America’s Biggest Money Wasters – We Got A Storage Unit

Storage units. UGH! I hate them!

I firmly believe renting storage units is one of America’s biggest money wasters.

Why should anyone spend anywhere from fifty to hundreds of dollars each month to put stuff somewhere other than their house?

Why Storage Units Are A Waste

So why do I think storage units are a waste of money? You pay someone each month to keep your stuff you don’t want in your house. Think about that for a minute.

The stuff you put in a storage unit isn’t important enough for you to have access to it at your home. Why would you keep it? Instead, someone will pay $50 to $100 per month, or $600 to $1,200 per year to keep that stuff somewhere else.

Chances are, the stuff in the storage unit isn’t even worth the money you’re paying to store it.

I personally know someone who put a bunch of their stuff in storage 8 years ago because they wanted to go through it and sell the valuable items before they got rid of the rest of the junk. Their storage unit costs roughly $100 per month and they still have it today.

They’ve paid $9,600 to store their stuff which has no hope of selling for anywhere near $9,600.

If they just threw the stuff away or donated it when they originally got the storage unit and saved the $100 per month, they could have bought a decent used car in cash today!

Exception = Temporary Storage

There is one main exception where I think a storage unit is acceptable. The key to correctly using storage units is only using them for a set temporary period of time.

Without a plan for when you’ll quit renting a storage unit, you’ll likely end up like the person above that still has their storage unit, and their junk, 8 years later. Instead, if the person set a 1 year limit, they’d already have gotten rid of their stuff and saved $8,400.

Why We Broke Down And Got A Storage Unit

Even though I hate storage units, I have to admit that my wife and I finally broke down and rented one. We recently put our house up on the market and had to do some major decluttering for our home to show well.

That means we had to find a place to move a bunch of our stuff in short notice.

The thing is, we’re going to want to keep all of our stuff and furniture while we wait for our new house to get built, even though we’ll be living in smaller places in between when this house sells and our house is built.

Normally, I’d say someone should sell stuff rather than put it in storage. However, selling our stuff now, only to buy it again in a few months made no sense whatsoever.

We ran the numbers and renting a storage unit was a much cheaper option. We’re also sticking to my advice above and we won’t be keeping our storage unit indefinitely.

As soon as our new house is built, we’re moving everything out of our storage unit and hopefully we won’t be renting another storage unit for a long time, if ever.

If you think you need a storage unit, think long and hard before you start renting one.

Chances are once you start renting a storage unit, you’ll be paying that storage unit bill for years. Instead, find a creative way to either get rid of whatever you’d put in storage or come up with a concrete short term plan.

Have you ever rented a storage unit? Are you still renting one today? If so, what’s in the storage unit that is so important?

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About Lance Cothern

Lance Cothern, a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) licensed in the Commonwealth of Virginia, is the founder of Money Manifesto. You can read more about him here or connect with him on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or Pinterest.


  1. Totally agree about paying money to store stuff you don’t want at your house. Why keep it? We did have a storage unit for about 2 months when we were moving from one house to another. We put things like the snow blower etc. there that took up space where we could put moving boxes. Had it about 2 months and then let it go after we moved.

  2. Agreed! I’ve only paid for a storage unit once, when I was in college. I was planning to fly home for the summer, so I couldn’t pack everything up in a car, but didn’t want to sell/trash all my winter clothes and dorm stuff either. I split a small storage unit in my college town with three other friends for the summer. It was great because we were able to split the cost four ways, and it had a CLEAR deadline – when fall semester started, we cleared out the unit and closed out the contract. It was also great to have the extra accountability – if one person had wanted to keep their stuff in the unit a little longer, the other three people would have said “no way – I’m not paying for that!”

  3. Ahhhh we’ve been debating this over and over! We are similarly situated– getting ready to move and need to declutter! What ultimately put you over the edge that it was worth it to store? How confident are you in the numbers you ran?

    • I’m really confident in the numbers we ran. We had two full size couches in our living room and while it worked for us and made the space cozy, (how we wanted it) it didn’t look good for people looking to buy our home. We probably could have sold the couch, but it matched the couch we were keeping and we would have lost much more just on the couch alone than the cost of the storage unit for a few months. To make things even more complicated, we’ll be downsizing to our rental property which is 700 sq ft smaller once our current house sells, but before our new house is built. We’ll be selling the rental while we’re living in it, so that will need to feel open, too. There is simply no room for all of our stuff in the rental, so a storage unit was really our only option.

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