Is Offsite Storage a Practical Expense?

My husband and I have a long-standing war over stuff. Hubby is practical and sentimental and I am unemotional and crave freedom from things that weigh me down… things like stuff.

When we aren’t using an object, my unemotional hands try to fling it to the nearest trash can. Hubby’s sentimental side compels him to say, “But wait, those are my great-grandmother’s baby shoes!” When we have stored goods that may be needed someday but aren’t needed right this minute, I feel like a lead ball has been attached to my hip and I start placing the objects in boxes so they can go to the nearest thrift store. Hubby’s practical nature makes him interrupt me and suggest that we might just use the item another time, so maybe we should hold onto it for a little while.

028 Repetition

As much as I hate to admit it, my husband is usually right about what we should and shouldn’t throw out, and I am usually wrong — but that doesn’t mean that we have a public storage space for all the stuff sage hubby is convinced we should keep. Instead, we agreed on what spaces would be used for storage inside the house and we have limited what we keep to what fits in those areas. It wasn’t easy for us to do and it took years of prioritizing and compromise — but we did it.

The recent rash of Public Storage commercials on television would have you believe that you should just place everything you aren’t currently using in storage; your new spouses old furniture, your kid’s old toys, your stuffed deer head wall hanging and so on. While that might be nice for their bottom line, the truth is that paying for storage on goods you aren’t using is usually a bad idea. But how do you know whether or not you actually should pay for offsite storage? Before putting an item into an offsite storage unit, ask yourself some of the following questions:

1. Is the item you want to store irreplaceable and sentimental? It goes without saying that picture albums, some baby clothes, baby shoes and other objects of high sentimental value should be cherished. Generally, these small and emotionally valuable items should be kept safe at home whenever possible.

2. Will you ever use the item again? If you have large antiques that you need to store and that are likely to spend the next 20 years in that storage unit, you may be better off selling them. If you have to pay $25 a month to store your great-grandmother’s antique dining room table for the next 20 years, you are going to spend $6,000 keeping a table in a dark, offsite unit. Why? Your kid’s old toys, your pre-marriage furniture—anything that you really won’t have a practical use for in the near future does not belong in storage.

3. If you think you will use the item eventually, how much will you be spending on storing it until that time? Let’s say you have some small kitchen appliances that you aren’t using and you want to store. You think you may use them in 9 months when the holidays roll around and you agree to store them in a small unit for a cost of $10 per month. Over 9 months you will spend $90 on the unit. If the value of the items you store far exceeds that $90 then it could be worthwhile to place them in storage.

Remember, that monthly price tag for your storage unit may seem small, but it adds up over the years. Often that money is much more valuable when used to help fund your retirement plan or pay off debt.

Photo credit: RemijanPhoto

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Author Info

This post was written by Yolander Prinzel. Yolander is a financial writer as well as a series 7, 66 and 2-15 licensed representative. During her decade of financial industry experience she has been an insurance agency director of marketing and director of operations, a life insurance underwriter, and a trading service specialist for Raymond James Financial Services. She was a featured speaker at the 2006 Hartford National Sales Conference and the 2006 Brookstreet Securities Annual Conference. Check out her portfolio at YolanderPrinzel.com

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