Anyone with a clean, clutter-free garage that is not required for a car may not need to make use of a self-storage unit. But the reality is that many of us are hoarders and when our homes are no longer large enough to accommodate all our stuff then we need to get a bigger house or rent a self-storage unit, and the latter is considerably cheaper and easier than moving house. But if you want to keep your storage costs to a minimum then here are our top money-saving tips to help you do just that.
1. Only Store What You Really Need in Your Storage Unit
One of the main reasons for renting a self-storage unit is that we are intrinsically hoarders and don't want to get rid of our stuff just in case we might need it one day. We also store items that we have inherited or been given as gifts that we don't want, need, or even like, but we don't want to offend the person we have received the items from. So we end up paying to store all these things.
Self-storage units cost more the larger they are so it stands to reason that if you can rent the smallest one possible then you will save money. So sort through all of the items you are thinking about storing and reduce the amount. You can sell things easily through local classified ads, garage sales, car boot sales or ebay – you might even make enough to pay for the first few months' storage. If you can't sell certain things then give them away to friends, relatives or a favourite charity. Anything that cannot be sold or donated can be recycled or, as a last resort, thrown away.
So the simplest money-saving tip is to only store what you really want to keep – that way you can rent the smallest unit possible and reduce the amount you spend.
2. Shop Around For Insurance For Your Stored Possessions
If you are prepared to pay to store belongings then they are likely to have some monetary value – even if your whole storage unit is full of items with only sentimental value you would still want to be compensated in the event of a disaster like a fire, flood or burglary. So insurance is essential but as with any insurance policy, you need to shop around for the best deal. Check whether your existing household contents policy can be extended to include the items in storage, if not, don't assume the storage company will have the best deal – they may have – but check out the alternatives first. If your household policy does cover your stored contents then take along the documentation to the storage facility as proof.
But remember, you might want to save money but check the small print of the insurance policy, particularly the exclusions and maximum claim amounts for individual items, especially if you have single items with a high value.
Also make an inventory when you are packing your possessions for storage – that way if you do have to make an insurance claim you will know exactly what you had and it's value. Taking photos of valuable items will also help any future claim as it will show the condition of an item.
3. Don't Rent a Self Storage Unit for Longer Than Necessary
Sometimes we move away from an area for what we think will be a temporary period so store our furniture and household items with the intention of using them again on our return. But the time in the new home and location drags on and the temporary home becomes permanent. We buy new things for the new home and before we know it we have been paying to store old furniture and household items for years. It is not unheard of for storage units or containers to be rented by the same person for 10 or even 20 years.
So one of the easiest money-saving tips is to get that stuff out of storage if it has been there too long. Dedicate a week-end to sorting through everything and selling, recycling or dumping what you don't need. At the very least you might be able to reduce your costs by switching to a smaller storage unit.
4. Avoid Late Fees by Paying on Time
Some self-storage companies will charge a late fee if you do not pay your monthly bill by the due date. This can add significantly to your storage costs over time if you regularly pay late so make sure you are not paying more than you have to. One of the easiest ways to ensure you do not forget to pay on time is to set up a direct debit or standing order with your bank.
If you fail to pay for a long period of time, the self-storage operator could be entitled to sell your possessions to recover the rent they are owed. So make sure you know when the rent is due and when any late fees might be applied to the amount you owe.
5. Beware of short-term special offers
Many self-storage companies offer the first month at a substantial discount, for a minimal fee, or even for free, but these sorts of special offers have hidden costs that can mean renting a storage unit for several months can work out significantly more expensive than renting a unit without a special offer from a company that has a lower standard monthly rate. Special offers are not always as good a deal as they might first seem.
Always check the total rental cost over a 3 or 6-month period as it is rare to use a storage unit for anything less than this time and some companies require minimum sign-up periods for many units. Also check the terms and conditions attached to any deal to work out if the special offer applies to your circumstances and in your area.