If you just let stuff stay there forever and really have no idea what’s in there then it’s just a waste of money but if the storage unit is used as short-term, temporary solution then I don’t think that’s a problem. Just got to weigh it all.

      Reply
  4. Betsy / CollegeMom

    Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes! I have too much crap. I can’t believe I’m in the middle of culling hundreds of craft books and magazines I’ve collected for the past 38 years (I’m old and started collecting when I was 12!) and I decided to scan in the patterns I want to keep and get rid of the magazines. I know that nursing homes like things like this, so I will starting donating them as I finish with them.

    Once I’ve finished with these I’m starting on books, geegaws, doodads and gadgets! maybe if I start now we’ll be ready to downsize in 15 years.

    Reply
    1. Anna Newell Jones Post author

      Awesome! I bet the people at the nursing homes will appreciate the donations. Can you get a tax receipt slip for donating at a nursing home? Might be something to ask them for…

      Reply
  5. Johnny Shi

    The question you ask at the end of your article: “Do you really need everything that you own?” really stuck out to me. I do have a lot of things that I love and have sentimental value but I don’t want to be a “pack rat” like you said. Maybe keeping things more simple can help me understand what my needs or wants are and I can go from there.

    Reply
  6. Brandon Roberts

    Yes, I have too much crap in my home. And I am not sure on what I should do with it. I have always thought of using a self storage unit, but I want to make sure that that would be a good idea and worth my money. It is mind blowing to think that their is 7.3 sq. feet of storage for every single person in the nation. I had no idea that their was that much extra storage. I am defiantly going to begin using one because I think it would help me out a lot. Thanks a bunch for these tips.

    Reply

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