Ten months into COVID, if you’re the tidying sort, you’ve probably purged every closet in the house and rearranged every shelf … multiple times.

Don’t stop there. Empty out the storage space and make your tidying profitable.

Sure, a self-storage unit can be a sound move if you are in flux for a few months. But many of us stash belongings in there, thinking they’re essential, and put the monthly fee on automatic pay and, years later, can’t remember what’s in the unit.

A $200-a-month storage fee, redirected to savings for five years and left there to compound for 25 years, at a 5% rate of return, would leave you with more than $40,000. Anything in the unit worth $40,000?

Some COVID-driven considerations:

Assess what you’re holding on to. If you didn’t create a detailed inventory when you put stuff into the unit, you might be surprised to see exactly what you’re paying to store. The passage of time can make it easier to clearly assess what to hold on to.

Assume the kids will want it one day? If you put a bunch of stuff in storage because you figured someone in the family might want it, time to check in with them. It makes no sense to pay for storage for something that isn’t their style. Snap photos of everything you’re holding on to and then ask them if they’re interested.


Downsizing your home? Resist self-storage. Take a deep breath and make the hard choices before you move. Remove storage as a long-term option, and focus on what goes with you into your new home, and what gets sold or donated.

Consider the power of donating what you’ve got stowed away. Any chance some (or all) of the stuff could be helping a family right now?

Can’t entirely give up the storage habit? Challenge yourself to purge enough to downshift from a 10×10 foot unit to a 10×5 or a 5×5. Reducing your rent by $50 a month adds up to $600 for the year. An alarming number of American households say they don’t have $400 to cover an unexpected expense. In just one year of downsizing storage costs, you could “find” more than that to store in an emergency savings fund.