Follow the Decluttering:
I hate to admit this but here it is. I was (am) a compulsive Facebook window shopper. I think I spent more time looking at stuff I could buy on Facebook than scrolling through my friends’ posts. It’s been such a good medium for selling and giving away our unwanted things that I realized some bargains could be found nearby.
Like all shopping, I try to stick to things I actually need but it’s not easy. Facebook, like any online marketing giant has algorithms to keep showing you things you might be interested in. Let’s face it companies like Google and Facebook are just marketing wolves in sheep’s clothing. For example, I recently decided that I really wanted, no needed, my own desk at home. As soon as you search for “desk” in the Facebook marketplace or even view a couple of postings, it will suddenly seem like that’s the only thing anyone is selling. Then, the algorithm says “hey, people who have searched for desks have also looked at these things” so it starts showing you some other stuff mixed in with the desks.
Facebook Marketplace: come for the cheap desks; stay for the dining room sets and pool tables.
I browse Facebook Marketplace the way people used to browse through shopping malls. I went in thinking I could use a small desk but then think maybe we should replace our kitchen table too. It’s easy to get out of control and start thinking you NEED all kinds of things.
I had to get a grip and here’s how I did it. One, I tried to visualize where another desk would go and the effort it would require to make it happen. Two, I looked around the house to see if there was a way to use something I already have.
It turns out that we actually have 6 desks in our house. That’s one for everyone including the baby. The problem is that most of them are not being used because either their tops are covered or they are just in a bad spot. Once I realized that, I decided we just need to clean and rearrange the ones not being used.
I’ve mostly stopped looking but since I still haven’t cleaned off any of the desks and rearranged I still catch myself looking through the marketplace occasionally. Every time I do I just ask myself again where it will go and remind myself that we have enough stuff.
So the next time you see a bargain or think you really need a new something-or-other, first take a look around at what you already have. You just may realize you can easily make do with what you have.
Are you paying a monthly bill to store your belongings that you don’t have room for?
How long have you been doing so?
I recently talked to a friend who first rented a storage unit a few years ago when she moved back in with her parents. She was proud of how much she has eliminated from the storage unit lately but wasn’t sure about getting rid of some of the larger furniture. She feared how much it would cost to buy a new living room set if she moved into her own place. That’s understandable at first. However, when we added up the $100 per month she’s been paying for over four years, she realized she’s spent around $5000 on storage.
Therein lies one of the major pitfalls of renting a storage unit. Their purpose is supposed to be for short-term usage, like during a move for example. Unfortunately, about 9% of American families rent storage space and more than half of them have been renting for over a year.(1) Keep in mind that the $100 per month my friend was paying is hardly the upper limit for storage costs. Depending on the size, monthly rent can reach as high as $150 or more.
The self-storage industry has a history going back to England when banks began storing valuables for customers going on long voyages. The trend grew until vaults were overflowing and banks began using storage space at moving companies. By the 1850’s, warehouses were being built just for storage of personal items.(2)
The first modern self-storage units in the United States were built in Texas in the 1960’s and the concept spread.(2) Now, there are about 50,000 storage facilities in the U.S. and the industry generates around $38 Billion in annual revenue.(1) Clearly, we have a lot of important things that we need to keep even though we can’t make room for them in our homes.
When Paying for Storage Makes Sense
I don’t want to bankrupt the self-storage industry. I do think they serve an important purpose in some cases. However, I want everyone who is spending their hard-earned money on storage to weigh the cost against the value of the items being stored.
With that in mind, here are a couple cases where it might make sense to rent storage.
1. In between moves, especially when buying or selling a home.
Changing apartments can sometimes be a problem if your lease is up at one and the other won’t be ready for a few weeks. Store everything you don’t need in the short term until the new place is ready. The same situation can arise when buying and selling your home.
If you’re trying to sell your home and you have a lot, I would first advise you to purge, and then purge some more so you don’t have to rent storage. However, if you want to stage your house for sale you may still need to remove some things temporarily to make it look better. First, see if you can store a couple things in a friend’s or relative’s basement though. Just don’t overstay your welcome.
2. Storing something valuable that you can only use periodically
There are limited cases where this will make sense. Say you have a valuable motorcycle or something larger that you can only use seasonally. It might make sense to protect it from the elements during the winter if you can’t make room for it in your garage, assuming you have one. This is also common for boats, RVs, etc.
3. For business purposes
If you own a business and need space, a storage unit can be much cheaper than renting a larger office to store records or equipment for your business. This makes sense especially for contractors and lawn care companies.
That’s about all I can think of. There may be other specific situations where it makes sense but remember, every payment you make for storage can make the contents less valuable.
The bottom line is if you have no other choice but to rent storage, you want to rent the smallest one possible. Purge as much as possible first and then empty out your storage as quickly as possible.
Do you have a system for keeping track of your phone and/or tablet?
Do you always know where they are when you're at home? What do you do with all those charging cords? Do you have a phone home? (If you don't get the reference, you're young, and you need to go watch the classic 1980's movie ET)
If you're like us, you have a basket or drawer full of tangled chargers. Charging a phone involved untangling a cord from the pile and then plugging it in on the kitchen island. The phone and charger only added to the clutter already on the counter. Sometimes, it would get bumped when accessing the refrigerator or the GFCI outlet would get tripped for some reason. After you thought your phone was charging, you would discover it was still dead. Often, both plugs would be tied up in the morning when someone wanted to use the toaster. This caused a fight over which phone to unplug.
We finally solved all this with the bamboo charging station below. We now have a home for our phones and tablets. Plugged in or not, it's a handy place to put them instead of the middle of the kitchen counter.
I made space for it on our kitchen counter tucked back out of the way next to the fridge. Inside is a 6-port USB charger. We had so many USB cords around that I didn't even need to buy new ones. I even connected the charger for our Amazon Tap device, which can easily be disconnected to use for a phone or tablet.
Several versions of these charging stations are available on Amazon and I'm sure other stores. I like the look of the bamboo and the way the dividers are easily removable, yet strong enough to easily hold several devices. Plus, bamboo is considered a sustainable material.
Below are affiliate links to the charging station, charger, and just in case you're interested, the Amazon Tap. (Note that the Tap is an older model Alexa enabled device. The thing I like about the Tap though, is it isn't constantly listening to you. You have to push the button before asking Alexa a question.)
If you want to be fancy, you can buy all new USB cables for it so they match and are all the same length. If you have a mixture of devices needing their own type of cord then I suggest buying different colors for them. For example, now that my wife is back at work I plan to get a white iPhone charger for her work phone. All the other devices we have are Android based and are using black cables.
If you are tired of seeing your phones and tablets all over the house, you keep forgetting where it's plugged in, or are constantly searching for your phone charger that your kids stole, then this is the way to go. The version above may not be the right one for you, but since they come in several shapes and materials, I'm sure you'll find one that works.
My family uses Cozi for our calendar, shopping, and to-do lists. The best part is that it's free.
Copyright Dave Lubke and www.davelubke.com, 2020
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