Downsize your storage unit to save money and find your things easier!

outdoor storage unit doors

According to the Self Storage Association (SSA) in 2010 annual revenues for storage units were more than 20 Billion dollars in the US!

Have you ever added up what your contribution to that number is? Have you been thinking that you could potentially be saving some money by downsizing your storage unit?

We believe that downsizing your storage unit starts with decluttering your belongings. Just like the items in your home or office, they may have been important when you first stored them, but are they still relevant? Read more about Decluttering in our other post.

If you are thinking of downsizing or even getting rid of your storage unit all together we recommend a few things to think about.

storage unit pricing chart

A quick look at the potential savings…

Let’s use the example of Sally and John Smith. The Smith’s sold their family home and downsized to a condo in the heart of the city 1 year ago.  They had a hard time choosing what to keep and what to let go of, so they rented a 10 x 10 storage unit for $90/month.  In the past year they have visited the unit twice.

So far, Sally and John have invested $1080 in storing their belongings. Over the next 5 years it will cost them $5400.

When their rental renewal comes in the mail they ask themselves, ‘do we really need the storage unit?’  Both agree that they would like to keep the unit, but potentially they could downsize to a smaller unit. If they go through their belongings and let some things go, they could potentially go down to a 5 x 10 storage unit which is only $50/month.

Downsizing units would save them $480/year. After 5 years that’s a savings of $2400!

So how will they get started?

Set A Goal!

What exactly would you like to accomplish? The more specific you can be with your goal, the more likely you will be successful in achieving it! 

Using the example above, The Smith’s goal will be: To reduce the amount of items in their storage unit by 5 square feet in the next 30 days (before the rental contract renews).


Make Time

It is important to estimate how much time you think will be required to accomplish your goal. Once you have done this, you need to ensure that you MAKE room for it in your schedule. Remember, we all have 24 hours in a day. If this is important to you, you will make it a priority.

Example: Sally knows that she requires much more time to make decisions, especially about personal items. John makes the first time estimate and then Sally schedules an extra 5 hours knowing it could take her longer.

Furniture Dolly for moving

Create a Work Station

When the day arrives to start going through your belongings set yourself up with a great work station. We recommend:

  • A sturdy folding table — this will be your sorting space
  • 3 or 4 bins — one for recycling, donation, garbage, give away
  • A note pad — as you sort through you’ll remember action items, track them in a to-do list for later
  • Packaging for any removal — have some cardboard boxes or heavy duty bags for taking things away *Learn More About How & Where to Donate
  • Packaging for remaining items — to maximize storage space use boxes or bins for stacking capability
  • Miscellaneous supplies — labels, tape, markers, Exacto knife, step stool, furniture dolly, folding chair, water & snacks
Sharpie Marker and Masking tape

Label Contents

In order to find your stored items easier and in less time you need a system. We highly recommend using labels and they can be as simple as Masking Tape + a Sharpie Marker.  Always take the time to know what’s inside each box, bag or bin (even if they’re see through).

If you want to take it one step further you can create an inventory list. Simply keep track of the labels you create on your trusty note pad. After finishing you can type and save this file digitally. Often people find this useful if they have basement, garage and storage unit spaces. You can save yourself a trip by looking at your inventory list!

Positive Mindset

Print off your goal and post it somewhere!  As you embark on your project to downsize your energy will at times be tested. It will look worse before it looks better — this is 100% guaranteed! However, the outcome will be worth any of the headaches you encounter along the way.

Keep yourself positive. Work with someone that you trust & will stay focused. Reduce distractions. Be realistic and know that you can do it!

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Samantha provides personal, home and business organization solutions for individuals who are ready for change. She is a Co-Founder of KW Professional Organizers, a sought after public speaker and blogger.