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Struggling to Declutter? Think Of Your Home In Terms of Storage Cost

a very cluttered room filled with boxes, electronics, and more

Having trouble decluttering your home? Start thinking about the things you’re storing in terms of cost-per-square-foot and lost opportunities, and you might find it a bit easier to clean things out.

It’s easy to think of storage in terms of cost-per-square-foot when you’re purchasing an actual storage unit. You walk in, they show you the available options, you pick out a storage unit with, say, 200 square feet of space, and you pay the bill. How much you’re paying for a square foot to house your stuff is pretty straight forward.

But how often do you think about your own home that way? If you’re like most people, probably never. But the cost-per-square-foot of storing unused junk in your home is astronomically higher than that of the storage facility. This becomes more evident when you consider the cost of your rent or mortgage, as well as adjacent expenses like home repairs, heating and cooling, and so on.

Say, for example, that you have a 1,500 square foot home on which you pay $3,000 in property taxes, $1,000 a month for the mortgage, $150 a month on utilities, and $1000 a year on various repairs. There are so many other little expenses, of course, but let’s keep it simple. Over the year, for those basics, you spend $17,800. If we divide that by the square footage of the home and round it up to the nearest dollar, that’s $12 per square foot per year for whatever you’re storing in that space.

Have a 12×12 foot spare bedroom that’s currently piled high with boxes of old college textbooks, the furniture you can’t find a place for, or other unused and likely unwanted things? Using our simplistic example, your spare bedroom in the house mentioned above would cost you ~$1,700 a year when framed in terms of the cost-per-square-foot for your home. Leave it stuffed with junk for five years? It’s a little over $8,600 in “storage fees” you’ve imposed on yourself.

For every stack of boxes, stuffed closet, or spare room turned into a storage unit in your house you’re not getting “free” storage—you’re paying a significant premium to store your stuff.

But that’s only the actual monetary cost to hold onto the stuff you’re not decluttering, purging, or otherwise getting rid of. Not only do you pay nearly nine grand to keep that room full of junk for five years, but you also miss out on five years of that space doing anything else. That’s the opportunity cost and not something you can’t quickly put a price on. The spare room packed with junk could have been a guest room for your friends and family to use, a home office, or served any other number of functions.

So if you’re struggling to find the motivation to purge your stuff, stop thinking about it as just some small things for which you need to find a new home. Start thinking about it in terms of how much money you’re spending on storing it and what you’re missing out on by not liberating the space.

It’s a lot easier to tackle clutter when you know you’re wasting huge amounts of money on the space and unable to do anything better with the space in the meantime.

Jason Fitzpatrick Jason Fitzpatrick
Jason Fitzpatrick is the Editor in Chief of LifeSavvy. He has over a decade of experience in publishing and has authored thousands of articles at LifeSavvy, Review Geek, How-To Geek, and Lifehacker. Read Full Bio »
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