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The financial folly of paying for long term storage

 
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When transitioning in life, many people choose to put belongings into storage. This can be a sensible thing to do,  provided that there is an exit plan. Long term storage is often a big financial drain.

 I was speaking to the owner of a  storage facility.  He told me that about 75% of lockers are occupied by stuff that should never have been kept,  when people moved or closed a business. The long-term storage cost,  exceeds the value of what was stored.  Many of these lockers are abandoned and the contents sold.
........
 If you decide to downsize from a house to an apartment or condo,  don't pay to store unnecessary belongings. Postponing a sale or other means of removing these items from your life,  is expensive.

There may be a few antique items which appreciate with time,  but most household products,  which are the typical storage items,  go down in value.
 ........
By late middle age,  many people have so many belongings that their homes are bursting at the seams. This is also about the time,  when many people lose their parents. Suddenly,  every little item that grandma and grandpa used to have,  is now a cherished family heirloom,  even if it came from Walmart. After a personal loss, the best thing to do,  is get rid of all but the true family keepsakes. Don't make your space unusable, under the weight of too much stuff.  Don't get into long term storage of someone's estate.
.......
  I have many seasonal items which are used for a time, and then put away until next year. When I look at the things that I store for a few months at a time, it often makes sense.

 When I look at things that I have stored for more than five years without using,  I realize that they are not worth the trouble of storage, even for free. My space was wasted.
....... 
Accept the fact,  that things you bought a few years ago,  aren't worth nearly as much now.  Sell them and put a little bit of money in your pocket. Don't chase losses and throw good money after bad.

 If you pay to store these items,  you will probably be heading down a slippery slope of several years of financial leakage.
 
gardener
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Ah, yes, the difficulty of letting go. If you don't want to sell them, they seem so trivial, you can always give them to good will, or another charity. Since itis where I bought most everything I have, I never mind giving it back. I look on Goodwill and other resale places as my own personal storage area, and I only pay "storage" on the things I want to take home and use for awhile.

Thekla
 
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We're now part of a little resale shop here in town. It's a lot easier to let go of stuff if you can get other people to buy it from you.

We also don't pay retail for most things, so we can give away stuff fairly painlessly. Not that we don't have too much stuff, but we're starting to get rid of stuff now at least.

If you must store something, though, rent your friend's garage or attic instead of paying money to someone you don't know. Keep your money in your circle of friends when ever possible.
 
Dale Hodgins
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Someone called me on Friday, to find out if I would help to haul a bunch of furniture to a storage unit. She is moving in, to help her aging mother.

We sat down and did some math. Then we looked on used Victoria, to see how much she would have to pay to replace these items in the future, rather than storing them. She didn't have anything that was worth more than $100.

After appraising everything, we decided that it is all worth about $1600. It would cost at least $100 each way, to haul the stuff

The storage unit is $300 per month.

Case closed.

She is selling some and giving the rest away.

Her mother has better stuff and is likely to die. Once she inherits some nice antique furniture, keeping any of the worn-out 90s furniture makes even less sense.
 
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When we left Juneau, Alaska ten years ago "for the winter" to tend to a bit of eldercare 3,000 miles away, we left two storage units full of household stuff.  It was supposed to be for about five months.

That was right before the 2008 financial crash.  And the eldercare situation was more involved than predicted.  "We'll stay for a year, then go back."

About three years in, it became clear we weren't going back any time soon.  By then the monthly unit fees we'd paid had already exceeded the financial value of the stuff.  "Should we just let the units go to auction?" No -- it turns out that due to our not thinking we were going to be gone for long, there were old family papers and ancestral relics of sentimental value, hard to put a dollar figure on but impossible to abandon.  I could have done it, but it would have hurt; and mine was not the only vote.  

Meanwhile in any given month, it was much cheaper to pay the storage fees than to figure out how to go 3,000 miles to deal with a bunch of stuff.

Finally this spring an opportunity arose.  There was an opportunity to drive a vehicle to Alaska with a paid return airline ticket; a side trip to my storage units was practical.  I ended up spending almost three weeks on transit and sorting the units and selling the contents.

I figure I spent roughly $20,000 dollars on storage fees over a decade.  I realized less than 10% of that, selling the contents.  If I'd spent more time, I might could have gotten a bit more, but nothing that changes the fundamental math.  

I don't kick myself *too* hard; our situation changed after we left, and the original plan made sense.  But it was a very painful trap to be in, once we were in it.  I know I'll think a lot harder before walking into any similar traps in future.
 
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This post came in a timely fashion. I am CT at the moment. I will be heading to ME next spring to put up my place. I do have some things I need to store, mostly hardwood furniture that I would not be able to afford to replace/ build. As far as the rest of the junk, out it goes
Tools excluded, my doctrine will be this , if I have not used it in the past year? Out it goes   I will afford myself the luxury of one box ( banker box size) of childish keep sakes. Lol
 
Dale Hodgins
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Dan learned an important lesson. Selling it was the best thing to do. Some people would have gone there and rented a U-Haul. Then they would have done the extremely long drive along the Alaska Highway, to get into the U.S. by land. Once home, they may have found that there wasn't room for it all.

It's hard for us to get in touch with our future selves. A relative of mine saved several televisions and other appliances, a decade ago, because they were too valuable to let go cheaply. Now you can't give away those big heavy TVs and the other appliances are obsolete. This pile of stuff now has a negative value.

Clothing that doesn't fit now, is unlikely to fit in the future. If it's only a little out of style now, it will be more out of style in the future. Shoes that are stored away for a decade may go so hard that the rubber cracks the first time you use them.
.......
We often hear of the antique that was bought at a yard sale for 10 bucks and then a few years later it's worth thousands. For every story like this, there are countless untold stories of people who bought too much crap and then spent more money to store it, than the original purchase price. And that's just if you store it. Many people live in a house or apartment that is unnecessarily large, just so they can keep all of their life's possessions, and avoid the pain of letting it go.
.......
My friend's town house is worth about $340,000. She has use of approximately half of it, and even then it's tight. Her mother died and left her a bunch of stuff that I have generously appraised at $2,000. So, in order to store this $2,000 windfall, approximately $170,000 worth of Real Estate is not available for the pleasure and comfort of its owner. Sounds crazy doesn't it? Just the annual taxes on that much space, are equal to the value of what is being stored. It is piled so tight, that none of it is in use.
 
Thekla McDaniels
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sad story happening around us more than we know.  Best wishes for your friend.
 
Dan Boone
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Dale Hodgins wrote:A relative of mine saved several televisions and other appliances, a decade ago, because they were too valuable to let go cheaply. Now you can't give away those big heavy TVs and the other appliances are obsolete. This pile of stuff now has a negative value.



The single most painful item in the units was a 36" HDTV made the old-fashioned way.  It weighed more than 200 pounds and cost $700 on clearance at Costco in 2008 (when the flat screen HDTVs were just starting to drop "down" in price).  We had the use of it for about five months before we left town.  

Upon my return in 2017, I knew good and well I literally couldn't give it away.  I did try, and I even found a guy on Facebook who said he wanted it; but it turns out he didn't have even one friend to help him carry it up to his second floor apartment, and his wife was going to be standing there glowering at us if I helped him.  Under those conditions, and because I was already physically exhausted from sorting the units, I declined to help him, and he refused it on a "delivered to the curb" basis.  Fortunately Juneau has an active community hazardous waste collection station that's free up to a certain weekly volume and accepts e-waste, and so I was able to deposit the TV there for free, where a man in a Tyvek suit removed it from the truck for me.  Silly and sad but it met my need of the moment.

On the other hand I actually found quite a few clothes and shoes that were better than the stuff I was wearing; I left that town better clad and shod than I arrived.  Although I did indeed find plenty of age-deteriorated stuff that went straight to the landfill, too.
 
pollinator
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This sums up why I buy antique goods in the first place. It might not be so much the case for every country but antiques here are cheaper than buying new! The way I now 'update' my furniture is by buying older (and consequently usually rarer) pieces. I recently upgraded an early 20th century solid oak table to a 19th century mahogany desk, the profit from selling the table covered the cost of the more functional desk!

If you want to start this technique buy old goods that are good quality but out of fashion. Things made from solid natural materials that absorb blemishes and imperfections with style, so that when you come to sell them they 'tell a story' rather than looking tired. Fashions change quicker than you realise (and not every potential buyer appreciates the latest trends): had I painted that solid oak table like a lot of people would of done at the time, it would have cost me time and money and marks would show up on the now tired painted surfaces affecting it's value/desirability today.
 
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Excellent Topic Dale!

I have been a customer of Uhaul storage and Uhaul rental vehicles for many years. I have had a number of occasions where I had to put things in storage or face losing them because I could not put them in a backpack or next to the couch I was borrowing from a friend. Over the years I have spent tens of thousands of dollars on storage fees and truck rentals moving things in and out of storage. So Much has been wasted in this process. I still have not found a permanent place to be and I still have much in storage about 2500 miles away. It is a challenge only when the things which are being stored cannot be replaced. In a storage in Hamden, CT, I have all of my family artwork, some original artifacts from around the globe, an afghan that would fit a king sized bed that was made for me by a dear friend now gone from this world and many of the tools with which a craftsman can seek gainful pursuits. Some of those things can be replaced but most cannot. I have easily paid for my tools seven fold in storage fees. If I had back every dime I ever spent at Uhaul I could easily buy a piece of land with enough forestry on it to build a weather tight shed large enough to house all of it and myself.

Sometimes I wonder if cutting off everything from my past is the best course of action but My family art is works done by those no longer living and cannot be replaced. Sentimental value is a big thing to address in this topic and I am sure there are voices on both sides of that choice with compelling reason to do or not do in regards to the original and irreplaceable works of family.
 
Dale Hodgins
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If this artwork is of high enough quality, it can lent to a gallery or to one of those art rental places. They insure everything and make sure that the conditions are suitable, probably more suitable than in your average storage locker.

The place for a man's tools are usually somewhere close at hand, so that they can be used. I gave away a perfectly good Beaver Rockwell table saw, when I realized what a storage hassle it would be.

I totally agree on the antique furniture thing, although it is a little off topic. It certainly doesn't deteriorate or depreciate like stuff made of sawdust and glue.

For extreme cases, they would almost be better off if they had a fire, and lost everything in their unit.

Jim, the grandfather of my nephew, has paid to store building materials, for a house that he will never build, for more than 20 years. He is too old. He stored a utility trailer at my farm, until it rotted away. He has held on to a dream, that probably should have ended when his wife left and he was sentenced to raising four children on his own. Those children made some poor reproductive choices, and he took on the job of raising the next generation. Such a nice guy. Such a financial wasteland.
 
pollinator
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I'm glad this topic popped up again.

I recent read the book The Life-changing Magic of Tidying by Mari Kondo which deals with the practical issues of having too much stuff. The most important aspect of this books is that it teaches you how to let go of things, and not let possessions become a millstone that prevents you enjoying life. I thoroughly recommend it.

The core of the idea is that we don't have messy homes because they are untidy. We have messy homes because we have far too much stuff and we cannot find places for everything, no matter how much we try to tidy and store effectively.
 
pollinator
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Since my ex-husband and I split up, I have been purging more and more stuff. I guess it's seems somewhat extreme to my kids, who have claimed that I'm "throwing their lives away". I think my youngest was being a tad dramatic here, but anyway. I told my ex and the kids, that they are welcome to any of this stuff, but they need to take it with them. It's unreasonable for them to expect me to keep it for them. Clutter (stuff) makes me anxious, and I have no need of more anxiety.

My parents have also been doing this, so hopefully, when they pass, most of this stuff will have been already dealt with. So many people seem to think that it's morbid to discuss who gets what when someone dies, but we are all going to die, denial and unpreparedness aren't helpful.

To this end, I've never had long-term storage, and probably never will.
 
Michael Cox
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Stacy Witscher wrote:Since my ex-husband and I split up, I have been purging more and more stuff. I guess it's seems somewhat extreme to my kids, who have claimed that I'm "throwing their lives away". I think my youngest was being a tad dramatic here, but anyway. I told my ex and the kids, that they are welcome to any of this stuff, but they need to take it with them. It's unreasonable for them to expect me to keep it for them. Clutter (stuff) makes me anxious, and I have no need of more anxiety.

My parents have also been doing this, so hopefully, when they pass, most of this stuff will have been already dealt with. So many people seem to think that it's morbid to discuss who gets what when someone dies, but we are all going to die, denial and unpreparedness aren't helpful.

To this end, I've never had long-term storage, and probably never will.



My in laws inherited stuff from their parents, on both sides, in the space of 12 months. Their house has become a storage space for old furniture, books and stuff that they didn't choose but feel obliged to keep. Their small living room, at one count, had 13 wooden chairs in it - not counting the sofa and arm chairs.
 
Dale Hodgins
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Both of my daughters have very healthy relationships with stuff. The oldest one has gone so far as to let everyone know at Christmas time, that the only acceptable gifts are consumables, like chocolate, or household supplies." Don't give me anything that you expect me to keep", is her motto. Both girls have taught overseas, and can travel with just a carry-on bag.

Most of their furniture are things that were found at my jobs or for free on used Victoria. All perfectly acceptable stuff, and all will be given away, should the need arise.

We have often discussed the Littles. They built a 5600 square foot house, and filled it with stuff. The stuff doesn't serve them. They serve the stuff.
 
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I have a storage locker in Miami utterly stuffed with boat gear. I pay $34.24 a month to keep the dream that I will sail the Caribbean again.

At the time that I was stripping my boat I put some of the oversized or very heavy gear in among the mangroves.
Last year I was in Miami and all the stuff in the mangroves was still there. I should have put it all there!

 
Dale Hodgins
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Around here, many people go to their friend's acreage and make a big pile that is covered with a tarp. This works in the short-term, but in the long run, it often serves to feed the worms and cover the Earth with little pieces of plastic that have decayed in the sun.
......
I have a storage locker and I pay $200 per month. I have a couple of different jobs that use vastly different tools. Sometimes I'm a Demolition and Salvage guy. Other times I am a tree and hedge guy. I also come upon free items at my jobs, that don't sell immediately. These items along with whichever set of tools I am not currently using, are stored on a very short-term basis. Still, the storage can sometimes get clogged up. Then it's time to pack up a load and take it to an active demolition sale, where I can turn it into money that fits easily into my pocket.
.........
I don't currently pay for anywhere for me to live. I manage fine with my vehicle and the buildings I work on. A very basic apartment in this city is about $700 per month. My $200 storage expenditure,  helps to make this possible.
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I have no attachment to this stuff. It's just an awkward form of money
 
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Michael Cox wrote:
I recent read the book The Life-changing Magic of Tidying by Mari Kondo



I also found KonMari to be a game changer.  My life tended to be cluttered, with surfaces "stuffing over" and even "suffalanches" (avalanches of things).  One day my better half came home to me cackling with glee over one of her youtube videos.  He thought I was nuts, but assented to giving it a shot.  Honestly I only tried it because it looked bonkers and I wanted a laugh.  6 months later our home appears Sooooo much better, we have less stress because less time is dedicated to maintaining piles of possessions  (or dreading the chore of it) and it feels like we're much "richer" possession wise because we can actually find what we are looking for.

But it does require work as somehow detritus accumulates like barnacles on a hill.
 
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Dale Hodgins wrote:
My friend's town house is worth about $340,000. She has use of approximately half of it, and even then it's tight. Her mother died and left her a bunch of stuff that I have generously appraised at $2,000. So, in order to store this $2,000 windfall, approximately $170,000 worth of Real Estate is not available for the pleasure and comfort of its owner. Sounds crazy doesn't it? Just the annual taxes on that much space, are equal to the value of what is being stored. It is piled so tight, that none of it is in use.



If she's able to live in half the house, then presumably she only ever needed half the house she has.  Imagine if she had only bought a $170k house and invested the other $170k when she bought it - how much money would she have now?  It's math like this that makes me appreciate the Mr. Money Mustache site - he really hammers on points like these.

Marie Kondo is good, too, if taken with a grain of salt.  Her first book makes no mention of kids' stuff, for example.
 
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My Momma passed away a couple of years ago now, and all she left was her worn out car, family pictures, and a storage unit on the other side of the state. The car has been sold, the family photos are being uploaded to digital form so that everyone in our large family has equal access. As for the storage unit, I loathe to abandon it. And with being cash poor, I haven't been able to spend the few weeks needed to sort through everything, and finally get rid of it. I did do the math on moving it closer to me, but with our housing crisis, storage units are doubled than what I'm paying now. So there it sits, until we get a stable place to live, and a garage that will serve as the sorting room. And no, my large family is useless in helping out.

Suddenly, every little item that grandma and grandpa used to have, is now a cherished family heirloom, even if it came from Walmart.


But I did figure out the magic formula to let go of every little item that I wanted to turn into a cherished family heirloom. See, my problem, wasn't the value, my problem was the memory that each object held for me. I would remember her using it, or wearing it, or one of her quirks that was related to it. So once I realized that, I knew that my impulse to keep the object was really me trying to keep the memory. My magic formula: write it down in a designated notebook. Take pictures, sketch it out, write down every thought/memory that you have. Then take the object, thank it for it's usefulness, and then give it away to be useful for someone else. That has helped me tremendously to get rid of the few car loads of boxes I brought over already. And all I have is the most "valuable" objects left that have been incorporated into my household, and a tiny blue notebook holding my momma's memories.
 
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Notes to self:

1.  Purge your crap.  Simplicity = freedom.

2.  When you think you've purged enough, purge some more.  

3.  Don't forget what a pain in the ass it was to have to clear up your father-in-laws piles and piles and piles of crap at his house all those years ago.  You don't want to leave your kids with that nightmare like you were left with.

4.  Stuff does not = security.  Hoarding is an anxiety response.  Rather than accumulate more crap, get some help.  Counseling is far less expensive in the long run than renting a storage unit.  

5.  By getting rid of much of the stuff that adds no value to your life, you'll enjoy the stuff you keep so much more.  

6.  An hour of sorting and purging will pay itself back in the months and years to come when you can immediately go into your closet or garage and find exactly what you need.  

7.  When in doubt, throw it out.  If you haven't worn it in 3 years, give it away.  
 
pollinator
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Thanks to Steven Kovacs for making me look at Mr Money Mustache. It's only been a couple of months but the info on that site has had a huge effect on us.
 
Dale Hodgins
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I have helped to completely renovate two of the three floors in my friend's overstuffed townhouse. There is still too much stuff, but the quantity has been trimmed quite a bit. It started off with me getting a really good batch of recycled oak flooring. Floors, walls and ceilings have all been redone, with plaster patching and paint, new trim and replacement of 40 year old plugs and switches. There will be a grand unveiling at her birthday party next month. She now has easy access to 80% of her space. This is the first facelift this place has had since it was built in 1974.

Before the floors were done, I got a 5 year old kitchen, with good quality cupboards, four stainless steel appliances and stone countertops from one of my demolitions. The old cupboards and appliances were some of the worst I've ever seen. This was the starting point for a complete rethinking of how she uses this space.

Expensive living space, was serving as storage space. Out-of-town visitors will no longer have to stay in motels, and the extra bedroom will also serve as a painting and sewing room. We have this storage hassle largely conquered.
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Shiny new cupboards and a glass top stove.
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We
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This awesome batch of Oak, didn
 
pollinator
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Perhaps this thread still breathes. I have my homesteading tools, materials, equipment, solar energy system, and motorhome stored at a farm for $75/month. The stuff is in 3 trailers. Everything has wheels under it. I was hoping to find a place to go do permaculture by now. Set up a "instant homestead" while I build a cabin and rocket stove, etc. The storage has added up over 3 years to around $3000 so I am getting concerned. But I'm not complaining because the farm owner let's me stay there a month or two free in the Summer.  It's a bargain. Now I'm in in the AZ desert with my camper van and cargo trailer wondering where to go. I have a cabin in N. Idaho secured for $300/month. It seems I'm recovering from some health concerns. There's nothing like health to force one to reconsider things. Should I move everything from W. Washington over to N. Idaho? I suppose it's only about 400 miles. My budget is tight.
Isn't it ironical how we spend years collecting things. I was into alternative energy systems. And hot water heating heat exchangers, etc. Some fine day I'll build a great rocket stove hot water system and soak to my hearts content.
One thing to remember is if you need to move start selling long before. Carefully collected valuable things take time to sell for what they are worth. I was forced to sell my laboriously collected clear yellow cedar boat building lumber for a fraction of its worth. Pass it forward sometimes.
 
I promise I will be the best, most loyal friend ever! All for this tiny ad:
Rocket Mass Heater Manual - now free for a while
https://permies.com/goodies/8/rmhman
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