Are you one of the 9.4% of U.S. households that own a storage unit? Be honest and think about the last time you needed to get something stored in your unit. Has it been three months, six months, or even a year? Chances are you could get rid of that storage unit and most of its contents, saving you an average of $89 a month. If you rented the unit as a temporary storage solution, consider the “temporary” part and recall why you had to rent the unit in the first place. Was it to store overflow items before or after a move? Did you rent it after you downsized your home or an aging parent’s? Were you using it to store items for a future estate sale? Whatever the reason, it’s probably time to clean out and say goodbye to your storage unit.
Step 1: Prepare yourself
It’s a big project that could take more than a day. Work in 4-hour time chunks if you can (it may take multiple sessions!). Do a last-minute pit stop at the location bathroom, and have a water bottle and a protein bar on hand. This is physical work and you’ll hit decision fatigue by the 4-hour limit. If you haven’t been to your storage unit in a long while, you likely won’t remember every item in there. Bring in extra hands, not just for heavy lifting and sorting, but for emotional support. You may come across items you have not seen in ages, such as your departed grandmother’s favorite dishes. It’s understandable to feel overwhelmed and sentimental about things you have dear memories of, but know you need to part with.
Step 2: Inventory
When you first open up the unit you might feel like you’re in the end scene of “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” with the seemingly countless boxes! Bring a notepad and pen, and start listing items you can immediately see, such as furniture and small appliances. Next up, the boxes. If there are any labeled ones and you know you will be getting rid of the whole thing, don’t bother to open it. The ones you do open, go through its contents and list the items. Don’t get bogged down by long walks through memory lane every time you pull out an item.
Step 3: Sorting the items
Have a small area reserved for sorting the items, and sort into these groups:
- Toss/recycle – This should be your biggest pile. If you have not thought of it or needed it in a long time, it should go.
- Donate/sell – It’s easiest to head to Goodwill with your items and take the tax write-off. If you are determined to sell the item, take good photos and dimensions, and write a description; list it on Craigslist, Offerup, or Facebook Marketplace.
- Take home to use – Carefully consider if you will truly use an item.
- Take home to store – This should be your smallest pile!
Step 4: Clean out the unit
Once you’ve emptied your storage unit, clean it out and hand back the key, then close out your contract. Enjoy feeling a bit of a load off your back, as well as saving some dough!
It’s astonishing that 67% of storage unit renters live in a single-family home with a garage, and 33% of them also have a basement. Decluttering and organizing your home to lighten your inventory is a mindset you should apply to your storage unit as well. After all, it’s called “long-term storage,” not “permanent storage”. If you’ve tried before and found it challenging, don’t hesitate to contact Simplify Experts for help. We feel so satisfied closing down storage units with our clients!