Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The Cost of Storage

I admit that perusing organizing retailers, like The Container Store, is fun for me.  Inspiration floods my mind as I longingly gaze upon all the creative ways to organize and store whatever my heart desires.  However, those solutions come with a cost, sometimes a very hefty one, depending on your tastes.  But before we get to the organizing part of storage, I'd like to discuss a more often ignored cost of storage - the space itself.

Consider the calculation:  The mortgage on a 1,500 sq ft house is $1500, which is $1/sq ft.  In addition to safety from the elements, let's view the house as a storage facility, an expensive one at that.  Therefore, each item kept in the home has a storage cost associated with it, so naturally, one would want each item to earn its keep.  Some things earn their worth for storage easily: a washer and dryer to clean clothes, beds for sleeping, an oven for cooking meals, etc.  But for other items, it's a different story.  For example, if a 150-sq ft bedroom in the house only stores a pile of 'I'll-get-to-it-one-day' projects and various "junk", it costs the homeowner $150 a month to keep things that are not being enjoyed (and probably add more stress).  If the room was transformed into a workout room, it could eliminate the need for gym membership; setting up a home office for a side business could generate additional income each month.

This example may be extreme, but the principle is still valid.  Storage space is valuable, so why do we fill it with junk?  Most of us, myself included, have bought into this need for storage, the 'more is more' tagline.  We want bigger homes with bigger closets and an expanse of cabinets to corral the ever expanding pile of stuff.  We want to keep everything, and hide it beautifully.  Still have more stuff?  Rent off-site storage.  Add an extension to the house.  Get a bunch of clear plastic containers  to fill and label to make the collection bearable.  Instead of expanding, perhaps we should take a closer look at the true value of what we are keeping.  Instead of consuming more, what if we become better managers of what we already have?

It's not all bad; there are definite positives to additional storage.  For businesses, it is usually cheaper to rent a small storage unit instead getting larger office space to handle their inventory.  Adventurous folks who have loads of recreational sports equipment and vehicles use storage units to reduce the need for storage (i.e., square footage) at their residence, helping them maintain an affordable mortgage.  Purchasing a home with one more bedroom can allow you host guests more often or expand your family.  

This is not a call for minimalism, it is merely a suggestion to prefer value over mass acquisition.  Perhaps when we consider the cost of storage first instead the price of organizing it, we might not need as much as we thought we did.

What is your opinion on storage?   What are some items that you know are not worth the cost to store?

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