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You Can’t Take It With You

A simple Google search indicates there are 25 self-storage facilities within three miles of my home. Let that sink in for a minute. In a three-mile radius, there are twenty-five facilities that contain the belongings of individuals who are either transitioning from one residence to another or who simply cannot fit their stuff in their current residence. My research indicates that the latter reason is the most popular.

I was speaking with a young lady the other day who shared with me that one of her friends rents two storage units to store boxes of fabrics that she purchases at bargain prices. Apparently, she’s a quilter.

I know another lady who rents a storage unit to keep furniture that was given to her by her deceased grandparents. She keeps it for sentimental reasons, and she admits that she has no intention to use the furniture.

Consider the following facts concerning self-storage:

  • 66% of renters have garages, 47% have attics, and 33% have basements
  • 30% of renters do so for more than two years
  • The self-storage industry is a $22B industry and one of the fastest growing in the U.S.

We are a nation of excess. We have a mentality that believes the more stuff we have, the better off we are. It’s no anomaly that as our stuff increases so does our debt. The average household debt, including mortgage, is $137,063, while the average household income is just $59,039. Clearly, we are living way above our means. Our favorite thing to do is buy stuff we obviously don’t need. Even with garages and attics, we don’t have enough space to house our stuff. And we love our stuff so much that even when we buy our homes to house our families, we rent space to house our stuff. We’re paying an average of $40 to $150 per month in rent to keep our stuff safe—just in case we may want to use it in the future.

Simple math tells us that at an average rental price of $95 for 24 months (remember, 30% of renters do so for two or more years), we have spent $2,280. One would probably make out better by selling the items and purchasing them again if they should ever be needed. “Oh no, not grandma’s old furniture,” you may say. Well, I get that some things may be sentimental but think about it. Would grandma really want you to pay rent to house her antique table in a space where no one enjoys it? Or would she rather you display it in your home? If it doesn’t fit in with your décor, perhaps sell it and put the money towards something your grandma would approve, such as your or your child’s education or a cause that was near to your grandma’s heart. You could also help someone in need.

There’s a popular bumper sticker that reads, “He who dies with the most toys win.” Really? We should be careful to not consume ourselves with getting more and more. We should learn to distinguish between needs and wants and realize that it is better to invest in things that will provide resources for us as opposed to spending our resources to take care of things. The twelfth chapter of Luke tells the story of a man who had so many crops that he complained of having no place to store them. Instead of sharing them with the less fortunate, he decides to tear down his small barns and build bigger barns to store his crops. Little did he know that his life was to end that very night. And his crops? Who knows? One thing for sure—that was no longer his problem.

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