Are you moving to or from Berks County and considering getting a storage unit? If you are, a good question is "why?" Are you letting logic or emotions rule your decision?

The interesting fact about the self-storage industry is that they are a $39 billion dollar industry with positive projected growth over the next five years. One big reason for this growth is that they've figured out how to play off of our emotions.

This isn't to say that using a storage unit is always a bad idea. It just depends on the reason you decide to use one. There are many reasons we choose to rent a short-term storage unit, and, for some, it makes solid financial sense. There are those who don't have room in their home for things such as winter clothes and sports equipment, outdoor furniture, bikes, lawnmowers etc. So, these people have figured the monthly cost of renting a unit into their budget and justify the rental cost.

And the rest of us? We are fueling the growth of this industry. Why? We allow our emotions to affect the financial decisions we make. It’s that simple.

When many people move, they have things they just can't part with emotionally. It may be heirlooms they'll never display or give away, or things they save because they think the kids will want them someday. So they store those things, deferring making difficult emotional decisions, which ends up costing quite a bit of money over time.

Here are some stats about the US Self-Storage Industry that illustrate this:

 Annual industry revenue  $39 billion
 Number of storage facilities (range)  45,000-60,000
 Total rentable self-storage space.  1.7 billion square feet
 Self-storage space per person   5.4 square feet
 Percentage of households that rent a self-storage unit.   9.4 percent
 Average monthly cost for a self-storage unit.   $87.89

Think about it. Almost 10% of households in America rent a storage unit. The storage area averages about 5.4 sq feet per person and costs almost $88 per month. That's almost $1000 per year.

If you aren't careful, renting a storage unit can become a black hole. How?

Let's say you find a great deal on a storage unit, say 1 or 2 months free, and it sounds like the perfect way to keep your things safe while you move. So now you can lock your things away and move on with the move.

What most people don't realize is that when they sign the rental contract, most of them have a timed cost increase in the contract. And you agreed to it. 

So now that your things are stowed away, you, like many other people, just deal with the monthly payments and think "I'll deal with it next month." Before you know it, a year has gone by, and you've dumped $1000 to store things that you may not even remember.

How can you avoid wasting money like this and avoid being a casualty of the self-storage industry?

1. Take the time to truly think through the COST of storing each item over time.
2. Set a time frame in which you agree to rent the space - 6 months or 1 year
3. Ask to see the fine print in the contract regarding automatic monthly increases
4. Ask to be informed before a monthly increase will occur
5. Create a visual and physical inventory of stored items-include measurements

So, if you are one of the families using a short-term unit, ask yourself if you are ready to make decisions to dispose of the “treasures” you have stored in the 5.4 square feet once and for all and us that $1,000.00 yearly savings elsewhere.

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