You’ve Paid How Much to Store That?

Many people would not think of missing an episode of Storage Wars on television. It’s an entertaining program that is part real and part Hollywood. Certainly, storage auctions are real. They happen every day across the country. However, the odds of finding a Picasso or some other treasure is more Hollywood than reality.

I have bought a few storage units, but not many. What I find is that the units are more likely to hold old moldy clothes, dirty mattresses, and old style TVs that no one wants. I paid more in dump fees than I paid for the unit in many cases. While I’m sure some people make a good living buying these units, it cannot be an easy way to make a living.

However, the point of this post isn’t about the people who buy storage units but those who pay money to hold on to junk. Why would anyone pay rent every month to store dirty mattresses, broken appliances, and other trash? These units are not inexpensive.

A gentleman wanted me to buy the contents of his storage unit one day. After looking at what it contained I made him a reasonable offer. He refused the offer saying he had already paid nearly $2,000.00 over the past couple of years to store it. He had paid far more than what the items were worth, but he could not understand he would never recoup that money, and every month he would go further in the hole. As far as I know, he might still be shelling out money every month to keep items he’ll never use again.

Are there legitimate reasons to rent a storage unit? Sure. My daughter and her family go to the beach a few times a year. They rented a small unit to keep their bicycles, beach chairs, and other items they use while on vacation. The cost of that small unit is more than offset by not having to put a bike rack on their car to haul their good bikes back and forth. They picked up some used bikes for $8.00-10.00 each, and they can just leave them in the unit. They keep some of their beach clothes there too. For a family of five it makes it much easier to pack and travel to not have to haul everything back and forth.

A storage unit can also be a good temporary place to keep items if you’re moving into a smaller place. It’s not uncommon for people downsizing to think they will have more room for their treasures than they will. Once you find out everything isn’t going to fit in your new home, you have to do something with it. Renting a storage unit is a good temporary fix.

However, the key word is temporary. If you are not going to be able to use something, you need to sell it, give it away, or pitch it. Based on the storage units I’ve seen, much of it should go to the dump, a lot of it could be donated to a charity, and the remainder sold. Even if it didn’t bring much it would be better than spending good money to hold on to something that will never bring much!

As I said last week in a post, there are many ways to sell your treasures, but the quickest and simplest is probably by auction. That way you have a set date as to when your items will be gone, and you’ll know when you can finish needing to spend money on a storage unit. Don’t be offended if the auctioneer isn’t interested in taking everything in the unit. Like I said, only a small percentage of items in many units have any value. He or she will take what they believe will sell, and you will need to dispose of the remainder. That’s something you should have done anyway.

If you live near me and have a storage unit, feel free to call for my advice on what to do with the contents. However, if you’re behind on your rent don’t wait until the company is ready to put their lock on it. One lady wanted me to buy her unit, but called me the next day saying she had received a letter from the storage company saying they locked her out for non-payment of rent. With additional fees the amount she needed to come up with was far more than the value of the items in the unit. She ended up losing everything in the unit including some items she told me were family heirlooms. Call before that happens.

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