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Want to save money this spring? Lose the storage space.

Spring cleaning isn’t just an opportunity to clear out your living quarters, Hamm writes. It’s a chance to earn some money, re-examine your possessions, and even look toward the possibility of more cost-efficient housing. 

By Guest blogger / March 25, 2013

A staffer checks a column of lockers at a mini storage service provider inside an industrial building in Hong Kong. If you’re using some square footage for storage, then you’re spending a lot of money just to store stuff, Hamm writes.

Bobby Yip/Reuters/File


Storage space is one of the biggest money drains that people have.

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The Simple Dollar is a blog for those of us who need both cents and sense: people fighting debt and bad spending habits while building a financially secure future and still affording a latte or two. Our busy lives are crazy enough without having to compare five hundred mutual funds – we just want simple ways to manage our finances and save a little money.

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Think about it for a second. What do you do with storage space? You fill it up with stuff that you don’t have any consistent use for. If you had a consistent use for it, it wouldn’t be in storage.

Most of the stuff that people have in storage should actually be sold on Craigslist or eBay or put in a yard sale to generate some funds instead of taking up space. Sure, there are always a few things that make sense to put into storage – Christmas decorations, older tax documents – but those items take up perhaps one closet.

That’s only part of the equation, though. You actually pay for storage space.

Storage space counts toward the square footage of your home. The greater the square footage, the greater the cost. If you’re using some of that square footage for storage, then you’re spending a lot of money just to store stuff. 

Let’s say you have a 2,000 square foot home, but 400 square feet are being used solely to store stuff. If you compressed that storage down to 100 square feet, you could purchase a less expensive 1,700 square foot home and not lose a single square foot of living space. What you would lose, though, is a healthy chunk of your insurance payments, a piece of your property taxes, and a portion of your mortgage.

Not only that, you’ll put some money in your pocket when you sell off that 300 square feet of stuff. That stuff could be anything from old CDs and DVDs to collectibles or pottery or clothes. Whatever it is, selling it will put money back in your pocket.

If you’re struggling to make ends meet and you also have a closet or two jam-packed with stuff, you have a solution to your problem sitting right there in front of you.

First, go through all of that stuff and get rid of it. If you haven’t looked at something in a year, trash it or sell it. If it’s “sentimental,” why is it gathering dust in a box somewhere? If you’re looking at old photos you can’t bear to get rid of, scan them and make digital copies that will last forever.

As you’re clearing it all out, put aside anything that has resale value. Entertainment items almost always have at least some value. Collectibles usually do, too (though often not as much as you’d expect).

Your next project is to sell off all of that stuff you’ve put aside. Use eBay for the collectibles. Use Craigslist for the larger items and the functional items. Use yard sales for the stuff that doesn’t sell on eBay or Craigslist.

This will take some time. In fact, it’ll take a lot of time. It’s a great way to fill up some spare hours, though. Every item that sells is another bit of space cleared out of your home and another few dollars in your pocket.

Once money starts flowing in, put every dime of it aside. Don’t spend it (unless you’re covering shipping expenses for selling some of the stuff). Hold onto it and enjoy watching it build up.

When everything is gone, you’ll find yourself with a lot more space than before. In fact, you may find yourself with enough extra space that it makes complete sense to move into a smaller and less expensive place.

You’ll also find yourself with a lump of cash. That lump of cash can be used to pay down debts or serve as the start of saving toward something big, like a house down payment.

Spring cleaning isn’t just an opportunity to clear out your living quarters. It’s a chance to earn some money, re-examine your possessions, and even look toward the possibility of more cost-efficient housing. Take advantage of it.

The post Storage Space and Spring Cleaning appeared first on The Simple Dollar.

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