Ah, spring! A time to go through your house and purge everything from those jeans you haven’t worn in a year, to those toys your kids lost interest in long ago, to those old, beat-up golf clubs that are just sitting in the corner in the garage… and all that other junk in the attic you’ve been holding on to forever because you “might need it someday.”

It’s really not surprising Americans have so much “stuff.” We’re a consumer economy. You’re bombarded with commercials every day to “buy, buy, buy!” And it shows: do you realize there are approximately 58,000 self-storage facilities in this country? Comparatively speaking, there are only about 14,100 McDonald’s locations! Let that sink in.

Meanwhile, approximately 9% of all U.S. households rent a self-storage unit. Doesn’t sound like a lot. But think about it this way: that’s about 11 million households. It would be like if every household in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana combined rented a unit, plus if you threw in every household in Maryland. 

And we haven’t even touched on the cost yet. The average price for a 10x10 unit (the most common size rented) is about $132 a month. Want that unit to be climate controlled? About $167 a month. That means, in this example, you could be dropping anywhere from $1500 to $2000 a year, just for the “luxury” of having more space. Renting it for two years? Now you’re spending $3000 to $4000. Long term, all your “stuff” that you’re not even using just got really expensive.   

The Simply Money Point

Of course, storage units can come in very handy in certain situations. They’re valuable if you’re between moves, you’re protecting an investment (like a classic car), or you’re a small business owner and need some extra space for files or equipment. But if you’re paying for a unit year after year just because you can’t part with some of your family’s stuff? It’s time to realize that every month you pay that storage unit bill, you’re wasting money in your family’s budget.

So as you’re spring cleaning this year, make it your mission to donate items or sell them, either through a garage sale or online through eBay or Facebook Marketplace. After all, are you ever going to really need those old, beat-up golf clubs someday? Probably not.

To find out if your spending and saving habits have you on track to reach your financial goals, we invite you to speak with our team at Simply Money Advisors.