Are you among the 1 in 10 Americans who rent a storage unit? If so, there's a pretty healthy chance you're spending big bucks – as much as $300 a month in some areas of the United States – to store items that you don't need or use.
"Renting an off-site storage unit is akin to flushing money down the toilet," writes professional organizer Marla Ottenstein in the Naples Daily News.
Americans are expected to spend $32 billion this year on storage units, according to SpareFoot, a Texas-based self-storage listing company. Storage units aren't just draining your bank account. They could be preventing you from saving for retirement.
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A whopping 1 in 3 American adults have no money set aside for retirement. That's a pretty bleak picture.
So what items are Americans squirreling away in those expensive self-storage units? According to Bankrate, the top items Americans save in storage units include furniture, electronics, appliances, documents and files, collectables or antiques, vehicles, seasonal items, photographs, and books and other media items.
Undoubtedly some of the things we Americans keep in storage units are treasures — with either monetary or sentimental value. But probably not most. Imagine if Americans took the money they're pouring into storage units and instead invested it in retirement accounts. It would enable many Americans to build up a sizable nest egg for retirement. For that matter, what if we sold some of the stuff in those boxes (check out "Where to Sell Your Stuff for Top Dollar") and invested the proceeds for retirement or used it to pay down debt?
According to Bankrate, if you took the $100 a month you're forking over for a storage unit and invested it in a retirement account (with an annual return of about 8 percent) for five years, you'd have $7,348. After 10 years, you'd have $18,295 saved!
But it gets better. Let's say you're paying $200 a month for a self-storage unit. If you opted to invest that money each month instead, here's what you could see:
After one year: $2,490 saved
After five years: $14,695
After 10 years: $36,589
After 30 years: $298,072
"In terms of value-cost averaging, renting a storage unit is never a wise investment," writes Ottenstein.
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Do you have a lot of stuff? Check out "10 Ways to Cut the Cost of Self Storage."