Thursday, December 20, 2012

The $43,000 storage unit

A while back I read on the Children of Hoarders website that one individual's hoarder parent had rented three storage units over something like 15 years. They did the math on this one: 
3 storage units @$80 each per month each for 15 years. For those of us who are mathematically dis-inclined, google calculator says that this is 
80 (dollars) x 3 (units) x 12 (months each year) x 15 years =

$43,200. For the privilege of keeping piles of useless stuff. It sure makes me wonder, what would I do with $43,000? Certainly not put it into junk! 

But I realize I am doing that. Many of us are. Anyone here have renter's or homeowner's insurance? Did you remember the number you gave them when they asked you how much your personal possessions were worth? It's pretty scary. I've seen friends and family have numbers anywhere from $15,000 to $90,000. In graduate school I fed, clothed, housed, and entertained myself for the entire year on $15,000. That's no small chunk of change. 

The reckoning I do every time I give something away has made me more aware of the money that I lose when I buy possessions. But I'm realizing that I also need to be careful when getting rid of the items I don't need anymore. I've finally taken the time to learn about the charitable donations tax deduction. I now make sure to get the deduction slips from our thrift shop and homeless charity whenever I donate items. In the end it gives me more money to turn around and give back to the charities I support.

Before the year's out I'm in a hurry to maximize my tax deduction! (I sound like an ad. Sigh.) So let's see what tax deduction is behind closet door number one!

One barstool (bought for $12)
One sling, never used ($29)
Corningware dishes (3 @ $4 each = $12)
More tupperware (2 at $4 each = $8)
Grad school mug ($7)
Maryland mug ($10)
Magnifying mirror ($35)
Pill case ($4)
Total: $117 on stuff I never should've bought. 

And then there was the stuff that I purchased but did get use out of but don't need now:
dumbbells for physical therapy ($10)
DVDs  and CDs ($100)

And then the free stuff: 
one shoebox (value $0)
mirrored antique tray (value $5)
glass jar (value $0.25)
tote bag (value $0.99)
purple tin (value $0.25)
renoir print (value $2)

Counting wear and tear, it's about $100 I can deduct from my taxes. It's not much, but if I can turn $15, $20, or $25 back around to a charity, that's pretty awesome to me. 

Do you deduct the value of what you donate? Is it worth the hassle? I've never done it before. We'll see how much of a paperwork mess it makes. And that's 19 items down. Items 153-172 are gone! And I am also now $1916.00 poorer than I would've been if I'd paid attention to what I was buying. Ugh. And I'm not even half way through my goal of getting rid of 365 things. Screw it, I'll get myself thoroughly depressed and shoot for 500 before we have kids. We'll need the space. 

See you tomorrow for Friday's Fashion Fallout!


  1. When you take a picture of the stuff you are getting rid of it looks like loads! I kinda wish that I'd done that with stuff I've got rid of to remind me that I have decluttered a lot!

    I don't think that we can do the tax relief thing over here...and generally I just want to get the stuff out ASAP!

    1. Heh, it seems even more impressive when we stuff it all into our little sedan. There's barely any room left for us! I can definitely sympathize with the desire to just get it all out. I'm almost tempted to hire a professional organizer for a couple days. One big purge.

    2. I'm never tempted by a professional organiser...but I am always tempted by a massive purge when I see people's de-cluttering photos!

  2. Oh, I love me a good tax write-off...and thus why I generally donate over sell (it's just so much easier!). I usually don't itemize what I've donated. I usually just put misc. or whatever and add in a general price. If I wrote down every little thing we've donated, it would take me hours to input it lol!

    As for the price of the storage units, oh em gee. I can't imagine blowing that kind of money on basically a big closet. Just wow!

  3. we deduct - it's worth it to us because we have other deductions (mortgage, health costs, other charitable giving, stuff like that) so itemizing is more than the standard deduction. For a lot of people, it's not - before we got married, he itemized and I just took my standard deduction, so all joint donations got credited to one person.

    I do estimate quite conservatively - there's a list of standard values but I generally claim about 1/2 that or less, just based on what I know the *actual* value of most of the stuff we're getting rid of.

    It's not so much work, just write down an estimate when you drop stuff off and keep it all in a file til tax time.

    1. I'm learning to do that. At first I didn't understand the process at all and then I was intimidated (what if the IRS boogeymen come after me if I get the values wrong?!) And now I realize, let me just give a reasonable best guess. Thank you for the tax file idea. Our dontation sheets have ended up everywhere.

  4. Thanks for the push! I'm going to aim for a tax deduction. Usually I'm just grateful to have unloaded my stuff. I got rid of a mirror like that from costco.

  5. Oh my, on the storage unit. I have a recently divorced friend who goes on and on amount money (the lack of). I was so shocked to learn she has a storage unit that she hadn't visited in 3 years. That's a lot of money to pay for stuff you obviously don't need.

    I don't deduct the stuff I donate. It seems like too much hassle. Also... I'll clean out a box or a bag and take it to the thrift store. To me the stuff is worthless; I'm just happy to get rid of it.

    On that note, every time I drop off a bag or box I get, "Is that it?!" from the people at the thrift store. It really aggravates me, like I should purge my whole house at once or something. I can't do that. I don't have the time or energy. Really a bag or box at a time is better than nothing and less traumatic emotionally.

  6. What makes self-storage a good choice is that it creates a lot of space in your house, without the need to throw your unwanted stuff. Anyway, try to separate the important stuff from the not so-important to let you have a better view if you really need to rent a self storage or not.

    -Allan Sutherland @ GeneralStoreAll

    1. I understand your need to advance your business, but I feel that for hoarders, recovering hoarders, and those with hoarder tendencies, storage units are simply a way of feeding the disorder. It would be akin to buying someone with an eating disorder a gift certificate to a diet program. A very unwise and unhealthy decision.

      However, storage units can be used appropriately by those who don't have these problems. I rented one for a single month when I was moving between states and needed a place to temporarily store all of my furniture before my new apartment was ready.


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