[ by Brian Spero, MoneyCrashers.com ]
While extra storage space appeals to millions of Americans for a variety of reasons, it’s an expense that needs to be justified, especially for people on tight budgets. To ensure you’re getting the biggest bang for the buck, try these nine smart tips for saving on self-storage.
1. Store Only the Good Stuff.
You wouldn’t pay for a safe deposit box and then stuff it full of worthless trinkets you never want to see again, right? So don’t turn your storage unit into an over-priced garbage bin. Carefully scrutinize everything you choose to put in it, and cut ties with items you no longer use by having a garage sale or donating items to charity. This reduces your need for storage while potentially qualifying you for a tax write-off.
2. Take Advantage of Discounts.
Self-storage is one of those industries where businesses compete hard for customers through advertising and promotions. Whether you need storage for a few months or an extended period, be sure to ask about discounts. Typical deals can range from 10 percent to 25 percent off the regular price and even may include several months for free.
3. Size Up Your Options.
After combing the Internet to identify all the storage options in your area, take the time to compare what they offer in terms of size and price. Take into account factors such as access and security, and always read the fine print on the contract before determining the provider that best suits your needs.
With about 50,000 self-storage facilities nationwide, there’s plenty of competition for your business. While some providers have strict policies on pricing, other providers have some wiggle room to accommodate customers. It never hurts to ask, and you just might end up with a lower rate or more space for your money.
5. Pack and Load Carefully.
If you’ve ever attempted to load a moving truck by yourself and then watched a seasoned professional do it, you’ve seen the difference it makes when you use space effectively. Be economical in preparing items for storage when moving, especially those that can be boxed up, and take a thoughtful, measured approach when loading up your unit. By maximizing efficiency, you may be able to downsize to a smaller unit.
6. Store Bulky Items Elsewhere.
When possible, avoid storing large, bulky items for a long period so you can cut down on the amount of storage space you’ll need to rent. One solution is to ask a family member whether your large items can be stored at his or her home. Or see whether you can lend any of these items to a friend or to a local institution such as a school, library or theater.
7. Get It Included in Your Move.
The moving industry can be as competitive as self-storage, sometimes offering discounted or free short-term storage as part of your move. Take advantage of this perk if you can, or ask your storage facility whether it has a partnership with a mover or truck rental company that offers discounts.
8. Use the Free Truck.
Many self-storage providers offer the free use of a moving truck when a lease is initiated. With careful planning, you can save by having the truck serve double duty for a local move. Also, take advantage of the free use of hand trucks and of discounted supplies to lighten the bill on moving day.
9. Share Space.
The bigger the unit you lease, the better the deal. By joining forces with trustworthy friends or relatives, you can maximize your purchasing power if you rent a larger unit at a lower combined rate. This strategy can chop 25 percent to 50 percent off your rent.
The growing popularity of self-storage can be attributed to everything from changes in lifestyle to the reduction in living space. If for whatever reason you’ve decided self-storage is right for you, be thorough in finding the best deal, thoughtful about what you stow away and creative in finding ways to get the most value for your money. It might turn out that paying for storage actually can lower the rent for your apartment. By having the flexibility to opt for a smaller apartment coupled with an inexpensive storage unit nearby, you potentially can shave hundreds of dollars off your monthly expenses.
What other ways can you suggest to save money on self-storage?